There’s no point in setting the alarm in the mobile if you’re going to keep it in the silent mode (which is what I do.) And equally ineffective is setting the alarm, keeping the volume high and squeaky, leaving it in purse, and putting purse in cupboard (my roomie’s trademark).
As a result of such dysfunctional stupidity, we both got up at 9:00. We rubbed our eyes, smiled at each other across the room, and then she slapped her forehead. That’s usually her reaction for not keeping the garbage out or forgetting to bring the milk. My response to such distress is a sedate, “There’s always tomorrow; and I prefer black tea.”
“Today’s Monday”, Za says.
“Ah!”, I cheep like a Prozaced sparrow. “The cartoon strips are the funniest today.”
“We have a meeting today.”
By 9: 15 a.m., two women with varying degrees of messiness and culinary skills are dressed, fed, and out of the house. However, just as I lock the door, I squint. I know that I’ve forgotten something but I can’t remember what.
So we rush to office and walk into the meeting very late and unprepared. It’s bad because the meeting was our idea, one that we insisted on against cold resistance. Anyway, we met our colleagues (who knew how to use alarms) with sufficient panache.
Then I go to withdraw money from the ATM to find out that I can’t remember the pin number. Interestingly, I can’t recall where I’ve put my cheque book either. Never mind, I think to myself like the aforementioned Prozaced sparrow. There’s some cash in my cupboard which.. (Clang! Clang! First set of alarm bells going off! And now the thought progresses in distressing slow motion) which still has the keys attached to it - So the bai will come into the house this afternoon (she has an extra set of keys) - she’ll probably sweep under the cupboard, - then she’ll glance up and see the keys and will probably open the cupboard - to find that the keys to the locker are there too.
Very worrisome. That locker has just about all the money I could’ve withdrawn to keep me going for a month. To make it worse, it had the money my roomie had given me for safekeeping.
My mouth was dry and I was thinking hard. Something inside told me that all would be well. (Happy cheep cheep, remember?) But something inside also told me that I was a worthless, careless lout. (It sounded a lot like my mom and my roomie.)
“Excuse me, if you’re done with the ATM machine…”, the polite lady behind me asked.
Sure, lady, punch in those magic numbers. Get the money out. Do that while I figure out which organ I need to sell to pay back my friend and clear my rent. Yes, ma’am. I’m done with the ATM machine.
I sit for the next meeting. It goes on endlessly. My stomach is tight and my shoulders are cramped. My roomie looks at me and asks if everything’s okay. (“You have the last pastry, if you want.” She’s sweet.) Gosh! If only she knew! Meeting over, I take her aside and tell her that I have to be heading home. With downcast eyes, I tell her why.
She stares at me like a mildly frazzled goldfish. “Give me a call when…(she can’t bring herself to say it).."when you find out.”
The 15 minute rick-ride home takes forever – with the auto-fellow paying tender obeisance to every pothole on the road. I rush off not collecting the 10 bucks change, try to force the door open (did someone change the lock?), finally dash inside..to see the keys dangling from the cupboard.
I open it and check. My money’s there. My roomie’s money is there. Cards, cheques, jewellery (okay, sparkly earrings from Globus) – all there. My bai – I melt with effervescent fondness. My bai.
Free passes to a disco. My pal, JD, and I decide to go. Another colleague very helpfully volunteers to escort us. Universe conspiring to give me a good time and other Paulo Coelhoisms come to mind.
Finally, a night to spray away the drabness of home-office-home routine. Stars will twinkle, moon will wink, and music will play at a fetish’s brink. Divine, I tell you. This change of pace, when pulse was actually throbbing at pleasant prospects.
Club is big, bright, and reasonably crowded. Enough to be fun but not uncomfortable. People are sparkly, and glitzy, with glossy hair and shiny shoes and accessories that glow in the dark.
After some trance-schmance music that makes people look like Dustin Hoffman in Rainman, they begin playing numbers that people can actually dance to. So, there’s jiggying, and then I get tired. Clearly, dancing in heels is nowhere in the vicinity of tolerable. It feels like walking through potholes on stilts.
I sit on the steps of the dance floor, seeking aloneness and silence and respite. But I’m told to get up. So I comply. Unfortunately, in the process, I jam my finger on a nail and I start bleeding. At first, I think it’s a little cut; but then the blood spouts out, as if to make a point. I hold my finger, but my blood feels warm and sticky, and really wet. I think stubborn people bleed this way - incessantly. JD takes me to the loo where I put my finger under the tap and the blood gets washed away to spurt anew. Now, I’m feeling dizzy. Call my boyfriend and get him worried before the signal fades out.
After things are under control, (when blood trickles like a Feng-Shui waterfall and not spouts like an open drain), I decide to call boyfriend again. No phone. Phone’s stolen. Someone took away my phone when I was bleeding. When I stood transfixed looking at blood-tained crinkly white tissues, when my pal had gone to hunt for meds, when my eyelids drooped with numbness - someone stole my phone.
A little while later, JD tells me to get a tetanus shot. Sure, I think. Haven’t done that in a while. In the car, I’m woozy, but keep thinking of an ad campaign for responsible partying – ‘Shots – From tequila to tetanus.’ Something like that. And just before I can accept an Abby in my mind’s eye, I’m on the hospital bed waiting for the needle to go in.
I keep thinking of how much easier it would be if I called up my special person and became hysterical and fondly unreasonable with him. No phone. I think of re-reading the message when he first told me he would love me anyway and forever. No phone. I think of calling up Ma and telling her about what’s happened, and hear her Italian vendetta voice telling me to go and kick someone on the ****. No phone.
I come home. I lay on my bed. I had my phone for 2 years. I would scroll through the contact list, see names of people I’d known in less complicated times, and smile. Someone in that glitzy, well-sheened crowd, took away my phone. While I was bleeding.
I look at my cupboard and remember the keys that someone hadn't used even when she had the chance.
I think I could trust people all over again.