Friday, July 27, 2007

Black lights without fuzzy posters

Chris got a small black light at Target in the dollar bin section. It was so cheaply made that he had to tape the batteries down in order to keep them from springing out and giving him a black eye.

As soon as it got dark enough, he was scanning everything. It turns out that I am covered with invisible freckles, my pink hair turns neon orange, and my eyes appear to be nothing but cataract under black light.

Disgustingly, it picks up everything you don't want to see. Pores that seem to be doing okay in daylight appear to be bursting with bright orange oil sprinkled with white bits of dead skin, like hellish nuclear sundaes set side by side on the topography of a nightmare. Flakes of what used to be you outline a human shape on the sheets, emphasizing the puddle of drool that dried before you woke up. Wherever the cats have spit up is suddenly apparent.


So I take a bath, scrub, and I mean scrub my face until it hurts, then turn off the lights and see if things have improved. Now, instead of being dotted with orange, I'm smeared with white fluff from the towel I used to dry may face. While I'm at it, I check out the towel. No good! What is that mysterious streak there on the corner? Do I dare sniff it? Isn't this the way they analyze body fluid deposits in cop dramas?

I hear Chris from outside the closed bathroom door: "Um, whatever you do, don't look around in there too much."

Great. Now I have to know what he could possibly mean by that.

I move over to the toilet. The whole area looks like a crime scene. The underside of the bowl gives the impression that the toilet has thrown up on itself. I open the lid, unable to stop myself, and become almost unhinged. I've read about the spray that's supposed to be kicked up when a toilet flushes, but never thought about it much except when in department stores or airports where the suction is like an undertow. Now I see scientific evidence that it happens even in residential areas with low water pressure. I can see the edge of where the liquid can no longer achieve escape velocity. It is like a water balloon has burst by someone sitting on it.

I reel backwards and out of the room, catching the hand towel that until this moment, had seemed like it was far enough away from the bowl. It's not anywhere close. I will be rehanging it in the hallway later. But now I am struggling to get into natural light, where everything does not appear to be drenched in old bits of people and cats.

Chris winces as I stumble into his room.

"I told you not to."

"I had to."

"I know you did."

"Let's move."

He laughs, but I don't think it's very funny at all.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Our friend Jayson's rendition of Chris giving himself a haircut.

Internal Conflict

I chose Maya's for lunch because I didn't see a single person there. (Not that I don't like people, but 45 minutes to myself a day is starting to become my greatest fantasy.)

I took my heaping plate of carnitas upstairs and nestled in with my trade paperback. Just before I gave myself over to the drama unfolding on the cheap paper propped open in front of me, I noticed a guy wearing winter clothes lurch into the bathroom and sort of fling the door shut. Not slam. Not enough coordination to pull that off. But whatever.

Ten minutes later, I hear a slurping snuffly sound. I peek slowly over my glasses and then my book, feeling like a Saturday Night Live cast member in a bad skit. Winter Outfit guy is standing over the bus tub by the wall, unstacking dishes and hoovering up whatever remnants are available.

Now. The part of me uncomfortable with the thought of people thinking I've been brought up in a barn (not far off the mark) is freaking out. She is, in fact, clutching another part of me that is completely germ phobic and screaming hysterically in her face. Maybe guilt by association?

Winter Outfit turns slightly in my direction. Our eyes lock over a squeezed and dripping fistful of refried beans, soggy tortilla chips, and a battered Stephen King novel.

Then the part of me that cringes at the thought of the tons of perfectly good stuff that gets tossed into Dumpsters every day shoves the two screeching ninnies in my head over on their skinny asses and nods at Winter Outfit. I offer him my chip basket. He looks suspicious for a second, then shakes his head, holds up his dripping hand full of leftovers and turns back to the bus tub.

I tried. But here's the thing:

Chris reported the other day that while waiting to get a table at the Hotcake House at 4AM that one of his drunk friends pulled the same thing. He reached over and snagged a piece of French Toast off an abandoned plate and was unceremoniously booted out. Chris and company ordered their food to go and ate with their exiled friend on the curb of Powell and 15th.

Since good things happen in threes, let me end with this encounter: I was sitting on the bench on the south side of the library and a man (also in winter garb, but far more vocal) was making his slow way from one end of the block to the other. I say slow because he would stop every 10 steps and turn around, screaming at an invisible opponent.

When he was three feet in front of me, he stopped, turned back, flipped the bird and yelled in a hoarse voice: "Smell this you dog-eared lesbian bitch!"

I love this town.