Maintaining One’s Shit
Yesterday afternoon, Ryan and I went to see The Village. A few minutes into the movie, I leaned over and whispered to him, “I’m just warning you: I might lose my shit.” I really like scary movies—good freaky scary movies, not gory slasher films—but they really do scare me, and when I lived alone, I never allowed myself to watch them because I knew I’d end up with my head under the covers that night, wishing I had one of those Gary Larson-designed bad dream snorkels to breathe through. But now that I have roommates, and can fall asleep comforted by the knowledge that if that little dead girl shows up, everybody’s fucked, not just me alone, I can see all the scary movies I want.
Anyway, there wasn’t really anything in The Village that was all that scary, save for maybe Bryce Dallas Howard’s giant hairy man hands, but I had no idea that the frightening part was going to come after the movie, at Chevys. Chevys is a large colorful Mexican chain restaurant located inside the same building as the theater, and they offer 15% off your bill if you retain your movie stub, so we sat outside and ordered some beers and fajitas and were enjoying ourselves until (WARNING THE FOLLOWING FRACTION IS MAYBE THE SCARIEST PART OF ALL) about three-fourths of the way through our meal, when I looked down and noticed that there was a medium-to-large-sized roach lying belly-up on the onions and peppers.
It took my brain a moment to process this new information, so I actually kept chewing for a second, staring at this intruder, this mid-sized vermin, this sedan of roaches, who had obviously been cooked ALONG WITH the onions and peppers, body camouflaged by the brown of the caramelized onions, and while I was chewing my brain kept saying things like, “Surely your eyes are deceiving you. You are enjoying your guacamole and black beans and grilled chicken and Corona with lime, and the nice breeze coming off the water, and conversation with a good friend, and how would a mid-sized cockroach fit into this picture? Clearly, it would not,” while my eyes kept saying things like OH MY GOD IS THAT A THORAX?
So I put down my fork and very quietly alerted Ryan to the presence of this interloper among our onions and peppers. He leaned over to check it out for himself, still chewing, and I could see the same thought process play out in his head. Then he leaned back in his chair, eyes wide and face blank, swallowed and coughed and sort of laughed, and starting whistling La Cucaracha. So I said, “Ryan,” in still a very quiet but URGENT tone, a tone that said, “Perhaps you do not understand that I am doing a remarkable job of holding my shit together at this moment, but on the inside, I am a woman in turmoil, a woman who is seconds away from being COMPLETELY UNABLE TO DEAL with the current situation, and I am begging you as my friend to please, please do something before I freak the fuck out.”
So Ryan went over and quietly (quietly! still! we were masters of discretion!) explained our predicament to our waitress, who immediately went inside to tell someone else, leaving us sitting at the table, the food on our plates untouched, our chairs pulled back a little, not speaking but sort of casting anxious looks around, and whenever our eyes would meet, we would make these sort of maniacal sounds of desperation, or maybe Ryan would chuckle.
I now realized that the two people seated next to us were aware of our behavior, and they were trying to figure out what was going on. I’m sure at first we looked like a couple having a fight, but then perhaps they could sense the damp purple waves of panic emanating from my very being, and the guy caught my eye and said, very calmly, “I’m sorry; did you find a bug in your food?” to which I nodded, and then he said, “May I ask what kind of bug?” and I said, “The very worst kind,” and then the girl, horrified, came over to our table and checked it out for herself, and we were all agreeing that it was a truly shocking and disgusting chain of events, when at that moment the door opened and someone started walking towards their table with a giant tray and we heard the telltale sizzle, and realized they had ordered the fajitas too. We all shared this look of terror and inevitable doom, much like I think you would share with someone who was about to be eaten by a shark while you were already in the shark’s mouth, this look of O, MY BROTHER, WHAT A FOUL AND TRAGIC FATE WE ARE DESTINED TO SHARE! TRULY GOD IS ABSENT FROM HIS HOUSE TODAY!
Then our waitress returned with the manager and everyone started apologizing, and told us that of course we didn’t have to pay for it, and then the guy at the table next to us said, “Uh, we just ordered the same thing, and we don’t want it now,” and the manager assured him that of course they wouldn’t have to pay for it either, so we left a tip and got up to leave, glad to have that sordid and chilling business behind us, Ryan casting longing last looks at his salmon fajitas.
If you are at all aware of my feelings about roaches, you should know that I deserve a motherfucking blue ribbon for not standing up immediately and screaming, and I would just like to point that I waited until we were at least 20 feet away from the restaurant to fully freak out, which meant jumping up and down and screaming inside of my mouth and covering my face with my hands while doing this uncontrollable shivery spasm with my entire body. I also managed to calm down when we were walking past the World Trade Center site, because a roach in your food seemed like a shitty thing to freak out about at that geographical point, but then once we passed it I had to call every single person I knew and relive the horror, sometimes passing the phone to Ryan to give a fresh perspective, which was usually things like “Shit, I was ready to keep eating!”
In summation: The Village: eh. Chevys: SWEET CHRISTIAN LORD IT WILL HAUNT ME TO THE END OF MY DAYS.