The communal cordless rang and rang about six hours before most of my roommates and I would have even considered getting out of bed. It was Reporter, and in those couple of minutes between realizing you are hungover and not knowing if you were going to be ok that day, I agreed to a road trip to his favorite out of town Mexican restaurant for lunch. It turns out I should have waited a couple more minutes before getting on board with this idea.
I crawled back into the pool of next day alcohol sweat and going-out clothes/shoes. The first minute after his call was spent deciding if the outfit I was still wearing was ok so I could go back to sleep for ten more minutes. Brilliant!
But anyone who ever played the ten more minutes of sleep game without setting the alarm first knows you always lose.
I slept for an additional twenty-five minutes before I was jolted by my internal clock. Peppering the apartment full of obscenities, I quickly got ready. Could I wash my face? No time! Brush my teeth? Skip the toothpaste and only use water! Hair? Smells like cigarettes and last call. Rub it with a dryer sheet!
5 minutes later, I was greeted with a kiss and Reporter was greeted by an evil-smelling homeless alcoholic who camps out in a laundry room.
First stop of any road trip is Starbucks. For my sad self, this was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Coffee seemed like a great solution for taking away the effects of the evening before.
On the contrary, one sip of my breve latte and I excused myself, playing a patient patron waiting in line for the restroom.
As soon as that door slammed behind me, the act was dropped, and so did last night’s dinner, drinks, Advil, and a sip of coffee.
Sweating and shaking, I tried to grab some paper towels, but it was one of those environmentally-conscious automatic dispensers that make sure you don’t kill too many paper towel trees.
I stood there waving my hand up and down over the little red light to get enough paper towels to clean up the mess. At this point, any sane person would have sheepishly told their date the truth, asked to be taken home and for a rain check.
Instead, I washed my hands, looked hard at myself in the mirror, put on lipstick, smoothed my hair, and thought, “Good, now that that’s over with, I’ll be fine the rest of the day.”
And, I was fine. For three or four minutes. There was a Burberry across the street Reporter asked if we could pop in. Immediately some smarmy Italian curiously selling British clothing rushed over to tend to Reporter’s every need.
I looked around. There were no seats. Where are the seats? There are always seats! But this was an exclusively men’s store and didn’t cater to the husbands holding wives’ purse, sick of shopping, and needing a nap demographic.
For a moment, I considered sitting on the floor and hoping the sales staff would think I was Reporter’s younger mentally challenged sister.
Maybe even offer me a Jolly Rancher or tissue paper to amuse myself with. But I didn’t want Reporter to think of me as a younger mentally challenged sister, so I propped myself up on the free-standing mirror in the middle of the store while he tried on blazers.
Wanting to stay shy of the expression dandy, let’s say Reporter was a clotheshorse and this was my first time shopping with such a beast.
He only tried on two, but we were there for almost an hour, him flip-flopping between them. Finally deciding that getting car sick was better than having the Burberry salespeople clean up what was left in my stomach, I tried to expedite the decision-making process.
The consequences of this mistake were two-fold:
1) After telling him I preferred the more classic two-button look, this created an opportunity for the salesperson to effectively tell Reporter I was mentally challenged and that the three-button, one pocket on the right and two stacked on the left was much more fashion forward.
Now Reporter thought I wasn’t fashion forward.
2) This created even more conflict in his mind, so I ended up using all my will and eventually selling my soul to the devil to stay upright on that mirror for another half hour.
In the end, Reporter left without a blazer, the salesperson was left despondent, and I left with my stomach contents.
Back in his Jeep Cherokee, poor Reporter tried to make conversation while I stared straight ahead; trying not to focus on the whirling, twirling trees flying by in the window.
Maybe he thought I was mad, or didn’t like him after all, but we arrived at the Mexican restaurant in silence. I was grateful for the opportunity to use all my energy on keeping my dignity intact. Perhaps the silent treatment even added to my allure.
The restaurant was a stand-alone hole in the wall, and since we were one of the few there, had our choice of tables. I insisted we sit outside. While chilly, I needed the cold air to match strength against my hangover sweats. The gaudy paint job, painted flaking wood furniture, and dirty plastic menu; the place looked legit. The only thing missing was a rooster roaming around the patio pecking for scraps.
I ordered, even though I couldn’t stomach the idea of lunch. Again, I excused myself to the ladies room which ended up being some cement closet with a toilet, and braced for it, only to have something worse happen: nothing. I was desperate to feel better, if only for a few moments.
Eventually, I returned to find my #8 waiting for me. Maybe I ate a shred of lettuce garnish or a few bites of cheese. It was obvious something was wrong and Reporter, the gentleman, didn’t embarrass me with questions. He finished his meal quickly, paid the check, and held my hand on the way back to the car.
Later, after a VHS and a nap, we headed out for dinner. By then, I felt great. Light on my feet as if I had just finished a juice cleanse and was about to go eat my weight in cow.
I ordered a burger rare (Reporter used to say I should order it, “Knock off its horns, wipe its ass, and throw it on the plate.” Apparently, this is Texan for blue-rare) and the horror, it came back medium. I wasn’t going to let two extra minutes on the grill get in the way of food at this point, dug in.
Inexplicably, Reporter stood up and disappeared. I barely noticed because those greasy homemade freedom fries and I were becoming fast friends. Reporter reappeared with the noticeably taken aback restaurant manager who promptly removed my plate and apologized for the mix-up. A rare burger was on its way, and of course was on the house.
Reporter, again always the gentleman, wanted to make sure my meal was right.
I, almost always the lady, made sure my meal stayed down.