Well, I got the job. “I’m not surprised,” I told Rachel over the phone on the 28th, which she loved. I started to think the poor girl was falling for my weasel charms. Call me crazy, but women in their mid-thirties just adore me for some reason. I’d like to believe they see me and think – Hmm… for twenty nine he looks so young! Those are some great genetics. And… shit, he might be more willing to settle down and start a family soon. I’m drying up over here!
Maybe not those exact thoughts, though. But seriously, folks: I’d be willing to wager that some of these women do – at some level – experience an autonomous moistening of the panties in the presence of an age-defying weasel warrior. It’s not their fault, just as it’s not mine.
Anyway, I don’t remember what I did for the rest of that afternoon. Alls I remember is saying adios to Anna and Leo around six, I think, because they were going camping for a few days – which I was happy about since I still wanted to hit local bars, something they weren’t allowed to do just yet.
So, with them gone I celebrated with solitude. I grabbed a discounted cup of coffee at World Cup across the hostel (NW 18th and Glisan), 1Q84 from my locker, and then sat in the comfy teal chair of the downstairs common room. As I sat there I realized that Little Bird was working. Then I decided I wanted – needed (wanted) – a cookie.
I walked upstairs and into the lobby, making note of the ghost hostel the place had become at that hour. Fine by me, I thought. That meant less pressure for me when working my routine on Little Bird. And yes, she was alone, dressed in blue jean capris (I think), a shirt with blue and white stripes (I think), and a thin grey sweater that was unzipped (yes, indeed).
“Guess who…?” I said, paying attention to her face. Nothing too alarming, really. Just the usual shyness and little smile with a pinch of apprehension. I sensed she was trying to ready herself for whatever bullshit was about to exit my mouth.
“Look who it is,” I think she said, in that cute voice. I wanted to ask if she’d sing “Blue Christmas” for me.
“What’s cracker jackin’?” I asked her. “Chasing the dream?”
I think she just laughed, looking a little more pink than usual around me.
“Can I get a cookie please?” I asked next.
“Sure,” she said, not expecting this. “Which one?”
At the corner of the desk were three large jars with paper signs in permanent marker.
“Which ones have you tried?” I asked her.
“Only the chocolate chip,” she replied.
“Some help you are,” I joked, followed by, “Gimme the oatmeal.” I then watched her open the jar, and I swear, folks, that she had to tip-toe to reach inside the damn thing, the poor girl. Plus, I think it was the last cookie left.
“Holy shit – I didn’t realize they were that big,” I said. “Thing’s the size of your face. Go ahead and take half – I’m on a diet.”
“No thanks,” she said, not taking me seriously.
“So did you bake these yourself or what?” I asked.
“I did not. We get them from a bakery that used to have a shop nearby, but when they became popular they started making them wholesale.”
“I see. Cool. Well, I’ll be downstairs enjoying my half of the cookie until you decide to eat the rest for me. See ya.”
Back downstairs now, I sipped medium roast coffee, nibbled on cookie, and daydreamed to Tycho’s Dive as planned. It didn’t take long to feel separate and free. But when trying to read, I couldn’t focus on anything but Little Bird. My mind was like a flip book, its pages zipping by and showing our conversation and its possibilities.
The caffeine was really hitting me now, too, and I felt so damn sharp and dialed-in despite not being able to focus on much else. But then, after maybe five songs had played, along with more ads than I would’ve liked, I automatically looked right and spotted her giving some putz a tour. On her way back I smiled and pointed to the cookie in a way meant to be funny. Her lips stretched into a smile and began to move, so I removed my Sony mdr-7506s as quickly as I could. “Look, I baked you a cookie,” I said.
“Do you realize how many nibbles of things I have everyday here?” she said, which I thought was cute – her being a little bird and all.
“Eat the cookie, woman!” I said, taking a sip of coffee. She giggled and then was out of the room, while I did nothing but smile and shake my head. Then, what seemed like ten minutes, I looked up as she was walking by with pink towels or sheets, I think. So I waited, like a creepy Buddhist monk high on caffeine and sugar, and when she reentered I removed my headphones again and pointed to the cookie. “Look at this thing,” I told her. “I’m trying to pull it apart into the shape of Oregon.”
I remember thinking, since my line was improvised: Damn, Eddy, that was slick. And yes, she laughed. But she also looked like she didn’t know how to respond, as if my humor had caused her to short circuit. So I followed up with, “What do you think? Does it need work?”
“Um…” she began, still smiling and fiddling with her lanyard.
“I just need a knife,” I interrupted. “I need professional tools for this.”
She giggled and headed up the stairs again, leaving me smiling and shaking my head again. And that’s when I finally got some reading done. After a few chapters I decided that I might as well get some laundry done too, and then ran upstairs to the front desk, where Little Bird was still slacking off instead of tending to the nest. Again I could tell that she was bracing herself. “Yo, I need some quarters!” I said, in my best Jersey Shore accent.
She smiled and asked how many. “At least four dollars,” I said.
“Alright, then,” she said, looking more nervous this time. I swear that her hands were shaking a bit as she grabbed my cash.
“Bless your heart,” I replied. “I’ll buy you a cookie.”
She laughed and counted the coins. “Thanks again,” I said, and then darted back downstairs to grab my clothes. The laundry room was right outside the door that led into the common room, both at the foot of the stairs. And what a tiny laundry room it was: one washer and one dryer. And as I loaded the washer, I started fantasizing about making out with Little Bird in there. I mean, what else is there to think about when you’re holding dirty boxers in your hand?
But then I realized I had no detergent. Whoops. Looks like a job for the front desk!
“Excuse me, friend,” I said to Little Bird. “Can I have some detergent, please?”
“I guess so,” she said, and then handed me a blue scoop of powder, and without thinking I sniffed it and tried to looked disgusted.
“What?” she said, smiling.
“What are you trying to pull, woman?”
“You don’t like the smell?”
“Nah, it’s fine. I’m just trying to be funny.”
“I should’ve known,” she said. “Oh, and make sure you use hot water with that stuff.”
“What!?” said I, as if offended. “But my jeans will get ruined! Who taught you how to do laundry, huh?”
“Don’t believe me then,” she said, playfully.
“This is madness! But I’ll do warm – how’s that?” I said, smiling, a smile that was followed by her own.
Anyway, I loaded the detergent, inserted the coins and pressed start. But nothing happened. Looks like a job for the front desk!
Upstairs Little Bird was still alone and still looking bored. “Oh, you’re gonna love this,” I said. “The damn thing won’t start.”
“What did you do?!” she said, still keeping with the playfulness.
“Nothing! That machine obviously wants us to talk some more.”
“Let me go fix it, then,” she said.
“Bless your heart,” I replied. “And you owe me some quarters, too.”
Down the stairs I forced myself to only stare at her ass for two seconds – out of respect. And in the laundry room I didn’t stare at it at all due to the make-out fantasies plaguing my brain and penis. “What did it say when you tried starting it?” she asked, catching me off guard. This was the closest we had been, and my big schnoz was taking a massive hit of her scent.
“What do you mean!?” I began. “It just showed weird symbols like from the Matrix or some shit.”
“It just needs to be restarted,” I think she said, and then inserted a key that opened a small rectangular cover on the top right corner of the box housing the coin system. Seconds later the thing started.
“Look at you,” I said.
“There ya go,” she said, heading for the exit.
“Well, thanks again, miss. I’ll come bug you after I get some more reading done.”
“Okay,” she laughed, and then headed back to the front nest.