I had bought a pre-made latte drink from the 7/11 and was getting ready to eat stale toast and one scrambled egg while trying to convince myself this counted as a big breakfast. I had driven to the convenience store that was just down the block from my apartment because the prospect of walking for almost five minutes on a Sunday morning was practically absurd to me. I was living in the 21st goddamn century, why should I have to walk somewhere? Everything was in place and more or less the same temperature (I had cooked the egg and toast before I realized I wanted some coffee) and I was ready to eat. I unwrapped the plastic from around the lid, unscrewed the top and began to drink, only to stop and remember you had to shake these sorts of things to have a consistent taste and viscosity. I put the top back on and began to shake.
This is where the trouble started. I only placed the lid back on the bottle, I did not screw it on. When I began to shake the bottle, the lid that would normally keep all of that yummy coffeelike liquid in flew off. On any other day it would have gone right over my shoulder, but in the spirit of “I Do What I Want” I had decided to shake it towards my face that day. As the bottlecap hit my nose my brain had enough time to say, “NIC YOU STUPID BASTARD . . .” before the latte covered my body. I screamed some profanities (something along the lines of Cunt Fuck Hell Nigger Dick Clock), hit the table and stood up in surprise. As my fist landed on the table it hit the plate holding the egg and toast and sent them flying into the air. For a moment both the food and I ascended at the same speed, as if the egg and toast were standing up to make sure none of the coffee got on them. But the illusion was dashed as the food also hit me in the face. I stood there, latte dripping from my hair, eggs resting on my shoulders and toast between my legs soaking up what coffee had made it to the floor. Thank God no one was here to see that, I told myself.
But that wasn’t true. There are times when I am glad others are not around to witness some of the things I do, but those actions are mostly no fault of my own. I trip on a crack in the sidewalk, I step in some dog shit, I don’t know exactly where I’m supposed to be going so I end up just walking around in circles. (Notice the walking theme? Just more evidence that I shouldn’t have to walk to places.)
During these moments I feel like a complete idiot, but we all experience those and by the end of the day I will have realized that I am not alone. These instances don’t speak to my overall intelligence.
But when I do something stupid I think it’s important that there are others around to see it. They’ll laugh and poke fun at me, sure, but they’ll also sympathize with me and might help me clean up. That laughter has always helped ease my own self-loathing; I’m able to step back and laugh at myself. Suddenly it’s not embarrassing, it’s a story, one I’d gladly tell at parties because silly self-deprecation can always win over a crowd.
But there was no one else there. I was alone. What had started off as a really shitty breakfast I was going to delude myself into enjoying had become a one-man show. I was on an empty, black stage, dressed like a mime and holding a green balloon with a hippo on it. I had just finished a 45-minute interpretive dance piece symbolizing the secret cabal of sidewalks. I bowed and waited for the applause, but none came. I looked up and saw that there was only one person in the audience. It was my brain, and he was laughing. At me. And he will stay there, laughing, for the rest of time so that if I ever start to feel good about myself my brain will remind me, “You can’t even shake a bottle of coffee without screwing up.” Without anyone to share with, the whole experience just gets filed into the evidence that proves that not only am I not as smart as I hope, but that I am also as dumb as I fear.
On a brighter note, the coffee made the eggs taste better.