My senior year in high school, I was awarded "Most Likely to Fall Asleep in Class." A few characters in my graduating class of four hundred provided a great deal of competition. However, I obtained the final honor by procrastination and persistence in my sleeper reputation. That, and I drank.
I almost earned the distinction of "Worst Driver." I made the final three, but ultimately my dear friend Pills conquered my efforts. The morning that our graduating class voted, she had made a left-hand turn on a red light. An oncoming car honked, she accelerated through the turn, the other car swerved, and she drove headlong into a line of idling vehicles. I couldn't compete with that.
Over the years, I've attempted to redress my missed glory. I've been cited for illegal turns, running through stop signs, cutting off officers of the law, failing to indicate a turn, having outdated registration, driving without a seatbelt, and being in possession of an open alcohol container in my car. I once had a warrant issued for my arrest because I didn't send in the processing fee after I fixed my side mirror. However, more than any other violation, I persistently get pulled over for speeding.
It's not that I forget meetings or appointments. I just assume it will take me less time to get places. I pride myself on my ability to leave later and arrive earlier than Google maps tells me to.
My Real Estate office is near the bottom of a hill in Santa Rosa called Fountaingrove. I was scheduled to show three houses located up the hill. Google maps estimated eleven minutes. I mentally allotted myself eight minutes. I got caught on the phone and sprinted to my car five minutes before the viewing.
I planned on tearing out of the parking lot and flying up Fountaingrove. Unfortunately, I was driving a 2000 Toyota 4Runner. The car had four cylinders and a lot of weight. I floored it and leaped up the hill at a steady rate of 15mph. A gorilla could have outrun my car.
Seven minutes later I was late and the hill leveled out enough to gain some speed. A bicyclist prevented me. The guy was swerving all over the road. My five-year-old cousin can ride in a straight line. He wobbled to the left and then would suddenly jolt to the right. Every time I tried to pass him, he lurched directly in front of my car. I slammed on the brakes three times to avoid hitting the nutter. The fourth time he wavered to the right, I smashed the accelerator to the floor and inched past him. The sun glinted off his red helmet and into my eyes.
"Get the f*** off the road," I screamed at him out my open window.
There was a sidewalk. I failed to comprehend why he couldn't use it.
Three minutes later, I opened the door to the house and turned on all of the lights. I was sweating and breathing like a rapist. I was wildly thankful that my client wasn't there yet. I looked out of the window to see a bicyclist ride up and dismount in front of the house. He wore a red helmet.
Heels make legs look skinnier and more toned. Heels accentuate calves and provide a booty lift. Walking around in heels all day can shed an additional six hundred calories. I can't wear heels. I limp, I grimace. I look like a hunchback.
However, as a Realtor, I have to look professional. I sometimes wear those goddamn torturous heels.
Earlier in the week, I had taken a client's house key to get a copy made.
"Please bring it back, it's my only key," the seller begged.
I assured her that of course I'd bring it back.
I drove the twenty minutes from her house back into the center of Healdsburg, but then a crises erupted with another deal and I drove in a mad frenzy to my Santa Rosa office. It wasn't until five hours later that I realized I still had her only key.
Four days after that, I returned to the seller's house with the key. She lived eight miles out of Healdsburg. Those eight miles comprised a windy and narrow road lined by cliffs and massive trees. It took twenty minutes to get from her house to a normal street and civilization.
I called the client to let her know that I was coming. When I arrived, the gate was padlocked. The gate wasn't electric. It had to be unlocked and opened manually. I parked outside the gate and could see the house in the distance. I jumped up and down, I waved my arms wildly in the air, I honked the horn like a crazy person. I flashed the headlights. Nobody came down from the house to let me in. Fifteen minutes later, it was getting dark and my vision was rapidly diminishing. With my 20/400 vision, I can barely see in daylight.
I decided to hop the fence. Except that the fifty thousand dollar fence was too narrow to get my foot in and the spikes across the top prevented me from muscling my way up. A tree grew nearby the fence. How I visualized getting over the fence required gymnastics and flexibility. My limbs have the pliability of a sixty-year-old man, and I was wearing heels. I propped my back against the tree and leveraged myself to the top of the fence. I stepped down on the narrow horizontal strip of wood and hung onto the tree so I wouldn't die. The only thing I could do was jump. I jumped. My right foot caught the spiked top of the plank and I plunged five feet to the ground. I fell directly on my knee into a mush of leaves, dirt, and roots.
As I started hobbling up the quarter-mile long driveway, the seller got into her car and drove down.
"I'm so sorry," she said. "I meant to open the gate for you."
"Oh, that's okay," I replied. "I just tried to hop the fence."
She looked at the grass and dirt stains covering my arms and legs. I had bark stuck to the back of my shirt. Some twigs and leaves were in my hair.
"You hopped the fence," she said. It wasn't a question.
I waited for her to say that I could get in her car and she'd drive me up to the house. She didn't ask me to get in the car. She nodded and continued driving towards the gate. I assumed that she was opening the gate so that I could walk through it on my way out. I sighed and staggered like a cripple up the long-ass driveway. I struggled towards the house and handed her the key when she had parked and gotten out of the car.
I wobbled back down to the gate, my body scratched and bruised, and my feet in agony.
When I got to the bottom, the gate was still padlocked, and my car was still outside the gate.
I had severe reservations about moving into the house that my high school friend Pakistan owned. My new room had stains on the carpet that looked like a cat massacre had occurred. A penny was glued to the wall. What appeared to be a blood stain adorned the baseboard.
In the other spare room, the previous occupant had left a television, dresser, bed, small refrigerator, some clothes, a desk, computer, and a drum set. I honestly don't know what he took with him when he moved out.
Pakistan and I posted an ad on Craigslist. It read:
New roommate needed. Cheap rent. Downtown-ish location. Fully furnished if wanted.
* Buys me beer
* Cleans the house
* Buys me beer
* Plays darts with me
* Buys me beer
* Pays rent on time
* Doesn't mind ants in the dishwasher
We received a lot of responses. We got emails from women in their fifties with grown children. Old men with dogs responded. A DJ, a drug dealer, and a beautician interviewed for the room. A handwritten note on pink paper appeared in the mailbox explaining that the prospective roommate didn't have internet access but was interested in the room. We hadn't specified the address in the ad. I wasn't really down with a stalker for a roommate, and Pakistan and I agreed that he would call her and tell her that the room had already been filled.
When I asked him the next day if he had called Pink Note Chick, he said that they had talked for awhile.
"She's awesome! She's coming by tonight!"
"Seriously?" I asked.
Pink Note Chick came by, and she was fantastic. She was twenty-six, and self-proclaimed down to earth, nice, and clean. She said that she worked part-time trimming.
"Trimming?" I asked.
"Trimming," she confirmed.
I assumed that she meant trimming bushes. As in women's bushes. As in specializing in hair removal of the lady goods. Pakistan thought she meant trimming plants. I'm still unclear as to what sort of trimming she did.
After interviewing Trimmer, a cage fighter came by to see the place, and then we went to Third Street Aleworks for the kind of night that simultaneously causes me despair and wonder, destruction and brilliance: $2 Tuesdays.
A few hours later, I was tired and wanted to go home, but after Third Street Aleworks we went to Russian River Brewery to meet up with some friends. At Russian River our friends asked how the roommate search was going. We told them that Pink Note Chick was currently known as Trimmer, and that she was excellent.
"She's sweet. She's down to earth, nice, clean... said she parties a bit but not that often. She's actually really cool."
"So compared to the women in their mid-sixties, the ex-military man with crazy rabid dog eyes, and the guy with a tattoo on his forehead, this girl rocks?" one of our friends asked.
"Precisely. She may be a stalker, but she's clearly superior to our other options," I confirmed.
Pakistan looked at me afterwards with raised eyebrows and asked, "Trimmer?"
"Trimmer," I agreed with a nod. She was number one on the list of potential roommates.
After Third Street I was still tired and still wanted to go home, but we went to the 440 Club. Typically, when the word "Club" is in a name, there is some dancing involved within the establishment. The 440 Club in Santa Rosa is a dive. It was established in the 1950's and the interior decor hasn't changed, aside from the vomit-infested carpets being upgraded a few years ago. As a liquor store in front and a bar in back, the 440 always offers the potential for violence and the marginal appeal of ordering a drink at a window outside the bar.
My friends and I stood in a circle in the 440 talking, when an incoherent mess of a girl fell into us and onto our drinks. She threw her arms up in the air and screamed a slurred speech. The only sentences I was able to comprehend were, "This is MY bar. It's mine. MY bar."
She swung her arms around, knocked two drinks onto the ground, stumbled into the corner of the bar, and vomited.
By February 1st, I hadn't worked out in two months. I had traipsed through Australia, Vegas, and Tahoe accompanied by booze slushies and cocktails. The extent of exercise that I had accomplished in those months was swimming as fast as possible in the opposite direction of a shark while diving the Great Barrier Reef. I was later told that what I thought had been a shark was in fact a very large turtle.
Starting February 1st, I joined a gym.
I ate a roast cricket a few years ago in Thailand and immediately gagged. Typically, I would rather eat a cricket than go to the gym. However, Sonoma County was flooding and my abdomen was expanding so much that I was starting to look pregnant. Someone in the grocery store last week actually rubbed my belly. I desperately needed to work out.
Unfortunately, I am consistently under the delusion that I have superior muscles. I played sports constantly until I graduated college, and I like to think of myself as an athlete. The fact that I haven't lifted anything heavier than a beer in the past three years failed to factor in.
I walked into a FIT Extreme class at Parkpoint Health Club, and I scoffed. Aside from one twenty-something overweight chick in the corner, everyone else was over the age of fifty-five. I noticed one of the men in my office smiling and waving at me. He's sixty-two.
I glared around the room, swung my arms across my chest a few times, cracked my neck, and thought to myself, I am awesome. Everyone's going down.
Within a minute and a half, I was sweating. Within five minutes, every breath was a gasp. My arms punched less enthusiastically and my legs shook. On my fourth girl push-up, I looked up at the old bag in front of me. She was doing man push-ups, elevating and lowering her body faster than I was. When we shuffled across the room like crabs, sweat pored into my eyes and I couldn't see. I missed the change direction and crashed into a man called Old Balls. He put his dry arm around my soaked shoulders and asked if I was okay.
"Water," I whispered, but Old Balls had continued shuffling and all I could discern was a blur of movement every way I turned. "Water," I murmured, stumbling like a homeless drunkard through the elderly. The last detail I saw before the sweat stung my eyes was Mayonnaise over in the corner looking at me and shaking her head.
After shoving my entire head into the drinking fountain and consuming a liter of water issuing forth from the tiny water stream, I was ready to go back inside.
I am awesome. Everyone's going down, I repeated to myself.
That was a hallucination. At the end of the class, all of the senior citizens walked out laughing and talking. I was incapable of speech and crawled out of the room.