This is more than likely a bad idea, this climbing out of bed and beginning to write. But at this point, I think staying in bed and trying to sleep is probably an even worse idea. Here’s how it happened, all right?
Around one o’clock this afternoon, I realize that it’s one of those days. I don’t know what that means for most people. I mean, I always hear people saying shit like, “Oh, it’s one of those days,” and I realize that it means that they are having a pretty bad day. To me, it’s a sentence fragment—the whole thing goes, “It’s one of those days where when I get home from work, I’m writing all kinds of evilness directed at mankind in general and Austin shoppers and drivers in specific, and I’m knocking back drinks as quickly as possible until I can’t remember where I’m at, who I am, or why everyone is looking at me like that.
I couldn’t start in on my deviant behavior immediately, however, because my princess was still at work, and as much as people frown at the whole drinking-and-driving thing, they tend to get downright pissed when you start doing it in an elementary school zone. So I sat around, waiting for her to call me and tell me that she’s ready to be picked up. The maintenance man showed up and fixed the oven, which was pretty cool, as I’ve been without my oven for about three weeks now. In all fairness to my apartment complex, I only phoned it in yesterday. With all my bitching about everything, one thing I’ve never had complaints about is the maintenance at my apartment complex—you call something in, they usually show up within a couple of hours, and most of the time, they fix whatever’s wrong. The only reason my oven didn’t get fixed yesterday is because they had to order parts for it. So yeah, not important, really—I just wanted you to know that I don’t complain about everything.
Anyways, so the oven is fixed, my princess is ready to get picked up, things are going along smoothly. Just before I leave the house, the maintenance guy goes, “And tell her that I also changed the light bulb in her oven—it was burned out.”
“Thanks, man,” I say to him, “I’ll tell her.”
When I pick her up, I mention this to her, kind of joking-like. She gets offended, because even though she’s a very liberated woman, she still likes to think that she takes care of me—cooking, keeping the house nice, stuff like that. The thing is, she’s been frantically trying to keep shit under control with this first-year teacher stuff, which I hear is always hectic, and she’s been fighting some sort of sickness off every other week, it seems like—if you think kids are cute and adorable and shit, you try hanging out with a group of them for a while. Freakin’ little germ factories.
My point is, I’ve been getting off work around three everyday, and aside from heavy drinking, I don’t really have anything to do. So I’ve been cooking. I’ve been cleaning. I’ve been doing the stuff around the house that needs to get done, and I haven’t really thought about it in terms of am I being taken care of. Also, I’ve learned a couple things.
When I was a kid, there were certain things that I really loved, but my mom almost never made. I grew up thinking this stuff was practically impossible to make, so I’ve never even attempted to make it. But lately, I’ve realized that you can find almost any recipe on the internet. And I’ve learned this: something that might seem next to impossible when you’re a single mother trying to cook for yourself and three kids is pretty easy when you’re some guy that’s just sitting around trying to figure out how to be a fat, lazy slob, but still look productive.
So I’ve been cooking a lot, not so much out of any conscious desire to help out, but rather because I really like food.
Anyways, so I didn’t realize this was such a touchy subject when I mentioned on the ride home. “I cook,” she says to me.
“Did you even know the oven was broken?” I ask her. I’m still laughing, joking around, because I don’t understand the gravity of the situation.
She responds that, yes, she did know the oven was broken. I’m kind of sensing the seriousness now, so I let it go, change the subject, whatever.
But here’s where I really screw up. When we get home, she throws some cookies in the oven, right? There are two knobs you have to turn to make our oven work: there’s one that says things like BAKE, BROIL, OFF, and some other word that I can’t make out because it’s been worn off. I’ve always assumed it does something really amazing, but I never use that setting because what if it just caught the house on fire, you know? The other knob has number all over it—that’s what you turn to tell the oven how hot you want it to get.
She puts her cookies in the oven, closes the door. Me, being helpful, notice that she’s turned the degree knob, but has failed to turn the other knob to BAKE. So I turn it on. She sees me turn the BAKE knob, and assumes that I also set the degree knob. What we fail to realize is that the maintenance guy, when he was testing out the oven, turned it up to 400 degrees and left the knob there. He had turned the oven off, but he didn’t set it back to zero like we always do.
One thing you aren’t supposed to do when you bake cookies is cook them at 400 for ten minutes. If you do, you end up with charred black lumps of weirdness that look like something a dog would try to eat, and you’re all, “Knock it off, Spot!” but he doesn’t knock it off, and just keeps munching it down, until it makes him vomit, and then , when he's done vomiting (and probably eating that up, too) he runs over and licks you right in the face. Which is one of the many reasons why dogs are fucking disgusting animals.
Anyways, we smelled the burning, went out to check the oven, and found the charred remains of the cookies. And to me, it was really funny. See, in my head, what I saw was a sitcom-like-cutscene: “I can cook! I cook all the time!” And the first thing that gets put in the oven gets burned. Funny, right?
If you answered, “Right!” you have much to learn. The correct answer would have been, “You insensitive bastard.”
Because how it went in her head was, “I’m trying to make cookies, they burn, and he laughs at the fact that now I have nothing to eat.” From that perspective, I see how it could hurt her feelings. Still, it was pretty funny. I mean, smoke comes billowing up out of the oven, the cookies barely look like cookies—maybe I just watched too many cartoons when I was little, I don’t know, but that shit is still pretty funny to me.
We talked about it, addressed the issue, as it were. She explained to me why I was a dick (without the language—she doesn’t use curse words, if you can imagine), and I apologized. Also, I explained to her why it was so funny. She saw a little humor in it, I guess, but not as much as it deserved.
With everything happily resolved, I asked her if she needed the computer—I had actually explained earlier about how I had “one of those days” and what I planned to do about it. “I just need to check my e-mail for a second,” she told me.
If you’ve ever used the internet at all, you understand that there is no “for a second.” It’s essential to her job, though, and since I was planning on just sitting around and writing a bunch of ranting nonsense, I passed over the computer.
While I was waiting for her to finish up, I dozed off. I woke up two hours later, groggy, not really thinking about it, and asked, “Are you done yet?”
“Just about.” A.K.A. “penance.”
I woke up hours later—ten after midnight, to be exact—she’s in bed, the laptop is quietly humming at the foot of the bed, and the TV is quietly rambling on about whatever shit it’s always telling the world.
12:10. I have to wake up early. I can’t be getting out of bed and writing at 12:10, shitty day or not. I mean, I’ll only be getting five more hours of sleep, anyways—drinking is out of the question. It’s not so much a matter of sleep, as much as it’s a matter of waking up with a buzz.
And then I remember that it’s me.