I remember the days before I had a blog. Days where my friends were free to humiliate themselves in my presence without asking if I was going to write about them. Things have changed; today they treat me like a reporter waiting for his big scoop. They think I’m secretly documenting their every tic for a grand exposé, soon to be read by millions. Well joke’s on them, because first of all, nobody reads my blog.
Also, your idea of momentous may be terribly mundane for me. So just because you arrange your vegetables, rice, and meat into neat little piles before allowing yourself to start on your meal doesn’t mean that I’m going to put it up on my blog, Josh.
And Claire, everybody gets smashed sometimes, and you drenching your hair in toilet water while you were puking rainbows isn’t something people typically care about, so rest assured, you won’t be making the news anytime soon.
I’ve never understood this paranoia of being written about, until I met Helen.
You see, Helen and I matched through Tinder. Us getting along was a no-brainer. I liked Bukowski, and she had Bukowski’s verse tattooed on her ribs. I liked wearing black, and her wardrobe was equally colour-challenged. She liked tall guys, and I was short. I figured two out of three ain’t bad.
Actually deciding to go on the date however, was a different story. If you know me, you’ll know that my first interactions with strangers are a goldmine for bad blog stories.
Also, I’m not big on social interaction. So if I had to justify my sudden break in character, it’d be this concept I got off Tony Robbins: he said that the fear of loss motivated people more than the prospect of improvement. People avoided pain more than they sought happiness.
Perhaps I was operating off this exact fear. Maybe the pain of not meeting this special person was worse than making a fool out of myself. Or maybe I’ve just stayed home for too long. Either way, it was date night, baby.
After the nerve-racking introductions and ascertaining that we both weren’t catfishers, we settled down at a bar for drinks.
So far so good, but it wasn’t long before my scumbag brain decided that smooth-sailing was for losers. My drink arrived, and like clockwork, I spouted this gem: “I wanna come up with a beer pun, but I can barley stand them. Ha ha! Get it?”
If Helen’s face was any straighter, it’d be a ruler.
I sighed. “This is going into your blog, isn’t it?”
Let me give you a prologue. It was an hour before the date. I ironed my best shirt and put on a cologne I hadn’t worn in months. It’s weird how we put our best foot forward for the people we barely know. My colleagues rarely saw me in anything beyond a black tee and jeans, and I’ll be damned if they ever got a whiff of anything else besides Stuart No. 5. All this grooming had me running a little late as I’ve become terribly unaccustomed to dressing up for people.
Now, this might seem like a horrible segue, but let me take you back post-prologue into my hairdressing days, where one of my colleagues, Casey—who used to work in pest control—was telling me about German cockroaches.
“Those little bastards are impossible to get rid of. If they somehow happen to get into your car, you’ll never really ever exterminate them,” he said.
I forgot how we broached that topic while stacking tinfoil on a client’s head. I must’ve brought up my deathly fear of cockroaches.
Speaking of which, somewhere along my ancestral lineage, a forefather of mine must’ve woke up with cockroaches crawling out of his ears, etching a short-circuit into our DNA for generations to come. I hate—no I’m terrified of them.
So back to date night. I was running towards the car, the fear of making a bad first impression hot on my heels. I opened the door. I jumped into the driver’s seat. I jumped right back out. You probably guessed why. A German cockroach atop the steering wheel, oblivious to my budding tardiness.
Right on cue, my phone vibrated. A message from Helen: “Hey! I’m here! See you soon!”
I rapped the steering wheel, then blew at the cockroach to coax it into fleeing. I was on the verge of verbally pleading with that damn thing when it left on its own accord, burrowing itself behind the dashboard.
Am gonna have to look into bug-bombing the car, I thought, as I sped to the mall.
Awkward tendencies aside, the night went pretty well. I surprised even myself. I managed to persuade her that I was normal, and she turned out as interesting as I thought she’d be. We hung out way past closing time, and by the time we were leaving, the walkway to the parking lot was locked. She asked for a ride to her car, and I obliged.
We walked to my car, and I got in, only to find my old friend waiting on the passenger seat. Helen opened the door, and this is when time began to dilate. Einstein was right. Relativity exists. I felt the ensuing seconds stretch into eternity as I weighed the challenges that lay before me.
First problem, the avoidance of pain. It was a battle between my fear of cockroaches or her thinking I was a slob. The latter seemed worse. Solution, swat that damn thing, despite my disgust.
Second problem, putting my best foot forward for this stranger. I’ve worked so hard to appear normal, and I wasn’t going to let this cockroach taint my image. Solution, swat that damn thing.
Third problem, irrational fear of these nasty things. Overrode. Solution, swat that damn thing. I really need to get Casey to submerge the car in poison.
I managed to swipe it to the floor before Helen sat down. I threw in a casual whistle, acting as if I was dusting the seat for her. I’m not particularly pious, but I was praying to God she didn’t notice.
“Was that a cockroach?” she asked.
After all that, I was probably going to end up on her blog as some schlep with pests for pets. She turned to me, and I could tell she’s seen the look on my face before. It was the one I was used to seeing. It’s just that this time, I was on the other side.
“For God’s sake, Stu,” she said. “It’s not going on the blog. It’s just a cockroach. Nobody cares.”