I slept until one in the afternoon since I had been up all night. An hour or two into my bathrobed lazing about the internet my phone rang. The caller ID said that it was Cake Woman, so I was immediately confused — Cake Woman was supposed to be at work until seven saving people’s lives up Anoka way.
“Hi, Peanut, aren’t you at work?” I asked as I answered. I was genuinely perplexed.
“I’m sick,” she declared. “I’m all feverish and then getting chills.”
“Oh, sweetheart, do you want me to bring you some soup or something?” I offered.
“I want Flameburger,” she purred. That sounded pretty good to me, too, as I hadn’t eaten anything yet. I hadn’t even left my room except to pee.
“Okay, what kind of Flameburger do you want? Just the regular one?” I asked. I’m always a little bit nervous about buying food for other people so I try to get their explicit order. If you’re curious, Cake Woman wanted a regular Flameburger with an extra slice of cheese and no onions. She also requested that I pick up some macaroni and cheese and a video. The thought of visiting three different stores made me remember that I hadn’t taken a shower yet. I was already feeling pretty greasy without being seen in three public places, much less by my girlfriend who barely tolerates my looks as it is. Well, lately she’s been calling me cute and handsome, but I don’t quite believe her — she might just be humoring me so that I stop cowering from the public eye and making speeches to horrified onlookers: “I am not an animal, I am a human being!.” I asked if I could take a shower first, and although she said that I didn’t need one on her behalf, she was surprisingly generous in her allowance of the extra time for me to get ready.
Of course, once I finished the shower and called her back, things started to go wrong. She remembered that the otherwise 24 hour Flameburger closes at 3pm on Sundays. I asked what kind of macaroni and cheese she wanted, since I am not very familiar with the domain of instant food products (my own youth revolved more around hot dogs and ramen noodles than yellow-stained pasta, and honestly I always find mac and cheese not very filling) and she told me to forget it, she would just go to Target on her own. I had to admit that I didn’t have a membership at the Blockbuster on the way to Anoka (her way, since I take 35 to 10 rather than Central to 694 to 252 to 610 to 169), and after first declaring that it would just take a second for me to sign up she revised her declaration to say that she was just going to pick up movies when she was out. Suddenly I had nothing to do but not be late. This was a far cry from my first Valentine’s Day with Melissa where she threw up for a week straight while I slept on the floor next to her bed so that I could run and fetch exactly the right kind of Popsicles (Edy’s Whole Fruit? How quickly we forget).
When I arrived at her doorstep and then waited for her to get back from the store, she looked radiant but tired. I wanted to make the macaroni and cheese, but I just stayed out of the way while she made it. I couldn’t help but get underfoot, though, causing her to literally trip over me and spill tea on herself. Then she spilled Scooby-Doo macaroni under the burner and yelled at me when I wanted to use the handle of a whisk to hold the burner out of the way after she lifted it with tongs. I started to get anxious because I hate letting her down.
“Is there anything I can do to help or get out of your way?” I asked. Sometimes she responds to this question by telling me to stay put because she just wants my company, but this time she asked me to fix the futon couch so that it would be livable.
“And pick a movie and start it,” she added. I grimaced: I had a clear picture in my mind of manhandling the futon mattress and straightening out the throws, but I didn’t know which movie she wanted to see first. That question slid to the back of my mind as I pulled on the mattress, which refused to crease itself anew despite my firmest efforts. Honestly, “Lord of War” seemed like it would be kind of a black hearted comedy, and I wasn’t very excited about “Capote” even though I did want to see it. I couldn’t get the mattress to sit up higher, and I imagined Cake Woman’s insistent glare.
“You’re bad at this,” she would say, and I would feel like a dick for not doing it right. I hoped that having the green blanket straight to lie on and the tan blanket nicely folded would cover my shame. I turned my attention to the movies, but couldn’t decide which choice would make Cake Woman happier. I held them behind my back and switched them from hand to hand until I had forgotten which movie was which. Capote came forward when I looked at my right hand, which made me grimace, so I picked Lord of War since it was what I really wanted.
Cake Woman brought out the mac and cheese, which was delicious. I had the movie cued up already so when I hit play the camera immediately swept across a carpet of empty shells. Cake Woman asked if I had put in Capote and I braced for her to punch me for choosing a movie that went against her wishes. I stammered out a shaky no and she looked at me funny.
“It’s funny!” she asserted. “It’s obviously not Capote.” I laughed half-heartedly, but then the movie was very good and darker than I had expected.