As I was doing some more packing, one of my beloved cats jumped into a box that I had stupidly stacked a little too high. Both the box and cat fell down on me. I have the bruise to prove it in a less than flattering place, but I will spare you the image. I am on the floor, making sure the damn cat was okay, while throwing everything back in the box for a second time. “How do I get myself into these situations?”
Many years ago, before Joe, before the kids, Christin and I found ourselves in a very similar situation. There was a brief period in time where we were on the outs with Alphonso. Naturally, it was not anything Christin and I did. Alphonso was just being a douche for a brief period in his life. Christin and I woke up one Saturday, both of us having the same day off. Doing retail work, that was definitely a rarity. Over breakfast that consisted of coffee and Tylenol, we had the brilliant idea of “Let’s just find our own place.” The logic being was Alphonso could keep the apartment, have all his colorful friends move in with him, and Christin and I would start over in a two bedroom that we know we could afford between the two of us. We both did a quick survey of our belongings, trying to do a mental count on how many trips we could do our quick move in. The only big thing that may be a problem to move was her bed. At this point I had been sleeping on the floor. I was totally willing to say good-bye to my couch cushions, while slamming down a twenty at the local Goodwill.
Just like that our plan was set into place.
In the span of twenty minutes Christin and I decided we were going to move out. Next up, we had to find a place. I mean how hard could that be? We were living in a somewhat hip and up and coming city. There were apartments all over the place. Of course with Christin being the only one with a car we would have to find a place within walking distance to work. Something affordable because we worked retail, that should say enough. We both went to our respective rooms to get ready for the day. Christin to her bedroom and well, I was already in the livingroom so I did not have far to go. I could hear her R&B music blasting from her bathroom. Lauryn Hill or something like that. The fact the Christin and I had two totally different taste in music told me we were off to a great start. I threw some Michelle Branch into my old worn down cd player (because that’s one of Christin’s favorites) and started getting ready for our new adventure. Finding a new place to live!
By the time I returned with coffee from our local gas station right down the street, Jordan was already there. Jordan was a new guy Christin was slowly starting to get to know. I liked this guy. He was always a gentleman with Christin. Every time he came over, he would give her a gentle kiss on her cheek. He never made her pay when he took her out (unlike some of her previous suitors) and most importantly he made her laugh. Her laugh, her high-pitched almost screaming shrill could make a cat go crazy, but that is how you knew you had her.
“Hi Jordan! Did Christin tell you our new plan?”
“Uh, she did, are you sure you guys know what you are getting into?”
“Duh, it’s the perfect fix. I am just surprised we did not think of it sooner.”
As I made my way to the kitchen, I see a complete stranger washing our dirty dishes. With the strangers back to me, I turned to Christin and Jordan and mouthed “Who is this person?”
Jordan stood up, while Christin gathered her purse. “Jen, this is Ryan, he’s an old friend who will be tagging along with us today if that’s cool?”
Great. I hate new people.
This Ryan character turned towards me, and just gave a quick nod of his head, while washing the dishes.
“Christin, can I talk to you real quick in your room……I need to, ummm, borrow a shirt.”
The look she gave Jordan did not escape me.
“Why does this new person have to come along?”
“I don’t know, Jordan said he may be able to help.”
“Is he the apartment manager of a complex?”
“No, he works at Boeing with Jordan.”
“Then how in the hell can he help?!”
Just like that, the four of us were off. We took Jordan’s car, and I made Christin sit in the back seat with me. First up was this cute little complex right off of Pac. Hwy. Not too much further of a walk/drive from where we already lived. The 500.00 deposit along with the 40.00 application fee (per person) was enough to turn us away. Just a little bump in the road. We did not account for the deposit fee in this little plan of ours. The second, third, and fourth complex pretty much ended with the same result.
Somehow when I was not paying attention, Christin was now in the front seat next to Jordan, and Ryan was in the backseat. I was so not in the mood to make small talk. I was on a mission. We had to find an apartment ASAP or Christin and I would be stuck covering Alphonso’s portion of the rent……again.
I grabbed my notebook and pen from my purse and started working the numbers. There had to be a way for us to afford the deposit, application fee, and first months rent. There just had to be, we had a plan!
“I think you added that wrong.”
I looked over and Ryan just happened to be reading over my shoulder.
“No, I did not add it wrong.”
“You did not carry the one, you should use a calculator.”
“Well actually I prefer doing longhand because you never know what kind of mistakes you can make with a calculator.”
“Except you made a mistake doing long hand.”
“No, look, 9+5=15, then you carry the one, and see, there ya go.”
“9+5 is 14.”
“No it’s not.”
“Why would I lie?”
“I do not think you are intentionally lying, I just think you are wrong……Christin, do something!”
“Jen, 9+5 is 14.”
I may have heard a snicker from Ryan.
We decided to stop to get some lunch. I do not know about anyone else, but the stress was making me hungry, and between you and me, I kinda felt Christin was not totally into this. Just from the perspective of me being in the backseat, I think she was spending a little too much time listening to Jordan’s stories and not enough time on our mission……finding a new place!
Denny’s was pretty crowded. We were quickly packed like sardines into a booth that claimed to sit four, but the reality was anything but that. I glanced up from my menu, noticed that Jordan had his arm gently wrapped around Christin, while they were sharing a menu. It was both cute and disgusting. Maybe I needed to be a little bit more patient. Clearly Christin is happy, and we all know it has been awhile since she had an actual nice guy interested in her. So, fine. I will try to bring it down a notch.
“Are you ready to order?”
Our lovely waitress whose name tag stated in a big bold font, “Becky”, looked as if she would rather be any other place than at our table.
“Can you come back to me, I am still looking.”
I could not decide between a burger or chicken tenders. They both looked good and I was pretty hungry, and…
“I’ll have the chicken friend steak, eggs sunny side up, toast as the side”
“The steak and eggs, scrambled, side of pancakes.”
“Chicken tender salad with ranch as the dressing, no bread.”
Oh that’s right, Christin was doing her low carb thing again.
“Are you ready now?”
I could tell by Becky’s tone she may have been annoyed.
“I’ll have the cheese burger and fries.”
“How do you want your burger?”
“Pink, a little pink, or no pink?”
“Oh, a little pink.”
“What kind of cheese?”
“American, swiss, cheddar.”
“American, that’s fine.”
“What kind of fries?”
“Okay seriously? French fries, how many different options do you have for french fries?”
“Seasoned, sweet potato, we also have onion rings.”
“Regular french fries, the kind you have pictured here in this picture. You did not spend this much time on everyone else’s order!!!!”
Pretty safe to say someone is going to now spit in my food.
Christin, Jordan and Ryan were now looking at me, all wide-eyed and such. So, maybe I was a little bit rude, but come on. All I wanted was a burger and fries!
Lunch conversation was fairly, well, predictable. I listened to Jordan’s stories of how he builds airplanes, or something like that. Christin was telling the guys about her job, and Ryan apparently had some sort of office job. I was not really paying that much attention, I was too busy working the numbers, trying to find a solution we had to be missing.
“Christin, what if we applied for a pay-day loan, what do you think? We would have the money for a deposit.”
“That’s not a good idea.”
I looked to my left, where the unsolicited advice came from. Ryan. See, this is why I do not like new people. I do not know this guy well enough for him to be inserting his opinion on something he knows nothing about.
“Jen, I have to agree, a pay-day loan will just keep taking money from our check until we are able to pay it back and the interest rates are crazy.”
“Yeah, but maybe if we could pay the loan off in time then we wont get hit with the…”
“She’s right. You’re just going to screw yourselves with the interest rates.”
And now I had hit my limit. I turned to Ryan, while making an exaggerated effort of throwing my notebook and pen on the table.
“So here’s the thing, I do not need to be told what wont work, I need to be told what will work, and no offense Ryan, but you do not know our situation, and if we do not do this now, then Christin and I will just be stuck another month paying for Alphonso, who you do not even know but trust when I say he is so not dependable, unless it has to do with the new Marc Jacobs bag, then he is all up on that, and we cannot keep on enabling, what’s that saying, give a man a fish he eats for a day, teach a man to fish, he eats longer…….you know that saying…….we have to do something, and even though you have your little fancy job at Boeing, Christin and I do not have that, we are pay check to pay check and I have my kid to think about and…..”
“You have a kid?”
“Jen, let’s go to the restroom.”
I knew her tone, she was worried I would say something I may regret. She may have been worried I would say something to embarrass her in front of Jordan. At this point, she may have been right.
“Umm, yes I have a kid, is that okay with you or would you like to also give me parenting advice along with my living situation?”
“Are you ready for dessert?”
Good Ole Becky.
“Just the check please.”
“Is this all on one or separate?”
Jordan spoke up before I could protest.
“One check please.”
Digging in my wallet I pulled out 15.00 in cash, should be enough to cover my burger and tip. I gave it to Christin. She gave it back.
“How old is you kid?”
“Ummm, he is, ummmm, he is…”
“He is just over a year…..we will be right back.”
Where was she going? I want to go too. She can’t leave me here at this table with Mr Know-it all.
“Jordan wants to order a pie to go.”
“But you do not eat pie, it has carbs!”
As soon as Christin and Jordan left to go order some so-called pie, I quickly took Christin’s place in the booth. I had my notebook, I had my pen, I had my third refill on diet coke, I was good to go! I am a fixer, I can do this, I can find a way.
“Do you mind if I give you some advice?”
I glance up from my notebook, Ryan was just sitting there all “chill” like, like he just had the answers to everything.
“Yes, I do mind but thank you for the offer.”
“Between your deposits, application fees and the cost of moving, renting a truck or whatever you guys plan on doing, it would make more sense for you guys to stay where you are for another month, give your friend your 30 day notice, that way when June comes around, the money that you would be putting towards rent can now be put towards your new place. You guys just need a little more time.”
“But we do not have time.”
“But you do.”
“Nope, not really.”
“What will be different waiting an extra month, how will that be different from now?”
And I had enough. I mean I guess Ryan meant well, but I felt he was just shooting me down. I had a plan and here he was this new person who I just met hours before coming in and telling me what I was doing wrong. I do not do well with that. I gathered up my belongings without a word.
At the exact second I stood up from the table, Becky, was seating a table of ten right next to us. A female from that table and myself, happened to…..what word am I looking for……collide. Both of us backs were to each other, so I am getting up, she is trying to sit and well, there ya go. Everything after that happened pretty fast.
“Oh I’m sorry.”
“Watch yourself Bitch.”
“You best be paying attention.”
“Paying attention to what, I just apologized!”
“If you were paying attention you would not have to apologize.”
“Well this day just gets better and better.”
Ryan was up from the table, Christin and Jordan made their way back just as the lovely lady next to me was slurring her words.
“Jen, what’s happening.” Christin was worried, scared.
“Bro, take her to the car”
From what I gathered Ryan was telling Jordan to tak Christin to the car? Sure….take my wing man away from me!
“You sure? You got this” Jordan was already on his way out with Christin.
Got what? What is happening here?!?!
“I think you were after my man.”
“Seriously, the lovely gentleman over there who is wearing a Tupac shirt that is about five sizes too big? I am good.”
“You wanna go?”
“Go where? What is happening?”
Ryan was at my side, hand on my back which was a little too close to comfort to me, he guided me to the exit while whispering to me “Jen, they are tweaking we need to go.”
To this day I have no idea what tweaking means, although I believe it has something to do with being high on drugs.
“Yeah Bitch that’s what I thought.”
So here is the thing about me. I do not know how to fight. Would not have the slightest clue what to do if some girl started to pull her hair up while taking her earings off. Maybe just stand there and look cute? Hell if I know. For whatever reason, adrenaline, cockiness, confidence, I felt that perhaps I could have the last world.
“Tell your man to lay off on the grand slams and take his money to get you guys sober.”
The words just escaped my mouth…..and before I knew it, Christin, Jordan, Ryan and me were back in the car…….and poor Becky never got a tip.