The Clown

I was in the bathroom doing my business and thinking about death, as I sometimes do when I am in a vulnerable position. I washed my hands and looked in the mirror; I stared at my aging face. In just a few months…31. Wow, time flies. I traced the sleep mark that was still on my face. A small crease between the side of my lip and my nose. Hello crease, I said to myself and then focused on my neck and went down to the rest of the body. Time catches up and so do all those burritos and burgers I had in high school. I giggled to myself and opened the door like a good germ-a-phobe, with the outside of my sweater. Walking down the narrow hallway I admired the markings on the wall, much like the indent on my face. The faded blue paint was scratched up with words and gibberish that someone had cared to leave behind. Scratches to remember me by…some from food trays, some from delivery boxes, and some from people who don’t want to be forgotten.

I love Jenna forevah.
Tommy sucks b@lls!
Never forget how beautiful you are. <—sidenote: only ugly people say this. <— f*ck whoever this is, stop trolling.

And then there’s the non legible writing that makes me squint; the words that will take work to decipher and I give up and return to the restaurant. I enter the back part of the diner and pass by an old broken juke box. The waitress who brought me water with a smile greeted me in the back room with a twisted nose. Is it sad to say I am used to it?

Sometimes young girls like me and find me ridiculous and silly. Sometimes young girls hate me because I remind them of someone they hate. Who am I kidding! This also applies to anyone! Not just womyn. Anyways, I keep walking and pretend I don’t see her grimace and decide to focus instead at the poster of Elvis by the entrance door of the restaurant. I knew I was almost to my table as I reached the new electronic juke box; it was telling everyone the song it was playing and the era it came in. It resembled an oversized iPod — the old original clunky one.

I was feeling heavier by the time I reached the side of the restaurant where my boyfriend waited. I was feeling fatter, older, slower and then just before I reached the booth I something in the corner of my eye. Something I would have missed if I would have continued focusing on Elvis. I see a clown.

He was sitting in the booth in front of ours. He had taken off his hat, and you could only tell he was a clown by seeing his face. White cloudy eyes, and bulbous blue lips too big for his face. The drawing was a large smile on his face, though he was not smiling. He was staring out into space. He must have been in his early 50s; grey hair, a tiny overweight and before him a sweaty glass of water.

I sat down and tried to motion to my boyfriend that the clown was behind me, and that he looked sad. But gave up after my boyfriend proceeded to ignore my game of charades, he bent over and took a bite of his meatballs. I sighed to myself.

It was a lazy Sunday. There was no one else in the restaurant beside two servers, the clown, me and the boyfriend. I imagined his life — he must have come from a birthday party, or maybe he’s a street performer, or maybe he’s just a local Berkelyan who dresses as a clown on Sundays to confuse people around him. Did he draw a smile on his face because he could not keep it up himself? I had so many questions.

We walked out of the diner feeling bloated and ready for the movie. I looked back before exciting the restaurant and noticed the clown  was no longer there. Was there a back exit? Or was he now in the bathroom staring at his reflection. And what was he thinking about? What did he see when he looked at his reflection? Did he wonder when his pores got so big? Did he look at his balding head and re-imagine a full set of hair? Was he hiding a sleep crease behind the blue markings around his mouth?

I wondered if when the clown walked out of the bathroom, he would focus and be able to read those markings that seemed foreign to me. I giggled again, and it confused my boyfriend. He waited for me to say something, but instead I pulled out my phone and pulled out of the potential conversation.

Sometimes it’s hard to describe to people what makes you laugh. Sometimes, it’s hard to say, today just feels like a giant joke without a punchline.

Sometimes it takes too much damn energy to explain crazy. It’s better just to live it.

 

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Waffle Hell House

A few nights ago I was in Tennessee with my bf and sister. It was one of our stops on our way back to California from our road trip.

We kept passing by big Waffle House signs on the road. They made extraordinary claims like, “BEST WAFFLES IN TOWN!” and showed images of nice fluffy waffles dripping with maple syrup. The smiling waitresses in the billboard promised a welcoming smile. I thought: Could such a place really exist?

We arrived in Nashville around midnight, hungry and tired. The Waffle House was the only establishment open other than McDonald’s. I’m not big on nuggets or burgers, Reader, did you know there’s ammonia in that food?

Anyways, so we go inside and the smell of fresh buttery batter infused our nostrils along with other amazing odors like sizzling bacon, fried sausages, crackling eggs, and the comfort scent of hash brown potatoes. All of these fragrances pranced about, and we delighted in the limitless possibilities and combinations.

The waitress looked over her shoulder because there were no tables available, just stool chairs, but we wanted to sit down and Eat—with a capital “E“, Reader. The road was long and hard (no pun intended). She takes one look at us and says, “A table should open up soon.”   And a moment later, one table does open up and an elderly couple quietly exit out with their canes. The table is wiped down, but when she finishes she forgets to tell us to sit down.

:/

We are tired from the road, so I ask the closest employee to me–the cook– “Is it okay if we sit?” He sneers at the waitress and responds with a heavy grunt, “Yeah it’s okay. Sit down.”

We sit down. My sister walks over to the juke box and inserts one dollar. An investment she would soon regret. Among the music collection, this rock enthusiast is able to find Johnny Cash and Oldies (songs from the 50’s & 60’s). She settles for Cash, in hopes that the six tracks she has picked will delay any type of Christian Country Music. Nothing against the Christians, but sometimes that’s all the radio would play on the road. So there we were, listening to “Folsom Prison” and waiting for our menus.

After a few seconds of awkward silence and a good staring from the locals and other like minded visitors, I decide to go to the bathroom. I hoped, like Uma in Pulp Fiction (90’s reference, if you don’t know it — WATCH IT!), that in my absence someone would order my meal, so that when I returned—a hot plate of waffles with eggs and bacon would be waiting to be devoured by ME. Alas, we did not even get to order.

The Waffle House, was a Waffle Hell House, Reader! All those amazing smells, and nothing for us lowly Californians to enjoy. We got stares from other tables, the waitress practically ignored us, the cook was so nervous an angry with the two ladies he was working with, that he wasn’t cooking eggs properly. Eggs, Reader! One of the easiest things to master in the kitchen (in my opinion anyways). An order from another table was returned, and we watched the waitress push the clear slime goo off the plate with a random fork in the sink. Where are we? Why are we being tortured? 

My boyfriend’s eyes were slightly glazed, he blinked and looked around — Was nobody going to help us? Why couldn’t we order food? The cook was yelling at the two waitresses, but they could care less. Something must have happened before we entered the establishment, something REAL bad. The mood in the room suddenly became clear: anger, disappointment, disagreement, miscommunication—etc. etc. etc. All those little dramas we all have in our daily lives in a nice package of three, and for everyone to see! I mean, the kitchen was the diner — there’s no way you could not see the mess.

That siren! That killer siren of a billboard!, I thought to myself. Where was our smiling waitress?  My Nashville waffle dreams were ripped apart. Right behind the waitress we saw waffles burning, the timer was ignored, the beeping noise resounded like a time bomb in the cook’s head–in all of our heads, the burnt eggs were scrapped off the flat burner with rough passive aggressive strokes, the flies collected around the trash (they received more pleasure than I did that night), the Tennessee Goth kids in the table next to us leered with disgust, a couple clutched onto their belongings on the other side of the room, a man who looked like a cowboy slept under his sunglasses (it was midnight!), the lights flickered from bad energy, Cash kept singing the blues, and the music weighed us down as if it was sucking our soul dry.

After the second song, we left. All my sister could say, “Well, there goes my dollar.”

That night, the food devil won, and we drove our tired selves to a McDonald’s and ordered chicken nuggets, or as I’d like to call it: food for zombies.