Writer | NY

Thanks, But No Thanks

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Thanks, But

No Thanks

A little place for all the ones that didn’t get away

Everything I Love is Acid

I’ve never smoked a cigarette and I don’t have any tattoos. A friend once called me a unicorn for being a virgin to these current normalcies. Full disclosure: I have smoked a spliff before, which is technically tobacco. Upon hearing this, said friend retracted her original statement and demoted me to a very pretty horse. I don’t fall into temptation of impulsive shopping or expensive brands. I don’t even like candy. Up until the morning I woke up with my knees to my chest groaning in pain, I didn’t think I’d qualify to have a vice.

The foods I have endlessly loved no longer love me back: red wine, daily coffee, tomato sauce, fries, pickles, fried pickles, garlic, onions, anything spicy, everything citrus, and my beloved steak tartare—they have all revolted against me. After a trip to the doctor’s office, I learned that those aren’t just any foods; those are acidic foods, bad-for-digestion foods, and you’re actually not supposed to have them whenever you want (read: all of the time). Maybe in my early twenties I could swing a rich diet of “this won’t affect me later,” but the game has changed with twenty-eight around the corner.

I acted out my dramatic few days of pain to my doctor and she sent me to pick up a prescription heartburn medication. I had gastritis. But I’ve always eaten like a stubborn Italian man, so I wasn’t terribly shocked to learn that my diet was a pre-requisite for an ulcer. Maybe it was the double espressos three times a week to stay awake against the 4:30 pm sunset that tipped my stomach over, but we don’t know that for sure. The OC and Gilmore Girls taught everyone it was totally normal to drink at least three cups of coffee a day (it’s not?!), and here I am in the antacids isle of Target choosing the least gross flavor of Tums. 

I never used to turn down red wine even if someone said, “Hm, this smells a bit like vinegar.” I’d slide my glass over to that person and nod for a pour. You could not morally separate me from the blood of Christ. Now, red wine feels rebellious and prompts a disappointing look on my boyfriend’s face if I pour myself a generous glass. Anxiety is my bread and disaster thinking is my butter, so stress is a non-negotiable factor with my new stomach issue.

My vice is unnoticeable on the outside, but on the inside my stomach is tied up and begging me to not touch that loaded jalapeño popper. Consuming acidic foods and having to Google the pH level of everything isn’t a cool vice like smoking or something Parisian, but a glass of Nebbiolo and a late-night steak tartare from my favorite spot in the East Village is worth lying to my boyfriend that I’m not in pain at all. 

Perfectly Logical Explanations Behind Donald Trump’s Netflix Selections

1.     National Treasure (2004)
This is the president’s favorite Nicolas Cage terrorism movie. 

2.     Shrek (2001)
Hell yeah

3.     Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Ivanka suggested that her father watch a historical documentary and this is honestly what he came up with. 

4.     Magic Mike (2012)
After hours of Melania’s cold, Eastern-European face and a sad excuse for intimacy, Donald finally broke and gave her his Netflix password.

5.     Friend Request (2016)
Donald wanted a better understanding of Melania’s mission as First Lady in tackling cyberbullying. Naturally, Barron recommended this gory teen film. Friend Request moved Donald to the core, but about thirty minutes in he realized it was not the documentary he was hoping for, although he’s still not super sure what makes a documentary a documentary. The president finished the film to completion anyway. 

6.     Despicable Me 3 (2017)
Donald requested surveillance on Steve Carell after discovering that he was the voice of Felonious Gru. He’s been waiting for the third installment of Despicable Me and has asked Mike to sit in on a viewing of the complete Despicable Me trilogy. Donald was a bit concerned because Mike seemed genuinely interested, not for espionage research purposes, but for entertainment value. Mike’s wife Karen requested to join, but was denied. 

7.     The Human Centipede (2009)
Barron was able to retrieve the Netflix password from Melania using his preferred method of gaining power—intimidation through counting Mississippi’s and violating eye contact. He uses this technique on the White House chef, his own bodyguard, and Jared Kushner. Barron stood at the threshold of his mother’s bedroom and made it all the way to five Mississippi’s before Melania broke. This is the longest Melania has withstood her son outside of childbirth. 

8.     Boss Baby (2017)
Donald considers Alec Baldwin’s SNL impersonation of him to be liberal terrorism, so he watched Boss Baby to remind himself that Alec is a pure mediocrity, even as a CGI business baby.

9.     Boss Baby: Back in Business (2018)
Upon realizing that Boss Baby was actually kind of good, Donald continued to watch the development of the story as series. Donald can justify this because Alec is not included in the series cast as the voice of Boss Baby.

10. Planet Earth (2006)
Everybody loves Planet Earth. Even the people who want to watch it burn.

If Your Friend Falls For Your Ex, Do You Have To Be Happy For Her?

She started as my bartender before anything else. She had burnt amber locks and fair skin that made me feel like I was in the presence of a princess. If I looked out of my second-floor window and over the obsolete TV dish, I could see her bar. Its name glowed under year-round Christmas lights and scattered throughout my credit card statements.

I had a boyfriend, but sometimes I felt like I was dating her. We’d take the subway to Prospect Park a few times a week and run a loop around the lake or sometimes two if we had it in us. We pushed each other and made the other better. She’d send me sweet messages throughout the day and if anything good ever happened to me, she’d tell me I only deserved the best. If she wanted so much happiness for me, how could I not want the same for her? One night, over a pair of gin martinis, she brought up my ex.

“I think he has a crush on me,” she said.

“Oh. You think?” I asked.  

“Yeah. Would you be all right if something happened between us?”

I was put in a position to make a choice based on the past or one based on the future. When my ex and I split up, we had to maintain a professional relationship because of where we had met—at work. Dating a co-worker was a thrill at first. Sneaking around and clandestine exchanges only turned up the burning flames of passion, but I hoped we would eventually reach a healthy low-to-medium passion. Keeping our secret became stressful. Once our co-workers discovered us, I was ready to go public, but my ex wasn’t relieved like I was. I learned there was a difference between keeping a secret and being one.

“I think if you two can make each other happy, you should explore that,” I replied to her.

My ex used to be someone else to me and he lives in the brown paper bag under my dresser. When we broke up, I took any shared memories that came in the form of a museum ticket stub or a borrowed flannel shirt and filed those little pieces of him away. I placed whatever objects I couldn’t part with in a Trader Joe’s brown paper bag and pushed it under my dresser. Now I had to watch him be the boyfriend I always wanted him to be with the girl I had grown so close to.

A month passed and I could tell something happened between them. I was her all-star regular and now my ex was at her bar just as much as I was. She got all giddy just from saying his name and she began to look at him the way I used to. Although I noticed these clues, she didn’t mention anything new had developed between them. I’d just tell myself to be happy for my friend and smile.

In between our jogs around the park and sipping on gin martinis, I noticed something. If I asked how her night was, she would tell me a story similar to how my ex would respond to the same question. We were still on the same payroll, so we obeyed the polite formalities to pass time like asking, “How are you?” and “Did you get up to anything last night?” Their stories involved the same bars, literature, or midnight showings, but she would always narrate an evening that didn’t include my ex. Our lives took on the form of a perplexed Venn diagram between what I knew and what they were hiding. 

“Didn’t my ex go to that bar, too?” I asked her. “He just mentioned going there.” I admit sometimes I enjoyed pushing her into a corner just to see how she would squirm her way out of it.

“Oh, he was there, too… but he was wasted. I don’t like to talk about people when they’re drunk. I wouldn’t want someone talking about me like that,” she recovered.

She always found a way to casually edit him back into her stories and I grew tired of going along with it. She was hiding my own ex from me and I was pretending to be happy for her. We were fooling each other. 

One night over drinks, I just came out with it.

“I know about you and my ex.”

She was caught off guard, but, like always, found the right words to say.

“We’re not dating,” she said. “I don’t know what my intentions are with him. Just know that whatever happens, I choose you.”

I repeated those last three words back to her, but it registered as an immediate regret. We downed our martinis in an uncomfortable silence and went separate ways.  

By the end of the week, I found out they had gone on another date. She was hiding someone important to her, someone that used to be just as important to me. I was forcing myself to be fine because that’s what friends do, right? They make each other happy. So, why wasn’t I?

 I wanted out of this love triangle, a sickness I had allowed to fester for far too long. I couldn’t face my doe-eyed friend, so, I wrote her a letter instead. Actually, I ended up writing four letters and left the final draft in a thin magazine hidden between books at her bar. There was a small disco ball placed on top of the bookshelf and my hands were shaking so much that I made a fool of myself trying to balance it back on top. Her co-worker asked what I was doing. I said I was just leaving a note for someone and that I’d be back. I don’t know why I lied about the second part. 

I texted her where to find my letter and signed off with “I’m sorry.” She said she wanted to see me, but I made up an excuse not to. Sometimes I read through the other drafts I kept and wonder if I said the right thing.

Her bar no longer shows up on my credit card statements and sometimes I don’t mind being this sober. I still go running in Prospect Park, but now I find myself on the lookout for a redhead. I’m not sure if it’s because I want to see her or avoid her.