The Awesomest Thing About Being Single [Single White Nerd]
Y’know what the awesomest thing about being single is? You can go anywhere and do anything! Last week, for example, I just picked up stakes and drove up to Fresno. Sure, it was for work, but I didn’t need to clear my schedule with anyone or check in. I just rented a Kia and zipped up through the hinterlands of California.
Man, there’s nothing like being on the open road. Nothing but semis and farmland around you. The wind whipping through the window and caressing your bald head. Like mom patting a cowlick down before sending you out into the world. That’s what moms do. I’ve seen it in the moving pictures.
And you get to your destination. Fresno. You don’t have to check in with anyone. It’s great. You get your work done and go to your hotel. You banter with the front desk lady who, taken with your wit and charm (or maybe just out of rooms), offers you a free upgrade. “It’s too bad your wife isn’t here,” she says, “to enjoy this deluxe suite with you.”
You smile politely. You swallow the urge to say “Wife?! HAH! I plan to take full advantage of this deluxe suite by jumping up and down on the bed and throwing my clothes about the room willy nilly!” You go up to your room.
The deluxe suite isn’t spacious, but does have a living room and a really big bed. You empty your bag onto the sofa. You jump up and down on the bed. It’s fun! You have a momentary twinge of wanting someone there to join in the fun and then remember that other people might not like jumping on the bed. You realize that you’re hungry.
You take your branded electronic reading device (no free advertising for you, here, Mr. Kindle. . .oh, dammit) and return to the front desk. The helpful clerk lists nearby dining options. Cheesecake Factory. BJ’s. Olive Garden. Red Lobster. The same that you would find in any mallburb of America. You hate mallburb food, but you’re really hungry. You’ve gotten food poisoning or at least an irritated digestive system at almost all the proposed eateries except for the Cheesecake Factory. So that’s where you go, your e-reader and you, out on an adventure into the land of voluminous menus.
By now, it’s 8:30 PM. It’s a Tuesday night and the CFac is hopping. Groups and couples are littered about the vast temple to large portions. You order a beer and flick your e-reader on to read. A few sentences in and singing interrupts you. Happy Birthday! You glance up to see a ring of relentlessly chipper servers surrounding a nearby table. A small group has gathered to celebrate a birthday. How nice! You, along with everyone else in the place, claps as the song concludes. Then you go back to reading.
A few minutes later, the voices rise in song again. Happy Birthday! This time at a table a bit further away. A larger group. More applause. By now your food–a heaping plate of chicken drenched in orange syrup–has arrived. You tuck in. You chew. You read.
No more than three minutes later, the singing starts again. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! This is the third time in 20 minutes. Cracks are starting to show on the servers’ happy masks. Their voices rise a little too stridently. It’s almost as if they’re attacking the celebrants with good cheer. You flinch away from the song.
It keeps happening. Over and over. One birthday after another. You half expect the servers to corner you and start wailing off pitch birthday greetings at you. Apparently Tuesday night is Birthday Night at Fresno’s CFac. You count at least 10 birthdays during the 52 minutes you spend there. Maybe they’re having a birthday special–free cheesecake–or something. It’s terrifying.
You pay your bill and return to your Deluxe Suite. You read. You sleep. You wake up at 5 AM and get on the road, a full day of work waiting for you back in Los Angeles. It’s raining. Hard. You drive into the darkness.
The rain has reduced visibility. Cars hydroplane around you. Trucks proceed cautiously, a line of red brake lights in the pre-dawn hours. Your fingers tighten on the wheel. You ascend into a mountain pass. Visibility shrinks to 10 feet. You momentarily lose control of the car, sliding on the slick road. You wonder if this is it, wonder what the odds are of surviving a plunge off the mountains, wonder if a truck will hit you. You hope you’re wearing clean underwear. You take a moment to consider who the authorities will contact after removing you, and your identification, from the wreckage. Maybe it would be better to have someone on the homefront, manning the fort, answering the phone in the event of an unscheduled hydroplaning incident.
But then you regain control. Those thoughts flee your brain. You’re single. You can go anywhere and do anything. Maybe next year, you’ll go to Fresno and celebrate your birthday at the CFac on a Tuesday night. That would be. . .awesome.
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featured image credit: Bob Jagendorf