Every morning, I hit up 300 sit-ups and 150 push-ups so that my waist looks tighter in a checkered J.Crew shirt I bought at a thrift store with hopes that others would imagine that I had suddenly developed a precariously original wardrobe.
I gave up on alcohol and fell on top of fondant and snicker-doodle and because of it my ass has gotten harder but my stomach’s coated in elastic, sugar-wrapped rubber. It’s thin and wrinkles every time I heave as I try to hammer down my daily cup of earthy broccoli florets; my saliva soaking up in the never-ending sponge that tastes like moss and finishes down the esophagus like a week old, weekend hook-up, or a solidified version of that salvaged PBR I found over at Welcome to the Johnson’s that one Thursday.
I’m an intern again.
But I’m doing big things. I wear my shirt a lot there. I even have my own mug. It’s powder blue, and has a chip in it. It has coffee stains from two weeks ago but I always keep telling myself that all the heat from the last eight ounces of coffee that I poured into the mug scoured away any bit of remaining bacteria. Precarious. Dubiously precarious.
I’m figuring I gotta apologize for all the big words. I’ve been rolling my eyes a lot lately, it’s a two-in-one combo of the ghost light of my computer screen and all the hokey-ass bullshit I’ve been reading from new age politicians and transcendentalists who figure they’re better off depicting their ‘American-Spirit-I-wear-cardigans-and-smoke-cigars-that-I-choose-to-light-up-six-times‘ lifestyles or yanking on all over Facebook about another something or other Obama did or didn’t do.
I wish I had that courage. I mean, If I had the ability to comprehend the urgency of having to use dictionary.com and an artisan, cropped, American-Eagle-meets-Sepia-weathered-wood-in-a-sawgrass-field headshot for every irrelevant and frivelous sentiment I felt the need to bust a load out of that metaphorical, pedantic-ass urethra, Mama Teresa wouldn’t even have a clue what to do with me.
Luckily, I play a fine balance of being the me that I want me to be, and the me that’s absolutely terrified of doing anything to expose or suggest my elastic, wrinkling stomach.
My internship. I love it there, I swear, I really do. A co-worker was leaving for good so they had me go out and fetch a couple dozen cupcakes from Billy’s Bakery down on Franklin Street.
The bakery reminded me of Bryce Dallas Howard in The Help, with the hairdo and the nails and that goddamned peach sherbet of a lipstick hue. There’s a perfume of salt and molten chocolate and the Customer Services Desk at Macy’s swarming in the air. Racks of cupcakes, cheddar biscuits (Huzzah!) and gorgeously crumbling pies just begging to be stolen. Sun flooding through the giant windows, landing onto the chipped and scratched hardwood floor…
I take them back to the office. After two hours of annotating, the other intern and I join the rest of the office for a goodbye toast to a man I had never met. I still cheered with the rest of the group, and I still drank that sparkling wine with the rest of the group. I even refilled my glass with the rest of the group.
But then, the most interesting thing; the cupcakes were put on the table and people started to go at them. And I just stood there. Watching Red Velvet after Red Velvet being taken out of the same box I literally sweated all over. I didn’t move. I was terrified to.
I would’ve gone right at the box but the guy who was leaving, Goddamn What Was His Name – Steve (!?), he was right there NEXT to the box, and I could feel it, I could imagine those eyes, just darting down at my chin then at my neck then down at my elastic flap on top of my pelvis, and they’d be saying ‘You fatass, you don’t even know my name!’ And I’d want to say, I’d take my Pumpkin Spiced Cupcake and I’d say, ‘If it wasn’t for me, you wouldn’t even have a cupcake’. I wanted to grow a pair of artisan balls right there on the spot, like all those I’d seen online with their politically, charred, but-actually-that’s-from-Marshall’s profile picture.
Still I did nothing. I was frozen in fear that I’d be the guy who had gotten the cupcake even though nearly a dozen people had already done so. I had nothing to say. Nothing to hide with. I was exposed; I was nothing more than a Corporate Cupcake Bitch.
But then my fellow intern made a move. In one swift reach, I joined her and I took a step towards the table and locked onto the cupcake I was gonna take (it ended up being fucking Chocolate) and I turned my head away from Steve or whatever his name was just as he was about to check me out and wonder if he had known me or if I had worked at the office at all. I took it. Fellow intern took hers…
… and we bolted back to our desks.
I felt accomplished. Felt proud. I’d taken something for myself. We’d done well.
The cupcake was moist, chocolately, chocolate. It was fine, though I had wondered if the anxiety of it all was even worth the taste. I swallowed it in five bites and wiped my fingers all over my shirt.