“Can you draw me an abstract octopus?”
“What does one even look like?”
“How should I know?” she says with a giant smile handing me a pen and paper “It’s abstract!”
It was Thursday afternoon, Theory class was about to start and I was in my usual spot, a two-person table second row from the stage and off to the side. It’s where Bode and I always sat but since he’d made the full transition from aspiring hair stylist to bonafide rockstar it had been just me and a revolving cast of students filling-in the chair he’d once occupied.
Today’s filler-in was a girl who with her long, jet black hair and striking facial features reminded me of Kat Von D if Ms. D was free of ink.
I’d always noticed her walking around at school and would at times, catch her dancing by herself in some random spot when she thought no one was looking. Other times I’d seen her hovering near my station watching me cut, color and curse my way through a client while she munched on a bag of Hot Cheetos.
Still, for all the times we were in proximity of one another we’d never exchanged words until today.
“Sure.” I tell her, figuring that if she didn’t know what an Octopoda of the abstract variety looked like then anything I came up with would be sufficient.
So I sketched something that took all of ten seconds that had a square head and eight extensions protruding from it that resembled scythes, brooms and toilet-plungers.
“Here ya go.” I say, presenting her with my masterpiece.
“Ooooooo very nice.” she purrs.
“What’s its name?”
“Oh, I’m Mairena*.” she says, spitting out a three-syllable word that’s impossible to pronounce unless you’re A. real Latin (which I am not) or B. dialect gifted (again, which I am not).
“Mairena.” she repeats while looking at the drawing and tracing her finger over it.
“What kind of name is that?”
“The kind that’s hard to say.” she says, beaming up at me with pride.
“Is it Spanish?”
“Si senor. It means where the ocean meets the shore.”
“How poetic. Are you Spanish?”
“I’m Rican but-
“Puerto Rican, but my ancestors are Spanish. Hernan Cortes was my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great uncle.”
“As in Cortes the Conquistador?”
“So you’ve heard of him?”
“Who hasn’t? But how do you know you’re related?”
“Because we have the same last name.”
“That doesn’t mean anything.”
“Uh, excuse me, I think that means everything.”
“Well, Mah-blah-blah, your name isn’t gonna work for me. Anything else I can call you?”
“Yeah. When I was younger my mom used to call me Myday for short and all my friends thought she was saying Mighty so it just stuck.”
“That’s as gay as a rainbow flag. Can I just call you Myday instead?”
“How did you know?”
“Cuz you’re sexual.”
“Nothing! English is my second language and I get confused sometimes! Disregard!” she says with a simmering giggle while squirming in her seat and hiding behind her hair.
“Lil bit…but she likes it that way.”
“Meeeee!” she yells as the giggling explodes into laughter causing her eyes to water. “Oh god, my eyeballs are juicing!” she says as she wipes away the tears with her shirt just as our Theory teacher Christine walks onstage.
Christine takes us through a riveting hour-long lecture on hair and skin which keeps getting interrupted with her having to yell at Future Professionals to quit talking, quit looking at their phones and in the case of one narcoleptic student, quit snoring.
I glance over at Myday who’s paying less attention to the lecture and more attention to the strand of hair she has balanced between her upper lip and nose.
“It’s my moose-stache” she says when she notices me gawking at her.
There’s no doubt that this girl is fucking weird but it’s the type of weird that’s enchanting and intriguing like a Tim Burton movie. And although she has a somewhat intimidating exterior with the pitch black hair and fierce face there’s a whimsical nature to her that’s disarming and playful.
At the end of the hour we’re given a practice test that’s supposed to help us prepare for the written part of our state board exam that for me is still a million miles away and it’s a good thing it’s that far off because I fail the practice test in spectacular fashion.
Once theory is over we’re given a 15min break before our specialty class begins so everyone bolts for the nearest exit to make the most of their time.
“Where are you off to?” I ask Myday.
“Coffee and snacks!” she says, pulling a bag of Hot Cheetos from her purse. “But first I gotta get rid of this pee-belly.”
“What the fuck is a pee-belly?”
“This thing.” she says, lifting up her shirt and showing me a perfectly round pooch protruding from her otherwise toned and muscular core.
“That’s…impressive.” I tell her because I don’t know what the proper response is to someone who’s showing me their stomach that has a piss-balloon in the middle of it.
“What are you gonna do?” she asks.
“Kill myself slowly.”
“I’m gonna have a cigarette.”
“Yes and no. I’m trying to quit so I stopped buying and started bumming which has reduced my access to them and in turn, made me cut down.”
“Oh-ho-ho. Look at you with all the big ideas.” she says as we go our separate ways.
When I get to the smoking area I come across Jimbo and her new girlfriend Laura who are courageously defying their purity contracts with their aggressive form of PDA. It’s an odd sight to see because Laura is this timid, sophisticated, stylish young woman while Jimbo looks like a garbage truck driver who bare-knuckle boxes and spits chewing tobacco.
Speaking of tobacco…
“Hey Jimmy, can I get a smoke from you?”
“Motherfucker again? Don’t you have any money?”
“I do, I just can’t commit to a whole pack.”
“Well you’ve bummed an entire pack from me this week already. This is the last one, Fucker.” she gripes as she tosses me a cancer stick then goes back to groping Laura with the ferocity of a lion feeding on a lamb.
“Can I get a light?”
“Oh for fucks sake.” she moans, stopping her molestation of Laura long enough to light me up and then waving her hand in my face with a sinister smile. “Smell anything fun?”
“I do and it’s far from fun.”
“And here I thought you liked pussy.” she says as she turns to Laura. “You’re still on my fingers from earlier, babe.” she coos as she sucks on her chubby tatted digits and Laura’s pale face turns a bright beet red.
As I try to enjoy my free cigarette that came at a steep price Kaleb comes from out of nowhere and pulls on my arm to follow him. “We need to talk.” he says in a hurried voice.
He’d been shitty all morning while helping me with a client but each time I asked him what was wrong he brushed it aside so I was hoping this ‘talk’ would shed some light on whatever gerbil was burrowing up inside his ass.
“What’s up?” I ask when we’re far enough away from the group of future cancer patients to have a one-on-one.
“****and I broke up last night.” he says, yanking the cigarette out of my mouth and claiming it as his own.
“I need this more than you. Besides, you’re trying to quit so this is my contribution to your health.”
“Whatever. Why’d you guys break-up?”
“She was cheating.”
“Cheating? As in having sex with someone else?”
“That’s usually what the definition of cheating is.”
“Yeah but I’m just wondering how it would be considered cheating since…”
“She does porn?”
“In a word; Yes.”
“Ugh, it’s like I said before, that’s just a job. But this was different because it was a betrayal of my trust.”
“Well then I’m sorry to hear that, dude.”
“You know, I saw this whole thing coming, I really did. I saw every red flag but I decided to color them green because that’s her favorite color. Fuck my life I’m such a fucking idiot.”
“You gonna be ok?”
“Do I look ok?”
“Do you ever?”
I watch Kaleb standing there, puffing on my cigarette and staring at the ground as if it’s going to offer him some sort of advice to alleviate his pain. I’d done this for weeks after Gums had left and for all the time I spent looking at the ground not once did it offer me any words of relief.
That relief would only be found on the other side of all the pain I had to work through. It was a long, arduous journey and one I knew I still hadn’t completed but I couldn’t deny that I was much better now than before and I knew that eventually Kaleb would be too.
But in the meantime I figured I should try to be there for him the best I could.
“Was it someone she works with?”
“Someone she…god damn dude, what’s with you and your fucking questions?”
I’d like the record to state that I never claimed my best was any good.
“What difference does it make if it was someone she works with?” he complains.
“I don’t know…you know…a lot of affairs start at the workplace so…”
“You’re saying if it was with a co-worker how could it be considered cheating since she’s probably already had sex with them?”
“Your words not mine.”
“It wasn’t someone she works with, it was her therapist ok?”
“Like her therapist therapist?” I ask, pointing towards my head.
“Yes her therapist therapist.” he says, tapping hard on his temple.
“How’d you find out?”
“I’d been feeling like something was off for the past month. She was canceling on me with lame excuses, being more sporadic than usual and just treating me like I was a nuisance. So when she came over last night and fell asleep I got into her phone and came across some texts between the two of them.”
“And then what?”
“I woke her up and confronted her about it and she came clean right away.”
“At least that’s good.”
“No, that’s not good, that was the most insulting part.”
“How’s that again?”
“Because she didn’t even try to lie which means I wasn’t worth the time or effort of making up a story to try to keep me around.”
“That’s a weird way of looking at the truth but ok. Can therapists go to jail for sleeping with their patients?”
“Only if their patients are underage, otherwise it’s just bad customer service.”
“I guess that depends on who’s getting serviced.”
“Jesus man, how far do you plan on driving this knife into my back?”
“I’m sorry. But in all honesty she’s the one that put it there, I’m just kind of wiggling it around at this point.”
“Can you be a little more compassionate and sensitive?”
“Sure, I just never thought those two words were something I’d ever associate with you.”
“I’m not some retard on the spectrum. I have feelings and emotions you know…”
“Ok, ok. I’ll be more compassionate and sensitive.”
“Thank you.” he sighs.
“So what does he look like?”
“God damn, dude! Why did I even think it was a good idea to come to you in my time of need?”
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m just…curious. And maybe you’ll feel better if you talk through it. You know, get it out in the open and out of your system.”
“FINE. It’s not a he, it’s a she.”
“Ohhhh. That makes sense.”
“Of course. She’s doin’ men at work and then has to come home and do you. All day long it’s nothing but dick, dick, dick, dick, dick. She probably just got tired of all that male genitalia and wanted to pound the pink for a while. You really shouldn’t take any of this personally.”
“Is this supposed to make me feel better?”
“I get the feeling it’s not.”
“It isn’t.” he says with his trademark scowl. “You know, right before we started dating I was talking to this really cute girl that was nice, level-headed and had even donated a kidney to a family member. But did I end up choosing her? Fuck no, I chose the girl that gets bonuses for getting gang-banged. I swear to god there’s a part of me that’s addicted to the worst kind of chaos. I need to get my head examined.”
“Don’t be so hard on yourself, we like who we like. I mean, just look at Jimbo and Laura over there dry humping one another. Who would’ve thought that in a gazillion years ANYONE would wanna be with Jimbo? Yet there’s Laura, scissoring her right in front of our fucking faces.”
Kaleb glances over at them then turns back with a sour-milk look.
“Can you imagine Jimbo riding your face…while on her period?”
“Dude, that’s such a disgusting picture in my mind that it should be considered mental assault.”
“Payback for your poor friendship skills.” he says, taking a long drag off the smoke and then stomping it into oblivion. “I got handed specialty class duties today so I’ll see you back inside.” he groans then turns and leaves.
As he scoots away with his head hung low I can’t help but identify with his comment about being addicted to chaos.
Throughout my life I’d been drawn to people that possessed that chaos factor that I knew weren’t good for me yet I still ran towards them as if I had no control over it. It was like an out-of-body experience where I saw myself strapped into a car that I knew was destined to go off a cliff but the only thing I had the power to do was to press down harder on the gas.
And if by some miraculous chance the person I was drawn to wasn’t a source of chaos then I in-turn became the chaos. Wreaking mental and emotional havoc on an unsuspecting victim that had made the cardinal mistake of just wanting to love me.
But as long as I could remember things were always chaotic on my insides. My thoughts and emotions that would manifest into actions, causing harm to myself and those around me. It seemed to be a never-ending inner tempest that no matter how many times I’d sought help from a therapist none of them could teach me how to quell it.
Which is why I think I was always attracted to other people that had the chaos or why I would conjure it up if they didn’t. The mania, the uncertainty, the anxiety, the disarray and devastation that it brought.
It felt like it was an integral part of me and it all felt so…familiar.
And it’s the familiar that lures us in because it’s in the familiar where we find comfort no matter how destructive or painful that comfort might be.
But maybe that part of me had been exorcised when Gums walked out. She’d broken all of the good inside of me but maybe that break had also destroyed the bad and I could start afresh on a clean, new slate. Be something to someone and with someone in a normal, healthy way…whatever the fuck that looked like.
From the vantage point of the smoking area I could see The Floor and one of the entrances to the Theory room where our specialty class was about to begin.
And there dancing by the entrance was Myday. Swaying and spinning, off in her own little world with a bag of Hot Cheetos in one hand and a Starbucks in the other.
She was without a doubt her own person. Bold and secure, strange and unusual.
She looked dangerous but felt safe. Really safe…and warm, like a special place one goes to seek shelter from a storm, whether that storm was produced by Mother Nature or one’s own inner-nature.
She was different and that different was attractive and magnetic. So much so that as soon as I went back in I was going to ask her out.