132: bewitched, bothered, and bewildered

I bought Christmas lights a few weeks ago, but the holiday season didn’t properly start for me until the Tuesday night before Thanksgiving. Seema got in that afternoon, and had spent most of the day at the Art Institute because I had to work. At the end of the day, she came to work, and Joe The Roommate’s Boyfriend drove us all home for Buffy and brownies.

And what an episode of Buffy it was. Oh. My. Goodness. Buffy booty on the UPN, and in primetime! This is a 8pm/7pm CST show we’re talking about. The booty was kind of intense, but my first thought during the scene was “Is she wearing crotchless pants? Chaps? ‘Cos I don’t think she walked in there wearing a skirt.” Upon subsequent viewings (and believe me, there have been many), Seema was able to discern a long leather skirt. Which I find comforting because crotchless pants just seem so skanky. And drafty.

Joe went to Washington, D.C. to join his family for Thanksgiving, so he and Jacinda had a smoochy goodbye in the car when he dropped her off at work Wednesday morning. Seema and I proceeded to coo at each other, giggling and joking that we were their little disadvantaged third world children in the back. It was when that I said “You know, Seema, this is all like ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, isn’t it? You’re the Arnold, and I’m the Willis” that Jacinda started cracking up and kinda hocked a lougie into Joe’s mouth. Ew.

Because I had to work Wednesday, Seema spent the day at the Musuem of Contemporary Art, reading a biography of Picasso and checking out the museum gift shop. Seema looks exactly the same as she did when we were in college, except that her hair is a bit longer. It’s only been 3 years since we graduated, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that she looked like her old self. I think we’ve gotten better at dressing ourselves, though.

We met Celi (in town visiting Nate) for dinner that night, stopping first at Nate’s to drop off our bags. Nate’s apartment is one of those rehabs with brand new hard wood floors and loft-like aspirations. The ceilings were high, and there was a dishwasher for which I felt an immediate affection. A huge Sony Wega television sat in the corner opposite a cacophony of cookbooks, CDs, and chairs, but no couch. Celi said that Nate was waiting until he got some art on the walls until to buy one. I wondered how we’d eat our Thanksgiving dinner (off our knees? off the floor?) and then we went out to Soul Kitchen.

Soul Kitchen was its usual trendy self, though the hairstyles of the other patrons seemed to indicate otherwise. Our waiter had a gut, and a girl at the next table wore tight low-rise jeans. It was kind of gross, and my dinner (chicken, shellfish, mussels, and scallops tossed with linguine in a tomato cream sauce) was mediocre. I considered sending it back, as none of the mussels were open but by that point I was too hungry. This after two appetizers and loads of bread and butter.

After dinner we wandered down the road back to Nate’s apartment so he could continue prepping for Thanksgiving dinner. Seema and I, upon collecting our bags, briefly considered going to the Jewel across the street for groceries, We thought better of it, though, and put ourselves in a taxi pointed towards home.

Earlier in the week, Michelle had lent me two tapes of old Buffy episodes, and I had already taped a few episodes of reruns on FX. So of course we stayed up until 2:00 am watching these tapes. Jacinda worked on her knitting while we chainsmoked and made fun of Sarah Michelle Gellar’s bangs. It was fun. But I didn’t know then that we’d spend the entire weekend watching Buffy reruns on television.

I guess the Buffy madness started Thursday morning. I got up and found Seema already awake. We watched some of the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, made fun of the performers, then took the dog to the market so we could make some food to take to Nate’s. Also we needed breakfast as the only food we seemed to have in the house were ginger thins and a tin of Milo. It was quiet on the street, and the store had a few determined shoppers looking for cranberries and paper plates. The dog seemed happy to be out, but was even happier when we got home and she could beg for scraps of our breakfast: apples, baked brie, toast, and Hostess cupcakes.

I just happened to switch over to the Buffy marathon during the parade and there the television stayed. Seema and I (and Jacinda when she finally got up) stayed within earshot of the television while we got ready to celebrate Turkey Day. I called my parents and got their machine, so I left a message and stalked off to take a shower. Spoke to Nadine, watched Buffy, baked brownies, artfully stacked dishes in the sink as opposed to actually washing them, then got dressed and we all piled into a cab to Wicker Park.

Apparently, Nate’s been doing Thanksgiving dinner for the last six years, and part of that tradition is that his friend Ryon shoves a large mimosa into your hand as you walk in the door. I liked this very much. Celi had spent the morning cleaning, so the apartment was spotless. Chairs were arranged around three tables pushed together to form a large dining table in the center of Nate’s living room. Weezer played on the stereo, and Celi took black and white Polaroids of us as we posed in Nate’s armchair. We marveled at Seema’s photogenic face, drank, set the table, and waited for dinner to start. Avoiding the olives, as I’ve never been a fan, I went straight for the homemade challah and herbed butter. Nate’s friend Matt, another U of C-er, brought pies for dessert.

Dinner was great. Nate made a goose, warm kale salad, rice stuffing, gravy, lime mousse, and the aforementioned challah. I don’t think he actually churned the butter, but the herbs didn’t get in their by themselves. As great as it tasted, the food was not the best part of the meal. It was the gossip about old classmates from college, and everybody seemed to have a juicy tidbit to share. Matt recalled that somebody in college had told him, in a somewhat reverent tone of voice, that he and Seema had been the epicenters of hipsterdom in Hyde Park. Which we all found quite funny.

Dinner conversation veered from recalling the social structure of various hipster cliques over the years to Matt’s graduate work. I was perfectly happy to sit in the corner and soak it all in, full of goose and pie. It felt nice to sit and reminisce about college, which has still got to be the defining experience of my young adult life. When I was a child, it was moving from Okinawa. When I was a teenager, it was living in a foster home. The U of C had been alternately stranger, and better, than those earlier moments. It didn’t feel all that weird to go tripping down Memory Lane, especially considering graduation was barely three years ago for most of us at dinner. Working full time for the last three years has made me feel older, and wistful, for that time not so long ago when I could get up at 11:00 for class at 11:15. Ex-boyfriends, ex-roommates, ex-rivals, ex-idols, ex-hookups, old professors, dear departed pets, neighbors, bands, courses cut from the Common Core. My proclivity for reminiscing, brooding over past mistakes and crowing about triumphs, was catered to by a group of friends who were perfectly happy to remember every single little band breakup and falling out that made college social life so absurd and so thoroughly enjoyable.

And then the unthinkable — we ran out of cigarettes. You just can’t have a hipster reunion without an ample supply of cigarettes. I needed to stretch my legs anyway, so Celi, Seema, and I went out. Nothing was open on Milwaukee near Division, so we walked up towards North Avenue though I whined that my feet hurt, blah blah blah. Linking, then unlinking, arms, we strolled past the furniture stores, wig shops, and coffee shops that were all closed. We passed two drunk boys who stumbled into and then out of Holiday. They yelled at us, calling us cunts and bitches because we wouldn’t cross the street to talk to them. We waited for them to move further south, then crossed the street into Holiday. The bar was open, a single patron slumped over a drink. Everybody glared at us — the bouncer, the bartender, the patron. Celi bought two packs of cigarettes and we beat a path to the door.

We stopped at Jalissa’s apartment on the way back, admiring its large rooms, beautifully decorated and painted. If I told you how cheap it was you’d probably cry so I won’t. We drank delicious vodka tonics while Jalissa and her friends (who are all super tall, super hip, and super well-dressed) took pictures of their gorgeous selves. They were also pretty nice, offering us as much flan as we could consume (none, unfortunately). We had a great time until we remembered that we had to head back to Nate’s with his cigarettes.

Back at Nate’s, Gopal and his girlfriend Stephanie had shown up for what turned out to be a vicious game of Monopoly. I sat back and could hardly hold back tears of laughter as the others schemed throughout, skipping each other’s turns and trading cards. Gopal talked the most shit, badgering players and accusing people of taking his money. When he got up to go to the bathroom, Stephanie tucked some of his Monopoly money under the board. Not surprisingly, his lack of attention ensured Gopal’s early ejection from the game. Celi and Seema played as a team, pitting themselves against Stephanie in the final rounds. I curled up in the armchair and beamed.

After bidding everyone goodnight, we walked up to the Beachwood to collect Jacinda so we could split a cab home. The Beachwood was its same charming self, all Old Style and AC/DC on the jukebox except for one thing: Jacinda’s evil ex-boyfriend Casey was sitting in the middle of the fray, talking to Jacinda and trying to hold her hand.

Normally I use an alias to protect people I don’t like. Like when I talk about Old Girl — she’s harmless but don’t get caught up in one of her funks or else a perfectly good evening out will turn into a passive-aggressive joy ride through her psyche. It’s not unlike when I’d use nicknames so I could bitch about people I hated/was obsessed with/adored from afar. Those aliases can sometimes change, and they often do if the way I feel about someone changes. But in this case, I will not hesitate to use Casey’s real name because he’s a criminal, an asshole, and to be avoided like the plague. I was angry to see him there, and to see Jacinda talking to him, but when she looked at me with this look of fear and disbelief in her eyes, I knew I had to go sit down and say hello, if only so she could step away from the conversation and go hide for a bit.

Casey turned to me, and I stifled a laugh at the site of his pants, which were like bloomers, they were so short. I sat down and peered at him while Seema got me a beer.

“So why are you mad?” He leans forward, putting his hand on my knee.

“Sorry, do I look mad?” I lean back in my chair.

“Yeah.”

“Just tired, I guess.” Pause. “How are you?”

“Oh.” He leans forward. “I might not beat these charges. If I don’t they might take away my citizenship and deport me, and they’d deport my parents as well. I have no problems going back, because I’m a god there, but it’s a horrible thing to do to my parents.”

“That’s too bad.”

“Yeah, and my lawyer’s an idiot. I fire him every week.”

“Yeah, well, hopefully you’ll stumble across a better one.”

“So what’s up with you?”

“I work downtown.”

“Where’s your boyfriend?”

“There is no boyfriend?”

“What? Girl like you?”

“Uh, sure.”

“I find that hard to believe, girl like you. Don’t you have boys knocking down your door twenty-four hours a day, dying to take you out?”

I pause briefly, imagining a stream of suitors beating on my door. I laugh. “Uh, no. Not that I’m aware of, no.”

“Well, what do you think of my friend Jordan over there? Hey Jordan, come here, I want you to meet somebody!” He gestures to a dark haired boy wearing what Jacinda described as a “Cosby” sweater (‘cos it was so ugly) who ran off to the bathroom. I got the message that Jordan wasn’t interested, so why didn’t Casey?

“Do you think he’s good-looking?”

“He’s fine.”

“What do you think of him?”

“I don’t know him at all but I’m sure he’s a perfectly nice person.”

“Do you think he can get anyone?”

“Sure. Fine. Whatever.”

At this point, Casey got up and I had a much-needed cigarette. I made eye contact with Seema, Jacinda, and Jalissa over the course of the evening, arching my left eyebrow and laughing at the absurdity of it all. Casey kept whispering into Jacinda’s ear as she squirmed and kept a vague smile on her face. I could only imagine that he was trying to entice Jacinda to come home with him. Which she would never do because:

  1. She loves somebody else.
  2. I’d kick her ass if she even thought about it.

It wasn’t until he finally left that her face relaxed, and then I could relax. We danced around the bar, Seema dragging off other people’s cigarettes. Jacinda and I did a do-si-do while we put on our coats, then we danced out to Jalissa’s so Jacinda could get her things and we could go home to the warmth of our apartment away from evil ex-boyfriends and the other ghosts of Thanksgiving day.

In the next flip front: Milkshakes at the Med. More Buffy. Wishing you were here. C + N = N + C. Harry, redux.

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~ by Jasmine on November 26, 2001.

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