So I wrote this while I was at photographer Doug Bauman’s house and I stupidly lost the story when I pressed the wrong buttons on his computer. So I had to write it all over again almost a day later. Fortunately, I think I actually remembered almost everything. Go me!
I actually kinda really like this story’s concept and arch. Doug helped me name it.
Something Inside That Head of Yours
I grew up on fairy tales and soap operas so naturally, I have a very active imagination. It never rests and always exaggerates.
So sometimes when I’m entering strange situations or meeting strange people, I think about the various possible perils I might encounter. Maybe this man is a rapist and he’s going to toss me in a box of potatoes and have his way with me, I wonder as I follow the mild-mannered produce man to where the cauliflowers are. Maybe I will get distracted when I see a man with gorgeous locks blowing in the wind and my guts will go flying everywhere as a car hits me and little bits of my insides will splatter on that kid standing over there and it will be really gross, I think as I cross the street. Maybe my family will be slaughtered over the next two weeks after I made the deadliest typo ever and accidentally charge my airline tickets to the credit card of some mobster who’s just looking for someone to whack, I imagine as I plan a getaway on some travel website.
Of course, I know that while all these things are technically possible, they are highly improbable. I am fully aware of their improbability and that allows me to safely think these things for as long as possible to add some extra thrill to an otherwise pretty lame day.
So one day I was heading to a local bakery looking for something to eat. Don’t be misled by the word “local.” Some people think that immediately implies “familiar,” but it doesn’t. Have you been to every business in your town? Thought not. Anyhow, this place was on the other side of town from where I lived and I had never been there before.
I entered and saw a man quietly cutting bread. Perhaps he is a serial killer, I thought, as I brainstormed a list of things commonly found in bakeries that could double as torture devices: knives, grills, toasters, ovens, really hard breadsticks. I wondered if I would be arrested if, in a preemptive strike, I grabbed the nearest baguette and began hitting him over the head with it. The cops and the papers would probably say I was some loony who lost it, but they’d be wrong – I’m sane, I’d tell them, I just had to get to the loony before he got to me first. But they’d never believe me. Ever. Unless he has a history of insanity or a long criminal record or something. After all, I could tell, even just looking at the back of his head, he was a total fiend.
He turned around. “Can I help you?”
It was then that I knew this man was the love of my life. Why didn’t I notice how attractive he was before? Oh, right. He was facing the other way. Whatever, nothing that happened before this moment was important to me anymore. The only thing that mattered was that I had my whole life ahead of me and this man was going to be with me every step of the way. He was beautiful. No, really, like WHOA- beautiful.
“Can I help you?” he repeated himself.
“Oh, yes. I was just looking for….” I scanned the chalkboard menu behind him. “Maybe a croissant with Nutella? That sounds really good. Or I mean, if there’s something you think is even better, I’ll take that too.” I added in that last part to show him that I was willing to let him play an active role in my life and that his opinion was important to me in the way that the opinion of anyone’s true love would be important to them.
“We don’t have any croissants left,” he said.
“Oh, okay. Well, isn’t there anything you can recommend?”
He thought a bit. Finally, he said, “I really like the croissants.”
“But you just said you didn’t have any more croissants left, so that doesn’t really help me.” I was a bit annoyed at this point, but I figured that once in a while, everyone probably had an argument or two with their soulmates over some trivial matter.
“Oh, right.” He scratched his head and I realized, with great disappointment, that I had mistaken this man for the love of my life when he was in fact possibly the stupidest person in the world. “Well, I can put some on a roll for you. Would that be good?”
“Yeah, that sounds great.” I sat on a stool at the counter as he took a roll from the bread case.
“How much of it do you want the Nutella on? Like a half? A fourth?”
I decided to test my almost-perfect man and challenge him in case math was more his thing. “I’d like thirty-four sixty-fifths of it,” I said firmly.
He gave me a look, shrugged, and cut the bread in half. He was supposed to give me a little more than half, the idiot. He gave me the Nutella and a knife, expecting me to do the honors myself. I could not believe how mistaken I was. This stupid man was not my true love.
As I ate, my belly began to hurt and I became increasingly certain that something was not right with me bread. Or my Nutella. Or that man behind the bake shop counter.
Perhaps he had poisoned me out of spite? Or perhaps someone poisoned the Nutella intending to drag him to the gates of Hades! Maybe it was a fellow bakery employee who had the misfortune of thinking this dolt was their true love only to find out that he was too lazy to rub his two brain cells together to do anything remotely intelligent.
Maybe this person had devoted their life to him or had given up a chance at doing what they’ve always wanted to do occupationally. This person probably got through the first few rounds of “The X-Factor” or something and actually had a pretty good chance of winning but sacrificed it to be with my dopey little friend. Then again, if it took so long for this person to find out how stupid this guy was, they must’ve been pretty dumb themselves.
The pangs started getting worse and I could feel my gastric juices stirring. Maybe it wasn’t about being disappointed with who he was. After all, I hear stupid people make great couples. Maybe they sang their heart out for him and he rejected them. They probably did it in front of tons and tons of people, like in Newport Mall or something. And he said, “What was that?” and they said, “Taylor Swift’s ‘You Belong to Me,’” and he said, “Ew.” It was probably really tragic and drove this person to the edge of insanity or like, right into insanity – unless they were already there in which case I guess it just further enhanced the crazy.
My stomach was really starting to hurt and I cried out.
“Are you okay?” asked my dopey little friend.
“I think I’m all right. Probably just gas or upset stomach.” It was the first time in a long time that I had opted for the simplest explanation. “Do you have Pepto Bismol or something?’
“Yeah, I can check in the back. Watch the front for me?” The moron left me behind. After a few minutes, I fell off the stool and began writhing on the floor in pain.
A little after the world went fuzzy and a little before the world went black, I heard him whisper to someone over the phone. “It’s done, boss. You don’t have to worry about that little rat buying tickets with your card on no Priceline.com no more.”