Roberta, I hope you’re having a good evening. Thank you so much for coming. I’ve been wanting to have you over to my apartment for quite a while.
I also hope you enjoyed your dinner. Sorry I burned the fish sticks! I’m just not used to baking them in the oven. I usually use the microwave, but then they get mushy. I always try to put forth a little more effort when I have a woman over. But you could probably tell that from the sprig of parsley and the slice of lemon I laid over the fish sticks when I served them.
Next time you’re over, I’ll use a timer. Either that, or I can whip up some Pasta Roni. It’s really good if you add a can of tuna fish. Then it becomes a more sophisticated version of Tuna Helper. And if I want to get really fancy, I’ll sometimes substitute a can of Atlantic pink salmon for the tuna.
I was thinking about doing my own cooking podcast, or maybe a series of YouTube videos. But I wouldn’t want people copying my recipes. Maybe I should self-publish a cookbook, first. I have so many money-making ideas, I just don’t know where to start. I’m ambitious like that. And ambition’s attractive. Aren’t I right?
Anyway, I’m so glad you’re here, sitting on my couch. Can you tell I cleaned up? Only this morning, there was a dirty pair of underwear right where you were sitting. Laundry Day isn’t until Wednesday, so I shoved the underwear underneath the cushion. You’re sitting on it, but you can’t see it. Pretty clever, huh?
So if you drop some loose change down the cushions, be careful as you feel around. There may be a condom or two down there, too. I don’t know — I’ve never lifted the cushion to see what’s under there. For all I know, there could be a mummified cat. Mine disappeared two years ago. You would have liked him. He was precious. I still have his litter box in my bedroom as a sort of shrine. I haven’t touched it since the day he vanished. For all I know, all his turds are mummified, too.
Anyway, before this evening gets serious and I dim the lights, I wanted to ask you something important:
Did you happen to use the bathroom earlier?
I’m not asking because there was a funky odor, or anything. In fact, I’m not even sure why I’m asking. I know for a fact you were in there, because you excused yourself during dinner. I could even hear you peeing, though I tried not to listen. I was trying to eat, and bathroom noises ruin my appetite.
I know — it’s a little awkward that the bathroom is located right next to the dining-room table. But I’m not the dumb-ass architect who laid out the apartment. If you ask me, dining rooms and bathrooms should be located in separate counties. No one wants to eat next to a full view of a toilet. But sometimes I light a cinnamon candle in there, and it gives me a craving for Christmas cookies, even though it’s July. So that’s kind of weird. Whenever someone serves me cookies at a Christmas party, all I can think about is my toilet.
It’s also too bad the bathroom fan broke. It’s useful not only for removing unpleasant odors, but also for masking private sounds. That’s why I could hear you peeing. If we’re going to keep dating, then I’ll have to get the landlord to fix the fan right away. The way you drink wine, you’re going to be in the bathroom every five minutes, and you sound like an overflowing stream surging toward a waterfall. (In other words, you seem like a lush. No offense.)
The reason I’m asking whether you used the bathroom is because I saw a wadded-up Kleenex in the wastebasket. I know I didn’t put it there, and unless my mummified cat somehow leapt back to life and wormed his way out from under the couch cushions, you’re the only obvious suspect.
The thing is — and I hesitate to ask — but I’m going to need you to go the bathroom, fish out the Kleenex, and flush it down the toilet.
See, the wastebasket isn’t really a wastebasket. I have it for decorative purposes only. I never intended for people to throw garbage in there. You should have known that, because the wastebasket lacks a bag. Nobody’s supposed to toss garbage into a bag-less wastebasket. It just isn’t done in polite society. I’m not sure if you’ve ever taken a course in manners, but you should at least be familiar with the works of Peggy Post. She used to write an etiquette column for Good Housekeeping. Not that I’m an ardent reader of Good Housekeeping. It’s just that my ex used to keep them next to the toilet, and they’re great to thumb through if you haven’t had enough fiber and are taking longer than normal to do your business.
Speaking of etiquette, I know that I’m the host and that I should pick up the Kleenex if it bothers me so much. I’m not one to inconvenience my guests. I didn’t even ask you to remove your shoes prior to coming inside. But that was more for my sake, as you appear to be wearing shoes without socks, which doubles the likelihood of your having foot odor. I like you and everything, but I don’t want to have your disgusting, pungent feet tromping all over my carpet. I just vacuumed two weeks ago, and I can’t afford to have it shampooed after you leave. So if you insist on going sock-less, then I’m going to insist that your shoes remain on. If you want to get comfortable later and make out, maybe you can put your feet in a plastic sack.
But anyway … if you could kindly flush the Kleenex for me, my appreciation would know no bounds. I just don’t know what you used it for. Maybe you blew a wad of snot into it, or maybe you dribbled a little while you were peeing and had to wipe it off the seat. I often to have to do that myself. In fact, when I get up to pee in the middle of the night, I’ll often splash all over the floor, because I can’t see where I’m aiming. Which reminds me: I neglected to mop before you came over, so if the bathroom floor was a little sticky, that’s why. The pee dries near the base of the toilet, and then it’s like chiseling earwax to remove it.
You look a little ill, Roberta. Are you feeling OK?
My point is, I don’t know what you used the Kleenex for, and I’m not going to make it my business this evening to find out. We’re just getting acquainted, and there’s still some secrets we should keep from each other. Like the gimp suit I keep in the back of the closet, for instance. Only I didn’t just tell you that. I was planning to mention it after we got to know each other better. So if you don’t mind, go ahead and forget I mentioned it.
Whatever you did with the Kleenex, I can’t bring myself to touch it. Even if you just dabbed makeup with it, that’s still gross. Your face is a little sweaty on this warm summer evening, and forgive me, but I don’t want to touch a tissue that touched your sweat.
Besides, I can tell that you tried to conceal a zit on the side of your nose. Maybe if you didn’t sweat so much, your noise wouldn’t sprout zits?
Look, I’m not trying to sound harsh. I’m just offering some constructive criticism. That’s how you can tell I truly care about you. That and the fish sticks with the sprig of parsley. (And I already apologized for burning them. At least I tried to scrape off the scorch marks with a butter knife. I hope you know, not every man would go to such extremes to please a date.)
If our relationship’s going to grow, then you’re going to have to respect my fondness for decorative wastebaskets. You won’t be able to toss snot-encrusted Kleenex or earwax-coated Q-Tips in there all willy-nilly.
Don’t you know that garbage in the bathroom is gross? When I’m soaking in an Epsom salt bath, luxuriating in a candle-lit spa of my own making (with cinnamon-scented candles, no less), and listening to the soothing soundtrack of Enya’s Orinoco Flow, the last thing I want to look at is an overflowing wastebasket. Yet thanks to you and your lack of etiquette, here we are.
I would have been happier if you’d left piss all over the seat.
Wait a minute. What do you mean you have to go home right now? Are you upset? Was it something I said?
Are you sure you’re not ill? You look all sweaty and disgusted. You’re not developing explosive diarrhea from the fish sticks, are you? I sure hope you’re not. I was worried if I cooked them thoroughly. Even though the outsides were burned, the insides felt a little raw.
Roberta, if you need to throw up, feel free to use the bathroom. I won’t mind. If you retch, just be sure to use the toilet, and not the wastebasket.
After all, it’s a decorative wastebasket.