I was writing the book I was always meant to write. The idea had come to me at 4am one Saturday morning during a wine and cigarette cleaning frenzy in which I had managed to go through 16 bottles of salad dressing that had all expired at least a year prior. I lined them up on my counter in date order from oldest to newest… The newest being 12 months old. It was then that I noticed something weird… Everything on my counter was a condiment. I had salad dressing, BBQ sauce, Mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, chutney, sweet & sour sauce, pineapple sauce, sauerkraut… Fuck, I had a condiment for everything, but nothing to put the condiments on! No bread, no eggs, no chicken, no lunch meat, no salad, veggies or fruit… Nothing. But I had vodka! I had wine!!! I had cigs… And I sure as hell had condiments!
I remember the precise moment I had the epiphany. I was sitting on a stool in my kitchen smoking and staring at the contents of my fridge… I took a long drag, squinted my eyes and focused on the bottle of Portuguese Piri Piri. It had a picture of a fire breathing Red naked devil woman on the label. It was my kinda hot sauce!
I threw my half-smoked cigarette in the sink and ran to my computer, leaving all of my booze and condiments sitting out on the counter and a sponge in my empty half-cleaned fridge. I started typing like mad… The words were eloquently flowing from my mind and onto my screen like they never had before. It was brilliant, I was on fire. It was as if this story idea had descended from heaven to seek out my little uneventful brain to grace with it’s powerful and unforgettable presence. Yes, my brain was the “chosen one”. This story chose me, I didn’t choose it.
At 1 o’clock in the afternoon my eyes were getting heavy and I had typed an astounding 22,000 words. I wasn’t ready to stop writing, but my body was aggressively disagreeing with me. I decided to put on a pot of coffee. I noticed my answering machine flashing so I listened to my messages while I brewed my Starbucks Sumatra.
“Selina… I thought we were getting together for brunch today, are you still coming?! It’s 11:15… I’m sitting here at Petit Dejeuner… Waiting for you! I guess I’ll just have another coffee while I wait.”
“Hi Selina, it’s mom… I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately. You haven’t called me in weeks. What’s going on? I hope everything is okay! I’m worried about you. Call me.”
“Selina, it’s your agent… Listen, if you can’t produce something for me in the next 30 days I’m gonna have to refer you to another agent… I just can’t sit here rotting waiting for you to send me something. I am one of the city’s top producing agents. Anyway… Don’t mean to be an asshole, but I need you to send me something ASAP!! Call me, we’ll chat… Ciao!”
“Well, it’s almost 1 now… So obviously you’re not coming. I don’t know, I thought we had something special… but I guess not. For the record, I would never stand anyone up the way you stood me up today. Take care of yourself.”
“Ms. Slinger it’s Global Probe Collections… We have called you repeatedly regarding your overdue account with The Adult Entertainment Network. The file # is 33456884. If you do not call us to resolve this today your credit record will be permanently tarnished and we will be forced to take further action.”
I chugged my cup of coffee and poured myself another. I was getting sort of delirious now. I felt bad about standing up Paulo… He was a nice guy, and I didn’t mean to stand him up… I just completely forgot!! I threw back my 2nd cup of coffee and did a few yoga stretches in my kitchen. All of my condiments were still on the counter… Most of them garbage now since they had been sitting out all night and had spoiled.
I realized that my condiments, much like everything else in my life were a victim of my inaction, my complete lack of attention to detail, and just another example of something turning to shit as a result of my absolutely irresponsible, reckless, sloppy, thoughtless, and unaffected point of view.
What was my problem? Why didn’t I care? Why couldn’t I get it together? In any area of my life. Always running from relationships, jobs, friendships, confrontation, and even opportunity. I was a perpetual avoider, an artful dodger, and a resistant little bitch. I hated facing things … Even if those things were things that could potentially make me a huge success. My thoughts quickly shifted to my work…
I started to hyperventilate when I thought about finishing the book… Then I started thinking, if I didn’t, who would?! It had to be written… This was not a book that could collect dust like my potentially award winning collection of “could’ve beens”. I had to write it and I had to sell it.
After throwing up and taking some caffeine pills I went back to my computer, a little more alert, but a lot more delusional… and now slightly neurotic as well. I kept typing…
By the time 10pm rolled around, I was hungry, tired and was sorta seeing things. I thought I saw a leprechaun hanging out on my window sill. I turned on my lamp and sat there staring at the incredible amount of words that had miraculously and almost effortlessly appeared before me over the past several hours. It was scary. I knew that this was “the one”… This was it. This was the book I was always meant to write.
Suddenly my screen began flickering, I dove for my mouse and clicked the “SAVE” button. My screen turned Blue, and I got an internal system error message. I felt my face get hot, I felt my stomach tighten, and I closed my eyes tightly as a tear squeezed out of each eye. My screen then went Black, as black as the hole I now had in my heart, as black as my soul felt, and as black as my lungs were from smoking an unnatural and irrational amount of cigarettes.
I sat there motionless staring at the blank screen. I wanted to scream… I wanted to cry… I wanted to get REALLY fucked up! I opened the desk drawer and pulled out my flask of Jack Daniels and began swigging it eagerly. Ohhhh it went down good! Good ol’ Jack… A friend in need is a friend indeed!
I don’t remember when I passed out, but I remember being woken up by my mom who was shaking me violently with the key man beside her and a bag of groceries. She had broken into my apartment. She dragged me to my feet, forced me to shower, cleaned up my apartment, cooked me some pasta and filled my empty fridge with normal refridgerator items. After my shower I sat there in my kitchen like a 14 year old girl, eating the lunch that my mommy had prepared for me and looking around at the spotless room that my mom had cleaned for me, and I broke down and bawled my 28 year old eyes out. My mom held me tightly as I told her all about my “could’ve been” book and cried about how I would never be able to recreate that magic… It was lost forever!
“Well have you tried to turn on your computer yet to see if it’s there sweetie?”
“No. I know it’s fucking gone mom, why would it be there?” I wiped my nose on my sleeve.
“Well it’s worth a look don’t you think?!”
“Don’t patronize me mom… Please. If I thought it was there, do you think I would be like this right now? Do you think I would be this much of a mess?!”
My mom got up slowly and went over to my computer. She sat down with her perfect fucking June Cleaver posture and turned on my computer. It booted fine. She went into the folder options and conducted a search. It was cute, she was just trying to be helpful. She always had a knack for seeing life through rose coloured glasses.
After a few minutes, she quietly got up and came back to the table, where I was sitting head down with my face in my bowl of pasta. She kissed me on the forehead, told me she loved me and left my apartment.
After she left I went over to my computer and looked at the screen. My book was sitting there open and the cursor was blinking in the precise spot I had left it before the crash.