So in the meantime, I thought I'd post some non-blog writing I've done.
I have no idea how this will go over, but what have I got to lose?
Five years ago, I got an idea for a short story called, "The Three-Day Diet." But when I sat down to write it, it came spilling out and before I knew it, it was much longer than a short story. And then I didn't know what to do with it, so I just abandoned it altogether. Thus, I have 50 pages (or so) of this non-short-story/non-book that's far too Bridget Jones-y in its style and not very polished, just sitting around.
Perhaps you have some suggestions.
Here's the first part, which is Day One of the Three-Day Diet.
The Three-Day Diet
For the First Day of the Diet, You Fast.
Must get out of bed. Must start day right. No coffee, no toast. Breakfast of Willpower. Start three-day diet today. Amy’s wedding’s Saturday and I need to be stunning.
Three days is nothing. That grapefruit diet lasted a whole five days in 1992 and I’m much more mature and controlled now. One day of fasting will be piece of cake.
Hmm, shouldn’t maybe think of cake at 6 a.m.
But so long as I am thinking of cake, I wonder what Amy will be serving. Did she go with that fabulous chocolate truffle torte she loved (let’s hope so) or the spongy angel-fluff thing Joe’s mother wanted (blech—so boring)? Actually, I wonder if Amy’s even still alive. It’s possible she’s fallen into a terrifying, bridezilla-like wedding-planning abyss. We had her office farewell party two weeks ago (ugh, very bad cake) right before her mother flew in to help her, and I haven’t heard from her since. Ooh, that can’t be good. I should call Amy today and make sure she’s okay, offer my support. Ha! Yes, I will call Amy over my lunch break. That will give me something to do instead of eat. I’ll go for a walk and call Amy and maybe get a pre-wedding manicure and focus on maximizing my time. I’m a power woman, right?
Loser ex-boyfriend wasn’t wedding-date material anyway.
Yes, yes, I need to keep reminding myself of positives. Just because the last…what has it been?...God, SIX weddings in the last two years…just because they were all dreadful does not mean this one will be. Amy did say there were “plenty” of single men invited. Could be good rebounding opportunities. Besides, doesn’t every singles movie ever made tell us that weddings are the best places to meet future spouses? See? It is good that my loser ex isn’t coming. Amy is sure to put me at table of Attractive Singles. (Note: will have to reconfirm claim of “plenty” single men.) Definitely best to be single at weddings.
Unless you’re ten pounds too heavy for your dress. Is it still holiday weight if it’s May? Hmm. Maybe not such a good thing to be single. I’ll be all by myself and around strange men who will be checking me out. Certainly they’ve seen all the singles movies, too. And there they’ll be, scanning the room for their future brides, and instead see me, standing around looking dreadful, sucking in and trying to hide arm bulge. Maybe I shouldn’t go.
No, no, what am I saying? Of course I’m going to go to the wedding. It’s not about me or how I look (standing alone) in some dress, it’s about being there for my friend’s big day. Really. Besides, I’m sure this diet will work—it’s so simple. The website said it was descended from ancient peoples. And even if it’s not exactly a “centuries old solution,” what can it hurt? It’s only three days.
I’m not the least bit hungry. We had a staff meeting this morning and there were bagels and someone finally remembered to get the honey walnut cream cheese and I didn’t even consider it.
Okay, maybe a little bit hungry. Maybe I’ll leave for my lunchtime errands early to take my mind off not eating. Fasting isn’t really that hard, the trick is staying occupied. I’m practically half-way through my day already. Been drinking lots of water, too. Honestly, I’m actually kind of full.
Stupid cell phones. I’m trying to make the most of my no-lunch lunch break and my cell phone connection is, of course, erratic. Tried to call Amy on the way to get my manicure, but got only static and strange whale-like moaning sounds. I’m sometimes alarmed by the digital age.
Trying to decide between nail salons. Do I save twenty bucks and go to militant Korean nail place? Or do I spend the extra money at the fancy salon a few blocks away? Fancy place is nice, but staff is often slow and overly bubbly. Definitely not in the mood for bubbly.
As usual, Korean place is insanely busy. In this tiny shop off a lesser-known alley, hordes of working women are subjecting themselves to the $10 Express Manicure. The process is simple and fast, and mostly works like a well-oiled machine. It is not about pleasantries, it’s about getting the job done.
When you enter, you do not speak. You stand in line and follow the instructions of the head lady who is shouts orders to points at people to instruct them where to go, usually with annoyance.
So on one hand, it’s not a very pleasant experience. Given all the advances in technology, I can’t help but wonder if it’s really necessary to treat cuticles by jabbing them with a sharp wooden stick. Plus you get yelled at by head lady if you don’t do what you’re supposed to, even if you’re new and don’t know better.
Like one time, when I was on my lunch break and feeling brave, I asked for a pedicure. I was thinking that maybe they’d appreciate more business. Was very wrong. I had thrown a wrench into the Express Manicure production line. All the manicurists/ pedicurists started yelling at each other in Korean while pointing and frowning at me. Then I remembered I hadn’t shaved my legs beforehand. So instead of enjoying soothing lower-leg massage, I spent the whole time feeling guilty and insecure and apologizing for stubble.
But once you get the process down, it’s really not so bad. I mean, despite unfriendly, curt, and sometimes painful service, there’s something to be said for efficiency. And ten dollars is a good deal.
Maybe all women are crazy.
Have undergone jabbing procedure and nails have been properly sanded. Pick luscious berry red color to accent the beading in the Little Black Dress will be wearing on Saturday. Color is called “harlot” and am not taking offense.
Realize I’m quite content to not be allowed to speak. Manicurist probably doesn’t want to hear about the wedding or my dress, probably doesn’t care that I’m fasting, and probably wouldn’t be impressed by my willpower. Whereas the manicurist might have an opinion about “harlot” and I really don’t need to hear it.
I’m absently watching “harlot” being slapped on my fingers when an un-ignorable bleeping noise erupts from my purse. I would have turned my cell phone off (which is, of course, part of the Express Manicure process) but based on whale sounds, I thought I had no connection. Everyone’s beginning to stare. Wishing to God I had not selected “William Tell Overture” as cell phone ring.
Crap. I don’t know what to do. I’m sitting at the nail station with very wet nails and a visibly annoyed manicurist. What do I do? What would Emily Post do? Turn off her cell phone ahead of time, no doubt. Crap. Not helpful. Seriously, do I let the phone ring and ring and ring, to the annoyance of all Express Nail patrons? Or do I ruin the wet “harlot” job by reaching my gooey nails into my purse? I really have to decide before the overture starts again.
Agh! Visibly annoyed manicurist has sprung into action! She has suddenly reached across the station and into my purse, has pulled out my phone, thwacked it open, and jammed it against my ear, all in one fell swoop. Actually kind of impressive, despite being terrifying.
Can only hear static. This is not good.
“H-h-hello?” I ask, trying not to look at the many glowering manicurists. See instead a few women standing in line nonchalantly turning their own cell phones off.
Can only make out more whale lamenting.
“HELLO?” I ask again, realizing I’m the poster child for horribly rude cell phone usage. I’m sure my face is beet red. “Uhhh, sorry,” I struggle, “the connection’s bad! I really can’t talk now!”
Again more whale. I really want to get off the phone but have to be careful. If the caller is my mother, I can’t sound too distressed or rude because she will immediately call right back. Do NOT, under any circumstances, want phone to ring again.
Try to convey breezy politeness but sense of urgency. “Can’t talk! Will have to call you back! Sorreeeee! Byeeee!”
I pull back from the phone and the manicurist throws it back in my purse. Realize that, out of bad cell-phone connection habit, I have been yelling, and that the whole salon is staring in silence.
Leave $20 tip.
Back at the office. Nail job doesn’t look so great. Plus, I meant to kill a lot more time with lunchtime errands, but had nothing to do. Can’t believe it’s not even 1 p.m. Stomach starting to gurgle and…swish? Must be all the water. Think maybe ten glasses of water before noon is healthy but insane. Now I’m hungry and bloated, and also have bladder issues. Must stay distracted. Will try Amy again.
Dial number. Hear someone pick up but no one speaking. I wait for a few seconds, and can just barely make out voices in the background.
Will you get over here!?!?!…well of course it’s not for me…I can’t just let it ring, it’s driving me crazy…I don’t know who…you need to work these things out…it could be the floris… she is not a—Henry! Are you going to let her use language like that?…unbecoming of a bride…I’m not standing here holding this Goddamned phone all day…
There is a crash. It sounds like the phone has been dropped or thrown. For the second time in mere hours, I’m not sure what to do with a phone. I’d hang up but for fear of caller ID. Decide to wait. Occurs to me I have to pee again.
Hear more phone rustling and then a fainter version of the whale song. Realize in horror that phone whale is Amy.
“Hello?” she asks, in the smallest, saddest voice I’ve ever heard her use.
“Amy? It’s Ev—are you okay?”
“Oh Evie! I tried to call you, I tried—” and there is outright sobbing.
“Umm…Did something happen? Can I help?” I ask, clueless as to what to say or do. Amy and I met at work almost a year ago, and she has consistently been the most put-together woman on the planet. We’re pretty good friends, but I only really know the at-work version of Amy. Who does not sound much like the person on the other end of the phone.
“I’m sooooo soorrrrreeeeeeee,” she ekes out.
“No, no, don’t apologize, it’s okay.” There is nose blowing.
“Okay, okay, I’m better, I’m better,” she says, and then starts in a frantic whisper, “It’s my mother, it’s my crazy psycho mother. This wedding is driving everyone crazy, and she’s gone completely mad. I swear, everything was fine. Just fine. Fine because I know what I’m doing. I’m a grown-up! I’m a professional! I can do this! Well, now everything’s—it’s—my mother hates everything. We have to add blue to the flowers and that damn angel…angel…angel cake crap, whatever it’s called has been a complete fiasco, and the dresses! Jesus! My mother and Joe’s mother are wearing the same color and neither will change and of course this is absolutely tragic. Tragic! It is simply not done. Oh, AND it’s my fault because I hate her. Plus Earl—did I tell you about him?—yeah, Earl is actually going to come which means that the seating chart doesn’t even”—
There is a pause for a small sob-like hiccup.
“…The seating chart is a disaster. I’ve totally lost control and Joe’s being no help—his parents got in on Sunday and I HAVEGOTTOGETOUTOFTHISHOUSE!”
“Do you want me to come get you?”
“God yes! But I can’t now. I have my hair and makeup trial run this afternoon and, yes, let’s do something afterwards pleasepleaseplease. But I have to get out alone. I have to think of something…Ooh! I can say I’m going out alone because I don’t want anyone to see what I look like—yes, I can say it has to be a surprise! Mom will be more understanding if it sounds like I’m doing something proper. Yeah, good, I’ll say I want to surprise her. So please, please come get me at Mother Earth Salon at 5, oh can you?”
“A SURPRISE!” Amy shouts suddenly, I can only assume for others in her household to hear, and then whispers a frantic “okaygottago” and the phone is clicked off.
I am very hungry. Continuously drinking water isn’t really helping, and by now I’ve peed approximately 47 times. People are starting to notice. I try to remind myself that I don’t care what people think because I am a director and also will look stunning in three days. None of their damn business anyway. Miss having Amy around the office, at least I could be sharing my misery with her.
Damn that Ellie with her “afternoon snack” bit. No one asked her. Chocolate is unfit for the workplace. I should bring this up at the next all-company meeting.
I’m actually going to die of starvation. Right here in the office.
Check online at the diet guidelines again and discover that if I get dizzy (dizzy? I might get dizzy? Whose dumb idea was this, anyway?) and if I’m truly starving, I am allowed to drink herbal tea. I have a sneaking suspicion that maybe tea isn’t going to help.
Go to the office kitchen anyway, make a big cup of tea, add sugar and milk out of habit, realize cannot add sugar or milk, start over. Hope at least I’m killing time till wretched day is over.
3: 44 p.m.
Despite best efforts, have returned to desk in under four minutes. Curse.
Startled when loathsomely perky office manager, Gail, bursts into office asking inane question about where someone’s something-or-other is. I jump out of my seat and try not to look as though I’ve been staring blankly at a computer screen for as long as twenty minutes. Starving has interfered with my ability to concentrate.
Realize a bit of drool has formed at the corner of my mouth. I try to be cool anyway, and so ask Gail why she’s bothering me with this question in the first place. I figure if I show some authority, Gail might not notice that I’m trying to fix a drool problem.
Gail’s demeanor shifts from perky to vaguely hurt. She says that she came to me because the guy’s on a different floor, and my office is right here. Sigh. I get her what she’s looking for, but try and look interrupted anyway. Gail returns to perky, and trots off.
I have to wonder why, if I’m cleansing my system and all, I don’t feel half as perky as Gail. And yet Gail’s the kind of woman who would never fast. She would never need to. She eats like a bird and actually kind of reminds me of a parakeet, bright and bopping and wretched. Wonder how fasting can possibly be good for the body or spirit, as it’s obviously not improving mine. Maybe it’s just that ancient peoples did not work with women like Gail.
I think now would be a good time to leave the office. It’s early, but I’m doing no one any good by staying here and Amy might be done early and I need to be there for her.
Arrive at Mother Earth Salon via cab. It costs extra, but I’ve been known to take the wrong bus line even when properly fed, so I didn’t think it would be a good idea to try and take MUNI given my current lack of nutritional stability.
I enter a fashionable waiting area and am promptly greeted by no one. Wait on uncomfortable earthy burlap thing until background music of chimes and trickling water send me to the ladies’ room again.
I return to the lobby and see Amy standing there in full bridal makeup and hair. Amy does not look like a product of Mother Earth. Amy looks like a drag queen who got left at the altar.
Amy’s usual simple-but-elegant look has been transformed into something out of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. I assume the mohawked woman standing next to Amy is responsible. Heaping globules of black and blue encircle Amy’s eyes. Her eyes, however, are still bloodshot from crying, and make her appear as though she’s having an allergic reaction to her own face. Her eyelids are topped off with glitter. Her already dark eyebrows have been penciled over in such a way as to make her look permanently surprised. Her lip color matches my fingernail polish.
Amy’s hair, once normal and lovely, has possibly been electrocuted. Around her face her hair has been pulled and pinned under her simple wedding tiara, stretching her scalp and emphasizing the perma-surprise of her eyebrows. Behind the tiara lies a nest of shocked-then-sprayed-into-submission curls adorned with more glitter.
“What do you think? Too much?” she asks with an unsteady smile, and before I have to think of a way to answer her honestly but not make her cry again, I realize she’s showing me her fingers. She’s gotten inch-long tips and they’re also done in glitter.
“Sparkly!” I blurt.
“So? What do you think?” asks the mohawk woman as she positions herself behind the lobby desk. “Isn’t she beautiful? She’s so glam.” Yeah, like David Bowie.
“Definitely,” I say, trying to be encouraging. I don’t think that Amy is glam type.
“Do you want to pay for this now or on the big day?” the mohawk lady asks Amy, who is surely expected to pay some ungodly sum for her glam look.
“Oh, we’re letting Mom get the tab for this one Saturday.”
“Well, tell your mother I’m sorry I won’t get to meet her! She sounds like a great lady, and she knows what’s she’s talking about. Now my mother, she’s afraid of a little glamour…”
“Okay, bye!” Amy says, pushing me out the door.
In front of the salon, Amy shouts, “I’m free!” and tells me we’re going to get her drunk at Mac’s. I ask her if she’s sure she doesn’t want to go someplace nicer, since she does, after all, look so glam.
“Like this?” Amy asks. “Are you kidding? I look like a fucking hooker.”
Mac’s Place reeks of stale beer, and is ideal for girls avoiding run-ins with fashion police. I’m wearing decent work clothes, but keep losing my concentration and staring at things. I have also discovered a not-so-small drool spot on my collar. Drag-queen Amy is wearing normal clothes, but also a tiara.
We immediately order drinks. Mac’s has no tea, so I have to settle for hot water with lemon. Amy orders a cosmo with a twist and two cherries. The bartender gives Amy a suspicious look, at which point Amy informs him she’s getting married on Saturday in front of God and 300 people, that this is the first she’s been out of her mother’s sight in four days and that if he has an opinion about her hair that he should probably not say anything. Cosmo is on the house.
Amy’s on her second cosmo in 20 minutes, and her makeup disaster is explained. I learn that Amy had intended to do her own bridal makeup, but that her mother insisted she have it done professionally. Not wanting yet another argument, Amy agreed to have someone from the salon do it. She was still very upset and wary about having a stranger do her makeup, until she got to the salon and met the mohawk lady.
“I took one look at her and told her to go crazy. I told her that my mom had absolutely insisted that I look like a movie star, and that I try something daring. Et voila! I’m telling you, my mom’s gonna take one look at me when I get home, and that’ll be the end of that. She’ll freak out, but then she’ll let me do my own makeup, thank God. Listen to me, I’ve become so manipulative. I’m actually trying to trick my mother into letting me do my own makeup at my own wedding. It’s all so crazy.”
“What about your hair?”
“Oh, I don’t mind having my hair done professionally, I’d actually prefer it. Mohawk lady doesn’t work on Saturday, either, so I can have someone sane come and help me. We’ll use this—” Amy tilts her chin down and waggles her hornet’s nest at me “—as discussion for what not to do.”
Catch a whiff of Amy’s hairspray and it smells of citrus and coconut. My mouth waters. Recognize that salivating over glitter hair cannot be a good sign.
We talk more. I tell Amy of my ancient peoples’ three-day diet plan. She does not laugh at me though I suspect she means to, especially when I excuse myself to the ladies’ room for the second time.
We discuss my loser ex-boyfriend and reaffirm his unsuitability as wedding-date material. Also discuss meaning of “plenty” single men and Amy tells me that Joe has many college buddies coming. I do not trust men in their thirties who still get classified as “college buddies,” but do not let on.
Hear of bridal nightmares.
Apparently Amy’s mother and Joe’s mother are both wearing shades of blue. The blues aren’t the same and don’t clash, but the issue has become a sticking point. Both mothers blame each other, and are pleasant to one another but snide behind each other’s backs. What’s worse is that the blue mothers’ dresses have somehow necessitated blue flowers being worked into all the bouquets, which Amy had originally planned without any blue at all. Silly her.
“And then the florist said no,” Amy said.
“What do you mean, the florist said no?”
“I mean, the florist said no. She said blue can’t just be added, she’s a florist not a magician. If we want to add blue, the whole floral scheme would need to be changed, and it’s too close to the wedding to just suddenly decide to change schemes. Oh, and she said that never in all her years of weddings has anyone ever tried to change an entire scheme two weeks before the big day.”
“How inconsiderate of you.”
“I know, I know, I’m such a bitchy bride. Anyway, it took three days of coaxing, including me and my mom and Joe and his mom all going down to the shop and begging her to help us. She eventually agreed, but only after the mothers brought their gowns to the shop for her review.”
“But everything’s okay now?”
“Well, the flowers should be okay now. Wait till you hear about the menu,” said Amy, downing the rest of her glass.
I no longer wonder why Amy is so relieved to be out of the house. Wedding crises have been many and varied.
Like, whether or not the menu should include a vegetarian entrée. Amy’s mother thinks it seems cheap, whereas Joe’s mother thinks it seems chic. Neither mother seems too concerned with the fact that Amy herself is a vegetarian and would like the opportunity to eat at her own wedding.
Also the bridesmaids are a bit out of control, as is to be expected.
Then there’s Earl. Earl is Amy’s frightening half-uncle who lives in Missouri and runs an adult-film distribution business. Not only is he coming, but he’s staying in town for a week and bringing someone named Ambrosia. Both mothers, who were overly concerned about the seating chart in the first place, are now beside themselves. Among other seating concerns, they are frantically trying to seat Earl and Ambrosia with guests least likely to be offended.
Joe has been absolutely no help.
At home in my apartment. Am weak and irritable and happy to not be getting married. Decide to go to bed rather than stay up and moon over caloric food.
Wonder what happened once Amy got inside her house. Amy was sloshed and giggly, so we shared a cab just to be sure she’d make it home okay. I didn’t walk her inside, though, because I was warned to stay away. “If you come into the house my mother will put you in charge of something,” Amy’d said, slurring. I wouldn’t have minded helping in some way, but Amy insisted I stay out also because her mother was going to have a meltdown over her lovely daughter coming home roaring drunk looking like the bride of Frankenstein.