The April Pop Culture Mashup was a challenge in which participants were each sent a list of 10 random pop culture entities. Each person then had a week to create something that incorporated at least 2 of the 10. Here is the list of 10 that Kelly Edmunds received: Doctor Who, The Beatles, Queen Latifah, Men In Black, Jurassic Park, Breaking Bad, The Breakfast Club, James Brown, The Simpsons, and Night of the Living Dead. View the rest of the results here.
“One thing you need to work on,” Wayne’s eyes study the page to avoid mine, “Is keeping a positive attitude.”
I nod like that’s news to me, like I haven’t been trying to focus on the good with journaling, and trying meditative breathing exercises when the anxiety begins to take hold. I’ve even started drawing cute pictures and writing upbeat quotes on my underwear. Today they are pink, and stretched tight across my ample rear are a set of lyrics by James Brown, “Hot pants- Hey hot pants, uh!- Smokin’ hot pants- Smokin’ that- Hot pants!”
My lip curls into its customary smirk and Wayne interprets it as me not taking my evaluation seriously. I shrug, nodding for him to go on.
Wayne was in the Marines. Wayne was in Nam. Wayne once asked me to guess what he had and I had nervously ventured, “Herpes…?” Wayne doesn’t know what the fuck to do with an employee like me.
Wayne shakes his head with a smirk and turns to the computer to make scheduling changes. I write down my password and tell him I’d rather just get back to work. I let him think I give a shit about this place because that’s how somebody like me keeps their job, but really it’s that I get antsy without something to do. He waves me off.
Just a few days ago I learned that his son transitioned. Wayne blames it on allowing “her” to wear a football helmet as a child. Wayne doesn’t know what the fuck to do with a kid who he thought was his daughter, informing him that he’s actually his son. Wayne reminds me a little of my dad, minus the military background. I’m envious that Wayne’s son was able to tell his family and become who he’d always been. I’ve just stopped talking to my dad.
It is at this point that I misgender Wayne’s son by saying “Good for her.” I sigh, roll my eyes at myself, and walk away. I have trouble communicating with Wayne.
I’m walking with the guy I like from the breakroom. I’m wearing a light blue pair of undies with a quote that goes, “Never Run When You’re Scared. Rule # 7” across the butt. It’s from “Doctor Who.” The Eleventh Doctor to be precise, even though Nine and Ten were my favorites.
He tells me he’s driving down to Texas after work to spend a few days on the beach. I tell him I hope he has fun. I take a breath and tell him that some time when he isn’t in Texas we should get coffee.
He says “Okay” but his tone of voice says, “Meh.”
I stammer, “Unless you don’t want to, because then that would be weird…”
He laughs and says, “No” but his tone of voice says, “I do want to go, I’m just laughing at your delivery.”
I laugh like I understand what the fuck just happened.
It’s like a month later he and I are stocking spices in the baking aisle. I open the little shrink-wrapped sixer of onion powder shakers and hear him ask if I have a hot date after work. I am wearing mauve undies with a quote by Queen Latifah that reads: “I am a strong person with or without this other person, with or without this job, and with or without these tight pants.”
I offer up a nonchalant “nah” and he says, “C’mon, a woman like you?”
I notice the implication and take it as a ham-fisted compliment; I then ignore him misgendering me because I’m not out at work. Then I go back to that first bit again, because I’m trying to figure out if being slut-shamed bothers me on principle, or if it bothers me because I’ve been celibate since my last relationship ended nearly ten years ago and it’s just inaccurate. Both, I guess. My mental calculations end with the girl in the Old El Paso commercial shrugging, “Porque no las dos?” and I reply with a smirk, “Well, I did ask you to coffee…”
He walks towards me and I wonder if he’s going to say something. He doesn’t, and instead we study the cake mixes and candles in silence. I focus on the German Chocolate instead of looking at him. I’m not sure if it’s an autism thing or just a shy person thing, but I think he takes it as an indication that I’m uninterested. He’s wrong.
I’ve told him I’m autistic like nine times, but he’s hearing impaired so I’m not sure if he’s actually heard me. And even I know I can’t just chase after him yelling, “I’m autistic! I’m sorry I can’t look you in the eyes! I’m sorry I keep staring at your teeth but they’re in your mouth!”
After that I wasn’t sure how to proceed, so I gave him a plant in a beer can. I keep asking if he’s killed it. So far he says “no.”
I ran out of my Celexa. It wasn’t on purpose, I just kept missing the pharmacist when I came in for my shift, and then I thought I could get it on my lunch but there was a line and I’m impatient, and then it was the weekend. There’s a lump in my throat and my guts are upset. I’ve hardly eaten in days and I’m not hungry. I stop eating gluten to see if it helps my guts. Someone tells me I’m losing weight and all the body positivity I’ve learned over the past few years vanishes with the rest of my appetite. If I’m unloading the truck I burn 500 calories an hour x 6 hours a day x 5 days a week, and yesterday I had an orange and some almonds. If I can keep this up for a month I’ll lose enough weight.
I saw the old green truck in the lot so I know he’s at work but I’m tired of putting myself out there. I don’t think he understands how fucking terrifying it is to tell someone you like that you like them. And I feel like a jackass. I feel desperate. And honestly, I don’t feel it’s right to subject this depressed and angry version of myself upon him. So that’s it, then. Done.
I walk in with my head down, avoiding the gaze of coworkers and customers. I have twenty minutes before the start of my shift, and even though it smells like someone left a dirty diaper in the trashcan, I hide in the bathroom until the last minute. Today my underwear are light green and they have a quote from “Breaking Bad’s” Walter White on them that says, “Sometimes it just feels better not to talk. At all. About anything. To anyone.”
Mom takes me to the store and we pick up flowers and stuff to make dinner and we get my prescription. I tell her I’m sorry that I’ve been so down and she says not to be sorry, it’s just that my depression is catching. I throw a box of microwave popcorn in the cart because it’s gluten free, and then some Tofurky sausages because fuck gluten free, I need some goddamn protein. Today my underwear are orange and they have a quote from Marge Simpson to Lisa: “You know what, if you want to be sad, be sad, and when you’re finished we’ll still be there.”
The Celexa has hijacked my period. I’m wearing a giant pair of salmon-colored undies with waves and protruding fins, and right across the butt they say, ‘shark week.” I’ve slept over twelve hours today. An old roommate of mine was a vet-tech. She said you can tell if your animals are healthy by if they’re eating and pooping. I am doing both of those things. I suppose that means I’m okay.
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