The year was 1996. I stopped at a Sonic fast-food restaurant on a cold afternoon in November. I ordered two chili dogs and two large orders of fries. I was skinny back then. But my diet was a sign of things to come. I’m now a fat middle-aged geezer with a cheeseburger ass and a set of man tits. Oh well. What’s a boy to do?
I haven’t been back to America in over a decade. Therefore, I don’t even know if Sonic exists anymore. In any case, it was an establishment modeled after the car-hops of the 1950s. You basically ate your meal in your automobile. I stopped there every Friday. It was a ritual. Then I would drive to my mom’s house so that she could graciously do my laundry.
I finished my vittles. After that, I listened Cat Steven’s greatest hits as I sped toward my destination. Mom had a bedroom set up for me. It came with a colored television and basic cable. Conversely, my apartment didn’t have any of these things. I slept on an air mattress and got all my entertainment from the printed page.
Mom was happy to see me when I stepped into the kitchen. She gave me a big hug, and I handed her my laundry bag.
I said, “Thanks for doing this.”
She said, “Don’t you have a laundromat in your town?”
“I do, but it’s filled with shady characters—namely the mothers of the animals I teach.”
She nodded. “Better safe than sorry, huh?”
“You got that right. If my students catch me alone, they might beat the shit out of me.”
Mom smiled sheepishly. “It’s that bad?”
“It’s doable. But trust me. I get no joy from being a zookeeper.”
“Well, I got a call last night at 3 a.m. from Korea. A woman wanted to speak to you. I told her to try again tonight.”
I clapped my hands together. “Somebody’s interested?”
“It sounds that way. She’s going to call you at ten—which is eight in the morning over there. Anyway, she said she’d do it.”
“Wow, that’s great.”
Mom shook her head. “I think it’s a terrible idea. You don’t know a goddamn thing about Korea. Take my advice. Look for another job in America.”
“Let’s just see what happens. It might lead to nothing.”
It was currently six p.m., so that gave me four hours to get drunk. I walked to a pub called The Nightlight. The bartender was named Julie. She was a chubby thirty-eight-year-old woman who sported a red halter top and a skin-tight pair of jeans. I knew Julie pretty well. I saw her just about every Friday evening. The Nightlight was a weekly ritual similar to stuffing my face at Sonic.
She said, “Hey, Buffalo, buy me a drink?”
“Sure. Get what you want.”
Julie made herself a Long Island Ice Tea and sat next to me. She started rubbing my thigh.
Then she put her lips to my ear. “I listened to my roommate fuck her boyfriend for over two hours last night. You should feel how wet my pussy is right now.”
Julie was a terrible tease who liked to talk dirty.
I said, “Are you going to let me touch it?”
“Not here. I’m working.”
A customer tapped Julie on the shoulder. “I’ll take another beer if you’re not too busy.”
His tone was sarcastic. But she remained polite and cheery.
“Sure thing, cowboy. Coming right up.”
She got the guy a bottle of Budweiser and returned to her chair. Then she started whispering more dirty things in my ear. Julie did this all the time. It was kind of a turn-on, even though she was no beauty queen.
“My roommate loves it in the ass. She says that it fills her up. Maybe I ought to try it. What do you think?”
“Well, the bible is pretty clear on the subject. God doesn’t seem to be into that backdoor stuff.”
She stared at me with a stunned expression. “Really?”
“What?” I shrugged my shoulders. “What did I do?”
“I’m trying to talk dirty, and you bring up God?”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. It just slipped.”
She rolled her eyes and walked to her station behind the bar. Julie would no longer even look at me. I drank my beer and went home. I’ve always been a loser with women.