I used to love the community kitchen, but recently it's become a breeding ground for awkwardness and anxiety. It's also just a general health hazard these days (thank you, sloppy people that smell like hamsters). I've been back on my trusty sandwich diet, throwing in a microwave dinner here and there so I can experience a little variety without actually leaving my room and cooking things.
However, I recently had to perform an ethnic cleansing on the inhabitants of my refrigerator (which is an inappropriate way of saying that three out of four lame items in my fridge were out-dated/stinky so I decided that the fourth item was guilty by association and threw everything away). I fully intended to go to the store in attempts to rebuild the food community in the fridge, but I put it off because grocery shopping really isn't that fun. And when dinnertime rolled around, I decided to get over my recent anti-social tendencies and brave the kitchen with a box of noodles.
It was okay at first. The Poet was in there drinking coffee and it was just like the old days. But just when I made myself comfortable and put a pot of pasta on the stove, Creepy Niles Crane entered the scene.
I'm not sure if I've ever talked about Creepy Niles Crane before. The best way I know how to describe him is this: He looks exactly like Niles Crane from the show "Frasier" but acts like a character that belongs in a Kafka novel. He's weirdly intense and something about him always makes me nervous. Maybe it's the fact that he's so open about his interest in sadomasochism, or the way his eyes light up when he talks about watching lions tear their prey apart in animal documentaries. He's also the guy with the infamous bed bug problem. *shudder*
As a side note, I definitely heard him hit on a girl once by asking if she wanted to come over to his place and have a look at his bed bugs. This poor girl simply stared at him and said, "Do you really think that line is going to work on ANYONE?"
Anyway, Creepy Niles Crane comes in, throws his coat on a chair, and sits down with a heavy sigh. I stir my pasta, hoping that prodding the noodles with a spoon will make them cook faster.
"Do you know a reliable brand of throat antiseptic?" Creepy Niles Crane asks, a very matter-of-fact tone in his voice.
The Poet and I look at each other.
"A reliable brand of what?"
"Throat antiseptic," he says. "You know, to make your throat go numb. I want one that works really well."
There's an awkward pause.
"It's for a friend. A sick friend. Sore throat," he says quickly.
I continue to stir my pasta and tell him to just get some cough drops.
At this point, Silent Black Man walks in with a sack of potatoes.
I don't really know the full story on Silent Black Man. I know he doesn't actually live here. I think someone picked him up at Occupy Portland. I'm not really sure where he's sleeping, but I know he's staying here somewhere.
The best part? He doesn't speak English. So NO ONE really knows what's up with him.
And when he walked into the kitchen with a sack of potatoes and grabbed a giant knife, I nearly jumped out of my skin.*
Of course, he was just using this knife to chop the potatoes, but the way he held it was slightly unnerving.
Meanwhile, Creepy Niles Crane was busy reflecting on his lack of success with women.
The Poet: "Was it just me, or did I hear you ask a girl to come back to your place and look at your bed bugs?"
Creepy Niles Crane: "Yeah... It didn't work... I think I need to work on my approach. I think how I said that wasn't quite right..."
The Poet: "You think???"
Creepy Niles Crane went on to talk about his bed bug problem in detail and I immediately felt itchy all over. Silent Black Man continued to chop potatoes in a corner. I decided that my noodles were done and was dismayed to find that all of the plates were dirty.
I looked for a fork and decided to just eat out of the pan. Or maybe I would just put the entire thing in tupperware and take it back to my room... Except that The Chef had made a point out of throwing out any and all tupperware once upon a time. I casually searched for a take-home vehicle of some sort. Meanwhile, Creepy Niles Crane starting going all philosophical.
"Time," he said ominously. "Time moves so fast. Time."
Everyone in the room nodded in agreement. But he wasn't done being on a soapbox.
"Sometimes, I think I could spend my entire life thinking about getting out of this chair and then I would die in this chair."
No one in the room knew how to respond to that.
So I casually scooped up my pan full of noodles and made a less-than-graceful exit.
"Good luck getting out of the chair," I said.
This is a mad house, I thought to myself as I made my way back to my room. This is a retirement home for hipsters and lunatics. HOW DID I GET HERE? THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL HOUSE. THIS IS NOT MY BEAUTIFUL WIFE.
I then realized that I too am guilty of living my life as though I'm sitting in a chair I don't know how to get out of. And I don't know what my story is going to be about, but I don't think it's supposed to be about a girl who spends her life eating sandwiches on 82nd Avenue while waiting for something more interesting to happen. It's definitely time to get a better grip on things and make stuff happen.
In the meantime, I can at least go to the grocery store and stock up on lunch meat.
*Please know that I would have been just as spooked if he was a Silent White Man or a Silent Asian Dude.