Waterproof and Green ~ 2
I tapped on the drive-through window.
“Okay, but Dad,” I called through the glass, “let’s discuss my assets.”
He whipped away from the customer and shoved the drive-through window open in a rage.
“Assets?” he snapped. “You don’t have any God. Damned. Assets.”
“But what about my possessions?” I said, lowering my voice discretely. I leaned my elbows confidentially on the ledge of the drive-through window. “All that stuff in my room? What about that?”
My dad leaned in close, his red and yellow paper cap brushing against the smudged glass.
“Sold it,” he whispered.
“Excuse me, I’ve been waiting here for five minutes, and I don’t understand how you could be out of weebie burgers when that’s all you sell,” the customer called. My dad adjusted his cap furiously and marched back to the counter again. I sighed, pressing my forehead against the shiny, metal drive-through counter. It felt cool against my skin. The print my forehead left reminded me of another, simpler time, when all I had to worry about was how to juggle an armful of weebie burgers and my Little League glove on the handlebars of my bike, as I rode to the park to play baseball.
Suddenly, I felt an ominous presence pull into the left of my peripheral vision. I turned and squinted. An enormous SUV loomed over me, monstrous, glittering in the sunlight. From the throne of the driver’s seat, a Red Neck with a ponytail gestured at me to get out of the drive-through. I gestured back, indicating that I was ordering a weebie burger. He gestured back, indicating that I wasn’t allowed to order a weebie burger, because I wasn’t a car. I turned back to the window, ignoring him. I took one of the weebie burgers out of the bag and munched it. Funny how the flavor of ketchup and mustard, melting over a round, ridged pickle and a warm triangle of cheese, can take you back through the years. I thought about my dad, and how we used to work the Weebie Counter together, me aged four and standing on a chair to water down the mustard, him fresh off cigarettes and chewing through packs of mints like his life depended on it. I thought about how he used to stop by the park after work, and how we’d walk home together through the twilight, his stride so rapid I didn’t even have to pedal backwards on my bike for him to keep up. Then suddenly, I felt a warm surface press against the back of my leg. I turned to see the metal front of the SUV, two inches from my face.
“Git in back of the line,” growled the large, beefy head that popped out of the driver’s side window and glared at me. His girlfriend giggled on the other side of the SUV. The driver’s face was thick and rough and pockmarked. His girlfriend was too hard to make out, her face a distorted ripple behind the glossy sheen of the glass.
I sighed, and walked pointedly in a semi-circle around to the back of the SUV. I waited as the Red Neck ordered a bag of weebie dogs, and two extra large colas. I smirked to myself, knowing that the cola formula included enough chemicals to dissolve the large, black beetles that occasionally wandered across the top of the soda machine, meeting a watery death. But I didn’t say anything. It was my private revenge. The SUV zoomed off, belching fumes, and straw wrappers through the windows.
“Next customer,” my dad’s voice crackled methodically over the intercom. He groaned when he saw it was me.
“You sold my stuff?” I demanded.
“At a garage sale,” my dad grinned. “You were still in school.”
“I suppose you’re not going to give me the money for it.”
“You spent it already,” he said, and pointed at the bag in my hand. “On those burgers, and rent money for the tool shed.”
“Alright,” I said. “Alright then, Dad.”
I’ve pretty much always been a failure at everything I’ve ever done. It’s a fixed and inexplicable element of my personality. Granted, I started smoking marijuana in the seventh grade, but what about before that? Does marijuana explain why I flunked out of science in the sixth grade? Or why I couldn’t even make it past the first round of the spelling bee when I was eight? In kindergarten I failed to share, and as an infant, I failed to learn to walk until my mother was so alarmed that she consulted a child development expert. You can’t blame everything on weed.
Having lived with failure for twenty-one years, it’s grown warm and heavy, like an old, ragged winter coat that your mother desperately wants you to throw away, but you can’t, because it’s just too comfortable.