I have to say, B. My life? Excellent. I could hardly imagine anything I might like to change.
Janie: “Dang! I look good!”
Jane: “So… you missed my birthday.”
Oh. That. That I might like to change.
Mama and I had always (well, in my recent memory, at least) been close. As much as I didn’t respect her as a person (I mean, who makes decisions that bad?), I liked her well enough. And since she had hardly ever let me go hang out with my friends when I was a a teen (who needs to do homework??? That s**t has done nothing for me, let me tell you), she was the only person I’ll really talked to for a long time. The Creator knows I would never talk to my father, after all. So she became my best friend.
But now? She would hardly look at me.
Janie: “That’s looking nice, Mama.”
Mama had gotten sassy in her old age! It was horrible, obviously. I felt like I was losing one of my good friends, just because I had missed her birthday (it was just the one! It shouldn’t have been that big of a deal, I think. And Sophie had called that night and told me about this amazing dance party at the night club in Windenburg—I couldn’t miss that!). But, I couldn’t be selfish about this. As much as I regretted Mama’s suddenly sassy attitude towards me, I was hopeful that she would turn it around on my father, too. That would show him!
Jane: “Could I use the computer, darling?”
Jalen: “Why would you even ask me that? Are you stupid now too, as well as fat?”
Jane: “Sorry, darling.”
Or… maybe not.
I was convinced, though, that her new frigidity towards me wouldn’t last. Yeah, I missed her birthday, but she’d get over it. She always did. And, after all, I was her baby, her darling, her perfect princess. She wouldn’t be able to ice me out for that long—she didn’t have the guts for it.
But I couldn’t just sit around, waiting for her to defrost. Since I wasn’t getting the sociality that I needed while I was home, I turned towards other endeavors.
Janie: “Welcome to Newman Life After Dark! As you all know, after 11 pm, all clothing are 15% off!”
Janie: “And, introducing Newman Life After Dark Extra! Now, any customer shopping after 2 a.m. will receive a 25% discount! You can’t get better than this, folks!”
The retail store was thriving. Or, well… I was thriving within the retail store. I had made tons of friends, and I was very good at earning people’s friendship. It helped when I could sell them my clothing for more than 50%-a friend’s discount, of course. It kept them happy with me, as they very well should be!
As I grew more accustomed to the ins and outs of a running a retail store, however, I realized that there was perhaps a better way. What could I sell that would let me make money, but also spend all my work hours making friends with people…
I had the best idea.
Janie: “This is a brilliant plan.”
With a little extra money we had saved away (okay, so Mama and my father had perhaps been planning on using it for a post-retirement vacation, but whatever), I built an add-on to Newman Life. After all, it was Newman Life. It was all about me and my life, and my life was far more than clothing! It was health food as well (you don’t get a body like mine by eating cake and cookies, B). And my beautiful interior decorating sense. And exercising. (And clubbing, of course, but you can hardly sell that). In any case, I decided that what Newman Life needed was a food section—it could be stored in a vending-machine type refrigerator, so that I wouldn’t have to make the sales myself! Then, I could dedicate my time to more friendship making and getting people to appreciate the beautiful, wonderful, awesome person that is me.
Janie: “People should love tilapia! And if they don’t, clearly they don’t give a shit if they die young and alone.”
It wasn’t like being this awesome and hot was easy, after all. I should be revered for it.
Janie: “Ow! Dammit!”
Jalen: “Heard you missed your mother’s birthday.”
Janie: “Heard you missed your wife’s birthday, and you haven’t gone to work in three days.”
The situation in the house was not improving quickly enough. I would come home from Newman Life, go immediately to sleep, and then spend the whole day exchanging short, passive aggressive moments with my father and trying to engage my mother in conversation (she still had yet to drop the pretense). I hardly said ten words all day, until I worked my way back to the shop.
It wasn’t working.
One day, around the middle of July (prime clubbing season—shorts and crops tops and heels, oh my!), I had to make a change.
Janie: “Wow. This is… lonely. I have got to talk to someone.”
Janie: “Dad! Hi! How was work?”
Jalen: “Ha! You’re hilarious. Everything’s fine. Your mother’s being a bitch again, but when isn’t she?”
I laughed along as he did.
And then I remembered. Oh. Oh, goodness, by the Creator, this is not at all good. I laughed when my father called my mother a bitch. What was wrong with me?? This was beyond not working! This was untenable. I was so starved for sociality that I was willing to make friends with my horrible asshole of a father!
I couldn’t just rely on the shop to sustain me anymore. That night, I made a decision. I left a note on the door the shop, saying that we would reopen in a couple of days. I wouldn’t open that night, that was for sure. I needed to go clubbing. I needed to party.
Janie: “Hey there!”
Janie: “Dance dance dance dance!”
Paige: “You get it, girl!”
Janie: “And then, I hugged him. Can you believe it?!”
Sarah: “You didn’t!”
Sarah: “You know, you’re pretty cool.”
Ha. Of course I was. I was the coolest. I could barely even dance, and I was blowing everyone out of the water just because of my aura of awesomeness.
I didn’t get home that night until nearly five in the morning. It would have been even later, but some special agent narc came by a busted a mob boss who was partying with us. Not. Cool. He sent us all home.
I slept nearly the whole day.
I might have slept in the bathtub… Better for the hangover, anyway…
That night, when I finally woke up and dried off (and was mostly sober again), I was considering opening up the store. After all, I had partied hard the night before. And I was an adult (a young adult, but still). Maybe weeklong clubbing sprees weren’t for me anymore?
Jane: “You didn’t come home last night.”
Or… maybe they were. I liked everybody there much better anyway.
I was about to go hunt around Windenburg, looking for a lit party somewhere, when I received a call.
“Hey, girlie!” It was Sarah. “There’s an epic rave about to go down in the Ancient Ruins. The gang and I would love to see you there!”
I would not have guessed that there would be anything happening at the Ancient Ruins, especially at night. To be honest, they freaked me out a little. But, I wasn’t going to miss out on this! Paige had a lot of friends. And I mean a lot. I was no dummy when it came to making connections—if I wanted to be friends with everyone in town, Paige was a good person to get in with.
Also, it was a rave. That promised booze and loud music and reckless dancing. I would never be in the mood to miss all that.
Sarah: “I’m so glad you could make it!”
Janie: “There’s not a lot of people here… Are you sure this is a party?”
Janie: “Nevermind! This is more like it!”
Janie: “Yes! This is what I needed!”
I spent all night with the crowd and the booze and the grinding in the Ancient Ruins, and left on a high. This is why I was the way I was—the thrill, the high, the adrenaline and the sweat. This is why I loved people. Why I wanted to be friends with everyone in the first place. (I mean, of course part of it was because I didn’t want to be like my mother, but you didn’t think that was my only motivation, did you?) I loved being part of a group—I was an insider at heart, a group-oriented and outgoing soul. I needed to be part of a crowd like that, moving to the beat, rubbing up against other people in a haze of poorly-DJ’d music (that wasn’t my favorite part, I will say…) and alcohol.
Perhaps just trying to make friends out of my clothing shop wasn’t the best way to go…