You Hipster Douchebags Have Gone Too Far – By Caroline Burman
The thick strings on the bass guitar stretched and released and buzzed as I tuned them. I sat on the floor of my nearly empty and fully decrepit flat; focusing on the strings. Tonight is just like any other night, I sighed. Alone. I hadn’t been with a woman since uni, 5 years ago. I’ve tried. Brought them up to my room to drink, play old records, see what would happen, yet nothing ever did. They left every time. I forced down a cheap beer and closed my eyes. Let my fingers detach themselves, float away into another dimension to bring back the pulsating language that can only be found deep within those well-worn King Crimson albums. I played along to the skips. I picked that up as a kid, a technique that was put to use several years ago, playing punk-jazz to puking students. Isolation, that’s the thing for me now. Waiting tables, gaining money that’s barely spent. Rent is cheap, the restaurant is popular, and eating is overrated anyway. I don’t socialize much at work. I do what I need to do. People come to eat. I refuse to tumble out of the kitchen balancing a firecracker on my dick just to get a good tip, and I feel that I am respected for it.
I own a telephone, but no activity has been coming from it since my birthday, several months ago, and even then the only call was my mother. A friend came over unannounced and we got drunk and ended up eating raw hot dogs.
I saw the dust explode into the air before I heard the shrill shrieking of the phone that made me cringe. What the f*ck is that? I thought.
Cautiously, I brought the phone to my ear
“Arthur?” A man. Curses!
“It’s me! Ken!”
We had eaten raw hot dogs in the pale moonlight. I remember. Ken had left for the United States ridiculously abruptly around 4 months ago.
“Hey. How are you?”
“I’m getting married!” He shouted, clearly ecstatic in a way I had never seen him. He was always so melancholy. He wore neckties for no apparent reason. I was unsure of how to react. Well, not especially. Had we been face-to-face, I would most likely have shouted congratulations, and given him an awkward man-hug. I loathe telephones.
I felt underwhelmed.
“It’s the American women, Arthur. They love us. We’re like peacocks. You’re still single? You’ve got to come here. Stay with me for a while.”
“Are you suggesting that if I come to the States…I’m going to have some sort of godlike status among women?”
I hated sounding desperate.
I hated being desperate.
I hated being Morrissey.
“Up and let’s go.” I declared.
Plans are for neo-Nazi fascists. I packed up, planning to be gone for a month, barely nabbed a ticket to Newark, New Jersey, and alerted my boss the evening before.
Ken agreed to pick me up with his future wife. I was prepared for sitting in a corner while the man I once knew mastered no speech outside of “No, you’re Schmoopy!”
F*ck f*ck f*ck.
I slept on the plane.
I woke up to find that I had somehow managed to get off the plane and was now riding in a car with my friend who wore the very first Smiths LP out completely, and a bended-out coat hanger with a head. She chattered a bit, with the rhythm of a woodpecker, and I did not listen. Marrying people for sex seems like amputating a foot because of a wart. I wanted so badly to say so.
But I remembered. I haven’t had sex in 4 years. Desperate times.
Ken helped me slug my shit up the steep stairs, and dropped it on the floor beside the couch. I didn’t mind sleeping there. Kate didn’t live with him; praise Jesus, Allah, Vishnu, Cthulu. However, it was her idea to drag me out to dinner. Working in a restaurant is nothing especially terrible, but sitting in one, wading through that insipid chatter, how awful it is. I quickly showered and redressed in a clean t-shirt/jeans combination. I pulled my hair back with a stale rubber band.
Ken and I waited. Kate had to apply another layer of makeup. I assumed that this was to conceal the fact that she was, in reality, some sort of scaled, lizard carnivore creature. Awkwardness filled the room.
Ken cleared his throat, and then I cleared mine. Our throats went back and forth in a game of ping-pong. Kate reemerged from the bathroom, causing Ken and I to stand up straight in unison. They linked fingers, and I trailed behind, watching their pink, conjoined hand globe bob up and down all the way to a dumpy bar & grill.
It was empty. A girl seated us straight away, and my eyes strained in the annoyingly dim lights.
“So what do you do?” Kate bared her bleached teeth at me in an expression of friendliness, or perhaps hunger.
“I’m a waiter right now. Aspiring musician.”
“Mm-hmm. What instrument do you play?” She rested her chin on her fists.
A thin, dark-haired, heavily made-up girl sauntered to our table.
“Hi! My name’s Kristi, I’ll be your waitress tonight. Can I start you off with anything to drink?”
Alcohol for all. We decided to order our meals as well.
“Just a salad, thanks”. Being a strict vegetarian as I was, this type of establishment offered little else in the way of slaughter-free meals.
“Uh-huh,” she wrote the order down and added, “Hey, are you from England?”
Here it comes.
“Yeah, I am.”
“Oh, wow, cool! When did you come here?”
“This morning”, I said. “Just visiting for about a month or so.”
“Sweet! Well, hey, I’ll be right back with your orders.”
Ken kicked my shin lightly under the table.
“I think you should go for it, Arthur.”
Kate added, “That girl is totally into you!”
“I’m supposed to ask out some girl I know absolutely nothing about because she finds it interesting that I’m from another country?” I asked.
“YES!” Ken and Kate answered in unison, a moment that made me feel nauseated. Perhaps it was my unwillingness to bombard strangers with date offers that had left me alone. The Kristi creature returned, and because the restaurant was empty, she hung around, hovering around my seat like a mosquito.
“So what’s your name?” she began the questionnaire.
“Arthur”. I took a long drink.
“What do you do?”
“Actually, the same exact thing as you. I’m a waiter”, I added self-consciously, in case she moonlighted in the sex industry.
“Oh wow!” I could hear her inner monologue shouting ‘we have so much in common!’
“So,” I knew this line would work, “Are you a bad musician or a bad actor?”
She laughed. “No, I’m in college! I’m a business major.”
I nodded. “I’m a musician”. I tried to impress her.
“Oh cool! Do you play guitar?”
“I play a bass”.
She looked puzzled.
“It’s like a guitar,” I explained, “except it has 4 strings instead of 6, and the pitches are lower”.
She seemed interested. “That’s awesome,” she smiled, revealing giant white teeth. I nodded again as she went back to get our food.
God, she was sexy.
Ken and Kate only watched me, looking on sweetly. I formulated what to say in my head.
“Sooooo…” I’d say, “What are you doing tomorrow?”
And it worked.
“Oh, nothing,” she giggled, “why?”
“Do you want to go do something?” I asked politely.
“Oh sure! I’ll show you all around town!” she grinned.
Ken grinned. “I told you!” he shouted as Kristi walked away. She had given me her telephone number, with the promise of being at Ken’s apartment tomorrow at 4.
“You see?” Kate said. “That was easy!”
“I know.” I was not expecting torture worthy of a Franz Kafka story. Ken only looked at me as if to say Told you. I didn’t want to end up like him. I just wanted a free lunch! I remembered the days when Ken and I would tell each other things like this. He would have nodded and said “TANSTAAFL!” No more.
He’s an adult now, I thought mockingly. I thought of what tomorrow’s date would bring. This girl was just like Kate. Different hair, but underneath it was the same vapid expression and lack of any personality. I will never be happy with such a woman. I poked around my salad, sinking deeper into a strange hybrid of hopelessness and excitement. Perhaps she was faking her insipidness? Perhaps within that shell of makeup was someone sarcastic and bitter and just like me, only with fantastic breasts! Despite the fact that this fantasy was incredibly unlikely, I decided to cling to it.
I woke up around 10:00 the next morning, and Ken had made coffee. I dislike coffee, but I drank some anyway. I had been up late the night before, pacing around and making sure that my lines were just perfect: clever enough to cause this girl to be enamored with me, but not so clever that she would become frightened.
“Good morning!” Ken sang. Jesus Christ. My best friend wouldn’t sing! And if he did, he would only sing Bauhaus!
I nodded at him. I poured myself a bowl of cereal and sat down.
“Are you excited for today?” he asked.
“I guess so.” I don’t get excited about anything. Ken used to know that.
“How are you going to dress?” he asked.
“How am I supposed to dress?”
“Well, I don’t know, Arthur. Maybe she’d take you someplace nice.”
“Ken you don’t get it. People in the food service industry are not wealthy people. We do not take people we barely know to ‘someplace nice’. I consider discount movie theaters to be wonderful dates. Not that I’ve been on one in a while.” I complained.
Ken didn’t say anything, but I could see his thoughts radiating in his eyes like a scrolling marquee: YOU NEED TO BE F*CKED.
I knew it. I wondered if vacant women found homemade Can t-shirts sexy. I’d take the risk. I showered and took a surprising amount of time to construct a look that said “I don’t care; love me”. Ken and I watched television in near-silence. We filled the time.
4:00 came, and Kristi was standing at the door.
“Hey, you! Ready to go?” she grinned and her head seemed to twitch in a birdlike motion.
“Um…yeah.” I waved goodbye to Ken, and she quickly linked her arm through mine. She smelled excellent. We meandered aimlessly, and she asked me about myself. I tried to paint myself as cool. She bought it. She knew nothing about everything, so a foreign fellow with a limited scope of knowledge was wildly impressive in her world.
“What about you?” I asked.
“Oh, not much happens to me,” she assured me, “I became a business major because I didn’t know what else to do. My job is boring. I watch TV a lot, because there isn’t much else for me to do.”
Her pathetic ways were insanely adorable.
“So hey,” she said, “I’m tired of walking. We could go to my house and watch TV or something.”
She moved fast. She gripped my hand and led me up the stairs to her flat. It was nearly as empty as my own. We sat awkwardly on the couch. She turned on the TV, but looked at me as she did so. She wanted me to kiss her, I guessed. I did, and it was awkward and stilted. She laughed. Oh ho ho, I could hear her thinking, I’ll show you how to do it. We went back at it. I could feel her artificial hair gleaming under my fingers. Her hands moved up and down my back, then moved to my ribs. We were wretchedly bored. There was no music; there was no romance, only the suffocating boredom of two people and a television with nothing on.
As we were tearing off our clothes in an animalistic display of bored passion, she revealed that she liked to chat during these activities. I decided to go along, and we talked about current events, until we moved onto films.
“So,” she said in a gasping breath after her mouth broke free from my shoulder. “Are all British movies as funny as Four Weddings and a Funeral?”
I felt everything slipping away. I stood up, naked and unashamed. Such a creature didn’t even deserve me. She stared up at me.
“What?” she asked in a near-laugh.
Does this woman know anything? I wondered. I had no idea why this comment created such a response in me. My life became news-clippings on documentaries about serial killers.
“It just kind of happened.”
I became angry, and she was dead. The cultural plebian. I choked her and threw her down the stairs leading to the door. I walked back up, put my clothes back on and left, hoping that the next day would yield less stupid romantic possibilities.
Being good with directions, I was able to make the walk back to Ken’s apartment with ease. He let me in, and we sat down to some beers.
“How’d it go?” he asked.
“It was all right. But-get this. She liked to talk during sex! So we were starting up, and she started talking about movies, and how funny she thought Four Weddings and a Funeral was, and my tastes were grossly offended and I killed her.”
“Ah,” he said after a sip. “Better luck next time?”
“Yeah, I guess.” I shrugged.
“My god, that’s a shitty movie.” he laughed.
“I can’t believe I’ve seen it at all.”
He assured me that he’d take me out again in the hopes of meeting an intelligent woman, but I had more doubts than ever.
My next 5 dates had the same conclusion. My suave, foreign speaking patterns caused the women to become enamored with me, but they all asked the same question: “Is every British movie as funny as Four Weddings and a Funeral?”
I could’ve been smart. I could have asked if every American film was like Bio-Dome. But the slight air of racism and stupidity in the question forced me to kill them. And yet, somehow I don’t spend my days eating Nutri-Loaf and using cigarettes as currency. Society is asking for these seaweed-brained women to be done away with, so it seems.
I’ve decided to stay in America. My talents would be wasted at home.