In which Citizen Jim arrives full of advice and wisdom about the “Coriander Flu,” and tries to use his power to stop a celebrity booty call.
It was the Friday before the weekend that I was scheduled to work, and I was supposed to be off. But I had to make an appearance on the last day of a leadership meeting that had been going on all week. So sleeping in until 6 AM and then just killing six hours before I felt justified in taking a nap at around noon was out of the question.
The meeting ended early, which meant I did get to come home and take a nap. A satisfying nap didn’t actually work out as well as I wanted but that was okay because: rest of the day off.
At around six o’clock that evening I was guzzling Riesling spritzers from an oversized wine glass and talking shit on Twitter with my friend Bridie O’Feckin-MacSlappy and her army of middle-aged fanboys. This was now a Friday and Saturday night tradition ever since I’d decided life was starting to drag on way too long and that dealing with people face-to-face wasn’t my “scene” anymore.
At one point I joined a comment thread about the 70s TV show “Charlie’s Angels.” Before I knew what was happening, I mentioned that I “might still hit that” when talk turned to my girlhood crush, Kate Jackson. I doubled-down on this possibility if she showed up on my doorstep at a decent hour during a weekend.
Once I put that thought out into the universe and took a few more gulps of my spritzer, I started imagining that maybe Kate Jackson would read my tweet and make her way to Fairhope before I blacked out from drinking one glass too many of wine (which would be two glasses).
I was almost drunk enough to think that I wanted to turn on the television when I heard a fist pounding the front door. I was at least tipsy enough to let myself hope that maybe Kate Jackson had shown up to test the limits (if there were any: who knew?) of my four-decade infatuation with her.
I hurried to the bathroom and gargled with some mouthwash, then ran a brush through my hair before taking longer than I should have to decide if I looked better with or without my glasses. (I couldn’t decide so I just let them stay perched on top of my head, ready to be flung off [gently, onto the bed or some other soft surface] when the moment was right.)
I chunked my glow-in-the-dark, space ship-themed bedroom slippers (boys’ size L) into a corner and padded to the front door, clearing my throat and quickly checking the length of my fingernails. I flicked on the porch light and grabbed the door handle, taking a deep breath and counting to three before flinging open the door.
“Uh oh,” said Citizen Jim as he gave me the once-over. “Did I come at a bad time?”
My shoulders slumped and I let out a deep sigh. “I suppose not,” I said.
“I dunno, Stimpy—you’re barefoot and it looks like you might’ve combed your hair. Your face looks weird, too,” he said, peering at me from a distance of four or five inches. “Well, a little weirder than usual, anyway.”
“I might have a lady visitor this evening, so,” I said. I raised an eyebrow. “You might need to get lost.”
Citizen Jim’s face lit up. “Haha! That’s it: you’re drunk! I knew something was off, I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Well, with this bad flu going around, I guess I won’t be putting my finger anywhere.”
“Not even up your nose when no one is looking?” I asked, then hiccuped.
Citizen Jim’s eyes filled with rage, but he only flared his nostrils once. “Since you’re all tanked up I’ll let that comment slide,” he said.
“It’s not even flu, it’s a virus,” I said, moving aside and letting him come in. “But no matter what your president says, it’s worse than the flu.”
“Stuff a sock in it, Doomsday Doris,” he said. “You don’t know shit about pandemics.”
I turned off the porch light and scanned the area around the front of the house for signs of Kate Jackson or a hired car that might be carrying Kate Jackson, but it was too dark to see anything.
“Anyway, I was just checking on you to see if you had that flu,” he said. “I know those old people where you work are always hugging and kissing on you without any consideration for what they might be passing along through their love.”
“Nobody at work has it yet, and hopefully nobody will get it,” I said.
“Honestly, I’m not as worried about the old people as I am about your diet. I know how much you love Chinese food. If you get that flu, it’ll be from making a pig of yourself at the China Wok buffet.”
“Oh, Precious Lamb, that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”
“Aw, CRAP. I forgot the China Wok closed 20 years ago,” he said.
“There’s that, and also you can’t get the virus from eating Chinese food.”
“The hell you say! They’re calling it the Coriander Flu, aren’t they? And you know what coriander is, right?” he asked.
I stared, waiting.
“Gah! It’s Chinese parsley! So who’s the stupid one here?” said Citizen Jim.
“Definitely you,” I said.
“Me? I’M the dummy? Because I was so worried about you that came all the way from Birmingham to check on you? Did I care if I got sick and died from dropping in to see about my best friend? No!”
“Okay! You need to show me some respect, okay?!” he shouted.
I rolled my eyes and said, “Honestly, when I answered the door I thought it was someone showing up for a booty call.”
“Jesus Hullabaloo Christ!” he swore. “Who’d be desperate enough to call on your booty?”
“Maybe Kate Jackson,” I said, winking and nodding my head.
“Kate Jackson? Are you INSANE?” Citizen Jim yelled. “If you let that slanty-eyed old lady in here, you’ll be infected faster than you can say, ‘Hello, Angels.’ I can’t go along with it!!”
“Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. But if she shows up while you’re here, I might ask you to leave,” I said.
Citizen Jim crossed his arms over his chest and shook his head. “Nope. I’ll stay here all night if I have to. There’s no other way to keep someone as stupid and careless as you safe from yourself.”
I could feel my buzz wearing off and I was ready to reapply it before I had to start thinking about going to work the next day. Especially if I spent the night without Kate Jackson.
“You don’t need to do that,” I said. “You’ve got me real worried, now. In fact, I think I better quarantine myself for the next two weeks just in case.”
Citizen Jim walked to the door. “Yeah, you do that. Don’t leave, and definitely don’t let anyone in!” he said. He took a step toward me, his fist raised. “I mean it!”
“I won’t. Not even if Kate Winslet calls me up and tells me she’s between husbands and now is my chance,” I said.
“I’m proud of you for making that sacrifice,” he said, nodding. “And don’t forget: hanky-panky with Kate Jackson is off limits!”
Yeah. Now that I was almost completely sober, I kind of knew that. Dang!