Every Saturday, Adam had a ritual. Somewhere between his 11am black-as-Africa coffee and his 4pm pre-cocktailing cocktail, he would open his fridge and sift through leftovers.
“Can you believe this guy thought Atlanta was a state?!” he barked from the recesses of the kitchen. That particular boy, a five-foot-nothing ignoramus with a Play-Doh intellect, had been company for Indian food on Tuesday. The heaping mound of orangey-brown tikka masala he retrieved from the fridge, leftover from that night, reminded Adam that knowledge of national geography was one of those things a boyfriend simply had to have. That, and vertical normalcy.
Then there was Wednesday’s less-than-admirable catch, represented by a dry, over-cooked, once-was fatty burger. It wasn’t unlike the boy who came with it—a greasy-faced, long-haired hippy who slurred his sentences, guffawed at every turn, shook his belly like a pimply Santa, and lacked any discernible character. He reeked of marijuana and his hair hadn’t been washed in days. Disgusted by the image, Adam threw the burger violently into the trash. It followed the creamy slop of the tikka masala.
This was the ritual: a revisitation of dates through leftovers. Each coagulated dish brought to mind a certain face, a certain character. If the memory was sufficiently repulsive, the trash filled up with days-old food. There were times when I thought the only reason he brought home leftovers was to keep this disturbing ritual going.
I, meanwhile, would sit lazily on the couch in the living room soaking up cartoons and wondering how animators think it sufficient to move mouths once for every sentence uttered. It reminded me of the ancient BBC version of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe—the one where great Aslan would magically muster an entire paragraph with each laborious movement of his mouth.
“Oh, c’mon,” I egged Adam on. “It’s not like you can tell me the capital of Sri Lanka.”
Taking a break from his focus on leftovers, he leaned his head out of the kitchen to scold me: “First of all, the capital of Sir Lanka is unpronounceable and second, I’m not sure this guy even knows Sri Lanka exists. I do.”
“All I’m saying is give him a chance. Geography isn’t everything, you know. Maybe he’s good in bed.” Kapows and booms ushered from the screen as I rebuffed him, punctuating my point. It was perfectly timed.
“Yeah, well, he just didn’t have much going for him. I mean, there wasn’t much to him at all,” he giggled, making a subtle jab at his conspicuous shortness.
“Suit yourself,” I deferred, not really caring about his dating conundrums. I was far more interested in the world-saving exploits of Toaster Man and Waffle Woman.
Adam finally emerged from the kitchen, the refrigerator empty of any more leftovers. “Are you going to get dressed today at all?” he prodded.
I yawned, laying back on the couch and repositioning my pajama bottoms—the lovely Saturday attire I affectionately referred to as weekend pants. “Who knows,” I muttered.
Just to piss me off, Adam walked over and stood between me and the TV. He spread his legs to cover as much of the screen as possible, his arms akimbo.
“What the hell, Adam?!? I don’t interrupt your leftover inquisition, do I?! Get out of the way!” He grunted at me, but finally moved, giving up on any attempt to get me out of my appointment with the couch and cartoons. “Don’t you have some boy to date, anyway?”
The insinuation wasn’t missed, but Adam shrugged it off anyway. “Yeah, I’m meeting a guy for lunch in a few.”
“Oh glory. Can’t wait to hear about what this guy doesn’t have.”
“I just wanted to make sure I pick the right guy,” he snapped. “What does it matter to you anyway?”
“It doesn’t. Makes good stories, anyhow. If I’m lucky, I get leftovers, too.”
He scowled at me, but moved to slide on one of his date-specific, single-color button-downs. Gazing at himself in the mirror, I couldn’t help but laugh to myself a little. He was predictable and dry himself, but no one ever told him. I wondered if some of his dates spent Saturday afternoons tossing out their own Adam-tainted leftovers.
Pinky and the Brain leapt onto the screen, and I turned my attention back to the TV. Within a few minutes, Adam was primped: hair slicked back, stinking of Cool Metal Axe, jeans suffocating his chicken legs. “I’ll catch you later,” he mumbled as he slid out the door. I waved, not even looking in his direction, and returned with insane curiosity to Pinky’s exploits. What WERE they going to do today?
By the time Adam slunk back into the apartment, I had switched to the other side of the couch—a monumental shift marking the transition between cartoons and mid-afternoon soaps. I hardly noticed him come in.
Usually, he stomps, slams the door, and instantly dives into a tirade about how the boy he just wasted two hours on isn’t remotely a respected member of society—he’s too dirty, too ugly, too dumb, too confused, too confusing, not tall enough, not wide enough (he actually said that once), not witty enough, he doesn’t know how to eat, he doesn’t know how to have a conversation, or he more than likely is absolutely no good in bed.
To which I nod in empty agreement, let the steam diffuse, and wait until he asks me what he missed on TV. Every week, he makes a big deal about how he’s going to join me in my Saturday shenanigans, but it never happens. A boy always gets in the way.
This Saturday, though, was different. No preaching, no venting, no anything—just a quiet slide into the living room, a deposit of shoes, and the unbuttoning of the top three buttons of his over-starched shirt. He quietly tucked himself into the couch opposite me and stared at the screen in wonder.
The quiet was eerie—disturbing, even. It was so out of character that I muted the television and looked over at him.
“How did it go?” I asked quietly, unsure if the silence was a good sign or a bad one.
“I think it went well,” he said, pausing for a deep breath.
“What did you guys do?”
“Not much. Just went to lunch—a salad place somewhere downtown. His idea.” A smile crept up to the corner of his mouth as he told me.
“Oh,” I responded, waiting for more information. But there was none. Not wanting to pry, I turned my head back to the TV and unmuted the show. It was one of my favorites—Animaniacs.
“What did I miss?” he asked nonchalantly. Humoring him, I launched into a synopsis of all of the ridiculous adventures of Pinky and the Brain, Days of Our Lives, a Transformers rip-off, and an infomercial on the best juicer that has every juiced.
He laughed. I laughed. And I suddenly realized—he didn’t bring home any leftovers.