I once asked my close friends, “What’s the worst thing that has ever happened to you?”
Florence, who has the blondest hair I have ever seen glint in the sunlight, said, “Oh my gosh! I had just gotten to school, right? With my Eggnog Latte, because you know I have to get every seasonal latte. It’s, like, my thing. Anyway, I was wearing my new white coat and these, like, toffee-colored pants. It was cold. Obviously. It was the first snow of the year. The front steps of the school were really icy, but I wasn’t thinking about it, like, at all, because there were some boys with their phones out making some kind of video and I didn’t want to look like a dumby in the background, so I was trying to walk like a real bitch. You know what I mean? Anyway, I slipped on the steps and my latte went up in the air — like, straight up, like I was in a movie throwing it on purpose for drama. Which I wasn’t! And it poured all over me. In my hair, on my new coat, on my pants. It was awful. And there was a video of it. I’m pretty sure they put it on YouTube.”
Damian, who is quite frankly one of the dumbest guys I have ever met, said, “A cop pulled me over on my way to school. I was like, what the hell, man? I wasn’t driving any different then ever. But he gave me a speeding ticket! Like, bro, I drive that speed every day. I told him that, but he still wouldn’t take it away. I’ve never gotten in trouble for it before. My parents took my keys away for a month. That sucked.”
Carlina, who is one of those people who would almost be pretty if it weren’t for her personality, said, “I was getting my haircut, right? I like to try new styles. So I said, take it short. Really short. And let’s go white-blond at the tips. I saw a picture online that looked like that. Really cool. My hairdresser had the gall to say she didn’t think it would look as good on me. Like, lady. Look. I know what I want! When we were done, she said she’d given me what I wanted, but oh my god it looked horrible. She could not have screwed it up any worse than she did. I had to go somewhere else to try to get it corrected, and even then they only made it look okay instead of horrid. I am never going back there.”
Risa, who is boring enough most of the time that I don’t even have a description of her, said “I asked for two books for Christmas. They were the only things I asked for. I got three books — three different books — and some clothes, which I guess were actually pretty nice. But I still don’t have the books I asked for. My parents never listen to me.”
Jonah, who has the squarest head I’ve ever seen on a human and the most fully-developed beard in our highschool, said “Well, you all know I was dating Tish. I guess you all know how we broke up, too. She found out I slept with Heather. That sucked. Tish was so mad at me. I tried to apologize, but she wasn’t having any of it. Girls are supposed to like that, right? When you’re nice to them after you’ve done something they don’t like. All of my other girlfriends have just kinda said it was okay and kept dating me until I broke up with them. Tish didn’t have to be so mean about it. It wasn’t fair at all.”
I asked them this because one of the people I worked with had asked the same thing to us. I had declined to answer, but one of my other coworkers, Aden, hadn’t. He said, “When I was little, I was playing with some sticks in my parents’ bedroom because I was bored. I never had many toys, so I played with what I could find in the yard. Anyway, my mom came in, and she was already crying. She had wiped the tears from her face, but I knew what crying looked like really well by then. She shut the door behind her. She hadn’t noticed me at first, but when she did, she got really scared. She put me in her closet and shut the door. She told me to be quiet no matter what. I couldn’t see from inside the closet, but I remember my dad shouting. I remember my mom’s screams and crying like it was yesterday. I’ll never forget it. I guess she did, though. They’re still together.”
My friends are not like everyone else. I guess nobody is like everyone else, but listening to me friends talk, and thinking back through my own life, makes me feel like I live in a bubble. We’ve never seen anything like what Aden has seen. I don’t want to. I mean, who would? But it really put my life in perspective, hearing him say that. It made me feel so small and disconnected. I didn’t like that. I still don’t. But what can I do about it?