I woke up on my side with a nightstand covered in beer bottles facing me. I blinked a few times and realized that it wasn’t my nightstand, although my head was telling me it was probably my bottles of beer. I looked over the sea of destruction of another late-night partying in this bedroom: clothes scattered, a record on a turntable spinning for what had probably been hours without someone picking up the needle, a traffic cone, the usual stuff for what was a…Thursday? No, it was a Tuesday night. I turned over in the bed and now remembered I was at that girl’s apartment. Good for me. I’m sure I’d piece the night together.
I did my best stealthy James Bond impression to get out of the bed without making a sound. I grabbed my very worn-out Chuck Taylors, got my black jeans off the floor and found my jacket before sneaking into the bathroom. I noted to myself that I looked like ass before splashing water in my face. It hit me that since it was apparently Wednesday morning, I had to go meet up for breakfast. I hate breakfast. I checked my phone and realized that I had to be there in 10 minutes, so I had to go now and hope that I was only 10 minutes away.
I went back to stealth mode as I made my way through the living room towards what I hoped was the front door. Years of waking up on various couches, floors and, if I were lucky, beds in various apartments that weren’t my own helped give me the skill to make a silent exit. I was thinking that very thing when my plan went to shit and I knocked over some stupid plant that was in the hallway. All that practice yet I couldn’t stifle the “oh shit” that was muttered out of my mouth. I listened closely without moving, but didn’t hear anything, so I opened up the door and turned to find another girl who was about to walk into the very apartment I was leaving.
“One of Erica’s friends?” she asked, with a cup of coffee in her hand. I hated breakfast but could certainly go for some of that right now.
“I’m the new maid. See you next Thursday!” I told her cheerfully.
“I think you stepped on my cat last night,” she said.
“Guess I’m fired then!” I told her as I finally got away.
I was thanking God that this building had an elevator. I checked my missed texts and realized that my 12% battery wasn’t ideal. That probably meant no Spotify on the post-breakfast subway. If Satan really wanted to punish us, Hell would be a never ending subway ride without music. I ignored the various texts asking what I was up to, when my next story could be expected, and the one calling me an asshole, but I did text back a “see you soon” to the girl I was meeting for breakfast, despite her reaching out to confirm about 14 hours earlier. She knows me well enough to know that I would never cancel on her. We all should have at least one person in our lives that we should never, ever cancel on.
The sun was so bright it basically punched me in the face as I made my way out of the lobby. It was a small miracle that I was somewhat close to our meeting spot at The Mug n’ Muffin. The hangover was starting to settle in, but that didn’t take away from my excitement from seeing Amanda. I hustled the final two blocks so that I would only be 3 minutes late to breakfast. I saw her sitting down at one of the tables outside. It was impossible to miss her. She’d make a terrible Where’s Waldo. I hopped over the short gate next to her table and sat down across from her.
“Only three minutes late! That’s a new record for you,” She said with mock enthusiasm.
“Thank you, thank you,” I said while waving to my fake cheering section. “How the hell are ya?”
“Fantastic as always. You look like ass,” she said. She was right. Then again, she was always right.
“I feel like ass,” I said. I guess I was still looking as banged up as I felt.
“I see you haven’t changed from last night’s clothes. Just wake up?” she asked.
“Well now how did you know that? Maybe I just own multiple Talking Heads tshirts. Ever think about that?”
“Your Instagram story gave it away.” Dammit.
“Okay fine, yes, it was another dive bar turned into after party turned into a rough morning. But I’m here now with you so things are going swimmingly. And you are lucky enough to not be hungover, looking sharp as always in that snappy pantsuit AND you even get to hang with me, so I will admit that you are the one thriving the most at this table,” I said.
The waiter came over with a pot of coffee, and a coupe of plates. He set the first one down in front of Amanda which had scrambled eggs, a piece of rye toast and 3 strips of turkey bacon. I didn’t even have to look at it to tell you what she had ordered. He then put down a plate in front of me that had 5 strips of bacon (the real stuff) and two Advil, with a Bloody Mary with extra green olives to wash it down.
“I figured I’d order your usual. Wasn’t expecting you just being three minutes late. So where are you coming from?”
“My apartment,” I said as I choked down the Advil.
“It’s not nice to lie, Owen,” she said as she blew on her coffee. “If you were coming from your apartment wouldn’t you have approached from the other side of the street?”
“Busted. Some girl’s apartment…” I tried to think of what her roommate said. “Erica. Erica’s apartment.”
“Poor Erica,” she said. “Now the real question is how are you doing? Have you been writing?” And with this started the usual Owen Morrison welfare check.
“You betcha. Working on a lot right now.” I have no idea why I bothered lying. I think it was more to feel good about myself.
“You haven’t blogged in 3 months. What about that screenplay you’ve been working on for the last 2 years yet no one has seen a single line of?”
I was starting to not feel so well. I don’t think it was the hangover talking.
“Eh, I mean it’s going. Just doing a lot of research still.”
“Oh Owen come on. You’ve been claiming to be writing so much but you haven’t done shit in years! You’re better than this,” It was nice to hear someone actually think that about me for a change. “Seriously, what is holding you back?”
“I dunno. Just stuck I guess. I just feel like being a writer isn’t quite as simple as I thought it would be. Am I still your favorite writer at least?”
“That’s pretty funny,” Amanda said, as she checked the fancy shmancy watch she had recently bought herself. “Last I checked, you had to actually write something to be called a writer.”
“Yikes,” I said. That one stung, but she was absolutely right. It had been sort of a while.
“I think you’ve been living like a writer. I think you’ve been drinking like a writer and running around this city like a poor man’s Bukowski, but no, I don’t think you’re actually living up to your job title right now.”
“Well, fine I’m a writer that doesn’t write. But you can’t take away that one time I got something published. You were even there for the party. The records will forever show you were at You’re Not Punk Zine’s launch party for their first issue.”
“You’re right. What was that…2 years ago? I remember a lot of leather jackets, PBR’s and that band that broke up on stage while playing their second song. By the way, when should we be expecting the second issue of You’re Not Punk?”
“Hey, that was a great time. And it’s not my fault Greg got hit by a bus.”
“Did he really?”
“No, but he had to move to like, West Virginia or something. I think he would’ve preferred getting hit by a bus.”
The bacon wasn’t too bad and Amanda, bless her, ordered my Bloody Mary extra spicy. We ate in silence for a little bit. She really was the most beautiful girl in the world. It made breakfast somewhat enjoyable. Despite the chewing out, the hangover and the fact that it was still early in the morning, this was bliss for me.
“So, what’s the plan for you today? Gonna do any writing?” She asked me. She had a tone in her voice that was either curiosity or concern. I couldn’t tell, which scared the shit out of me.
“Yeah, I mean, going to try to. Probably take a nap, you know? Then I dunno, walk around, find a coffee shop, fill out a couple pages in the ol’ legal pad…” I could tell she didn’t believe me at all. And that was even before she said anything.
“Owen, you’re wasting this. I’ve known you since the 3rd grade. Even back then you had this unreal talent to tell stories and make up all these great characters. You have this ability to see things in everyday life and you can write about it when no one else can. You have an imagination unlike anyone I know. You are so infuriating it makes me want to smack you.”
“Every day I wonder how you’re doing. Aren’t you sick of hardly working and just spending all your nights drinking and doing your ‘research by experiencing life’? That’s all fine but you at least have to do the whole writing part. The last thing I want is for you to wake up one morning, hungover again after a night of partying, and you not being able to write down a clever line. You always have a response or a witty answer to everything but it would help a lot more if you wrote them down instead of just telling people you’re working on a bunch of projects that won’t see the light of day.”
I hadn’t seen Amanda this peeved since Carl dumped her the week of prom. This was like the verbal equivalent of being taken to the tool shed.
“Well, I mean I have some things up my sleeve…” I don’t even know why I bothered saying that. I was digging my own hole of disappointment deeper and deeper.
“You always have something up your sleeve. You always did! You need to grow the fuck up though and actually do the work. I know we have different outlooks on life but you’ve always supported me and I’ve always supported you, but it’s getting a lot harder to do that when there isn’t too much to support.”
I didn’t notice my hangover anymore. This was much worse.
“I mean, I never felt cut out for a typical job…”
“Oh trust me, I know. You’d be a disaster, and it would be a waste of your talent too. You should absolutely be doing what you’re doing, but just don’t fucking waste it. You don’t belong in an office. Me, I’m fine with the finance world, but I don’t have the same talent as you. I wish I were able to do what you do. I know you’ve had some success with it in the past, but that’s been a long time now. You need to just stop being a lazy piece of shit and write.”
The waiter came back with another Bloody Mary.
“Oh I didn’t order a sec…”
“I asked for him to have a second one ready before you got here,” she said. She really did know me better than anyone else on this planet. I hadn’t been so ashamed in my life.
I looked at the Bloody Mary. No sense in wasting it, so I took a sip. I had not felt so ashamed in my life. Letting people down isn’t the best feeling in the world, but letting down the most important person in your world, whether she realizes it or not, is just absolutely dreadful.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
“Yeah. I think I needed this.” I said meekly. I never say things meekly.
“Well good, cause I'm not done. Your self-pity isn’t going to save you here. Are you gonna be a little emo baby about this or are you actually going to listen?”
“I’ll listen,” I said. As if I actually had another option.
“Good boy. I just wanted to tell you that for being someone so outspoken about posers, you’ve been the biggest poser I’ve known the past 2 years.”
I fucking hate getting breakfast.
“Ooooh look at me, I’m Owen and I’m the writer who doesn’t write. Let’s party and live life and go to punk shows and meet all these coooool characters and party some more and then wake up and not write about the crazy experiences I’ve had oooooohhhh,” She was having way too much fun doing this now. “I’m gonna meet girls then never settle down with any because life is too short and that would take away my experiences that I don’t write about anyways! Mer Mer Mer. Did you hear about this cool band no one else has ever heard of? I’m cooler than you because I blog about them twice a year mer mer mer. Let’s go to a dive bar Ooooohhhhhhh.”
“I think I got it.”
“You better have, Dummy.”
Had any other person in the world be giving me this speech, I probably would have left the table ten minutes ago by muttering a fuck you and knocked over the glass of water on the table just to be a dick. But with her, I couldn’t do that. She knew I would listen to her. As much as I hated, no, loathed everything coming out of her mouth, I couldn’t say shit because I knew she was absolutely 100% right. I just sat there looking at her with my mouth shut (which was rare), with my arms folded and a million thoughts going on in my head.
She took her designer wallet out of her designer purse to pay for the check. I grabbed my beat up wallet but she brushed that away instantly. She was right, we were extremely different. She was driven, hard working, dedicated at what she did and has always had a plan of attack for each stage of her life. We were so different yet we had always been the best of friends. We’ve had these breakfasts before where the usual welfare check would happen, but this was the first time she gave me a reality check. Holy hell did I need that.
She stood up, dusted some toast crumbs off the pants portion of her fancy pantsuit and came over to my side of the table.
“I love you, but quit being such a little bitch and write me something,” she said as she gave me her usual kiss on the cheek.
“Okay”, I said. The ‘writer’ was at a loss for words once again. She started to walk away but stopped.
“Owen, you’re gonna be okay.”
And for the first time in a long time, I knew that I would be okay. She put her sunglasses on and started to turn.
“Amanda!” I shouted, running to catch up just before she had turned the corner on the sidewalk.
“For the wakeup call?”
“Yeah. And breakfast too, I guess.”
“Yeah right,” she said. “You hate breakfast.”
She was never wrong. She gave me a smile and fixed the collar on my jacket before turning down the street. She’d go to her big corporate office, have a normal day where she kicked ass doing whatever finance stuff she did, and go home to her boyfriend and dog, and that would be that. Maybe she realized it then, or maybe not, but in my opinion, she had already done the most important thing she’d do that day.
Because I went home and wrote this.