Is the kitchen still open,” she asked with a grimace, knowing the answer.
“No, sorry,” I said, all crinkles from my mouth to my eyes in apology. The kitchen had been closed for almost an hour, but there’s never a warning, no loud announcement. In college, my sorority’s kitchen was closed unless it was mealtime, and since I worked nights, like I do now, I would scrounge up the crackers and marshmallows from the coffee tray off the dining room and write my papers in the basement with these measly snacks.* I do know what it’s like to be hungry without a back-up plan.
“Ugh, you don’t have like crackers or like, small bites, or like, anything?” She cycled her hand over and over, nearly petting her own fur vest. I wished I could wear her outfit, look sleek like her and not like a child dressed up in a bear costume, but such trends are not for a short, round frame. Unless you are an actual bear.
“No, sorry,” I said, deftly hiding the Skittles we had hidden in a cup behind the bar. She rolled her eyes at me, walked away, pouted in a corner with her friends.
“Can we get two shots of Fireball,” her friend said.
“Um, no,” she said. “Can you get me a peanut, or a cracker, or…” her perfect vocal fry trailed off here into traffic and din. She turned to me, hoping to be seen by me but not able to keep my gaze. “I just can’t take a shot if I don’t have anything in my stomach.”
“Oh,” I said. “Yeah.” Because, this is true for most people I would imagine, but the general course of action would then be to pace yourself. Not to beg random strangers for exactly one nut.
When my manager came by a few minutes later, I asked if he could find any food in the closed kitchen for a desperately hungry patron. He brought her out some chips soon after. It had occurred to me that this girl, with a certain stillness in her eyebrows when she talked, was the kind of girl who would say terrible things about you, with a livelier face, when you walked away. I’ve never been that girl. But I have withheld food from myself, felt my insides wilt and flush at inopportune times, so I figured sending over some relief might be the way to go.
My dad is big on doing acts of service anonymously. It’s a religious tenet as well, though not the impetus in my family, that doing something nice for someone else without any recognition is the highest form of giving.
“Who brought these chips over,” she asked the other bartender, a guy.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“Well, who is the guy that brought them out because I said I was hungry, and I know it wasn’t her,” she said, pointing to me.
It’s OK, little bear, you can let the boys take all the credit on this one. Just please eat something wonderful tomorrow and play nice with the other girls.
*Much like I’ve been doing during this 30-day project. Except I have better snacks and I’ve played almost no Snood.