It’s Saturday, 2pm. You’re shaking off the remnants of last night, scrubbing the caked-on mascara from your face, scrounging in your purse for money you can’t believe you spent, deleting the drunk texts you wish you could forget. Too lazy to shower, you ponytail your hair and half-heartedly squirt some concealer under your sallow eyelids. Better, you think, staring sullenly into the mirror. Good enough.
You step into the sunlight, always brighter the morning after five vodka sodas plus. The sky is pristine and cloudless and blue, and for a moment, you think, I can do this. All I need is a little sustenance, a little New York inside me. A large hazelnut iced coffee with skim milk and a whole-wheat sesame with walnut-raisin cream cheese will do me right fine, you say to yourself. Right fine.
It’s two blocks to the bagel shop, but you only make it one before you glance to your right and realize this Experiment in Leaving the Apartment While Hungover is going to go terribly, terribly awry. Walking towards you — are they two-stepping? — is the boy you’re in love with alongside a sheer-shirted, makeup-smeared, pretty little thing. Omigah, you think, your vocabulary suddenly reduced to online acronyms and profanities. Fuck my life.
The net effect of last night’s bender renders your reflexes slightly slower than the average three-toed sloth, and before you can either (a) flee the scene altogether or (b) beat a rapid retreat to the nearest coffee shop, the male in question has already spotted you. It’s a one-two-three punch of misery as you exchange pleasantries, make the mistake of mentioning your bagel shop destination, and learn that the toothsome twosome in front of you also have a yen for the same yeasty goodness. Stubborn and craving your goddamn bagel, you quash the desire to seek breakfast elsewhere; this woman has already taken your man, and she’s not about to take your hangover cure.
You’ll never know whether it’s a streak of curiosity, masochism, or just a desire to make the guy squirm, but you’ll suggest that all three of you sit on a bench outside to bask in the sunlight as you revel in your newly acquired carbohydrate load.
What tastes better than bagels with schmear of social intrigue? You wonder to yourself as you settle down next to your last-minute brunch companions. Nothing, you decide, as you sink your teeth into the two sides of seedy goodness sandwiching the sweetened cream cheese.
Always ask the right questions and never skip a beat. It’s essential to keep the conversation flowing, fluid, so you intersperse the questions you care about with innocuous queries, questions about career and hometown and how do you like New York. It’s a careful three-to-one, four-to-one balance, but it’s fun to watch the guy’s face out of the corner of your eye as you plant a grenade in the middle of the daisies.
She met him at a bar, she recounts casually, and it was funny, because it was on New Years. Funny, you think, because I was his date that night, and he kissed me when the ball dropped. Funny, because he met you after I left him, as I sobbed on my walk home because I knew he would never fully be mine.
Be grateful you’re wearing sunglasses so he can’t see the hurt in your eyes; wonder if the clouds have made a cameo appearance, because you feel a sudden chill. Bagels are less delicious when they’re served with a side of heartache, you discover, as you wrap half of yours and tuck it into your pocket.
You’ll give it away later, to a friend you see on the subway platform, who you’ll tell the whole tale to, embellishing it with details to make everything more dramatic than it was. He’ll hug you tight as he tells you you’re a great person, that you’re so well-composed, that you take everything in your stride. Spend the day telling yourself those things; buy a bottle of good wine, spend the night trying to forget the morning happened.
Wake up hungover.
Get a bagel.