1. The Apple Store. A few years ago, I vehemently rejected Apple culture. I mean, everyone knows that user-friendly interfaces and clean aesthetics are the mark of elitist assholes, right? I don’t need to explain that to you. So I maintained an anti-Apple stance until I started making some money and then I was like, “Oh wait, I’m actually just jealous of the seamless way my friends take attractive photos of themselves and how my boyfriend would rather play Angry Birds than like, talk to me. But now I have money. To the Apple store!” On the way, I bought a syringe and injected myself with the Kool-Aid and life hasn’t been the same since. It’s been better: a simpler life void of Windows Systems Errors and BBM. But every now and then, the order is disrupted by my dumb ass messing with one of my esteemed devices, which leads me back to the Apple store — not to the unencumbered sales floor but to an emotionally dark place — the Genius Bar.
How in god’s name am I supposed to feel good about myself when laying bare my inferiority to someone who was hired as a genius? I’m not a genius. Geniuses fix their own computers. Worse yet is, because I’m not responsible or… good enough to own these products, whatever ailment they suffer is of my own doing and therefore never covered by warranty. Never ever. All of the other dumb people on my side of the Genius Bar are protected by their warranties, but not I. So after diagnosing whatever the hell it is I’ve done as “accidental damage,” the Genius supplies me with a jarring quote that makes my eyes all o.O. Now, I don’t know what your definition of vulnerable is, but when you’re surrounded by people who are smarter than you, and oft times better looking — not to mention younger — and one of these smart, hot, young people tells you that you will probably have to pay them something like $700 — under fluorescent lighting, no less — you are maybe in the most uncomfortable place in the world.
2. My Grandparents’ House. I’m in a constant state of anxiety when visiting my grandparents. I’m always the youngest person there, so I’m essentially on nursing duty: making sure that no one falls or breaks any bones or exerts any energy or does anything other than breathe. The house itself is in pristine order and peppered with heirlooms, trinkets, and things you generally don’t want to break — fine china and glass tables and the like. It’s akin to working in an old folks’ home, except the old folks’ home is actually a museum and your pay comes in the form of a meatball dinner that you were mostly in charge of cooking, for safety reasons.
3. A Fancy Cocktail Bar Where I’m the First to Arrive and Someone Else is Ostensibly Footing the Bill. Let me just clarify that I’m not talking in terms of dates, here: if I were to go on a date to a cocktail bar, I would most certainly be paying for it — at the very least, in a metaphorical sense. I’m talking about when someone invites me to talk business with them over drinks and I arrive first, and some fancy ass cocktail waitress is hounding me about ordering a drink because I’ve been sitting alone for 20 minutes and isn’t lonely girl gonna accept she’s being blown off and just wet her damn whistle, already? But a general rule I have about business drinks is, better to not order anything at all than to presumptuously order an $18, out-of-my-league cocktail and end up having to pay for it. At this crossroads, a judgment call must be made: order a cheap drink and down it before the meeting begins, avoid making eye contact with the world at large until the other party arrives, or drink water even though the cocktail waitress seems hell-bent on bleeding me dry. Usually I choose to sit on my hands and wish I were dead or not broke.
4. The Internet. I’ve rewritten this paragraph several times, calling the internet a cesspool of insecurity, a therapy session in which there are no therapists because everyone deigns themselves a self-important patient, and a parasitic twin comparable to the fetus in the Conjoined Fetus Lady episode of South Park (Season 2, Episode 5). I give up. The internet is just an uncomfortable place.
5. A Store Where I Can’t Afford to Buy Anything. I’m not adept at hiding my emotions. If I’m dragged into an overpriced store by an upwardly mobile friend, my facial expression likely reads, “F-ck this store.” And the sales associates know it, if not by the scowl on my face then by the way I kind of stand slightly left of the door, like I can’t even be bothered to look around, like I already know what kind of store this is, honey, and while they don’t necessarily nod in acknowledgement, I know that they know that they wouldn’t shop in this store either, if it weren’t for the discount — if it weren’t required — and momentarily we are one and the same, bonded in discomfort and our inability to make a decent living.