One day in my senior year, my dad pointed out how I didn’t seem to have a plan. Which was true I didn’t have a plan, but how could I have a plan when there seemed to be no options? My dad works at a Chrysler plant in Portland. Works? Labors—no, toils. He was always there. Not full-time. Overtime. As much as he could, always working and for what? Did it mean we ever got ahead? No. We lived in the same small house my whole life. The mortgage still isn’t paid. It’s like some kind of insatiable monster that just eats money, but not one of those happy furry Sesame Street monsters, rather one of those snow-yeti-wampa Star Wars monsters from The Empire Strikes Back that keeps you trapped in ice caves and feasts on your flesh and no matter how much you feed it, it’s always hungry—and angry. What kind of a life is that? What’s the point of working hard if you don’t get anything out of it? It felt like there was nothing for me in Portland. Then, as my thoughts ventured beyond the city limits, the problem became one of too many options. I felt like I could do almost anything, but not in the sense of I can do anything because I’m so full of ambition and confidence, rather, I can do anything in the sense that there are so many absurd options out there, all equally crappy, that I could choose from an array of mundane careers. So, how could I choose something when it felt like I knew nothing about anything to choose something? With graduation staring me in the face like a malevolent roulette dealer, with dissimilar eyes and shiny teeth, sinisterly pressing me to “place your BET” while eyeing my last chip clutched in my sweaty palm, having to make some kind of decision, but no basis on which to make the decision. Why was one number better than another? And the worst part was that there was no expectation from anyone for me to win anything at all. Not success. Not happiness. Not contribution. Nothing. My parents placed few expectations on me, which I know most guys would love to have, since so many are crushed by the weight of expectations placed on them by their domineering parents. Having none was, to me, just as bad. Why didn’t they expect more from me when I had all these expectations of myself? Did they not think I could amount to anything? Was I crazy to think that I could amount to more than tirelessly working my hands raw for some huge machine of a company that wouldn’t pay me enough money to satisfy the mortgage snow-yeti-wampa beast? My dad works for an auto-plant and can’t even afford a decent car himself. Our car was always some old junker that took all of my dad’s few spare hours at home just to keep running. So no, I didn’t always think I’d be an actor, though I loved acting. After high school, I threw myself into it, taking drama classes at a community college. Then one day, almost on a whim and thinking I had nothing to lose, I left for the Big Apple and after struggling for a couple of years here, I realized that I couldn’t do it. I went back to school mainly because I didn’t know what else to do and I came to wonder if I could do anything. I felt, at once, free and afraid to do anything. But I couldn’t go into all this with Alison, whom I just met, fucked and was already fretting about losing.
“Yes,” I replied definitively, “I always wanted to be an actor as a kid,” then checking the time, I added, “I have this thing to go to at school. Some meet and greet event for seniors thinking about going to grad school. I should probably go.”
“I have orientation I should probably go to,” Alison said. “Could you pass me my bra? I think it’s on the floor on your side.”
Leaning over the edge of the bed, I snatched the strap of her bra and as my arm was retracting with bra in hand, I noticed out of the corner of my eye another bra, also white, sticking out from under the bed. This posed me a dilemma. I don’t know which one is hers and it would indeed be rather awkward of me to hand her a bra that wasn’t hers, since she would have no doubt as to the veracity of the matter. Now, I don’t want to give the impression that I have women’s underwear lying around my apartment, that it’s mine or that I wear it (that was only once), nor do I want to give the impression that I sleep with so many girls that their underwear gets left all over my apartment. Neither is true. The latter painfully so. There was a girl, a friend of mine, that I slept with a couple of weeks ago, Amber, an adorable little redhead, who left sans bra simply because we couldn’t find it in the torrent that is my living space. Well, I just found it. So now I’m leaning half out of the bed, sheets barely covering my naked ass, holding a newly lit cigarette in one hand and an unidentified bra in the other and I don’t know how to resolve this quandary. And being utterly frozen with indecision, like the proverbial deer caught in headlights, I just sort of stayed there, half splayed on the floor, until I felt her breasts on my back, with her reaching over me for the bra in my hand.
“What’s a matter? Afraid you’ll never see it again?” she said with a sly smile, sitting back up and putting on her bra. I furtively scudded the other one back under the bed.