I worked in a gallery in Soho during college, it was my first real job and I even had health coverage. I only worked 4 days a week, but they fixed my hours to qualify for coverage, because my parents made me insist on it. My parents were working class first generation Americans, pretty much, and health coverage was a priority to them. They had a dream for me to become a receptionist so I would always be able to take care of myself. They also made it know that it would be even better if I could learn how to type. I never did.
I understand their seemingly odd dream of what to me looked like a lousy limited life. They came from nothing. No one in the family owned property or had savings. They worked to survive and they did not want to see me in a financial bind that they could not save me from. I, in return, did my best to stay covered, which is not a bad thing.
I was a pretty messy creature at that time in my life, (internally messy, if you dig) thrown from a crazy home into the real world with no life vest. I was lucky to land a job that worked with me and were kind enough to fudge the numbers so I could be covered. During the run of the job I had all kinds of experiences. I broke up with my first real boyfriend and fell into a bad depression for quite awhile. I had a crew cut at the time that I started to grow out and I hated the way my bad transitional hair looked but did not know what to do with it so each day I would wrap my head in a white tee shirt tied to fit like some kind of head scarf. At some point I got a boyfriend who went to prison. He was extradited to another state for a crime he committed a decade earlier as a young teen. It was pretty harmless, sounded worse than it was, but still pretty bad. I wanted to ask my bosses to put up bail, and may have, I can’t remember. Either they said no or I was talked out of it by my friend Bob, another co-worker. I had no boundaries and no idea of what was appropriate. I was like a kitten adrift at sea, wanting to help anyone in harm’s way, but completely unable to put the oxygen mask on myself first. A kitten with a bad haircut and a worse head wrap.
Anyway, I had a real rollercoaster ride while at that sweet safe haven that allowed me to exist and survive and pay rent in new york city. I did not realize this story was going in this direction…. I really just wanted to write about this one co-worker whose name escapes me, who smoked hard and used really foul expressions like “Suck my slimy shit.” (It repulses me to even type that.) But I did get a kick out of him and his raging rampages while he was around. He once chipped a very expensive piece of art and came downstairs to me and another co-worker cackling about how he just damaged a $10,000 piece, laughing maniacally and pacing back and forth.
Anyway, one night me and Bob went to his birthday party and he was on some drug, probably coke, it was the 80’s after all. And he was out of control. After a while, we said that we were going to leave to get some food and that we would be back, but we were not really planning on coming back. He would not have it and insisted that we could not leave and said he would make us hamburgers and he turned on the oven and threw some chop meat on a pan and tossed it in. I happened to be a vegetarian and felt a bit like a hostage, but was amused by the state of things. Shortly after his roommate came rushing in after smelling the food cooking and freaked out because the birthday cake had been stored in the oven and was now destroyed, completely melted into a sweet oily bread.
The roommate was furious and my co-worker fed off the fuel being added to his fiery crazed state. In a dramatic gesture, the co worker pulled the pan of half cooked burgers out of the oven and threw open the window and flung the food out the forth floor window, pan and all, into a backyard area, luckily injuring no one. Still hungry and now without even the promise of cake my pal and I left the party and laughed so hard it hurt the entire subway ride home.