The German Dude

The closest liquor store doesn't carry my favorite cheap gin.

I have to walk a little farther to the second closest liquor store. I don't mind the walk. It's a warm, beautiful day. Besides, I don't like the other liquor store. The closest liquor store.

The closest liquor store has The German Dude.

The German Dude never makes eye contact. Never speaks. Never smiles. He has a way of making me feel like I’m about to be in big trouble.

He’s not actually German. He’s far too inefficient to be German. But he just gives off that “evil German” vibe. You know? Vee haf vays of making you tock. That kind of thing.

When you’re with him, time moves slower than the fight scene in Good Will Hunting. He scans the bottles. He puts them in a black plastic bag. With great concentration, he sticks a cardboard divider between the bottles. Now there’s no “clink” of the glass bottles when he lifts the bag and hands it over at a tortoiselike pace.

Whenever he goes through this uncomfortable process, I find myself getting lost in thought.

I think about how he makes me feel like I'm in the headmaster's office at an elite New England prep school.

I'm about to get into trouble for something…he's always so suspicious…I just don't know what I did. And it's always guilty until proven innocent with the headmaster.

The headmaster's had an added layer of cruelty the past three years because the young, ambitions Democrat governor had this absurd idea of making corporal punishment illegal. Begrudgingly, the headmaster retired the old cherrywood paddle (he calls it Lady Redemption, which is just weird if you ask me) in a glass display above his ominous desk. Oh, that intimidating desk…look at it…sitting there with its strong, quiet presence that whispers "I have history" as if Alexander Hamilton once used this desk while signing some document I’ve bever heard of.

To the left of the glass display is an oil panting, the founder and first serving headmaster of the school. He's old. His eyes are cruel. Even by late 19th century standards, which is when this school was founded thank you very much, his eyes are cruel. His face is covered in wrinkles from decades upon decades of scowling.

To the right of the display case, another oil painting. The current headmaster. This headmaster. The headmaster whose office you're in right now.

The German Dude.

No, I will not be dealing with the headmaster today. No thank you. I will be going to the other liquor store. The second closest. It's bigger, less claustrophobic.

And they have my favorite cheap gin.

It’s tourist season. I hate tourist season.

I was taking the R from the Flatiron District to 57th St. and 7th Ave. It’s one of those stops that’s plagued by oblivious tourists carrying overpriced bags of M&Ms from the M&Ms store.

Holy shitballs, Shelly! You can buy just one color! Guess I’d better spend $32 on a bag of just yellow M&Ms!

Sorry, I’m grumpy.

I’m on my way to work. Did I mention I’m grumpy? And exhausted from working 6-7 nights a week. Side hustle, am I right? God, I hate that phrase. “Hustle.” Bleh. Another thing ruined by coked out internet marketing “celebrities”.

So grumpy...

Eventually, we arrive at 57th and 7th.

The doors open. Some douche who looks like the dad from Orange County Choppers decides to be an alpha dickhole and push me with his shoulder—you know, like in movies when two dudes hate each other and they say manly things that raise the stakes? And then one of the dudes walks away and pushes the other dude with the side of his body? That is what this prick whose mustache looks like a blonde caterpillar from a children's book did to me.

Like the plague of locusts in Egypt, people start swarming, crowding, pushing their way into the train.

Suddenly my voiceover training kicks in. I scream from deep, deep within my gut. The resonance. The authority. Is this coming from me? Awkward, anxious Nik? So…kingly. Whoa...whooaaahhhh I like this!

“LET PEOPLE OFF THE TRAIN BEFORE GETTING ON. EXCUSE ME.”

The swarm divides. Half goes to the left, half to the right, making a clear path for those of us who need to get off the train. 

So this is how Moses felt when he parted the Red Sea? It feels...tingly. Exhilarating. Addicting, even.

People are lowering their heads. One person, in a defeated tone, says, “Sorry.”

Look, I’m not asking for much. It obstructs the flow of traffic when they do that. Just. Let people off first! Be reasonable.

Right?

It’s a little later, I’m at work. I’m not grumpy anymore because I’m still on a high.

I’m changing shirts in the bathroom when, out of my bag, falls my watch! Mollie gave this to me on our one year wedding anniversary.

Shit, shit, shit, no! Gah! Seriously? ARE YOU SERIOUS?!

It hits the unforgiving tile floor. The glass pops out, all scuffed up. I can’t put it back together. And now I’m devastated, like a crescent moon collapsing into itself.

I text Mollie and she sends back comforting widdle thingss.

Awwww booboo!!
We can get it fixed
I'm so sorry

Yes, we call each other booboo so what.

Besides. She's right. We can get it fixed. Most things can be fixed.