I was scared more than usual, I think.
Help! I'm scared now!
Way to go, Billy! Work that range.
Like, I've never been so nervous, you guys!
Like I was SO scared, you guys!
A breakdown of a climactic scene of the "American Horror Story: Cult" season premiere.
It is I, the woman who, along with her husband, tipped Brianna Siegel -- a seemingly mild mannered, New Jersey waitress -- $1,200.
How were we to know that only a few years later, she would be known as “The Jackal of Woodbridge” and we would be to blame.
Let me begin by saying we had no intention of funding the bloodthirsty dreams of a sociopath when we grabbed a light dinner at the upscale establishment, Bar Louie. No, we merely sought to satiate our appetites all while being quite assured that nothing we could possibly do would result in serial murder.
It was August, a breezy Woodbridge Tuesday eve, and we had just completed our penultimate installment of a comedy workshop at the Dragonfly Multicultural Arts Center. I have to say, not since my stint in Paris under the tutelage of master clown Philippe Gualier, have I had such impeccable training. If you find yourself in Woodbridge, hit them up, and do treat yourself to a new purse at Brighton Collectibles. They’re wonderful. But I digress.
Ravenous after our splendid workshop, we stopped into Bar Louie, a French-inspired gastropub known for their authentic fusion flatbreads. The smell alone transported me to Cafe de la Paix in Sceaux just off the Rue des Écoles.
My husband and I were frozen, incapable of choosing from the surplusage of flatbreads before us. He was curious about their popular “Buffalo Chicken Flatbread” while I was teetering between the “Roasted Vegetable Flatbread” and the exotic “Thai Chicken Flatbread.” Brianna convinced us to go with the “Verde Chicken Flatbread” and, I must say, we were not disappointed. It was then that we decided to give her $1200 dollars.
Brianna did mention something about “nursing school dreams” and having her car fixed. One would assume that these details would both factor into our decision to give a stranger $1200. But that would be ridiculous. Nursing school, any school, costs much more than $1200. It was all about the flatbread. You have no idea how good this flatbread was.
So, because everyone knows the story by now, I won’t go into too much detail. Yes, Brianna used the money to enroll in nursing school. Yes, $1200 was not nearly enough to pay for nursing school, not even one semester. Yes, her only option, as she saw it, was to use her medical knowledge and access to private information to target and kill anyone with ties to her school’s billing department. Yes, that was just the beginning. Many experts believe that it wasn’t the money trouble that led to the killing spree, that her plan all along was to go to nursing school to become an efficient executioner. Yes, she is still at large today, using one of her dozens of secret identities.
I cannot begin to apologize enough for our unforgivable mistake. The lesson is, of course, very obvious. No matter how elated you might be after your comedy workshop, no matter how delectable a flatbread you devour after said workshop, never, ever tip your server 6000% (25% max for exceptional service) or you might set a course of events into motion unlike any you can imagine.
My heart is heavy with the knowledge that Jonathan B. Louie, executive genius chef and owner of Bar Louie in Woodbridge, was one of Brianna’s latest victims. Adieu, Monsieur. Adieu. Your “Verde Chicken Flatbread” was verde, verde good.
We've all heard the story. A cute couple moves in together. They settle in quickly, have a lovely house-warming party, and start riding their tandem bike to work every single morning. All seems well for the first two months. Then, suddenly, they're sleeping in separate beds, fighting over who the cat loves more and counting down the seconds till their lease expires.
How did this happen? Weren't they college sweethearts? Didn't they survive through cultural differences, double unemployment and at least one count of infidelity? Well, they probably just couldn't agree on a color of trashcan for the kitchen, or whether or not to have a rug in the living room.
Yep, it's silly and tragic but couples call it quits all the time over nit-picky little problems. So here are two things you should avoid fighting over, unless you wish to suffer a fate worse than death: resentful cohabitation.
And when it comes to squelching the desire to harm your partner in his/her sleep, there are a few key triggers that you should be aware of (and try to avoid).
Which Side of the Bed to Sleep On
As far as cases against monogamy go, having to share a bed might be the clincher. Perhaps that's why as couples grow older (and richer), their beds get bigger and bigger. According to every study ever conducted, choosing sides and all bed-related issues are the main reasons relationships end. Even if you manage to divvy up the bed, one of you is likely to disturb the other with your snoring, pillow-hogging and sleep-punching-in-the-face. But there is a silver lining–at least for women. According to a study conducted at the University of Surrey in the UK, men were less likely to a get a good-night's sleep when sharing a bed, leading to increased stress, while their female partners' “…stress hormone levels and mental scores did not suffer to the same extent…”
Awesome! Of course, if one partner is continually stressed, both suffer in the long run. So, what to do? It appears the simplest solution is having separate bedrooms. What's that? You're both entry-level admin assistants who can barely afford one inflatable mattress? Umm…Never mind.
What Kind of Milk to Buy
Creamy, sweet and deceptive, milk is the most controversial commodity known to man. (Somewhere behind diamonds and cannabis.) Half the world can't digest it, another quarter won’t for ethical reasons, and the rest want it raw, pure, unadulterated – like sweet, sweet cocaine. Indeed, the drug analogy runs deep, some farmers even willingly risk their livelihood to sell the raw stuff. In regular roommate world, milk and its byproducts are a clear point of contention, often “resolved” with the passive-aggressive use of a sharpie. In relationship world, there’s a different issue: what kind to buy. Whether you drink almond milk or soy, and he inhales cow juice–or the other way around, or even if you both have similar nutritional lifestyles–there’s still brand loyalty. So just buy your own, let it go. It’s not worth losing a lover to lactose, or lack thereof. (See what I did there?)
Where to Stash the Mugs
Now, you’re probably reading this and thinking “Really? Mugs? That’s a reach.” Well, you’d be wrong. DEAD WRONG. That is how death happens. Mugs are personal–we collect them, customize them, receive them as gifts. They’re the vessels by which we obtain our first hit of sugar or caffeine in the morning and relaxing herbal tea in the eve. There’s an inherent psychological component that we’re mostly unaware of. So when your significant other tries to shove your finest Garfield far near the Pom Wonderful glass no one ever uses but won’t throw away, you might feel a little bit slighted. But, remember, it’s a mug! Made from inexpensive ceramic and one of many just like it. Even the finest Parisian souvenir is like, what, twenty bucks? So just leave it wherever, you weirdo.
Note: All seemingly ridiculous examples are totally fictional and not based on my own real-life events at all…except they totally are.
It began with an awkward encounter at a coworker’s BBQ. Then it escalated to a meet up at Starbucks where he ordered a chocolate chip cookie with milk and you naively assumed those were NOT two of his food groups. Now, despite countless quibbles and against all odds, it’s two and a half years later, and you lame little birds have found yourself in a full-fledged relationship. But there’s a problem. Scheduling is sucking the life from your once inseparable–if a bit maladjusted–selves and sleeping over is no longer an option, or so you gather from the disdainful looks of your respective roommates.
Sounds like you’re ready to move in together!
Sure, you’re a bit of a neat freak and he’s a bit of a…not a neat freak. You like to sleep where it’s warmer, and he’s been secretly building a Mr. Freeze suit to live inside of forever. Then there’s the unfounded fear that you’ll wake up one day to find that he’s been a figment of your imagination this whole time (because you certainly don’t deserve love). But face it! It was inevitable! Plus his lease is up and if you find another water bug in the decaying old brownstone you call a home, there’s no telling what’ll become of all that extra lighter fluid you found in the basement.
First stop? Craigslist of course! Renowned world-wide as the go-to for pretty much anything, it’s mostly where sex-starved members of the lonely elite post their explicit ads for one-night stands. So this sounds like the perfect place to find an apartment!
Once you’ve realized that Craigslist is full of schemers trying to convince you that Prospect Heights has somehow expanded into Coney Island, you move on to the New York Times Real-Estate section. There you’ll find a more realistic list of options, with accurate maps and reputable Realtors.
Peruse the site to your heart’s content until a loved one finds you huddled under your bed, sobbing into a dish pan. Apparently, you blacked out when you couldn’t afford a tiny Bushwick share with a migrant family of seven.
Ahh, Social Networking! Surely someone on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, or even GoodReads knows of a place. They’re probably moving to Istanbul for a life-changing new career and have a lovely co-op they can sublet for a decade.
No? Okay, then, it’s time to compromise! Maybe you won’t be able to snag that huge condo with washer/dryer overlooking the Trader Joe’s Wine Shop any time soon, but how about a shower-only bathroom that’s been converted into a one-bedroom studio? For only two grand a month with a 15% broker fee it’s a bona fide steal! Now sell everything you both own, buy a fold-out cot and welcome to your happy new life!
1) Always wear a flower in your hair. Typical symbol of femininity, it is the equivalent of wearing a t-shirt with a picture of your vagina stenciled on it - but real classy.
2) Always find a way to face a setting sun. It will highlight your best features and also make you look kind of like you’re glowing. Glowing makes men think of magic, which makes them think of Lord Of The Rings, which leads them to associate you with elf-creatures, who are inherently sexy, despite the Santa Clause connection.
3) Never wear clothing. A true ethereal beauty can strut around in the buff 24/7 and reveal not a single inch of the forbidden. Think sea shells falling perfectly into place, tiny, random birds hovering over nipples, gossamer flying from the hands of a wacky tailor two towns over and shaping itself around your form into the perfect light-pink day-gown.
4) Sing, but with your mouth closed - well, parted a bit. Yes, I do mean telepathically. If you can enter and control the mind of a suitor with other-worldly melodies then you’ve got yourself a date, girlfriend.
5) Don’t sweat it! You’re perfect the way you are. But, seriously, don’t sweat. Moisture should only come from tears cascading down symmetrical cheekbones and never from pores. Pores must only secrete glitter and the scent of summertime strawberries.
I’m standing at a threshold...
Two narrow hallways stretching out before me. Darkness at my back.
Stepping towards the left, I can feel the walls to the right of me sighing. I walk through and try to see what's happening, but nothing is in focus. Myopia clouds my brain and better judgments. I use my hands feel my way deeper into the unknown corridor.
Familiar odors waft through the air, inflating my nostrils, whispering directions to my olfactory bulb - microwaved popcorn, bargain scented candles, rotting egg on a skillet - a sickening yet inviting fusion.
I move closer, hungry, beckoned by the promise of quinoa and blackberries in the fridge. I feel for a light switch and open my eyes. I’ve been here before. It’s a kitchen. My kitchen. Desaturated. Older. Deserted.
I move backwards as the lights flicker and fade around me. Only one hallway remains - it's shorter than before. I enter the common area, hoping for signs of life. No luck - only a quarter inch of dust blanketing the furniture, like new December snow. I step inside; asbestos coats my face.
Choking, coughing, I try to scream. The muffled vibrations tear a hole into the south-facing wall. Window glass shatters, lingers, then falls - onto what my dream self malevolently hopes are innocent pedestrians. A nagging feeling in my gut tells me it’s just not so.
I find myself peaking out through the breach. Below are only skeletons, frozen mid-stride, some embracing, others crouching.
In the distance, I hear a siren and chilling applause. “It’s over now, isn’t it?” I utter compulsively. “Yes,” the girl in the glass replies. I pick up a small fragment of the broken window, my distorted reflection grins back at me.
I wake up.