Dear Adam Powers,
You may be aware that back in 2005-06, I wasted two years of my life as an assistant manager for Starbucks. While the job did teach me a lot about keeping my mouth shut in every frustrating situation imaginable and surviving in long sleeves in hundred-degree heat in order to pretend I did not have tattoos, I’m not sure that McBucks’ intended lessons of entrepreneurship and corporate structure ever made it past my stubborn ears (which could only boast one earring a piece, quite a departure from my usual setup of seven in each).
They weren’t sad to see me go. They declared me “Non-Starbucks Material.” I thanked them without a trace of irony in my voice. Ten minutes after I put in my two weeks’ notice, I saw an announcement scrawled in my manager’s juvenile bubble script on the dry erase board. It said, “Congrats to our assistant manager, Mandy, who will be leaving Starbucks to pursue new and exciting business ventures.” I said this sentence aloud the entire ride home until it acquired a sort of iambic cadence and ceased to make any sense at all. Mandey was spelled incorrectly. I was partner number 1271551, now retired.
“New and exciting business ventures.”
“NEW and exCITing BUSiness VENtures.”
Sounded so. . .glamorous. So fancy. So. . .unlike me. . .because I knew that instead of pursuing business verntures, I was instead sitting in my cluttered little ranch-style rent house eating three day old fennel salad straight out the Tupperware while my dog chewed her butthole on the sofa and my roommate screamed at the computer screen in the background and there had been a dead mouse on my porch for two days and there was a crack deal happening across the street.
The next day, while I scrambled for a business venture without actually pursuing one, I experienced my first bout of “Settled Life Envy.” Primo and I went over to Mike Benson’s house to watch the basketball game and have brunch. Mike owns several restaurants here and in DC. He is very good at life and at business ventures. When I got to his house, there were married couples and beautiful children and polished oak banisters and foyers and silver serving dishes and doorbells that played special songs. I had entered a realm I did not recognize, one full of spouses and careers and coppered baby booties and sunrooms with grand pianos.
Did I miss out on this? I always wondered. I’m 27 now and while I’m not freaking out that I’ve been single for years, other people are freaking out for me, and THAT freaks me out.
“Don’t worry, hun. Someone will come along and he’ll be lucky to have you.” I keep hearing this, unsolicited, from people every time I choose to bring my brother to a social event.
I don’t rely on luck. And I’m not worried. I am not waiting for a someone to come and sweep me away and keep me from using “Picket Fences” as an expletive. I can brainwash myself on my own. I don’t really know exactly what it is that I want. I just want everything to be settled. I want to stop hanging up the same posters and the same pictures wherever I live. I feel stunted, young. At the basketball brunch I felt lost, a little. The husbands were all watching TV, so I gravitated over to the mommies. The mommies were well dressed, fashionably harried, talking about where they buy their babies’ clothes and when their babies started teething, talking, walking. I had nothing to contribute. All I could think to say when one woman said her baby was 8 pounds when she was born was, “Oh, I was four pounds!” They didn’t want to hear about me. But all I could do was pull from my own babyhood. So I didn’t.
And it’s not to say I want to have a life that revolves around the texture of my baby’s shit or one that revolves around my afterbirth descriptions or the hassles of breastfeeding. The only thing I know about breastfeeding is I’ll have to take my nipple rings out first to do it.
I really just want stability. I want to have wooden decks in my backyard and framed black-and-white photographs on my walls and copies of “DC Luxury” fanned out in triplicate on the armoire in my parlor. I want to hold regular Sunday brunches and be able to invite the types of people who will bring Bloody Mary ingredients without prompt. I want perfect angel children who fish for plastic piranhas and play with Technicolor mobiles and wear tiny corduroy suit jackets. I need a car equipped with Bluetooth technology that will recognize my telephone ring and display messages on my dashboard alerting me to the call. I need a dog trainer and a sense of stability. I need a cobblestone or two or forty to build a wall around my front lawn. It’s all stuff, just stuff. Just thingamabobs. I don’t need it. But I want it. .
I want it. . .
You know I bought that bar shortly after the Starbucks debacle. But now I don’t even work there anymore. I’m just a sad, silent little partner. Gone are the days when I thought it’d be nice to run a family during the day and a bar at night, gone are the days when I thought it’d be cool to be recognized at Better Business Bureau meetings for my contributions to small-town economy.
I want to pursue new and exciting business ventures. But I’m so tired of looking for them. If I don’t find something soon, I’m gonna end up being an Avon lady, forever in search of a large house with mysterious shrubs shaped like various people and animals in the front yard.