I was thinking of the immortal words of Socrates, who said 'I drank what?'"
- Real Genius
Brooke woke up the next day happy and not even little hungover.
Celia, on the other hand, had a perfectly dreadful hangover. She woke up on the couch, aching, with a small plastic garbage can on the floor by her head (just in case). She was pretty sure a small rodent had crawled into her mouth and committed violent suicide, but she was still hoping she could fall back asleep and didn’t want to risk a trip to the bathroom to brush her teeth.
Brooke wandered into the living room and smiled at Celia while shaking her head.
Celia figured if she was going to be condescendingly smiled at, she might as well get up.
“Ugh,” said Celia. “Shoot me, murder me, knife me in the head. I can’t go to school today.”
“Mmmmhmmmmm,” said Brooke as she wandered aimlessly into the kitchen, thinking all the while about Teddy. She’d never met anyone so focused, with such oceanic knowledge and intellectual rigor. He was the most impressive man she’d ever met. It seemed like he liked her. But how could he help but find her callow? She’d never done anything besides write silly letters to the editor and browbeat people into signing petitions. And this was a man compiling an authoritative compendium, a work that was destined to change the world.
Everything she thought she knew was so shallow and petty next to the things he knew!
If he were to take her under his wing, he could teach her so many things! She could learn some of the things he knew (she doubted her capacity for learning was as marvelous as Teddy's and, therefore, figured he would always know things she didn't) and she could help him change the world. If she glanced ahead into the nicest future she could imagine, she saw Teddy testifying before congress, expert witness on new energy policy. She’s sit next to him, handing him the files he needed, squeezing a hand supportively when some bullshit GOP fuckwit argued in favor of the status quo.
They’d be a team. They’d change the world.
But, of course, he probably thought she was ridiculous.
Celia followed Brooke into the kitchen and sat heavily at the table. “I promise to do the dishes for a month if you make coffee.”
“Yeah,” said Brooke. “I’ve heard that before. Lucky for you, I want coffee too.”
Celia put her head in her hands and pieced together the night before. Had Brooke really liked that old man? That gross old fart in the dirty shirt that stretched too tight across his belly? That odious creep with the sour disposition and body odor? Really?
“You know, Brooke,” she said. “It’s not just the hangover. It’s the memory of that nasty old guy pontificating at you while he spilled beer down his chin. What was up with that?”
“Celia!” said Brooke. “He is not nasty, he’s amazing. I want to help him with his book. I want to help him with that so much! Please don’t talk about him like that.”
“Oh my god, you’re kidding me!” said Celia. “He had pit stains on his shirt and his teeth were disgusting.”
“Oh, who cares,” said Brooke. “The world is on the brink and you’re obsessing about pit stains.”
“I’m pretty sure there’s enough time left to slap on a little deodorant,” said Celia.
There was a weak knock at the door and Brooke yelled, “Come on in, Gio.”
Celia winced at the noise and then suddenly remembered walking home with Gio’s arm around her shoulder and the impression that her feelings for him had shifted into something different.
Confusion, excitement, nervousness, curiosity, infatuation, headache and nausea all began battling for dominance in Celia’s poor, booze-soaked brain.
“Is there coffee,” said Gio, limping into the kitchen still in pajamas. “Please tell me there’s coffee.”
“Should be ready in a minute,” said Brooke. “Honestly, I don’t know what’s wrong with you guys. I feel fine.” This was only mostly true. As stated previously, she was remarkably hangover-free, but was growing more and more certain that she was beneath Teddy’s attention and this was making her feel kind of sad.
“I hate you,” said Celia. “I hate you and your stupid no-hangover face.” She looked towards Gio for sympathy but then quickly looked away. And then she looked again. And then she just sat up a little straighter and felt awkward.
Gio kept his eyes on Brooke, brain also addled by the booze and the perplexing, irritating realization that Brooke liked disgusting Teddy and not him. How was this possible? Gio could benchpress over 200 pounds! And Teddy had to be 50! And he was SUCH an asshole!
The three sat silently at the table, munching on toast, sipping coffee, alternately thinking and trying not to think of the things on their minds.
The phone rang and broke the painful silence. Brooke answered it and was thrilled to find Teddy on the other end. He’d woken, as usual, filled with confidence and dialed the number Brooke had written on a guest check at The March. Perhaps, Teddy suggested, Brooke might stop by and offer up some ideas on how to better organize his materials. Brooke accepted joyfully and committed his directions to memory.
When Brooke got off the phone, she was humming in anticipation. Merrily, she told Gio and Celia about her plans for the day and then raced down to her room to get ready. Gio looked at Celia, a veritable portrait of hurt and confusion and sighed, “the fuck?” And then he left the table to wander dejectedly back to his own apartment.
Celia sat alone, coffee her only comfort. And it was terrible coffee.