Archive for June, 2012

The possible futures of Mike Ellis

June 5, 2012

One of my best friends, Mike Ellis, has recently made a big change in his life – he has sold his business and has all the world laid out before him, a world made up of possibility and sugar.  I have tired of asking him what he’s going to do next; he keeps telling me that he is content in not knowing the answer to that, so I have decided to come up with a new possible future for him every day.  Here we go:  Day 1 of my conjecture, a day to act as the “control group”, a fairly typical day in the current life of Mike Ellis:

The alarm blared at 10am, waking Mike Ellis.  He had recently sold his bar, where the late nights, drinking and mingling social lives of others had become work to him, so he had been staying home nights, though he still made it to third base with a bottle of bourbon on his own last night.
Snooze once.  Five minutes.  Three snoozes later, Mike rolled out of bed and into the shower.

Downstairs, his roommate, Mac, was sleeping on the couch, never having made it to his bedroom after sneaking in around 4am.  It sounds ridiculous to say that 30 year old Mac was sneaking in after a date, but his gal and Mike did not see eye to eye, though Mike had internally decided to drop the argument, valuing his friend’s happiness above being “right”.  Mac was 30 years old, after all.  And a lover.  One just wanted to give Mac whatever his heart desired – literally, and Mike was not immune to this.

So Mike was quiet as he rolled out of his townhouse, on his way to work, and walked toward the coffee from the corner store.  In the market, many nodded to him, some said hello – it was a small town full of drinkers, so Mike, having tended bar for ten years, was well known.  He averted his eyes once, near the cheese case, trying to avoid a run-in with a particularly effusive ex-fling.

She saw him. “I heard that you sold the bar.”

“Word gets around,” he responded.  For some reason, he just didn’t want to this to be gossip, though he didn’t see the value in keeping the secret, he just didn’t want to talk about it.  He didn’t want people to ask why, or what he was going to do next.

“Why?”

Jesus.

“The opportunity arose, and I took it.”

“What are you going to do now?” she asked.

“Not sure yet.”

“Are you leaving town?” she pouted a little.

“Not sure yet, maybe.”

She pouted a little more and moved closer, “Oh. Because I was hoping to catch you after a long night’s shift again sometime…Will you be bartending there some still?” She touched his arm.

“I don’t think so.  I’m really staying in more these days.  Well, I gotta get to work.”

“Work? I thought you just said you’re not…”

“I’m helping out at Carrburritos,” Shit.  He hadn’t meant to give her any concrete information.

“Oh!” she brightened. “Well, maybe I’ll stop in for lunch sometime…maybe today,” she said as she visibly swayed away, glancing back over her shoulder as she moved toward the yogurt and soy milk.

Mike paid for his coffee and continued on to work.  When he opened the heavy metal delivery door to the restaurant, he found Rae standing in front of him, adjusting the neck string of her apron, tying it in a knot to make it shorter and fit her properly.

“What the…!?  I thought you went back to Asheville today!” He asked her.

“Daniel called me last night at 11:30, drunk, and asked if I would work his cashier shift this morning,” she responded, ” At first I told him that I was leaving Chapel Hill today, but he sounded defeated and told me that he was hoping to go to Charlotte today.  So, I agreed; leaving tomorrow only gets me some more cash.  Then he told me that I was saving his life because he really needed to go to Boone today.”

Mike laughed at the drunk nineteen year old’s inconsistent appeal for Rae to work for him,

“And I laughed and said it made me happy to save his life,” she finished.

And then she laughed as Mike lunged and made dramatic fist pumping motions with a hearty, “Yes!”  She then added that getting to work with him all day was another perk of staying until Sunday.

“So,”  he said, “you know how you can order glasses frames online for really cheap?”

“Yeah,” she bit.

“Well, I tried to get some new frames like these expensive but broken ones I have now,”  he pointed at his face, “and they came yesterday, but they are not exactly what I was expecting…”

“Oh no,” Rae smiled.

“Okay,” he pointed at his face again, “Normal Mike,”  he turned his back to her in a dramatic switch of character move, and then turned back around quickly with a burst of laughter.

She joined in; he had put on new glasses that probably looked relatively similar to his black plastic frames in the small internet picture, boasting a Wayfarer shape, but these enormous frames encompassed his eyebrows, half his cheeks, and made his eyeballs look like little round buttons.

He switched back to his regular frames and both still chuckling, he went to clock in and she began to make iced tea for the day.

Within two minutes, Rae’s dad, Bill, the owner of the restaurant, came in, and Mike went through the exact same routine: “Normal Mike” –> switcharoo!  Mike and Rae laughed all over again, but Bill just stared at him, the smile on his face awkward, like he knew he should be laughing, but didn’t quite get the joke.

“Dad doesn’t think it’s funny,” Rae said to the iced tea, stirring and still chuckling.

“I think they look pretty good,” Bill explained, “I don’t think they’re that bad.  Let me try them on.”

Bill removed his own small, round wire frames and put on Mike’s new toy accessory.  He checked himself out in the mirror and said, “Yeah,  pretty good, right?”

Rae and Mike started laughing all over again.  Bill’s head was even smaller than Mike’s, making the glasses look even more exaggerated on his face.

Bill looked at his reflection again, “I guess they do kind of look like those joke glasses with the big nose and mustache attached,” he conceded.

Everyone moved back to their work.

Eleven o’clock, the restaurant was set to open and the other line cook, Julion, came in the back door to clock in.  Mike repeated his move with the glasses again.

“Can I have those!?” Julion asked, eyes wide.

“No, man,” Mike said, “I totally need these for costumes and shit.  And I might still put a prescription in them at some point.”

“Well, can I at least wear them today?”  Julion asked.

“Okay.”

Julion tied his lime-green bandana around his neck, the triangle almost fitting like a puzzle piece into his dingy-white v-neck tee shirt, put the Gerber Baby blue and white trucker hat on backwards, set the glasses on his face and went to finish the opening prep on the line.  And that is what Julion looks like normally; the glasses fit right in.  Hipster.

Burritos rolled, salsas cupped, the day went by.  The late-night girl from the morning run-in never came in.

Julion said, “You know what Michael Richardson says about tacos?”

Mike: “What?”

“He says, ‘I don’t know why we put lettuce in the tacos, when people order tacos, they don’t want a bunch of fucking lettuce!'” Julion said as he cracked up.

“I don’t know why that’s funny.”  Mike said with a deadpan face.

Julion laughed harder.

At three, Mike was cut so Julion could end out the hours til five on his own.

Mike gave Rae a big hug, “So, I guess I’ll see you next time you’re here.”

“Or, you could come up to Asheville to visit me,” she said.

“As soon as I buy your mom’s car, one reliable enough to get me there, I will.  And that’s in May.”  He responded.

“Okay, fine.  Talk to you soon.”  Rae rubbed his shoulder as he turned to walk off the line.

“We would if you would ever call me back.”  Mike jibed.

“Jeez, you know that my phone habits don’t mean that I don’t love you!”  She was tired of this spiel, but it had not improved her cell phone social skills.

—-

Mike checked his iPhone with the cracked face as he walked back home.  He had a text from his old roommate inviting him to a party for Mike Roblett.  There were so many Mikes in this town that, for all of them, their first and last names were pretty much one word, and that went for the Michaels too.  Maybe it all started with Michael J. Fox, maybe he once lived in Carrboro.  And you know you can’t just call that guy Mike.  You always need the J. and the Fox.  Mike Roblett had been cancer free for a year and it was a sort of “birthday” party for him.  Word.

Mike Ellis and his roommate, Mac, made chicken sandwiches for dinner.  Mike put a lot of mustard on his and absolutely no mayonnaise.  There was not even any in the house.

“That is the most disgusting shit ever.” Mike said about mayonnaise.

Snakes on a Plane was on Cinnemax and it played on the big screen TV while Mike checked his Facebook page and Mac read on the loveseat.

They headed on over to Orange County Social Club for the party around ten p.m.