my head soaked in river water.

The first call yanks me out of a public bathroom, where I am gingerly wiping blood off of my chin.

I practically roll onto the floor as I try to pull the phone out from its temporary home under my bed. My sleepy medicine head thought that this location would somehow drown out any early morning ringing.

Drugs, even the theoretically harmless Walgreen’s variety, always allow one to draw conclusions that defy all logic.

My greeting is uttered by a woman named Georgia, with 40 years of smoking under her belt.

“Hey, girl…let’s go out for breakfast this morning!” A voice full of sunshine and Vitamin C.

I squint to catch a glimpse of my Hello Kitty alarm clock.

“Ryan…it’s only like, ten. I’m not going anywhere.”

“Aw, come on…we haven’t spent any real time together since I got back from Decatur.”

I try to rub away the headache lurking behind my temples. All of my dreams involved fighting.

A regretful argument with my mother. Something about a previously unknown plan to move to Japan.

Some kind of complex workplace drama. Gossip and missing office supplies.

And a no-holds-barred throw down with Ryan in the intersection of Damen/Milwaukee/North. Yuppies poured out of a sushi restaurant to cheer and hurl chopsticks. Neither of us could claim victory.

I am definitely starting the day in a terrible mood. Careful research on my part has indicated two options for dealing with a waking up/wrong side/bed situation: Either go back to sleep for a few more hours (and hope that this will somehow trigger the reset button on my mood) or sloppy drunken brunch, extending drinks well into early evening.

I’m going to try the healthier approach.

“No, I’m going back to sleep.”

“What? You love going out for breakfast. I’ll pay!”

I roll my eyes. “Ryan, I hate going out for breakfast. Nobody has anything I can eat. So I just sit there eating dry toast and a mealy fruit bowl while everyone else eats four-egg omelets drowning in gravy.”

“Really? Why didn’t you mention this before?”

“No time to talk about this right now. I’m going back to sleep.”

As I hang up the phone, something occurs to me: Ryan probably called to see if I was with someone. If the roles were reversed, I would have considered dialing up Ryan to do some detective work. My hand would have hovered above the receiver, daring myself to call. But in the end I wouldn’t have done it. Either I have too much pride or I’m too much of a pussy. A Venn diagram of both of these conditions indicates a great deal of overlap.

That’s the major difference between Ryan and I. We’re both narcissistic and hyper-analytical. We see only in black and white. Grey does not exist. But he will always carry out the actions that I tell myself are bad ideas. Clearly if I turned down an opportunity to have a slumber party with him, it’s because I’m fucking someone else. Because otherwise, wouldn’t I be desperate for the company? No grown woman should ever sleep alone if she can avoid it. Right?

If I hadn’t picked up the phone, he would assume that I had taken a late-night detour to the apartment of some dark-haired hipster, And even now, he’s probably analyzing the call. Did I sound like I had stayed up all night having exceptionally amazing sex with some guy with a huge record collection? And obviously this conquest would somehow be both wealthy and really, really cool. Perhaps semi-famous. New positions were invented. I was deflowered in ways I never knew existed. I scribbled his name in my book next to number 39 (or some other number that would really appall/intimidate Ryan) .

In reality, I came home, drank a glass of orange juice, and hid the phone under the bed. I drooled all over my pillow. I woke up twice to pee. There were several doses of grape cold medicine, sipped directly from the bottle. All of this excitement, while wearing faded underwear with no less than four holes.

I start concocting a sordid alternate reality. Something to really curl his secretly prudish hair. I get us far as stuffing my panties into to the mouth of this theoretical stranger, before I drift off to sleep.

And then once again, I’m fishing under the bed for the phone.

I say nothing into the receiver.

“Hey! Amanda! Okay, you should wake up now!”

My lips are stuck together. Effort is required to open my mouth.

“Ryan? What time is it?”

“Uh….it’s…12:12. Let’s go have some lunch! You like lunch, right?”

I say nothing.

“Does that mean yes? Or are you busy?”

When I try to sit up, I am greeted by a wall of stars. I close my eyes. I consider the possibility that my children’s cough syrup consumption may have reached an excessive level last night.

“Hello? Are you there? I mean, if you’re busy or you have company or whatever, I understand.”

Now I’m irritated. So much for waking up on the right side of the bed.

“Ryan? Shut up. Seriously. I’m alone. If you actually want to hang out with me–and you’re not just checking up on me–call me back later. I’m sick and I don’t feel like playing games.”

“What? No, I wasn’t asking if you had someone over. I mean, if you do, it’s okay. I respect that you are a single attractive woman.”

I sigh. “Listen, call me later. I’m going to get up and take a shower.”

“Yeah! Okay…I’ll call you back in an hour or so. We can go to Thai Lagoon. Or whatever you want.”

I mutter a noncommittal “Yeah, sure.”

I lie down and pull a blanket over my head….right after I pull the phone cord out of the wall


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