Ringo rides in the trunk
girls & Beatles & Snoopy
from A Hard Day’s Night:
I used to have a job cracking eggs. I was eighteen and my shift started at 6 a.m. and I’d wake up at 5:55, put on some clothes I found on the floor and run up the hill to the student center. My egg-cracking job was at a dining hall called the Ram’s Den and all the basketball players always hung out there, like the one who ended up a Los Angeles Laker and married one of the Kardashian sisters and guest-starred on the Entourage episode where Johnny Drama wants to get calf implants. Anyway, I worked salad prep. Sometimes I’d have to chop up heads of lettuce that had soaked in tap water all night long. The first step of lettuce-chopping was to slice off the stem, then reach up inside and twist my fingers around to grab at the core, which always felt vaguely sexual, in a fun and fumbling sort of way.
But the egg-cracking, that was the most fun. The eggs were boiled and cooled and stacked in huge silver bowls, dozens of eggs all piled up, always with white shells. I’d take an egg and roll it back and forth on the counter, let it go crunch crunch crunch till there were cracks everywhere. And then I’d peel the shell away, get the stabby little shards under my fingernails and try to find a nice big unshattered piece to strip off and toss into the mountain of broken shells by the side of the bowl. The best is when your nail snags on that silky white film and you pull so gently and lift it up and skin the whole damn thing in one smooth swoop and there’s your egg, naked and shining in the shitty fluorescent light.
It was so meditative, all that egg-peeling. It was so good to think only of eggshells, instead of how last night I’d kissed my ex-boyfriend behind my best friend’s back and how she was his ex-girlfriend too and possibly still sleeping with him even though she had another boyfriend now and she claimed to also be in love with me and I liked to pretend I was in love with her too.
Love was so bad back then. What a waste of being eighteen, of the freedom to be fun and fumbling about everything in the world.
excerpt from Penny Lane:
At the laundromat Starbucks I sat at a table across from the game where you move the metal claw around and try to catch a stuffed animal. Soon after I started to work, a little girl with wispy white-blonde hair climbed up onto the chair next to mine, stared at me and stared at my computer. She was maybe four and I told her I liked her sundress, which was pink with blotchy blue flowers. When she said “Thank you” five seconds later it sounded like an afterthought, like she’d just remembered you’re supposed to say “Thank you” when a grown-up says something nice. I felt proud of her for remembering, and not entirely because I so intensely value politeness.
Her mom came to get her a minute later and it took us a few seconds to realize we knew each other: we’d worked together at my first job in California; she was a painter and I once went to see an exhibition of hers on a Friday night in Chinatown. She had a new baby boy in her arms and she told me her kids’ names. The girl was Charlie and when she opened her yogurt parfait the granola spilled all over my legs and my keyboard and I tried to do a good job of appearing unfazed, which I was.
The mom and I talked a while but her baby got fussy and pretty soon they all had to leave. We said goodbye and they walked away but Charlie turned around and ran back over to me, asked “Will you remember me next time you see me, ‘cause she told you my name?” I nodded and made my eyes bigger, for encouragement. “Yes,” I said. “You’re Charlie! I’ll remember.”