I’m alone in Queens with a chihuahua-- pet sitting for a newly-wed couple who has dashed off to France for their anniversary. They are both blonde, attractive, and clearly, more successful than me.
They didn’t exactly say I could help myself to anything in their fridge, but I figured I would anyway.
There’s nothing in the fridge.
I try the freezer.
Paquita Borgita Jimenez the Chihuahua sits at my feet and stares expectantly up at me.
Jackpot. I’ve found a box of Lean Pockets with exactly one left inside.
I watch as my Christmas Eve dinner rotates on a little glass plate in the microwave and know this is some kind of new, personal low.
After consuming the stolen lean pocket, guilt washes over me because I have a well documented history of stealing food and I don’t want this couple to know my fat secret. So I suit up and set out on foot to brave the cold and find a grocery store that’s open on Christmas Eve. The closest one is located across a 4 lane highway.
Instrumental holiday standards pour out of a tinny speaker as I scan the aisles for the frozen food. I buy a brand new box of Lean Pockets, and also the world’s scratchiest, pre-packaged pajamas because I had forgotten to pack mine. They are red and have snowflakes on them. How appropriate.
I scurry back across the highway and into the apartment and am greeted by the nervous little animal.
As I go to replace the box of Lean Pockets, I realize that I only need to replace 1. If I replace the whole package, they will know I took their food. Now what?
Wait until morning.
The answer will come, and surely you’ll be hungry again, Brooke.
Actually, I am hungry now so I heat up 2 more and decide to have a 3rd for breakfast. Christmas Eve dinner has become comical.
I sit on the chair with Paquita and her eyes bulge out at me in a needy fashion as she daintily perches herself on my lap.
“This is human food!” I yell at her with my mouth full of toxic chemicals that have been rendered into food.
A small crispy flake of the “pocket” flies out of my fat face and she greedily snaps it up and quickly wants more.
Great. I’ve created a begging machine.
I change into my recently purchased pajamas and hunker down onto the sofa, looking like a grumpy elf with a bowl haircut. The itchy, unwashed material is uncomfortable and I begin to scratch around the collar. Paquita has mounted my left arm and begins humping. I catch a glimpse of this dismal scene in the black, empty television screen and don’t like what I see.
“Next year will be better” I vow, not realizing next year is almost a week away.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see two, lightning quick, grey blurs dart past me from behind the television.
It seems as though I will now be pet sitting for one chihuahua and two mice.
I don’t mind though because I have seen enough movies to feel that mice are craftier than they are pesky and I’m secretly hoping that because it’s Christmas Eve, when I wake in the morning the entire apartment will have been transformed into a tiny, winter wonderland.
I wake up. Nothing is different. Paquita is standing on my chest staring at me. I heat up my last Lean Pocket for breakfast and wonder what the big fuss concerning holidays is all about anyhow.
And then my phone rings and from 600 miles away I can hear my mother’s voice and feel the warmth of home radiate through my broken cell phone. “Merry Christmas” she says, “The holidays sure aren’t the same without you.”
I look around me---the empty apartment is silent, the sky is grey.
And for the first time, in a long time, I couldn’t… agree… more.