Love and lettuce
I was feeling sexy. I filled my dress so bountifully that, modest though the length, with every step I could feel it pull a little further up the back of my thighs. The summer night was almost still, but the occasional breeze grazed what was exposed of my legs and sternum. As I opened the door of the bar, balmy air whooshed in behind me and left my coquettish show of skin stippled in goosebumps.
Rasha came in behind me a moment later, dropping a small assortment of receipts and wrappers from her car into the dumpster as she crossed through the door and took my arm. We walked up to the bar at sat on the high stools.
Rasha had picked me up that evening to take me straight to the bar. Our intention? Discuss matters of womanhood and bask in my newfound singleness, a threshold I had only crossed two months earlier. I had one drink—I rarely cared for much more. After one, especially in the current company, I felt perfectly warm and fizzy.
Beyond the light buzz, I was in a wonderful mood. To say it was a happy moment would be to try to describe sunshine with a lightbulb. Life felt so good. I loved my new apartment, I loved my new job. I loved being a woman, and I loved the excitement and possibilities opening up in this new chapter of life.
One drink left Rasha satisfied, too, and we decided to go back to her apartment. We had more matters to discuss, more commentating and commemorating, but the hookah was calling us. I imagined kicking my shoes of and relaxing on the couch with the pipe’s harmony of flavored tobaccos. We got up to leave.
A change of plan
I could feel my hips sashay as I exited the bar. It amazed me how much a good mood could boost confidence. Though, to be fair, my gray linen work dress was so snug that I felt obligated to move with a sway, lest the skirt ride up to exhibitionist heights. I felt equally graceful as I climbed into the passenger seat of the car, squeezing my toes discretely in my heels as I accommodated myself and snapped the buckle into place. I was ready to lounge in more forgiving garb.
“Do you see my lot ticket?” Rasha asked. It took me a moment to remember that the tiny parking lot behind the bar did, in fact, have a lift bar and a payment machine stationed at the exit.
“No,” I replied, shifting in my seat to look around. “Did you leave it in the bar?”
Rasha walked back into the bar, but no luck. She did, however, return with a fistful of paid parking credits from her boyfriend, who worked there as a bartender. We couldn’t find the original parking ticket, however, and doubted that the unmanned machine would be much help.
We decided to try using the credits without the parking ticket. Rasha drove up to the machine and rolled down her window. I leaned forward, the best I could in my tight gray dress, but the waist squeezed around my abdomen and I could bend no further. I listened.
“There’s a button,” Rasha said. I was pleased—we could call a 24-hour customer service line. Rasha pressed the button, and we waited.
After following a series of prompts, we not only learned that the parking credits wouldn’t work in the absence of a ticket, but we were appalled to hear that the loss of our ticket would cost us $40. No amount of parking credits could convince the representative on the speaker or reprogram the ticket machine to think otherwise.
Lettuce and love
Rasha and I both had the same hunch. The only other place the lot ticket could be was in the dumpster, perhaps an accidental throw-away when Rasha cleaned out her console before walking into the bar.
After reversing into the lot and parking the car back in a spot, our investigation took us to the edge of the blue dumpster. With the help of the lights from our cellphones, we spotted what we could only imagine was Rasha’s parking ticket inside, near the top of a fresh pile of trash. The gaping dumpster was barely filled to one fifth of its capacity, and with my long hair dangling around my face as I peered in, I couldn’t see well enough to be totally sure.
There were fallen branches from a tree nearby, so Rasha and I did what we could to pinch the ticket out of the debris. The quantity of lettuce sprinkled through the malodorous heap plus the tong-like action of the branches felt very much like mixing a rancid salad.
I can’t be sure if it was adventurous spirit or simple impatience that drove me to dive, but after several attempts, I could see no better solution than to climb into the dumpster. The work day was done, I could wash my dress when I got home, and no one else was in the lot to see my underwear exhibition as I threw all sense of grace to the wind.
It was a simple operation. I started by hiking my skirt up with a final glance around to be sure no one else would see. Rasha helped me up, I positioned myself carefully on the edge of the dumpster’s mouth and then, swinging one leg over and then the next, I lowered myself down. My heels actually aided me in protecting my soles from coming into full contact with the soft floor of trash beneath me.
There really was a lot of lettuce.
Rasha provided me light as I swept my hair to one side and bent carefully down. What luck, it was her ticket! After passing it to her, I climbed gracelessly back out of the dumpster. Much like the holy choir singing in a film when the protagonist sees the heavens open, I heard a harmony of ringing in my ears as I inevitably flashed the empty lot. I yanked my skirt back down when I found solid ground again.
Was the dumpster dive worth $40? Both my penny-pinching and consumer instincts say “yes.” I can understand easily why others would say “no.” I do think we can all agree, however, that for the sake of friendship, the lettuce was worth it.