I’m looking to meet someone, but I work at a donut shop. Healthy Donut, to be exact. Where the donuts are baked, not fried.
I do not care about or understand Healthy Donut and the concept behind it. I help myself to free food and there is little to no sun exposure and heavy lifting. That’s why I’m here.
Rebecca, she’s the only semi-eligible option because she doesn’t care about healthy donuts either. Seems like the only thing she really does care about is cricket, the game.
She stays up all night long waiting for the games to start in Pakistan or India, and these games, they’ll go for years. I’m fucking serious.
And then since they’re still on when she leaves for work, she brings earbuds to work and sneaks them underneath her Healthy Donut Drive-Thru headset, which kind of pisses me off because no way Manager lets me do that.
“Yo Rebecca, what you listening to?” I say.
“Cricket!” she says, huge smile.
I pull on the little wire running up to her ear, pop the earbud under my own Healthy Donut Drive-Thru headset, and all I hear are words I don’t understand rattling off real fast.
“Yo Rebecca,” I say. “You understand this stuff?”
“Not when it’s in Punjabi,” she says. “But it makes me feel like I’m somewhere else.”
I want to be somewhere else too, so I leave.
Manager calls me before I get home; phone is buzzing in the pocket of my dirty donut pants.
There’s flour stuck in between all the buttons. Fat chance I’m getting reimbursed for that.
“Matthew!” he yells. “Did you go home?”
“No,” I say.
“Where did you go?”
“I am currently on the street which leads to the place you could call my home, though my true home, I feel, I haven’t found yet because a home is more of a feeling than a place.”
“Matthew,” he yells. “Get back here!”
I go back.
There is a Healthy Donut lineup when I get back; Manager needs me to work the counter as a result. I save my own backside by being incredibly efficient and friendly in taking the orders.
Only one person flips me the bird, maybe two. Not bad for my first time.
Rebecca invites me to watch cricket, clearly thinking I was interested due to my touching her headphones.
I was not interested.
But I don’t say I’m not interested. I say yes. She smiles and turns red and goes to the back, leaving me alone on the Healthy Donut Sandwich Line, which would normally make me really pissed, but for some reason I’m not pissed; I’ve got this little bubble in my stomach that makes me feel warm.
I may simply need to shit.
The Healthy Donut Sandwich Counter keeps ticking above my head. I am now on Healthy Donut Sandwich 17841, but the counter is spinning faster than I can keep up and is way ahead of me.
I take a deep breath and ask myself again, how the fuck is a donut sandwich even a thing?
I should know; I’ve heard Manager explain it a million times.
“It’s the fact that the dough is only slightly sweetened and the amount of yeast, proportionate to this low dose of sugar, allows for a perfectly delicious sweet spot [nudge nudge haha wink] between the traditional sugary donut and the favored yeast-based breads such as the bagel.”
The Customer is always charmed by this description. Manager is Manager for a reason.
He yells, “Tell your friends, We’re Baked,” as the customer walks away.
This being the Healthy Donut Brand tag line. The logo is a donut wearing a little rasta hat with a joint his mouth because somehow, weed is a superfood now.
The rush is over, so Manager turns around and looks at us on the Healthy Donut Sandwich Line, makes sure we see him do his lean-back-squinty-eye-toke-a-joint thing.
I don’t laugh.
I understand Rebecca’s attachment to the headphones and the cricket commentators, yelling.
That’s much better than what’s happening to me.
Rebecca lives in the basement of an old house that feels damp inside. The match we’re watching, she tells me it’s been on for three weeks.
I say, “That’s impossible.”
She says, “It’s true.”
“Do they eat?”
“Of course, dummy,” she says. Her eyes stay stuck to the screen.
In the dark, from the side, with nothing but cricket splashing on her face, she’s really cute.
But there’s no way these guys’ve been playing for three weeks. Who lives like that? I imagine hate-filled shouting matches in large ritzy homes across the Indian subcontinent.
“You think because you make a few cricket dollars you can stand around on the pitch for three weeks straight?” the wife says, and kid starts crying and clinging to Mom’s leg.
Cricket Dad shakes his head and pours himself a stiff drink, no ice.
It doesn’t make any sense.
I look it up on my phone but Google doesn’t go anywhere because I’ve used up my data again.
“Rebecca, what’s your Wifi,” I say.
“No Wifi,” she says.
That’s fucked, I think, but also kind of rustic and contrarian. This girl is surprising me. A real one-drummer lone-wolf type of gal. It makes me pretty hard.
She doesn’t turn me down, but she doesn’t really look at me, either. The whole time, taking off her clothes and lying back on the couch, she’s watching the cricket game, remote in her hand.
With every noise I make she turns up the volume. The TV gets really loud.
I cum to the deafening sound of a smooth British voice explaining the travails a certain young Pakistani man had gone through to make it to the Cricket Big League. Moral of the story being, God-given talent will never be denied.
“Plus,” says the female announcer, “what a cutie.”
The Punjabi commentary would have been better.
Rebecca pulls her pants on and sits back in her nook of the couch, still watching.
There’s a really strong smell in the room that I didn’t notice before. People upstairs are yelling or laughing, I can’t tell. It’s all muffled coming through the ceiling.
“Salted cod,” she says, like she read my mind. “Portuguese neighbors.”
“Well, I’m gonna go,” I say.
I google cricket game when I get home. I get results for games involving crickets.
I try to think like a British person. I write crickey (backspace) cricket match length in Google.
It tells me the maximum length of a match is five days. Which is long, but it’s sure as shit shorter than three weeks. Come on.
That girl really is wacky, I think. Real nut bar, I think.
This is what I get, searching for love at Healthy Donut. This is what happens when you’re looking to meet someone. You go for the low-hanging fruit.
The betrayal is deep. I trusted her. We shared intimate moments together on her couch to the smell of salted cod and the sound of rich British people enjoying themselves.
I decide to confront her at work the next day, when she comes in for the lunch shift.
She arrives and I’m not ready, due to the healthy donut fad really catching on. I haven’t steeled my nerves. I leave the line and go to the bathroom and throw some water on my face, cold. I take deep breaths into the mirror.
Rebecca is at the lockers outside the bathroom when I open the door. The purple shirt with the yellow donut in the little red and green hat looks really good on her.
“You’re very on brand today,” I say. And I smile. I can’t believe I used the words On Brand.
She smiles her cutely crooked teeth and blushes again.
“Come watch tonight?” she says.
I don’t say anything about the true length of a cricket match or what this three weeks stuff was about.
She gives me a kiss on tip toes. She puts her ear buds in and I follow her to our positions on the Donut Sandwich Line, where the counter keeps going up.
I don’t pay attention to the numbers.