When I lived in Washington D.C. I didn’t know a lot of people. Everything was expensive and I lived in a very pleasant residential area without much I could conveniently walk to for entertainment. I’d walk to Eastern Market and buy $7 tomatoes sometimes just for the trip. I didn’t fully realize it at the time, but I spent most of my second year there in a major depressive episode. Because of that, and the stress of the job I had there, on weekends, I only wanted to be in my apartment, away from all other humans, watch movies and eat junk food.
One Thursday, I was having a particularly bad week, it was snowy and icy and it got dark an hour or so before I’d even leave work. I got to thinking I should do something for myself. To cheer myself up a little. Something nice. An indulgence.
I decided I wanted one of those big cookies from the mall. And that I would order it and pick it up on Friday after work and then be at home all weekend and enjoy it. Treat myself.
I called up the closest one, but then I started to panic. How pathetic am I? They’re going to know. They’re going to see me and say “How pathetic this girl is buying this entire party-sized cookie to take home on Friday night and eat alone in her basement apartment.”
I decided I needed to get “Happy Birthday” written on the cookie in frosting. Instead of pathetic, it’d be more like “Hey! This girl is popular and is taking this cookie to a party! How cool!”
While I was holding, I decided it would be even better if I had them put a name on it. A guy’s name. So not only would it look like I was taking this cookie to a party, I was possibly taking it to a party where there was a gentleman with whom maybe I had a relationship. “Hey, this girl is going to a cool party with cool friends and her cool boyfriend! Cool!”
I ordered a $45 cookie for my imaginary gentleman friend’s non-happening birthday party. I got the one that’s two cookies and a layer of frosting in between. I know how to imaginary-party.
This is, by far, not the saddest or most pathetic thing I’ve ever done.* And, it had the bonus upside of eating delicious cookie all weekend. I also think about doing it again sometime, only, I think I’ve grown, I’ve worked on my confidence and personality enough that now I could probably just get it to say “Congratulations!” and eat it while pretending I’d achieved something amazing. “Congratulations Nobel Laureate Jessica Clary.” “Congratulations Emmy Award Winner Jessica Clary.” “Congratulations Astronaut Engineer Jessica Clary.”
*Also, when I lived in D.C., I bought a ticket for a weekend matinee of “Toy Story 3″ right when it came out. Friends who had already seen it told me it was sad, and that I’d probably cry, and I was OK with that. But when I got into the theater, it was packed full of wide-eyed innocent children, and I decided I could not be that 28-year-old woman weeping openly in a crowded theater alone watching a Pixar movie at 2 p.m. on a Saturday. I count that as the most pathetic thing I’ve ever done.