To Avoid a Hangover
By Ryan Heilman
Everything keeps moving. I don’t see the pie yet, so it probably isn’t here, unless one of my friends ate it while I was staring at the seat across from me, mumbling. Perkins must really benefit from being a 24-hour restaurant in a college town. People like my friends and I must come in at all hours, and if they’re anything like me, develop voracious appetites at three in the morning. I’ll probably end up tipping the waiter a lot, too. When I’m drunk I become positive that everyone is the nicest person I ever met.
I convince my head to move and look around the room. Several other groups of people about my age are doing the same thing we’re doing, and the people in the groups are in varying stages of sobriety, just like we are. There is also an older couple seated in the corner. I imagine they must disapprove for some reason, as if they must dislike anything youthful because they can’t relate to it anymore. It’s absurd to think that way, though, since youth is all mental and shit, right? It’s all about mindsets or whatever. “Ninety percent of the game is half-mental.” Who said that? Was that a football coach or something?
I realize that I’ve been staring at the old couple for a few minutes and look back to my table. Pie. There is pie. Peanut butter silk pie. I am full of omelet and pancake, but I will eat this pie. And when I am done eating this pie, I will go home and sleep and wake up too early because of alcohol. It’s good that I’m eating food and drinking water now, because I would be in a bad way in a few hours otherwise. I realize I’ve never been properly hungover, and I wonder what it’s like and if I should allow it once to give myself context. The pie is gone. Did I eat all the pie? Wait, where are we going? Right. Paying. OK. Thanks for driving, by the way.
Crumble Top, Perkins
By Jennifer Von Ohlen
“Here you go.”
I presume the waitress is smiling, but my eyes are distracted by the white dishes sliding across the table. The thick ceramic skids to a silence as one of the plates stops in front of me. Even though I am pretty full from the penne I finished seconds ago, my mouth starts to salivate at the sight of those crumble tops covered in a caramel glaze. My friend Caroline says something, but I can’t make it out between the mere sight of caramel apple pie and the evening chatter of Perkins on a Sunday evening.
I start to ask her to repeat herself but am cut off by the quick, unexpected cold kiss the pie fork gives my fingers. It feels like the fresh utensil had been sitting in an ice bath for hours before it got toweled off and took a seat on the pie dish.
“Do you think it’s a psychological illusion?” Caroline suddenly asks with true interest. “Like they freeze the forks so that the pie only seems hot?”
“What?” I am so exhausted from studying all day it’s hard for me to comprehend anything.
“Never mind.” She shakes her head in a way that tells me she doesn’t know where the question came from.
Letting her eat the pie in peace, I start to look around. It’s surprisingly empty for such a popular restaurant. A young boy in a blue shirt is playing airplanes with a broken toothpick. We make eye contact. It does not faze him, though, and he continues to pilot his aircraft into his mother’s face, a completely natural thing to do.
Caroline and I talk here and there as we finish dessert, but the mixture of sour and sweet gooeyness from cooked orchard apples is really too good to have a conversation around. Trying to pace myself so my stomach can catch up with its digesting, I take a sip of raspberry ice tea from one of the four glasses we had brought to us by mistake. My strategy isn’t really working.
I groan. “I’m going to explode!”
“Please don’t,” Caroline pleads sweetly. “I don’t feel like inhaling human organs today. Maybe tomorrow.”
By Ashley Juenemann
Loud music, feeling good on a Friday night. I’m with a group of friends for a liter of fun. We play a game of categories, and a seven is drawn. Never Have I Ever is the game.
Hannah’s singled out this round. A verbal misunderstanding develops, something about “snorting mayo” when it was originally “sorting mail.” Feeling warm, I take another sip of apple pie and draw the next card. It lies forgotten on the table as a buzzed slap-fight breaks out between the two roommates to my right. The host of our get-together is attempting to pull Don’s flowing locks of awesomeness into a messy bun. Jason is being chased around the table by Steph because he lifted her phone. He’ll hack her Facebook and post something about liking oranges, birds and aliens.
I think I need another bottle of apple pie to keep up. But no more cold-apple-cinnamon taste for me tonight, even though there was more alcoholic bite to it than apple-sweetness at the end—I seem to have drained my one liter bottle.
There is a feeling of a blanket covering my brain as we move to the living room. Two go head to head in NHL 13, while three rock in kumbaya-fashion on the floor to a song about a drunken guy. I sit in a chair with the most sober partygoer and watch, feeling the tickle of the music in my ears. Our designated driver leans against the wall, observing.
By Shannon McDonald
It begins with a question: berry or cream? I stare at the woman behind the Perkins’ counter and see the spark fade from her tired blue eyes as she comes to a terrifying realization: I am an Indecisive. But how can she expect me to know so soon? In this world there are a great number of things, both wonderful and terrible, that aren’t meant for quick decisions. These things lead to great moments, and can make or break the resulting memories. Pie choice, in my opinion, is one of them, and the decision between berry or cream cannot be rushed.
But this woman is going to try her best. The raise of an eyebrow, the tap of her foot, the tensing of her facial expression as her smile fights for a scowl; from my brief knowledge of the unspoken language of the waitresses, I know bad things are coming my way. I haven’t even been here that long yet! It’s too much pressure. This is much too soon, what should I—oh, that apple pie looks lovely. I tell her so. She goes back into the kitchen and returns with a small slice of pie in a flimsy plastic container, baring her teeth at me. It’s time to go.
There are too many people in the restaurant, so I go home. The house is too empty, so I leave. It’s too late to really go anywhere, so I sit in the middle of the yard. Yeah, this’ll do just fine.
The pie is stale. The grass is dry and uncomfortable. The air is saturated with the smell of the neighbor’s bonfire, and I can hear them next door, talking and laughing, having what sounds like an excellent Saturday night. I could go over there, I suppose. In fact, I should. Or should I? Wait, no, no we’ve already done this once today. I’m too nervous to go, anyway.
I look up at the moon, not quite full yet, look down at my feet, and pause. A small black dot is moving quickly along the edge of my shoe. Is that an ant? Yeah, it’s an ant. I reach out to swipe it away but stop just short of the target. The ant stops, twitches, and resumes its journey with fast determination. I lean back and tilt my head to the side. I threaten it. It doesn’t respond. Instantaneous guilt. I break off a piece of the pie’s crust and lay it on the toe of my shoe to apologize. The ant crawls toward my offering, but darts around it.
“Hey, beggars can’t be choosers, ant.”
It stops and turns, moves back to the pie crust, grabs it and runs. I watch it disappear into the grass. I take another bite of pie, then close the container and lie back in the grass to watch the moon. And I almost thought I was alone.
Ryan Heilman is an aspiring writer who thinks everything is generally pretty OK. Jennifer Von Ohlen grew up in Cokato, Minnesota, and is pursuing a degree in creative and professional writing at Bemidji State. Ashley Juenemann takes life events for ideas and adds her own spice to them. Shannon McDonald is majoring in English education and planning to graduate in the spring of 2015 from Bemidji State University.