Shish Kebabs

Alyssa stood there on the empty sidewalk of M Street and held back tears. As upset as she was, her long wavy hair, disheveled and sticking to her forehead, she looked adorable. She had a perfectly coordinated red and white skirt and blue crop top paired with blue wedges for the upcoming Fourth of July. That’s what I love about DC. They pregame Fourth of July, celebrating for weeks as if it were a holiday season and not just a night for beer and fireworks. It has more of a religious sentiment there, full-fledged with an implicit “Freedom is the Reason for the Season” campaign.

I was glad to be back. Just not glad to be in the jam Alyssa had just gotten us into.

Just a few hours earlier, we were all having a great time. I am not going to jump to conclusions, but Alyssa and her roommates decided to have people over the night I was staying with her at her Georgetown (insert snooty English accent here) apartment. Though the event was titled “Four Coors and Seven Beers ago” and not “Party for my Cool Cousin Amanda” I nevertheless interpreted it as a royal welcoming celebration for me. It was a good time, and I kicked the undergrads’ Vineyard Vines behinds in the drinking games. But we headed for more fun at some place on M street later that night.

A few throwback 50 Cent songs and overpriced drinks later, Alyssa made the group decision that we should leave, as I needed to wake up at 8 a.m. the next day to get ready for the wedding I was in town for. I was flattered that my little cousin was looking out for me. So we started the long walk back. As we finally approached the apartment, one of her other roommates saw us and opened the door for us.

“Crap Crap Crap Crap Crap!” Alyssa yelled out.

“What?” I was ready for bed, but pretended to be concerned.

“I don’t have my wallet, ohmygod I don’t have my wallet.” Alyssa started to spaz.

I was not surprised one bit. Alyssa is one of my kind. She’s lost her wallet and totaled her car more times than I have. This, however thrust me into the unfamiliar position of responsible authority, so I immediately had to devise a plan. The last place we went was CVS, because on the way back at 2:30 I stopped to get bobby pins to do my hair for the wedding the next day. Alyssa bought a sandwich, so that’s the only place it could be. I cursed myself for asking to stop. Alyssa had bobby pins in her apartment, why the heck did I insist on buying bobbypins? I quickly changed from my dress into soccer shorts and a shirt. We left her friends and rushed back to the CVS, which I am assuming is 24 hours, because, well heck, if it was open at 2 a.m., it damn-well better be open at 3 a.m.

The only problem was neither of us knew where the CVS was. I thought we’d just pass it as we made our way back to M Street, but we didn’t. Plus there are a few CVS’s around Georgetown (don’t forget to add the accent!). Since neither of us have smartphones (Alyssa’s is a flip phone that doesnt even show the time on the outside so again, I one-upped her), we are at the mercy of strangers walking around the streets of Georgetown at 3 a.m.

So I asked this young guy if he knows where CVS is. He told me there was one a ways down a side street. He spoke with an accent so I asked where he was from.

“Actually, I’m from Afghanistan,” he said.

“Oh Are you from Kabul?” Alyssa butts in.

“Wow! Yes I am,” he said.

I was really pissed that Alyssa just impressed this guy with her knowledge. More pissed than the fact that I was walking around Georgetown in my pajamas. Like Alyssa, I am really competitive, though not as ruthless as her, as she was notorious for rigging board games when we were little. Doesn’t this dude figure that everyone in DC knows that Kabul is the capital of Afghanistan? I opened my mouth to start rattling off provinces (Kandahar, Helmut,…) if we needed to go there. But my manners told me to shut up.

The guy gave us rough directions which I only half-processed. Since I’d been up since the day before and my feet were killing me, I wasn’t keen on walking, but started to head that way with a still-distraught Alyssa.

But then, the he says he is just about to get to his car and drive back to his place, and that he wouldn’t mind driving us to CVS.

“I mean, I know it’s kind of sketchy for a random guy to say this to you, but if you want…”

“Wow thank you so much!” I cut him off and headed for his car. Alyssa was still cranky but followed. I was in a state to drive (like I said, I was winning the drinking games) and therefore perfectly aware of the rule about strangers that you learn when you are 3 years old. While this guy is someone that TSA would screen with additional security, I did not hesitate. Mostly for that reason, actually.

I mean, if I don’t get in the car with this guy, I am just as bad as the rest of society. This is my chance to make a statement. There is a shish-kebab restaurant down the street from my apartment in Connecticut called Shish Kebab House of Afghanistan. When my family was visiting and walking by the restaurant, my younger brother Tim commented, “You know how much business that place loses because they hacked on two words to the end of its name?”

I laughed, but he was probably right. So it would only be a slight stretch to say I made this decision based on a shish kebab.

The young man, introduced himself as what phonetically sounds like “Hey Matt.” We chatted during the car ride, which was mostly me pestering him with questions atypical of a quasi-party girl at 3 in the morning: When did you move here? (Four years ago for college) How do you like DC? (very much thank you) How do you like America? (it is different but very much thank you) Has anyone reacted with hostility toward you? (only when I was in North Carolina) Are you a practicing Muslim? (dumb question since he was out partying at 3 am) Is your family okay with you being here? (everyone but his Mom) How did you learn to speak English so well? (he didn’t think he did so didn’t answer this one)

We arrived outside CVS. I took one look at it and knew it is not the one we were at, but got out just to be sure. Alyssa stayed in the car. Hey Matt could have just driven off with her right then and there, but I trusted him too much. After our deep conversation about US-Middle East relations, I decided we were friends.

I shook my head as I approached the car and thanked Hey Matt for his help anyway. I prepared to walk to the next one, but Hey Matt insisted on taking us to the other one a few blocks away, which he called up on his iPhone.

This time I could tell we were at the right one. Alyssa and I once again got out and searched the CVS high and low. I inquired to the store manager, crawled on the floor, and looked behind the self-checkout counters to no avail. Alyssa and I even looked in the garbage can that she threw her sandwich wrapper in. Hey Matt was getting quite a show from his car as we looked through the trash. After several minutes, we headed back with our heads hung in defeat. I was more upset because, here’s this poor guy, trying to help us and we weren’t not doing anything to make him feel like this trouble had been worthwhile.

Hey Matt drove us back to Alyssa’s place. I thanked him over and over again. He went in for the hug over the middle compartment of his car (I knew we were friends!). I almost told him to friend me on Facebook, but kind of enjoyed the anonymity of it all, my Disney version of a one-night stand. So we parted ways, and it was after Hey Matt left that we realized we were locked out. Alyssa’s keys were in her wallet and her roommates were no longer up, because, here’s a thought, it’s 4 a.m. We tried the back door to no avail. But then I tried to open her window, which opens just enough for us to get our bodies through. We were a sight. There were two girls sitting on a nearby bench talking that witnessed Alyssa and I trying to fit through a small Georgetown apartment window. I am surprised they didn’t call the cops on us.

Once we got back in, it started to hit Alyssa that this was it. Her wallet was gone. I told her the one thing she should do before we go to bed was to check her online banking statements to see if anyone bought a flatscreen TV or booked a trip to Jamaica. But of course, she didn’t know any of her information, so leaves it to me to figure it out. She gets midway through cancelling her cards but then just chucks her phone against the wall in frustration.

I decided this is where the buck stops and tell Alyssa we should just go to bed. Alyssa crawled under a blanket and lied on the floor still pouting. I wasn’t about to move her. If she wanted to sleep on a dirty floor then that meant I got the bed, which isn’t as glamorous as it sounds because it’s a bunkbed and Alyssa’s roommate Allison was below. I quietly tried to climb up. It’s not as easy as I remembered 5 years ago freshman year.

I set my alarm for 8 a.m. It’s 4:15.My head hit the pillow and I was out.

I woke up at 8, took a quick shower and got dressed for the wedding. I felt fine, the adrenaline and excitement around my first friend getting married was too much for any headache to incur. As I moved from the bathroom to the bedroom I kept passing a clutch on the ground, which I assumed was Allison’s. But after stepping over it a fifth time, I decided to open it, just to be sure. Allison was still sleeping anyway, so she won’t even see me in the act of what will surely appear to be stealing.

I slowly pulled back the zipper, feeling guilty as if I were doing something wrong. Alyssa’s face stares back at me from her license. Surely this can’t be it. It must be her other wallet. But then I dug through it and saw her key, money and credit cards.

I rushed down the stairs to find Alyssa, who I was relieved to see had moved to the couch. But I am not gentle in waking her up from her slumber.

“Is THIS your wallet?” I shoved it in front of her eyes that were just slowly opening.

Alyssa looked at me confusedly. “Waiiiiiiit.”

“Yup,” I said matter-of-factly and pretending to be pissed “it was on the floor of your room.”

“Oh my goddddd.”

“So you mean to tell me that I spent all of last night running around Georgetown (lose the accent here) looking for a wallet that was never lost?!”

I couldn’t hold a straight face any longer so we burst out laughing.

The only conclusion we could agree on was that somehow, Alyssa must have had her clutch around her elbow and not realized it when she said she lost it. When we ran inside to change our clothes and shoes, she must have thrown it down and run back outside to look for it.

Alyssa made me breakfast as I did my makeup and curled my hair for the wedding. I was sure to use the bobbypins.

3 thoughts on “Shish Kebabs

  1. …. I’m suing for libel.


    P.S. By the way did you get Hey Matt’s phone number? I’m looking for a date

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