I don’t really understand people who don’t “get” certain pop culture references merely because of their age. When I was five, I knew who Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe were. By ten, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. When facets of pop culture are worth knowing, you make it a point to let it seep into your lexicon. So this bullshit excuse about being “too young” to know something is one of my great pet peeves in life, of which there are already so many. I am forced to reconcile that, increasingly, the gap between my knowledge and that which is possessed by the open-mouthed retards (yes, I know you can’t say that–another sign of my age gap) claiming “No sé” with regard to most of the things I’m talking about or referencing is going to drive me insane. But still I attempt to make the allusions as though someone might happen to fathom just how rapier-like and incisive my wit is.
An opportunity arises while in Miami in the thick of the summer. Thick being the only word to describe everything that goes on in that city. Like most people, I have a cousin there. Anna, the most severe and buttoned-down thirty-two year old I’ve ever encountered. She’s an internist at Sister Emmanuel Hospital. Because of her profession, she also doesn’t comprehend half the pop culture mentions I make. Something about people in the medical profession leaves little room in their brain for such “frivolities.” But how can anyone deem pop culture frivolous when it is the common binding denominator between us all? At least for those of the Western world, represented at its peak oblivion to other things to be aware of by the U.S.
I’ve been to Miami only once before. I barely survived. The humidity, as you might have guessed, makes it one of the top breeding grounds in America for mosquito activity. I was torn to shreds, sucked practically dry of my blood the last time I came for some “fun in the sun” under the pretense of wanting to see Anna. I kind of fucking hate Anna. She’s another uppity, self-important bitch among many just because she has a job. But I’m bored with Boston (as anyone who was not born there tends to be) and desperately need a beach atmosphere. So I go, against all my better judgment, knowing that I might not survive another tango with a thicket of mosquitoes this time around.
Strangely, it was only my ex-boyfriend, Vinny (he was Boston “Italian,” it was rather a lot to deal with, so I guess I didn’t), who was ever empathetic to my plight with the blood-sucking race not of the human variety. Anytime we would take a trip somewhere with a lot of trees (essentially anywhere in the Northeast), he would always insist on buying me OFF! in bulk–the more expensive “Deep Woods” edition. I didn’t have the heart to tell him he was only further poisoning my body with DEET in addition to his rancid dick (yes, he gave me gonorrhea–as I found out much later in our relationship than I should have–but hey, at least it was an ironclad reason to end it).
Anyone with bona fide mosquito troubles knows that there is no remedy, least of all a store bought product. Even the garlic eating/rubbing all over one’s body is a cruel myth perpetuated by the internet that will have you driving people away more than you already do. So I surrendered to just letting them have their way with me in the summer. And even a few of those more persistent, winter-existing ones as well. On the plus side, it’s really helped with my self-control in other aspects of my life. It’s like being able to resist scratching the itch that is omnipresent on my body has trained me to resist spending money I don’t have, or drinking more when I’m already drunk. Resistance. That’s all it takes in life to be successful as one of the world’s more middling inhabitants.
On the plane, I watch Don’t Bother to Knock, an early Marilyn Monroe (again, the progenitor of modern pop culture) movie, the one where she plays a deranged babysitter. I get where she’s coming from. I wouldn’t feel all that tolerant of a kid named Bunny in any mental state either. I file it away, just another thing I can use as a means to distance myself with language and knowledge from others who would prefer that I remain at their level of blissful ignorance. Who would prefer to make me feel like the crazy one for knowing such “useless information.” Having such a catalogue of “marginal” references. Upon landing, I text Anna to let her know I’ve arrived. She answers immediately, telling me she’s about ten minutes away. That is one thing I will say for people who have their lives “together”–they’re always on time.
In the car, a black Mercedes, naturally, Anna gives me a quick appraisal. “You look good. Thinner.”
I sigh. “Maybe I’ll be too mangy on this trip to be desirable to any mosquitoes.”
She rolls her eyes. “Honestly. You make far too much out of this. Half of it is in your head. You probably conjure them with your fear.”
“Yes. And everything in life is just one self-fulfilling prophecy, isn’t it?”
Anna doesn’t bother to reply to my sarcasm, making it a point to look especially focused on the road as we take the freeway exit toward her house. She bought a house in Wynwood after going to Art Basel in 2014. It was the only thing she’s ever done that has shocked me. But then, it shouldn’t have–for every corporate slut bought a house in Wynwood after 2014.
Curbside at her house, she drops me off and tells me she has to get back to the hospital. There’s leftover Mexican food in the fridge. Who the fuck wants to eat leftover Mexican? It’s not the kind of cuisine that “keeps,” like pizza or Chinese. But I act grateful and do my best not to slam the door with the inherent rage that comes with being me.
“Oh and Kelsey,” she calls to me from her rolled down window. “Try to get out of the house. Don’t just sit in there hiking up the air conditioning and watching movies all day.”
What the fuck would be the point of coming to Miami if I didn’t? And it’s just what I do after somewhat unpacking (this means dumping all of my clothes out onto the bed in the guest room and leaving them there). And yeah, I take the Styrofoam offering filled with cold tacos and elotes. Who am I to refuse? I sit down on the couch and start flipping through the options on her various available streaming outlets. My Girl comes up. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it, and I’m in a nostalgic mood. What’s more, I know I’ll probably just fall asleep. The problem is, I haven’t turned on the A/C in my haze of serenity and, unbeknownst to me, Anna, apparently not so “together” as I thought, has left the sliding glass door to her patio open, permitting easy access to the bevy of mosquitoes that evidently see fit to welcome me to town by pillaging my entire body. I come in and out of consciousness as I hear that signature and disgusting buzzing sound made by the female mosquito’s wings as she takes her “blood meal” for her stupid fucking birthing process. Yes, also in my endless research, I long ago found that only the female mosquito bites (just another way for men to prove that women are bitches) so she can use the blood to produce eggs. I don’t fucking know why that’s necessary, but whatever–nature is a sadistic motherfucker.
I awake to the sound of Anna’s panicked voice. “Kelsey! Kelsey! Oh my god!” It’s the way she pronounces “god” that brings me back. And I can suddenly feel the pain of the mosquito reckoning all over me. I can barely open my eyes. They’re swollen shut from the bites. Anna doesn’t touch me, in her doctorly wisdom, she knows better. “I can’t believe this,” she mutters, as she disappears into the bathroom for a moment to grab some sort of solution, though surely there can be none, other than time. Always time.
“I’m like Thomas J but with mosquitoes,” I wail.
“Huh?” Anna asks as she daubs some more salve on my bites.
I stop crying, taken aback that a thirty-two year old American woman never managed to see My Girl. It was the fuckin’ joint.
“Thomas J… you know. Macaulay Culkin. The bees. My Girl. Saddest child love story ever.”
Anna shakes her head and shrugs. “Must’ve missed it. I must’ve been outside riding my bike or something.”
I seethe. “Funny. That’s all they do in the movie, too. Except it’s set in the 70s, so it makes sense.”
Anna ignores my jibe. And it’s then I wish the mosquitoes had just finished me. For I will never find a tribe that has any comprehension of what I’m talking about at any given moment.