My girlfriend sent me to town before I was really even awake, and I can’t for the life of me remember the name. If I call and ask her, it’s just another fight of how I don’t listen, of how I don’t care about things, of how I don’t love her—but I’m no monster. It was a difficult name to remember. Food—she said she needed food for it. Bird seed. I go to the little shop near Second Street thinking of how many types there can possibly be. And soon I see there are enough to require an entire aisle in the store; a large sign swinging overhead, dedicated to birds and their food. But I still can’t remember the name of it. I wonder for a moment why she even has a goddamn bird to begin with.
An all too chipper employee jumps over to where I’m standing and begins with the rapid-fire questions. Each time I don’t answer, his eyes squint a little more. A look that says: My God, what kind of pet owner are you…can’t even remember the type of bird you have. It’s too early to cause a scene though, too early to tell him my situation. No one gives a shit about your problems this early in the morning. Macaw, African Parrot, Cardinal, Nightingale—?
Through the store window, I see the gas station is open. I wonder when the appropriate time to start drinking is, on a day off. I look back over and the guy is crouched low to the tile floor, rattling off the different types of seed and cages and what the animals need and what they should stay away from. He says a few more names—Cockatoo, Conure, Canary…nothing sounds quite right. He’s getting more pissed-off with me. I wonder for a moment if this is a test she’s giving me. Testing me to see if I’m ever actually present.
I stand there in the aisle and wonder if she even has a bird for a moment. Maybe this is a test too. This overly caffeinated employee rattles off what food is best—two of them help with digestion, another one is organic and provides ten essential vitamins and minerals. Pets eat better than humans. “Sorry, you don’t have what I’m looking for,” I tell him as he scowls up at me. I walk across the street to the gas station where they do. I pick up a six-pack of the stuff that made Milwaukee famous and my mind wanders as I drive home, repeating the alphabet, hoping something will jog my memory. I give up on the name, knowing I’ll find out soon enough.