The Grease Diaries
Nonfiction by Emily Weldon
An Entire Gatorade Bottle Full to the Brim with Skim Milk
I could not chug the thin milk. My child mouth was too weak and would not allow the thrust of liquid down my narrow throat. Instead, I packed the litre down as fast as my will would let me, in small, single gulps.
At nine years old, it did not occur to me that milk went sour. My mom kept a tight watch on expiration dates, so I had never dealt with a whiff of it. This is how I could be so proud of my originality and rejoice in filling the Gatorade bottle. My brother’s best friend, William, had to tell me that I couldn’t just walk around with it all day and watch them play Super Smash Brothers with a warm jug of milk.
The two of them stared me down from either end of their couch in our living room, which was called the Green Room, named for its “70s” deep green carpet. I panted between short swallows, desperate to put the milk to use, to any use. They watched my lips suck and un-suck from the nozzle with their noses scrunched up at the sight of me, their GameCube controllers drooping in their palms.
“Uh, you could have just put it in the fridge,” said William.
Two thirds of the bottle was already gone. I shrugged and drank up. The boys unpaused their video game.
An Entire Ham and Cheese Sandwich During High School Lunch Hour
I pulled my lunch bag from my backpack and slipped the handmade sandwich from its plastic baggie. Squeezing down on the bread with my fingertips, out came the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper, oozing from the layers of ham and white cheddar. My mom always crammed my sandwiches tight and full.
I stood up from the floor, walked my sandwich to the other side of the hallway, and dropped it in the trash can.
Aaron said nothing while I did this, and said nothing when I went back to his side of the hall and returned to his lap again. I tried to sit up straight on his legs, but I had to bend into the curve of his chest to lean away from the water fountain sticking out of the wall beside us. My five best friends sat and ate Oreos across the hall, five feet ahead of us.
Tracey, Ciara, Jennifer, Amy, and Abby all watched– and laughed, I now know. They made jokes about us, in front of us, but I could never hear them. I only heard the loud sloshing of Aaron’s tongue and mine in each other’s mouths. I stopped to take a breath and his warm hand grabbed me, pulled me closer.
Tracey used to call him a Sheepdog, because his hair was so thick and it hung down into his face. But I never got the comparison. I didn’t think sheep dogs would wear so much black.
Aaron was less silent that evening when we came home from school and my mom pulled miniature cinnamon buns out from the oven. She explained there was enough for us to have two each: me, Aaron, my brother, and their friend Bryan.
I snagged a roll and sat on the couch in the dining room. We had a couch there then. I examined the dough ball on all sides and imagined myself unraveling the spiral, revealing all the crusty bits of cinnamon sugar from within the folds.
“No, you’re not supposed to have any,” Aaron said. He eyed Bryan and smirked as if there was an inside joke. Bryan smirked back, but I don’t think he knew what at.
Bryan strolled around the corner, off to somewhere else. Aaron pulled on my arm, his fat eyes peeking out from his hair, begging me to join him in the basement.
I stood up and finished my cinnamon bun quickly, but not without getting myself a glass of water first.
An Entire Head of Broccoli, Cut Up, with a Small Dish of Caesar Dressing
Dr. Phil was on the small blue television on our orange kitchen counter while I ate off the beige plate in my black shirt at the brown kitchen table and my pale face shone in the dark blue window’s reflection. How many colours could I count in this scene?
If someone did walk into the room, I had a plan for the motions that would follow. I would slide my plate down to the counter, shoot my eyes to the floor, and tap my foot in a slow, irregular beat. This way no one would suspect I had been holding a forest of vegetation two inches from my face.
Oh, and there was one I forgot: the dark green broccoli, with its beads of iron sweating from the stem.
February 2010 (A Few Weeks Later)
Three Quarters of the M&Ms from an Oversized Bag of Trail Mix
My theory was that, in conjunction with the broccoli, pills would end my weekly and monthly visits to the doctor’s office two towns away. I wouldn’t have to sit in the slow-motion waiting room that looked and smelled and sounded like an old cottage rotting into the ground. I wouldn’t have to debate the efficacy of the Swine Flu vaccine, the taste of liquid iron, and whether I could swallow a pill yet (except the last one was not a debate anymore).
I swear, Miss Doctor, it’s a miracle! For years I have struggled to get the smallest antibiotic down in a spoonful of yogurt, but suddenly, at my mature age of thirteen, I can get these iron pills down my throat in a blink!
My mom had planted a heavy bag of trail mix on the orange counter and told me to stand there and get the M&Ms down whole until I “figured out” my aversion to pill swallowing. Then, she left the kitchen, so I got rid of the candies through normal routes, such as chewing and eating. Still, this is the scene I would have described to the doctor if she asked how I became so skilled.
“It’s because of you I can take my pills!” I squealed in Aaron’s ear after a doctor’s appointment, lying on his chest on the fuzzy foldout couch in my basement. “Isn’t that hilarious? I couldn’t make myself gag now if I tried!”
Aaron patted my head, pat, pat, pat, down into his collarbones. I was thinking maybe he would want me to practice, but he stayed very quiet, and kept my eyes covered with the sleeves of his hoodie.
An Entire Cheesecake Sampler with Tracey, on the Foldout Couch in My Basement
Tracey had just watched me flail around on stage at my amateur dance competition. I still had the stage makeup on, all the white eyeliner and the fake eyelashes, when we had my mom drop us off at Safeway. Later, Tracey and I propped ourselves up with the cheesecake sampler we had bought and watched Gossip Girl on the TV.
We chatted about the girl we hated who worked at the piercing stall in the mall; we debated the origin story of our creepy French teacher; and, of course, we touched on the golden gooey center that we both wanted to suck on: how much we loved boys.
Ken messaged Tracey online but he won’t admit it– it was an anonymous message, but Tracey knew it was Ken, it had to be. She didn’t know whether to ask him to a movie or despise him, whether if next time they have a skit together in drama class, she’ll be his sexy barista or his axe murderer.
I received a text message.
“Aaron’s not coming over, is he?” Tracey said, stabbing her cake.
There wasn’t much I could add to this. There wasn’t much of an option.
On the television, two beautiful people prepared for sex.
Tracey put the fork down and breathed in my face. Strawberry.
“Can you guys just not kiss so much in front of me? You’re always mackin’ when I’m sitting right here. Don’t you think that’s weird?”
I did think it was weird, but it wasn’t my choice. Aaron would either kiss me or he wouldn’t, and I wouldn’t have any questions to ask about it. If Tracey called her mom to pick her up early because she was so disgusted, any questions I had for Aaron about that could only be answered with the burns he would make in his forearms when he retired to his bedroom that evening.
“Just tell him to stop, won’t you? Promise you’ll ask him to stop?” She said over and over.
“Yeah,” I lied.
I only guessed the burns would be on his arms again. He would never tell me exactly where.
March 2010 (A Few Weeks Later)
An Entire Tin of Raisins, Standing in My Kitchen
I was sick of broccoli. I’d eaten almost a head a day for weeks, and I was never eating broccoli again. Now, I was on to raisins. Raisins were high in iron. They would fight against the big A, and pump me full of blood. Soon hemoglobins would be running laps in my thin, feeble veins.
Aaron did show me his scars, but the lights were off, okay? The TV show was dark, there was no other light in the room. I couldn’t stare too long. Wouldn’t that be rude? Okay, so I didn’t see the scars. What was I supposed to do? Turn on a flashlight and take it to his skin like a magnifying glass? As if I didn’t believe him? I had my chance and I blew it. I never took his hoodie off again.
I could squeeze the insides right out of these raisins. Punch them dead. Suck their brains out.
Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze.
An Entire Chocolate Fudge Sundae from East Side Mario’s
Stepping onto the hallway carpet and feeling every plush thread between my toes, I began my trek. I emerged from my locked bedroom with my cell phone powered down in my back pocket.
My face was hot with snot and tears as I entered the Green Room again. William’s head shot up, and my brother’s, too, and both forgot about their face-off in the Yu-Gi-Oh card game that they had going on the pool table.
I sat up on the ledge of the table, now towering above the boys sitting in sunken office chairs on either side of me. The three of us became stiff as we tried to act so natural. They knew what I had done. It was over.
It was Easter Monday, so my parents took us to see Hot Tub Time Machine in theatres. They wanted to get my mind off things with a movie about blowjobs and revisiting the past. We went to East Side Mario’s for dinner first, where I ordered Alfredo pasta, and the only fudge sundae on our bill.
“To share? Should I bring extra spoons?” said our waitress.
In that moment, William could read my mind.
“Not for us,” he said blankly. “Just one spoon for her.”
A Quarter of a Costco-sized Apple Pie, Ice Cream, Milk, and Cinnamon
On this day, I was alone. My parents had left the house. My brother was out, wherever. There was no one else.
Someone bought an apple pie. It must’ve been for Canada Day. We would never have tried to eat the whole thing otherwise.
I blended my ingredients and took a jug to my side-yard. An Apple Pie Milkshake, I called it.
In front of the fishpond that bubbled out of the side of the hill, I pulled our oldest lawn chair up to the edge of the water. I leaned all the way back and let the chair hold me for so long.
It was hot. And it was summer. And the only hiccups of nature to hear were the rustles of leaves in the massive oak trees and my own slurping on my apple pie brew. And while I knew this was undoubtedly one of my greasiest moments, I was too proud of my wild creation to worry if someone else would be willing to stomach it.
Years later, the apple pie story came up in front of Mick, the man I met once this all seemed small and faded to me. When I told him, it became one of the funniest things I’d ever said, although I had never seen the humour in it before. He saw a sad, lonely girl, eating a big apple pie on a summer day. I tried to explain it better.
No, I mean yeah, I’m alone with my milkshake. It’s weird. But I wasn’t lonely. I was just drinking a milkshake. I was totally fine. It was good.
“You made a pie milkshake? Because you were fine?” He asked, trying to suck some sort of truth out of me.
I did not have great answers to these questions. I thought about it, and decided that more than likely, this was some sort of special occasion.