That dumb space movie
by Lucie Britsch
It is Halloween and they have made us dress up because there is a party after work and they thought that if we were already in our costumes we were be more likely to stay for the party than go home and then probably almost definitely not come back because who goes to a work Halloween party by choice?
I was dressed as Princess Leia. Not gold bikini Leia obviously because I did not approve of that but also did not have the body to pull that off, being a woman was complicated enough at the best of times but throw a spanner in the works like Halloween costumes and you’re gone, girl.
My boss Kevin calls me in to discuss the paper towel situation. The situation is he doesn’t know if we need any and I have somehow unofficially become the bathroom monitor after I found something suspect in there one time and reported it and now I know to keep my eyes shut when I go in there making my job of reporting on the paper towel situation somewhat difficult.
Judging from his brown corduroy slacks and black turtle neck he could have been dressed as any obscure French philosopher, jazz musician, or just his dad. I must have been staring at him too long because he opened his top draw to show me a scream mask.
I know it’s lame, he started to say.
I just thought you were your dad or something, I said.
Well my dad is a serial killer, he said and I laughed and had not known he was funny.
Who are you supposed to be, he said and I put my hands up to my head to check I still had my buns on.
You’re joking right?
And he laughed awkwardly then and said of course but he clearly wasn’t.
I’m Princess Leia, I said, knowing my costume was crappy but I thought it was pretty obvious, I mean at least two people on the walk here had rolled their eyes at how unoriginal I was because people were rude and joyless.
I don’t know who that is he said and I laughed then because he wasn’t joking.
You know, from Star Wars, I said.
I don’t know what this is he said again. I thought you were maybe a ghost or a Klan member and then I would have to call you in here for a reason other than paper towels.
You don’t know what Star Wars is, I said, trying to keep calm, not knowing what you do in these situations. I knew to punch a shark but this?
Is it a movie? he asked.
Yes, I said
Sorry, he said. Is it any good?
It’s ok, I said because I didn’t want him to feel bad.
So, paper towels, I said
Right, right, yes, do we need any?
I think we’re good, I said, hoping that if we weren’t and we did in fact run out I would be blamed naturally and then hopefully I would have my title as bathroom monitor taken away and then I could sleep at night only now I wouldn’t sleep at night because I had met someone that didn’t know what Star Wars was and not just someone that hadn’t seen it or hated it but someone that didn’t even know what it was.
I came out of my boss’s office to find my colleagues all congregating around a table where people had placed various baked goods they had made for the occasion. I took a brownie that looked like a regular brownie only to be told it was a spooky brownie. It tasted like a regular brownie to me. Maybe it was haunted, who can tell.
So why did no one tell me, I said.
That you were supposed to bring something?
No, about Kevin I said, checking his door was shut.
What about Kevin?
That he doesn’t know what Star Wars is.
Oh that, they all said.
So you all knew?
Oh yeah, it’s not a big deal.
It is, I said.
It’s really not.
He didn’t know who I was, I said.
Oh right yeah, we probably should have warned you.
I came as Chewbacca one year and he thought I was big foot.
Correction, he thought you were Harry from Harry and the Hendersons.
So he has seen movies?
Oh yeah, he’s even seen Star Wars
He’s seen Star Wars. Like a dozen times. A couple of times a year we get a newbie like you and we all traipse round to someone’s house and watch it together.
And he doesn’t remember it.
He has this condition. It’s like that face blindness thing.
So he’s like smell blind for Star Wars?
Face blind, I said.
Yeah but smell blind is also a thing.
If you say so but yes, it’s like that.
I had to sit down. Someone handed me a cupcake with what I’m assuming was supposed to be a spider web iced on it but whoever made it was rubbish at icing cakes or had giant hands or more likely didn’t give a damn because they felt obligated to make them and they didn’t really like anyone they worked with but outright poisoning them was a little too far but I still ate it anyway in an attempt to feel festive instead of weird.
I went back to work but I wasn’t ok. I ate various ugly baked goods throughout the day but felt nothing. The last thing I felt like doing was the Monster Mash, even alone, which I had done other years, because I fear it may be my song.
Hey let’s all go to mine and watch a movie I said after the work party was winding down because it was barely a party at all, someone had just turned the lights off and started playing music but we were all still in our cubicles just waiting till we could escape.
What movie? someone asked as if they didn’t already know the answer.
How about Star Wars, I said.
It’s Halloween, someone pointed out.
Exactly, everyone else will be watching scary movies and we’ll be starting a new tradition.
I’m in, Kevin said.
Kevin’s in! Who else will join us? I said imagining this was what Jerry Maguire felt like if I had seen the movie and not had such a strong Tom Cruise aversion.
We know what you’re doing, Sarah from HR hissed.
I’m bonding with my colleagues, I said. You don’t want to miss out or we’ll only talk about what a spoil sport you are, I said.
Ugh, she said, fine. Sarah’s in, I yelled.
So what are we watching, Kevin said, plopping himself down on the floor. Devin who sat two cubicles over from me but who I had no idea what he did had called shotgun on the couch to which I said that doesn’t make sense but also it was my couch but I didn’t want to take it further and pick people who I wanted to sit up front with me like I had aspirations of being the popular girl at school and was queen of some bus or something but then didn’t they ride at the back? So I just said whatever. I was pretty sure I would spend most of the night hovering, checking the snack situation was under control, making sure everyone was having a good time within the constraints of my humble abode and lame snack choices and neighbours that didn’t like it if I had the TV at any level anyone not sat right in front of it could hear. I explained this to the people who had stopped sitting in front of their TVs with their chin in their hands mooning at whatever TV show and star they were crushing on.
The movie started and my heart swelled a little when the bunch of randos in my living room that I would never usually socialise with unless it was a parallel universe situation like I was sure this was, I mean it was Halloween, all cheered and clapped, as you should at the start of Star Wars.
Kevin looked happy enough. He laughed at the right moments. He certainly didn’t yawn or disappear to the bathroom for a suspiciously long time like Helen from Accounts. He also didn’t ask questions which I was thankful for because you should never question Star Wars, it just is, or this is what I used to shout at my mum when I was younger and she asked stupid questions like what exactly is a Wookie.
I was almost relaxing when Barry who I didn’t actually think worked for my company but worked in my building and always seemed to just be lurking around came up to me and said don’t be fooled.
By Kevin. It looks like he’s into it right? But you just wait till it finishes.
Maybe I’ll just put it on again and trap him here forever I said
You’re going to need better snacks he said hitting me where it hurts and going back to the others.
When Helen finally came out of the bathroom I made my excuses to no one and went in there to call my therapist.
I need to see you I said and he explained how he was at that moment watching Nosferatu in a park somewhere.
Are you dressed as a character from Star Wars? I asked.
Yes, he said, unable to lie to me. Quite early on in our relationship I had discovered that he too was a fan and I had held it over him ever since.
I told him about Kevin.
Fascinating he said then did something happen to him as a child?
Good question, I said. I’ll call back and I hung up before he could say no but really I knew I had hooked him in good and proper.
I dragged a girl from my department who I liked called Kim who I knew loved any opportunity to bond over bagels or boys because she was an only child but also bullied and was the only person needier than myself off to the side.
Did something happen to him as a child? I asked her
I don’t think so, she said, but went to check with some of the others.
No, she said, we don’t think so, and I was happy for her that she was finally part of something.
I called my therapist back.
And? He said and I knew he had been waiting, unable to really give a shit about a skinny creepy dude skulking around in the shadows when there was Kevin now.
No, I said. Nothing happened to him as a child.
Fascinating, he said and then a long pause. I could hear screaming in the background then laughter, the appropriate ratio for Halloween.
I think this is really more about you, he said. As your therapist I think this is like how you don’t know what love is, or boundaries.
I know what love is, I said. I would have shouted it if I didn’t have a house full of people.
You think you do he said but you have never really experienced it, you told me that yourself.
But I know what love is, I said.
You think you do, he said, like most people, it’s not your fault. We get our ideas of love from movies and songs, but that’s not love.
But he doesn’t even know what Star Wars is, at all, I said, to remind him this was about Kevin and my own loveless life was not something I wanted to discuss in my bathroom on Halloween, or maybe it was the exact right time and some good spooky shit would happen that would result in me summoning some perfect demon boyfriend and I would end up knowing love by the end of the night.
I sat down on the edge of the bath, because I hated when you saw people in movies sit down on the toilet, even with lid shut, people were gross.
Why does he need to know, my therapist asked.
Because, I said, sounding like a child, forgetting I was in fact a grown and not just any grown up tonight but Princess Leia.
He’s happy enough, I take it, he said
I peered through the bathroom door at the bunch of misfits I had actively assembled in my living room. Kevin was eating popcorn and laughing at something, it could have been something in the corner of the room for all I knew, but he did seem pretty happy.
I guess, I said.
So I think this is about you more, my therapist said, all work and no play, even on Halloween.
You love Star Wars too, I said, reminding him this was about Star Wars more, not me, or Kevin even.
I felt a bit like crying then, dressed as Princess Leia, hiding in my own bathroom on Halloween, with no real or demon boyfriend or girlfriend anywhere in sight.
I’m dressed as Princess Leia, I said.
I thought you might be, he said, and I felt a little better having someone know me and yes, he said, I do love Star wars but I don’t care if anyone else does.
Is anyone else as bothered by this as you, he asked.
No, I said, but they’re all known for ages.
So you will come to accept it, he said.
I might not.
I won’t, I said, because I was clearly a child.
Call me tomorrow, he said.
I might, I said.
Before I hung up I said I thought it was more like that face blind thing and he said oh yes, that would have been a better example and he apologised for bringing up the love thing.
I have love, I said.
I know you do, he said.
I went back into the living room.
You’re missing your movie Kevin said and I had to stop myself hugging him and sobbing oh poor sweet Kevin, you will never know what you’re missing, but he was my boss and he probably had love so I shouldn’t have felt so bad for him. He also had good hair.
I went into the kitchen to get more chips because I was the hostess after all and had spent most of the night in the bathroom talking to my therapist when I should have been summoning a demon lover or just watching the movie I claimed to love so much. Maybe I didn’t know what love was?
Laura from IT was looking in my refrigerator and I couldn’t be mad because I had spent a long time looking in hers when I was last at her apartment. She had way better pickles.
I would love to not know what Star Wars, is she said closing the refrigerator.
Laura was married to Chris who had wanted a Star Wars themed wedding so she had told him her mother has a weak heart.
Do any of us know anything? I said but she had already gone back to the living room to watch the dumb space movie as I would now call it, for Kevin. For Kevin. And lovers everywhere.
Lucie Britsch writes odd things that have appeared in Barrelhouse, Splitlip, The Millions, Catapult, Five2One, Chicago Literati and have two honorable mentions from Glimmer Train. She says, “I’m working on two books because I have to be difficult. My writing won’t change the world but it might make someone laugh.”