Cheese In a Can

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Tina and Rivi are sprawled across my sofa, one at either end, feet tangled together in the middle. Tina has an old Polaroid, some beat up old thing she rescued from a Goodwill, and where she has managed to find film packs for it, I have no idea. Rivi has the cat—Jessie—on her chest, and the purrs are louder than would seem likely from such a small animal.

“The thing about being depressed,” Rivi is saying, “is to just stay in bed until you get over it. It’s absolutely socially acceptable to eat cheese in a can and not bathe for a week if you’re in bed the whole time.”

“I think John and Yoko did that,” Tina says. “And look at all the publicity it got them.”

“I don’t think there was cheese in a can back then,” I say.

“They’ve always had cheese in a can,” Rivi says. “Napoleon had it at Waterloo.”

“And look at all the publicity it got him,” Tina adds. She lifts her camera and snaps the shutter. With a whirr, the photo slides out the front of the Polaroid, and Tina takes hold of it and sets it on her chest while it develops.

“You have to have the right playlist too,” Rivi says. “Most people think classic depressing music is the way to go. The Cure, Morrissey, that sort of thing.”

“Cliche,” Tina says.

Rivi nods. “Exactly. You want to be really depressed, listen to the last couple of Red Hot Chili Peppers albums.”

“Those guys are still around?” I ask.

“That’s my point,” Rivi continues. “Depressing, isn’t it?”

The cat rises on Rivi’s chest, gives a stretch and then leaps to the floor, padding off into the kitchen where her food dish is. “You’re not feeding Jessie enough,” Tina says to me. “She should be fat and lazy by now.” To Rivi, she says, “Lift your shirt up so I can see your belly,” and when Rivi does it, she adds, “Put your hand behind your neck.” When she is satisfied with the pose, Tina snaps another photo, putting it beside the one already on her chest.

“I used to play piano when I was a girl,” Rivi says. “But the only song I knew was ‘Open Arms,’ that Journey song.”

“Okay, that’s depressing,” Tina says.

“And I only knew the first eight bars.”

“Extra depressing. Turn your head.” She takes another photo, and puts that one on the floor.

“Know what else is depressing? Carousels.”

Rivi nods. “Oh yes, very depressing. The perfect metaphor too, just a bunch of frozen animals going around and around in a circle and never getting anywhere.”

“You two are loonies,” I say.

“You’re the loony,” Rivi says. “You live alone with a cat.”

“I don’t think that really counts.”

“Totally counts,” Tina says to me. To Rivi, she says, “Roll over and pull your pants down just a bit.”

I grab my keys out of the dish on the TV stand. “I can’t tell if this is supposed to be kinky or creepy, so I’m going to go get a burrito. Text me when you’re either finished or naked, and I’ll decide if I should come back then or not.”

“See?” Rivi says. “Obviously a loony, or you’d be staying.”

“Let him go,” Tina says. “It’s a sign of depression. He’ll be fine after his burrito.”

“I’m not bringing anything back for you. How’s that for depressing?”

“I’m going to take my pants off,” Rivi says, “so really I don’t care.”

Tina takes another picture. “Bring me back some more film, would you? I’m running low.”

“I don’t even know where you get that stuff anymore.”

“Not my problem,” she says.

“And don’t be such a downer,” Rivi says. “It’s depressing.”

“Right,” I say, opening the front door. “I may or may not be back later. Stay away from the windows. I don’t need my neighbors to talk.”

“Your neighbors talk already,” Tina says. “It’s because you live alone with a cat. They’re counting the days until they have to report a weird smell to the police and they break down your door.”

“Cats will eat you six hours after you die,” Rivi adds. “I read it on the internet. They go for the eyes first.”

“Another reason you should feed Jessie more,” Tina says. “It’ll take longer before she eats your corpse.”

“Goodbye,” I say. “Don’t burn anything down while I’m gone.”

“We aren’t the depressed ones!” Tina shouts as I shut the door.

I have a sudden urge for cheese in a can.

I hate those two so very much sometimes.

Depressing, really.

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