In my dream last night, my close friend, Sarah Silverman, calls me up, crying, asking me if I would call in sick to work and come right over to her house because she’s been really depressed and doesn’t want to be alone. She tells me that she’s been in bed all week, eating cereal and cookies out of the box. “I know I need to make some big changes in my life,” she says. “But I can’t do it all by myself.” She sounds desperate but believably ready to deal with her situation.
I arrive at Sarah’s small suburban house around 10:30 and I knock on the door and there is no answer. I turn the handle and it is unlocked. I open the door, call out “Sarah?” and then a couple seconds later I hear, “Steve, back here!” When I get to the back bedroom, I find Sarah in her flannel Winnie the Pooh PJ’s, sitting up in bed eating a bowl of Captain Crunch and watching Gilmore Girls on Hulu. She frankly doesn’t look that bad. Maybe a little hungover, but not my vision of seriously depressed. But who am I to judge someone else’s expression of depression. Sarah is very affectionate, constantly hugging me, as I sit on the side of her bed. You are such a good friend, Sarah keeps repeating. Batting her big brown eyes at me.
“I was hoping maybe you could help me do something about the kitchen? It’s a disaster.” I smile uncomfortably, not saying anything at first. “And I was also wondering,” she continues, looking a bit sheepish, “Do you think you can convince my sister Laura to come by? I’ve left her a million messages and she isn’t calling me back.” “Did something happen between you two?” “I think I was acting like a cunt to her.” “What do you mean you think? Doesn’t Laura know how you act by now?” “Yeah, but this was different. I think I was extra cunty.” “Sure, I’ll call her,” I say. I always liked Laura. She’s less manipulative than Sarah. “Oh my God, you are THE BEST!” Sarah cries, and wraps her gangly arms around me, dripping soy milk on my shirt from the spoon in her right hand. “Whoops!” Sarah laughs, exaggeratedly shrugging her shoulders and giving me one of her patented, “whaddya gonna do?” expressions.
“So, there are rubber gloves under the sink in the kitchen,” she continues. No more dilly-dallying. “If you finish the dishes before Laura gets here,” –and I wonder why she thinks Laura is coming over, but don’t say anything– “could you help me clean the bathroom?” “Help you, like you are going to do it with me?” I ask. And then Sarah casts me her most helpless face: hangdog, cheeks leading to downturn frown, pleading eyes and flared nostrils. “Don’t worry, I don’t have diarrhea. My doodies are firm and well formed. You’d be impressed.” “You always impress me, Sarah,” I say, then take my cue and head out of the room down the hall to the kitchen.
The entire house looks like a tornado swept through, but the kitchen’s mess resides on an entirely other level. The sink overflows with stacked dishes, and caked-over pots, pans and silverware cover every inch of counter-tops. I’m surprised there are so many dirty dishes as I was under the impression that Sarah has been staying in bed eating pizza and cereal. I’m also a bit surprised Sarah doesn’t have a dishwasher, especially since I figure she makes a lot of money. It’s kinda cute how simple and basic her home is. She only has one bathroom for goodness sake! And the faucets and cabinets are dated and not in a retro/vintage sort of way. I realize, by my reaction, that I haven’t previously been in her house, and I wonder for a minute why she never invited me over before.
I find the drying rack under a stack of New Yorker magazines on the kitchen table. Clearly it hadn’t been used in a long time if ever. I set it on the lip beside the sink where there is barely any room and look in the cabinet below for some dish soap. Luckily there is an unopened bottle of Dr. Bronners and a stiff, dessicated sponge, so I grab those and get to work. After a few minutes, I am finally, slowly, making headway, and my thoughts float a million miles away. When I look atop the toaster oven and notice another stack of dirty dishes, I think “Sarah really owes me one for this.” As I carry them over to the sink, I notice what looks like dried pasta sauce on all all seven plates. The thought occurs to me that maybe Sarah had recently had a party at the house and I am being punked into cleaning it all up for her. This is all just some sort of elaborate prank. I look around the room, scanning for hidden cameras. That would be so like her. To take advantage of her most loyal friends and exploit them in the name of indie cred. “Don’t think I don’t know what’s going on here!” I bellow, hoping that the hidden microphones might pick up the anger in my voice. Mere seconds after I say this, Sarah enters the room, draped in her bright pink bathrobe and hello kitty slippers. Her hair is up in two big floppy pigtails. She comes behind me and gives me a big hug as I lean against the sink, wrapping her arms around my waist. “Who are you talking to?” she asks. I push her away. “Don’t play dumb with me, Ms. Silverman! I get what this is all about!” Sarah acts hurt, like I just stole her dessert from her lunch bag, hunching her shoulders like Charlie Brown. A moment later Sarah suddenly brightens and exaggeratedly purses her lips to the side, her right eye cocked in a half-wink. She folds her arms against her chest. An amazingly indelible impression of Gary Coleman’s iconic pose from Diff’rent Strokes.
“Whaddya talkin’ bout, Stevie? Stop drinking the dish soap. Let me be the dramatic one. I just came out here to get some more Crunch Berries.” And then Sarah pushes by me, reaches up to the top of the fridge, grabs the box of cereal, then does a little dance, like a football player eluding a tackle and rams right into my chest. “Oh Stevie! You are my savior! My knight in shining armor! What would I do without you?” She says this using her world famous snarky baby voice, and I have to admit, it works. I can’t stay mad at her. Even though I’m unclear if she’s making fun or if she really appreciates me.
As Sarah turns to head back to her bedroom, she stops then calls back to me.
“Make sure you leave enough time to get to the bathroom before you go, sweet cheeks!”