It was always a little bit difficult for Gabe Delahaye to leave his apartment without Birdie. After all, in a world filled with mediocrity, she was one of the rare things that gave him genuine joy. Birdie had become visibly excited when she heard his keys jostle, and Gabe hated to disappoint her. Still, he was going to eat a chocolate donut, and he knew that she wouldn’t understand why he couldn’t share it with her. Birdie looked up at him with shining eyes and bounded around adorably in anticipation of their impending trip.
Gabe affectionately rubbed the fur around her face, “Such a good girl! You’re such a good girl! I love you, good girl! Yes! Yes, I love you! Gimme a kiss!” She licked him wetly on the cheek, and Gabe rubbed her head before rushing out the door. He would bring her back a treat to make up for leaving her behind.
It was only a short walk to the shop where he had seen the chocolate donut. It certainly looked like it had the potential to be delicious, and he was hopeful. As a professional curmudgeon, much of his life was spent pretending to have strong opinions about things, even though he was generally indifferent toward them. Gabe had a great skill of ridiculing and generally dumping on things in a highly amusing way, and he took pride in that skill. Occasionally, he also feigned strong positive emotions, but he felt that wasn’t as funny. Faking emotions was exhausting, and it would be a treat to truly and unpretentiously enjoy a delicious chocolate donut.
As he strolled down the sidewalk toward the shop, a series of pale, overweight men passed him, bouncing on pogo sticks. The men were naked except for what appeared to be large American flag diapers and dastar turbans. As they hopped along, the men laughed merrily. Some of them were chanting something to the tune of “America, The Beautiful”, but the words were hard to discern. Observing them dispassionately, Gabe quietly mumbled, “We should all be so lucky,” surprising himself. On most days, a series of large men chanting and laughing on pogo sticks would have been assigned “your boyfriend” status, especially if there was an outside chance they were Republicans. The promise of the chocolate donut was having an effect.
In the donut shop, Gabe was immediately greeted with the scent of fried dough. Smiling, he walked up to the counter and ordered one chocolate donut and a cup of coffee. Once the paper bag was in his grasp, he hurried outside toward a park bench. It may have been his imagination, but he believed that he could smell the donut through the bag and over the aroma of the city around him. He picked up his pace, noticing that the colors around him seemed more vivid than usual.
He finally reached the bench and took a seat. He put his coffee aside and quickly unwrapped the chocolate donut. Looking down at his treasure, there was a glint in his eye. The scent was heavenly, and Gabe’s mouth began to water. Realizing that this was the moment, he allowed himself to feel how much the anticipation had built and to appreciate how important this was to him. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, partially exhaled and took a bite.
Gabe opened his eyes; the glint was gone. The texture of the donut was mealy and dry, and the taste was bland. He couldn’t even really smell it anymore over the stench of disappointment. Like everything else in the world, the donut was middle-of-the-road. But Gabe had learned long ago that no one wants to read about how middle-of-the-road everything is, so he took a sip of coffee to wash down the mediocrity, and pulled out his phone to tweet about this travesty. He began to compose pithy take-downs in his head while his feed updated. The screen refreshed:
My roommate is so NEEDY! I know I’m a good girl, dude. You don’t have to tell me every time you get lonely.
A small eternity passed while Gabe stared in silence at the screen. A single tear fell down his cheek. He took another bite of the donut.