I have nine roommates. This past Friday, we hosted a dinner. What is described here is not an exaggeration. All but one of our thirteen pots were used. The utensil drawer swung open, empty and the cabinets held no glasses nor plates. Dinner lasted a total of an hour and a half, but the preparation took six. The kitchen, whose length and width is comparable to a midsize SUV, can comfortably hold three. That night, it held nine. Scraps and empty glasses cluttered the counter, friends and roommates stood shoul- der to shoulder, back to back. The kitchen had become a world of crooked wonder. I know no other way of describ- ing what occurred, no other way than this:
Alice wanted more cake, another drink, and to see what was happening in the garden. She had enough of dinner conversation, of meeting new people and making small talk. So Alice, up and left the table, heading to the kitchen where the cake sat on the back counter. But the further she walked, the more she shrank in utter disgust and horror.
The walls caved in as plates were stacked high with leftover dishes, napkins, beer cans and babaganoush. Down, down, down she went as the floors became stickier and her stomach bubbled. She needed drinks with gin to get to the Queen, more and more. Her socks became slick with oil that began to collect bits of things unidentified. While dinner was being picked up, the ceiling fell lower and Alice discovered that her dress was no longer white and blue.
The Cheshire Cat, a six gallon jar of kimchi, sits above the fridge, watches with eyes of mold that hang heavy over her head. Alice screams for help, but her cries are over- powered by the clanging of dishes and someone adding to a sourdough starter. A starter so mad, flour spills from his jar, a dishtowel crusted over his top.
Alice continues on. Through the fog of flour the hat- ter spats in her face. She passes bowls of uneaten soups and tumbles into the garden. She lands on a kitchen mat, which seems like a seemingly safe spot to calm herself, un- til she smells a rotten scoby, fruit flies swarming its rosey top. She tries to walk away, but the mat becomes wet from the sink above it.
All of a sudden, Alice senses a presence. It’s the Queen of Hearts. Knives and jagged forks poke out from the queen’s moat. Alice tries to get away but water pools between her feet. The moat overflows, too full of dishes, the Queen’s malevolent army. Leftovers slip off of the plates and onto the floor, food piling higher, Alice having no choice but to fight the Jabberwocky.
She begins scraping food off of plates, rinsing them, and washing. The stacks of dishes grow smaller, but the Queen has too much power. The smell of scoby, the moat, a sponge sopping wet with anything but water, lumps of wet bread, a compost bin overflowing with chicken bones and flies, crumbs in between her toes, her dress stained with dinner, her mind gone to gin. She can no longer stand as her feet are heavy with dough from the floor, her hands soggy and worn from fighting. The hatter throws more flour, the mice literally screeching in the walls. Alice reaches for the steel wool, but it’s no match for the Queen. She drops the steel wool, unties her ragged apron and faints.
But no one is there to catch Alice. Everyone is at the dinner table, laughing and passing liquor. No one really knows what happened, or if she made it out alive. The land Alice walked through those three days was nothing near wonderful. This was no dream.
There have been sightings of blue ribbons in the moat. Some say that they saw the mice dragging her shoes through a hole in the wall. Some say the Cheshire cat swallowed her whole. Others believe she and the mad hatter ran off together.
Or that she herself went mad.
Categories: emily nybakken, oct 11, vol 26, water cooler, white rabbit