“Expose your cracks and love will fill them,” I said and four blank faces stared back at me. “Jenn, dat sounds geeeeaaay,” Khalfani, who is an engineer and from Jamacia, broke the silence with a disgusted look on his face. I work with a team of men, nay, boys, who have all become like the brothers I never wanted. We spend so much time together that we have all ended up knowing way too much about one another and our conversations vary from everyone’s bowel movements to the fragility of love. “Ew, not that crack” I told Khalfani, equally disgusted. “Your cracks, like your fears and flaws.” “Expose your cracks and love will fill dem,” Khalfani repeated with his hands on his heart, mimicking me. “Khalfani don’t you think I would know what crack I’m talking abo-” He was beaming. “Yeah. Dat’s geay Jenn.” He walked away. “Vulnerability is not gay,” I called after him. “Yeah, but filling your crack wit love is,” he yelled back.
We always end up ordering food together and every day it’s the same chaos. “Double bacon burger, no tomatoes or lettuce, with mayo. WHITE bread, Jenn.” Sometimes I try to sneak vegetables into their meals. “Fries or a salad?” “Salad,” I’ll whisper into the phone and once the food arrives it’s like I’ve committed an unforgivable sin. Once I ordered all their sandwiches on wheat bread and I paid an enormous, taxing, price. “What the hell JENN?” “What is dis shet?!” I spent days afterward trying to regain the trust those loaves of bread cost me. “You all are NOT getting diabetes on my watch!” I yell at them. “Dan didn’t you tell me the other day that you couldn’t feel your big toe?!” Dan, one of the in room dining servers, looked at me and then his face softened. “My toe did go numb,” he said in a low dark voice, his eyes narrowing. He put his hand on my shoulder. “Thanks for looking out for me Jenn.” “See?” I looked around at the others, waiting for them to follow Dan’s lead. Khalfani took a bite of his burger and grimaced. “Fuck dat Jenn. Sheeeet.”
The other reason I want to monitor their diets is so they will stop blowing up the bathroom. All day long someone is locked away in the bathroom while someone else is trying to go. Once when I was using the restroom, my phone started buzzing. When I looked, Khalfani had sent me a series of bomb emojis. When I walked out he was standing outside the door grinning. “I just peed, Khalfani,” I told him flatly. Andy, our manager, will appear and ask, “Jenn, were you blowing it up?” This is the same with emissions of gas. Once Khalfani told a fart story that began, “It was winter…” Khalfani also mentioned that he wears eco-friendly underwear. When I inquired about what exactly makes it eco-friendly he responded, “They are ruit of da lum. They hold your farts in.” I stared at him for awhile and then asked. “Why would you want that?” He shrugged, “My mother in law bought them for me.”
In the kitchen, there is Connor. I went through a phase where every time I entered the kitchen I would Gordon Ramsey Connor, like in the reality show Kitchen Nightmares. “Connor!” I would yell. “Show me the freezer!” He would stare at me blankly and then walk over to it and open it, his face emotionless. “That freezer is rancid!” I yell. “This food tastes like it’s made with stress and a microwave!” Connor had no idea what was going on, and his face scrunched up in annoyance. Once Gordon Ramsey was dining next door at SoHo House and everyone sent me texts to come to the deck. Once we were all gathered Andy gestured for me to look next door. I leaned over the rail and had a total meltdown. “Oh my God, oh my God!” Everyone walked away and left me alone babbling obscenities in a British accent. “Why do we care about this person?” Juan, one of our housekeepers asked. Other times when I walk in the kitchen Connor is preparing something, and the dishes are beautiful. “Simple, fresh, elegant,” I’ll say in my Ramsey accent. “Are you making golden pillows?” I ask, changing my accent back to my annoying valley girl stoner voice. “These are wontons,” he will say, confused.
Some of my favorite people belong to our security team. One of them, Curt, a retired homicide cop, is always willing to discuss the gritty details of crime with me. When I first met him I asked him what IDing bodies is like. Unphased, he replied, “Have you ever gotten your dog’s nails cut at the vet?” I nodded. “That sound of the nail clipper cutting through the nail is the same sound that you hear when the coroner has to cut through a bone.” All the blood drained from my face and Curt started telling me about all the people who get hit by trains in Ventura. “You’ll find a shoe, and then ten feet away you’ll find another shoe. They get blown right out of them.” Once a random couple off the street walked up the steps to the front entrance and started peering in windows of the sliding doors. The doors only open from the inside and Curt walked over triggering the sensors. The door slid open and the woman outside asked if she could see a menu. “Of course,” Curt told her and turned to leave. The doors slid closed, leaving the woman and man outside, peering in. They watched through the glass as Curt walked through the lobby, out through the garden, down the path, turned right, and disappeared behind a wall. “Is he coming back?” the woman said through the glass. He was not. Curt is in a YouTube video of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian taken by paparazzi. In it, Kanye is yelling that the papz won’t leave him alone. Kanye looks small and angry until the camera is blocked by the angry face of Curt. Curt’s face fills the camera and the video ends. When he showed me, I observed, “so Kanye’s a little guy?” “Yeah,” he confirmed.
I have given them all nicknames that I’m not sure they enjoy. Andy, who’s last name is Chen, and who recently bought a fidget spinner, is Chenneth Paltrow when he’s wearing his elegant, gray shirt. When he’s in a bad mood, he is Chenny Jones. When I have strong feelings of comradery with him, he is Chenny from the block. And when he’s being sweet, he is Chennifer Love Hewitt. When he ordered his fidget spinner he accidentally left the page up on his computer. He paid six dollars for it with free shipping. “I bought the chrome one,” he tried to justify this, as if you can’t buy the chrome one anywhere else for cheaper. Everywhere he goes now we hear him first. The silent whir of the chrome fidget spinner. Dan is Petty Murphy. Sometimes, behind the scenes, Dan and I like to act out scenarios where we tell a rude guest exactly what we wish we could say, instead of being polite. In them, Dan uses the word “trifling” and “heffer” a lot. And sometimes we like to imagine if when guests arrived we welcomed them by saying “Welcome to the International House of Pancakes.” Khalfani’s name I just sing in a long drawn out, out of tune song. “KhaAAAAaaaalllllLLLLfffFFFaaaAnnnnniiiiiiIiiiIi” Sometimes I’ll try to harmonize Mariah Carey style and go up and down a few octaves while waving my hand in the air for emphasis. Connor is ConBon, and Juan is Juanito. Juan is young and lively and sometimes I like to peer counsel him. “I met a girl at a party and I took her to a gas station.” Khalfani will put his hand out to fist bump Juan in approval, and I will intercept their handshake with my own hand. “That’s a bro block,” I say in a high pitched nerd voice. “Do you like this girl?” I ask Juan. “It’s my friend’s gas station,” he replied. “Juanito come sit with me, I have an excessive amount of questions,” I say.
Once, the topic of having children was somehow brought up and I ended the convo with one word, eggs. “At least none of you have to worry about eggs. For all I know, all my good eggs are long gone, and now all I have left are the evil eggs.” Everyone looked like they were going to throw up. “It’s the grapes of wrath in there guys,” I carried on. “What if I die alone?” I asked. “Jenn, you won’t,” Khalfani consoled me. “You have all of us.” I smiled. “We should all go to the Teen Choice Awards togeder,” he said. “Wait, what?”