I think I’d like the 9 to 5 part of working in a bank, going in at a set time and leaving at a set time and not having to think about work at all when I wasn’t there, but I’d be a terrible employee. I always thought I was bad at math and only recently realized it’s more that I’m just not interested. Most of my encounters with numbers make me anxious—either too many days until vacation or too few until vacation is over, too few dollars in my account versus too many for whatever it is I need to be able to afford. Imagine working at a bank for some paltry fucking salary, looking into the accounts of people with so much more money than you all day, and tell me you wouldn’t check out fast.
I’d probably like the customer service part, as I enjoy working with people, but I’d get in trouble there as well, because I’m guessing there are hoops banks make their customers jump through that aren’t necessary, and I wouldn’t make people deal with unnecessary shit. Especially (I’m ashamed to say) attractive women. Some attractive woman would be fumbling with the forms or whatever the bank requires for some simple transaction and I’d tell her not to worry about it and she’d be grateful and from then on whenever she came in we’d flirt. Her name would be Julia, maybe. We’d agree to go on a date. Maybe she’d even ask me. The bank would probably have some policy against employees asking customers out, so she’d have to take the lead.
On our date—dinner, probably—she’d ask me about working at the bank, had I ever been robbed, stuff like that, and I’d ask if we could talk about something besides work, like maybe music, and she’d mention that she loves Jonathan Richman and I’d be blown away because I love him too and never meet people who like him, and neither would she, and we’d be very happy we decided to go out.
So happy that after dinner she’d invite me up to her apartment. We’d kiss in the elevator and then again in her living room, she’d pull me into the bedroom and we’d kiss some more sitting on the edge of her bed and then she’d stop and ask me if I was interested in roleplaying.
“Please don’t mean with dice and orcs,” I’d joke, and she’d smirk and say that definitely wasn’t what she had in mind. I’ve never done any roleplaying, I think of it as something for middle-aged couples desperate to stir the embers without resorting to therapy, but in this scenario I’d say sure, I’d love to try roleplaying, wondering and a little nervous about what she’d have in mind. What role could I convincingly play? Me, who failed drama class in ninth grade because the teacher said I lacked a certain je ne sais quoi. What if she wanted to act out some master and slave plantation fantasy or, even worse, something with vampires? She’d get up off the bed and walk over to her bookshelf and I’d cross my fingers against her coming back with custom vampire teeth, and feel a mixture of relief and confusion when she tosses me a worn copy of Waiting for Godot.
“Start at the beginning,” Julia would say, “and do different voices for Vladmir and Estragon so I know which is which.”
“Wait,” I’d say. “I’m doing both parts? Who are you playing?”
Julia would laugh and unzip her dress, shrugging her shoulders so it fell to her feet. She’d recline on the bed and say, “I’m the audience,” and I’d begin reading.
I’d go along, reading both parts, giving Estragon’s part a little twang to differentiate him, and she’d watch me until a few minutes in, maybe five pages, when her phone would ring and she’d hop off the bed to answer it. She’d move to the doorway and stand there having a muffled conversation so I’d stop reading, not wanting to be rude, until she’d pause and press her phone against her breast to mute it and tell me, “Keep reading, this is part of it.”
So I’d keep reading, and she’d keeping talking on the phone, our voices cancelling each other out, and right about where Pozzo enters she’d hang up the phone and burst into tears.
I’d toss the book down and go to her, wrap my arms around her and ask what was wrong, and she’d tell me that she’d been on the phone with her sister, that their high school choir teacher had murdered his wife and then killed himself earlier in the day.
“Oh God,” I’d say. “That’s awful.”
Julia would roll her eyes. “You really don’t know much about roleplay,” she’d say, and I’d say, “This is still part of it?” and she’d answer, “Yes, this is still part of it” but then she’d start crying really hard and, gasping, tell me a long story about how this choir teacher had changed her life by making her feel like a part of something bigger than herself for the first time ever, and then she’d fall asleep muttering, “This is still part of it, trust me, this is all part of it,” and I’d head home.
I wouldn’t date her again. I’d be open to her calling me but I wouldn’t call her, and when she came by the bank it would be uncomfortable, because I’d never be sure if what was happening between us was just a simple customer service interaction or somehow still part of the roleplaying, if we weren’t forever right on the edge of finally having sex.