Midnight Lunch: An Erotic Story about Microwave Omelets
The mall food court is dead by nine. Everyone still
at the mall is in a store shopping, or trying to look like they’re
shopping. The teenagers are biding their time until the security
guard asks them to leave.
    I’m in the food court because I don’t have
anywhere to be, and I definitely don’t have anything to buy. I’m
sitting in a booth with my phone out. The screen is off and I’m
watching girls from under the brim of my hat. There’s a beautiful
black girl with natural hair that works at Subway, and a cute girl
with crooked teeth at Orange Julius.
    The only girls worth checking out at the mall
are the ones working here. I want a 20-something like me. Someone
who’s out of college and used to the idea of being into girls. I’m
done with the giggly, squeamish ones. I want a girl who wants to
    Truthfully, I can get a quarter of what I
want just by staring at a girl. Because sex isn’t about orgasms. I
don’t know why everyone thinks that. I don’t really care about
orgasms. If you want to come hard, do it at home, alone, with your
    People talk about “wanting to get off” but if
someone’s looking for a hook up, it’s not because they want to
come. People go looking for sex because they want sex.
    And what the fuck is sex? This fragile,
violent thing. So obvious in our heads, so ambiguous in reality.
Full of vulnerable highs and anxious lows. Why would anyone ever
want that? What is the point of sex outside relationships? If it’s
not to strengthen some bond, to trust, to share, to love. If it’s
just to get off, then it’s just a few defenseless hours wrapped up
in another person’s arms. A dangerous surrender, with little
    It’s all the hope and fear, the ‘how is this
possible’ head shaking, of connecting with another person, that
goes out like a match as soon as you stop. Sex alone doesn’t lead
to anything. Except maybe more sex, if it’s good. Because sex
doesn’t require presence. At its best, it’s an out of body
experience where pleasure is driving and you’re just along for the
    So why would anyone ever, ever, ever want a
hook up?
    I don’t know. But I want one. It’s like I
think it’ll be shiny and new this time, not awkward and difficult
to steer, like it always is.
    I feel the want behind my ribs as I stare at
this girl from across the food court. A pretty brunette with skinny
legs that knock together at the knee. She’s sweeping the floor.
When she turns my way, our eyes meet. She flinches away. No one
ever stares back like I stare at them.
    I’ll be thinking about one of these food
court girls next time I come. With my fingers. Alone. At home.
    I put Tinder on my phone as a concession. I
acknowledged that I wanted sex, and that’s it. I haven’t opened the
app. I see it on my home screen and it feels like the urge to drive
off the side of the bridge. Just some passing, weird thought. Don’t
look too closely.
    I leave the food court before they have to
kick me out, and walk to work. It’s three lit blocks, two dark
ones, a quick cut through a drug store, then a half-block-long
jaywalk to get to my Mini Mart. I shove my hat and jacket in my bag
and drop it in the back. Now I look like every other badly
uniformed Mini Mart employee. Red shirt, black pants, black shoes,
and a name tag. Personality-free and ready to serve.
    This is only my third night shift, so I’m
still on probation. My boss, Parteek, makes me show him how I
unlock and lock the register, how to read the delivery schedule,
and the how to check IDs. Then he leaves me on my own until six in
the morning.
    My body is already getting used to the hours.
I feel more awake when the sun sets, and tired when I watch it
rise. It’s hard to be nocturnal. You have to make the leap all at
once and not look back. I did it by staying up for forty-eight
hours, then crashing as the sun came up. Most people who come into
the store look like they’re caught in between. They’re not tired

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