Try the Spicy Milk at Cafe 101

by Miranda Perry

Another night in Hollywood.

It was 2 AM on a Friday night – well, Saturday morning – in Hollywood in February. I was staring down the last half of a grilled cheese sandwich at Cafe 101 while my friends giggled and poured Tabasco sauce into a dented tin of coffee creamer, daring each other to try it.

They did try it. They said it tasted “like spicy milk.”

That description seemed very important at the time so I scribbled it down in my notebook with an underline for emphasis. I was wearing my new Davey Crockett cap and my head felt warm. My friends insisted that I try the spicy milk.

“You have to try this,” they said. “It’s like milk, but spicy!”

“Fine, fine. I’m trying it.”

Took me five minutes to do the deed. Laughter kept spurting out of me each time I got the tin up to my lips, and you can’t drink when you’re laughing. Finally I found the courage to steady my hand, drink just a little sip. It did taste like spicy milk, I admitted.

And spicy milk tastes disgusting.

I got up to go to the bathroom and saw a man at the counter wearing an eye patch, eating alone. Steak, I think. Maybe meatloaf. The waitress said something to him and he just nodded once, real slow, without looking up. He had a single silver key hooked to the back loop of his jeans.

Then “Blood Buzz Ohio” came on over the jukebox and the CD started to skip at the part that goes I never thought about love. Nobody else seemed to notice.

I never thought about love, I never thought about love, I never thought about love

There were two women in the bathroom when I entered. One was skeletal thin, the other spherically fat. They were talking about the best place for real hot chocolate because the skinny one had ordered it here and it was thin and grainy like the stuff from a cheap packet.

They stopped mid-sentence when they saw me and squinted at the dead raccoon tail swept across my shoulder.

“It’s fake,” I reassured them.

The two women left.

I ran the faucett and sloshed the water to rinse the taste of spicy milk out of my mouth. I looked at myself in the mirror. Took the hat off. Put the hat on again.

When I turned off the water, I could hear that the song had stopped skipping. I never thought about love when I thought about home. 

I realized it was my birthday.