I Don’t Listen to BTS
By Christiane Calixte
This personal essay is a core memory of Summer 2019.
“You’re watching Diary of a Mad Black Woman?” the girl next to me asks, examining the DVD case I set between the two of us. (She’s also looking at my hot chips. She’s not getting any.)
Startled, I take off the headphones I have just put on. People aren’t usually talkative in the library.
I turn and look her in the eye. If I were to use one word to describe her, I think I would say “bright.” Her eyes have a certain sparkle to them. Maybe it’s just the intense lights reflected off her dark eyes, but I still see it. She has those plump and wide lips, the ones you see celebrities paying for all the time, and they are made even wider by a foolish smile wiped across her face. Her most noticeable feature is her cyan headscarf, identical to the one I have at home but never feel like wearing.
She nods. “That movie is my favorite. Just wait until the salad scene. Watch what she does to her husband there. She’s so evil but he totally deserves it. It’s so funny to watch her get her revenge.”
After giving her a fake laugh, I quickly slip my headphones back on before this girl spoils the entire movie.
I haven’t even gotten to the salad scene when I feel a hard tap on my shoulder.
“Do you like K-Pop?” she asks.
“Yeah, I guess,” I respond. (This is a lie.)
“Really?” (Why is she still smiling?) “Anyway, look at this!”
She points to her computer, where I see the BTS Instagram page. She clicks on a photo of one of the members and her smile grows even wider. I’m not sure how to react or what I’m supposed to say.
“He’s so hot!” she squeals. (Okay?) “Why do I have to be 15 years old? I wish I was as old as he is! Why couldn’t Jimin have been born in my generation?
I just wanted to watch a movie in peace without any fangirls interrupting me all the time. Little Miss I-Don’t-Know-When-To-Shut-Up had a different plan for me, apparently. The girl just had to tell me how cute Jungkook looked sitting on that sofa or how she thinks blue is totally Jimin’s color and not Suga’s every single time she saw one of those wretched Instagram posts. So no, I did not enjoy watching Diary of a Mad Black Woman, nor was I having a good day in general. I didn’t even get to finish eating my hot chips.
Perhaps I angered God by stealing my mom’s DVDs. Perhaps he sent the cyan-scarf girl to punish me. When I go to the library to watch Legally Blonde the next day, she’s there, smiling, waving, ready with her endless chatting. Over the next few weeks, I accept my fate. She wants to talk about her hair when I’m playing a video game. She wants to talk about a boy she likes when I’m curled into a beanbag, reading the latest volume of Cursed Princess Club (I literally waited a month for it to be released; I deserve some peace and quiet). She makes me stop listening to my music when I am breathing in the fresh air of the Botanical Gardens to tell me her birthday’s coming up. (Please don’t speak to me when I’m listening to music—I may become violent.)
The cyan-scarf girl talks, talks, and talks. I, not knowing how to push her away, have no choice but to listen, without any idea of how her shenanigans will come to an end.
I realize my wish for peace is granted at last when I see the spot she usually sits at is empty. Hallelujah. It’s September and I figure she is probably busy with school. I have homework as well, so there goes my movie-watching and comic-reading. But at least I have peace and quiet once again.
I am picking up the cinnamon swirl pancakes I ordered on Seamless when I see my former tormentor’s cyan headscarf. I know it’s her, even though she’s wearing a mask. Who else could those eyes belong to? They wander as she studies every one of the old-fashioned tiles of Tom’s Diner with the same childlike fascination she had when looking at Jimin or Jungkook.
Memories flood into my head as I see the girl from the library. The diner transforms into the computer lab as the smell of pancakes and coffee become the scent of the library cafe I had always longed to go to but never saved up for. The tiny stool I sit upon, waiting for my breakfast, is now one of the computer lab’s small plastic chairs that I never found quite comfortable but tolerated anyway due to my love of the library.
I’ve never liked strangers. I still don’t. They are mosquitoes during a summer vacation, gripping onto your skin when you want nothing more than peace and quiet, only to suck up every drop of joy and optimism in your blood with their “How are you?”s and “How was your day?”s. As much as you frantically swat them away, your attempts are only in vain. Ultimately, you will be left with no choice but to continue your vacation despite them.
It’s funny how this stranger, this mosquito in the hot sun, has impacted my life without even trying. Her idle banter and gossip have become a staple of my summer 2019 experience, yet I do not even know her name. When I am miles away from her, in the safety of my bedroom, tucked under a warm blanket, she continues to tap my shoulders with ice-cold fingers to tell me about her beloved K-Pop group.
Her head darts up as she hears her order. She strides over to the cashier to pay, nodding her head and saying thank you to the old man as she reaches for her chicken and waffles.
She hurries out of the diner without acknowledging me (Rude!). I’m wearing a giant winter coat, so of course, she wouldn’t recognize me. But it is strange to see her pass me by without saying hello.
The diner’s doors slam shut. As I scroll through my phone, waiting for my order, I realize that I, too, am wearing my cyan headscarf.
Chrissy is a writer who attends school in Brooklyn and enjoys anything related to journalism, fiction and comic book writing. She is interested in anything writing and history related and wishes to travel the world when she is older.