I sit at my computer desk, hungrily perusing the menus of various restaurants on GrubHub but knowing that all of them are out of my price range. The life of an NBA highlight maker is not an extravagant one, and to splurge on something other than Hot Pockets for dinner is a rare indulgence. Still, it is fun to look at the wide variety of food available for delivery and imagine the delectable flavors.
My little kitty, Japurri Purrker, hops on my lap and meows at me. I smile sadly at him, pick him up by his tubby little midsection, and place him back on the floor. “No Fancy Feast tonight, Japurri,” I tell him, and I know that he understands my words because he is an exceptionally smart little kitty. “The budget is tight this month.” He looks at me for a bit, as if trying to gauge the veracity of my claims, before walking back to his food bowl, where a pile of unpalatable pebbles awaits him.
I head to the kitchen in order to prepare my Hot Pockets when I hear the ringing of the doorbell. I pause to consider whether I should answer it or not. I am not expecting any deliveries. The doorbell rings again, and I decide to answer it, because the numbering of apartments in my complex is somewhat illogical, meaning that I might be about to receive a prepaid GrubHub or pizza order that was meant for somebody else. It has happened before.
When I open the door, however, it is not a food delivery person. At least, not in the traditional sense.
It’s C.J. McCollum.
“I brought some dinner,” C.J. says, bypassing the expected introductions to hold up two large styrofoam to-go boxes. “I was reading your Twitter and thought you might appreciate some good food and a visit from a friend.”
This explanation does not make sense. Not only have I not tweeted for at least a month, but there is no possible way that C.J. could consider himself a friend of mine. We have never interacted before. However, I brush those concerns aside, because whatever is in the boxes smells very, very good. It almost smells like…no. I can’t get that far ahead of myself.
I show him inside and take him to my couch, which is where I consume my meals if I’m not eating in front of my computer. The aromas wafting from the boxes are tantalizing my senses, but I wait patiently for C.J. to make the first move; it would be rude to simply grab a box from him and start devouring whatever was inside of it.
“I think this is one of your favorites,” C.J. teases. My eyes are wide as he pushes in the styrofoam tab and the lid of the first box begins to open.
“How did you know?” I gasp, my heart lifting at the sight of so many chicken wings.
“I read all your video descriptions, silly!” C.J. replies. “That’s how I knew to get blue cheese instead of ranch for a dip.” He sets down the first box and opens the second, which contains even more fresh-fried chicken wings, plus two large cups of blue cheese dipping sauce. “Go ahead, DTB! Dig in!”
I don’t need to be told twice. There is a delay as I choose between the lemon-pepper dry rub and the spicy buffalo, but it is only a momentary pause. I go for the lemon-pepper first, craving not only the lemony tang and the kick of the pepper, but that crispy skin which provides such a satisfying crunch when bitten into. The first bite doesn’t disappoint, and in seconds the bone has been stripped clean. Next, I go for the classic buffalo, which, when thoroughly submerged in the blue cheese dip, transports me back to the nostalgia of my first chicken wing experiences as a youngster.
Soon, half the wings are gone. C.J. is eating some too, although not as greedily as me. “Thank you so much,” I say, feeling like my face has sauce all over it but not caring. “Everybody needs a friend who will give them chicken wings.”
Suddenly, C.J. stands up. For some reason, his person seems to be darkening or fading out. A trick of the light, I think. He starts walking to the door.
“Where…where are you going?” I ask.
C.J. smiles serenely at me. “I’m leaving,” he replies. “You’re dreaming right now, and dreams, as you know, don’t last forever.”
“No!” I shout, but when I reach out to touch him, it’s as if he doesn’t exist. He continues walking away while dissolving like a faulty hologram. Soon, there is no sign of him, and when I look down, the chicken wings are gone as well.
I suddenly wake up and am filled with a profound sense of sadness. A puddle of drool is on my pillow, something that always happens when I dream of food. The clock reads 2:42 AM.
I feel four little paws traveling across my legs and up my chest. Japurri has a paper in his mouth which he drops on my face. Groggily, I use the light of my phone to see what it is.
It’s the menu for a local chicken wing restaurant. “Open 24 hours!” it proclaims on the front.
“Wings it is,” I say, scritching Japurri on the head. He always looks out for me. “I wonder if they have lemon pepper?”
Japurri meows and nuzzles my face.