A Lofty Sound

Another Flashback story.  This happened about six months ago:

I love where I live.  Everybody comes to Hawaii because it’s a dream vacation destination.  The landscape is pristine and picturesque.  People who live in Hawaii, come up to a particular scenic point to admire the view– this is where people in paradise, come to view paradise.  And my apartment is smack dab at the top of what could arguably be the best view of the island.  So the drive up to my place is its own natural aphrodisiac of sorts.

My apartment itself is not particularly big.  It’s a single bedroom studio with a full bathroom and kitchen, and a loft storage area that can be reached by a ladder.  My apartment is joined by one wall to a larger central house where my landlord and his family live; a father and two teenage sons.  In addition to being tied into the same electrical and water lines, my apartment shares central AC with the rest of the house.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Well any storyteller worth his salt knows it’s important to create a sense of place and setting before telling his story.  It’s rude to just dump an audience in the middle of things.  And a couple of these facts will come into play in just a minute or two depending on how fast you read.

So, anytime I bring a new friend to my apartment, the first thing she wants to do is climb the ladder and look around the loft.   Not sure what it is, but that space up there seems to convert everyone to a simpler time of playing pillow-fort as a kid.    When I first moved in I lugged my 30 gallon aquarium up there, along with most of my diving and shooting gear, so there is a lot of cool stuff to poke around at.  I also tossed a sleeping bag and an extra pillow up in my loft to add to the whole, secret-grown-up-fort element.

Loft

So I have a friend up in my loft, and she’s cooing at my fish, and looking out the skylight, and she sprawls across the sleeping bag and decides this would be a great place for an impromptu game of Backgammon.   Awesome.  That’s what the sleeping bag is there for, that’s the whole point of bringing a friend back to my place.  The problem is, I’ve never played backgammon against this particular opponent.

And.  She. Was.  Loud.

Every time I would advance my pieces she would grunt and moan.  When she made her moves, she was equally as audible. Now I like enthusiasm, and I like encouragement during a rousing game of backgammon, but this was something new entirely.  I had unlocked a wailing banshee who puts the pipes of Axel Rose to shame.  When the game reached its inevitable conclusion, her voice arose in a cacophony of screams and wails, so much so that I think even my fish were scared.   We finished,  laying there panting and laughing on my sleeping bag.

And that’s when I started to hear voices.   Clear as a bell:

“Did you hear that?”  

“Yeah I think they’re done.”

“She must’ve enjoyed it.”

I look above me, and less than a foot above our laying heads is the vent for the central air.  Normally these vents are well above any normal activity going on in a room, but with the height of my loft… it put us right at face level to the vents.  In fact at one point she was mashed up right against the vent, her fingers interlocking into the grate.   I can hear voices, their laughter clear as day, as if they were sitting right across from us.  Obviously if we could hear them… they could hear us.

Drunk Dial

There are these funny stories in my head of happenstance encounters and stupid things I’ve done, that I probably should put down to the page before they get lost in the tumbling shuffle of my mind.  Flashback to about four months ago:

So  it’s two o’clock in the morning, and the bar is closing.  I’m that perfect amount of intoxicated where I still want to go out and hang out, but I’m not entirely, absolutely, one-hundred-percent in control of all my faculties.  There’s this girl that I’ve been seeing for the past few weeks, and every once in a while I give her a call and we hang out.  Sometimes we play backgammon, sometimes we just stare out at the stars and have deep introspective conversations.

Tonight feels like a backgammon kind of night.  So I scroll through my phone and give her a ring.

“Hullo…?” I can hear her hoarse voice through the speaker as she rubs the sleep from her eyes.

“Hey there, beautiful.”  I purr.

“Haha what?  I think you have the wrong number.”   Her voice sounds familiar.  But something is… not quite right.

“What are you wearing?”  I slur.

“None of your business.  You’ve got the wrong number.” the voice on the other line crackles like tinfoil in the microwave.  Yep something is definitely wrong here.  I feel a momentary sense of dread, akin to what a Meerkat must feel moments before it is snapped up by the hungry maw of an apex predator.

“Kira?”  It’s a question shot into the black expanses of space.  A life preserver cast into the ever growing void of my own confusion.

“Yes.”  she answers impatiently.

I know this voice, but something just… isn’t meshing.  And I am either too drunk or too stupid to figure it out.  Like when you’re having an amazing dream where you’re fighting off the bad guys and saving the princess and right when you’re about to kiss her she turns into your Great Aunt Gertrude.

And suddenly it all clicks.

I peel my phone away from my burning cheek and stare down at the screen.  Y’know how they say a cold shower or a hot cup of coffee is a good way to sober up after a night of drinking?  I’ve found a better solution.

This was not the girl I play backgammon with at two o’clock in the morning.    No no no, this was my old Bosses wife; a kindly middle-aged woman who I worked with at my old restaurant job. The woman who was always making sure I ate enough vegetables with  my employee meal.  The woman who constantly gave  me relationship advice on how to find a “nice girl” instead of a “crazy one”.  The woman whose kids I helped with their homework during downtime,  and helped unsnarl their bike chains so they could ride around in endless looping circles in the parking lot behind the building.  She was part Mother figure, part mentor, part all around nice lady.  And I…

(in all my infinite wisdom and clarity)

… just drunk dialed her at 2am.

She and the other “Kira” both had the same first name, and their last names were almost identical save for two letters.  Easy to notice sober, especially easy to miss drunk.

*Click*  I hang up as fast as I can.  Maybe she’ll think this was all a dream. Any alcohol left in my system has been quickly purged and replaced by the swift flow of embarrassment coursing through my veins, side effects including a painful awareness of each agonizing second and syllable I spent on the phone making an ass of myself.   Even if she doesn’t remember it, my name and number will still show up in her caller ID log.  Gah.

– – – –

It’s eleven o’clock in the morning the next day when my phone rings.  Mother-Hen-Kira is calling.

“Hey Kira, I’m so sorry…”  I stammer, even though she is miles away my hands shield my face in shame.

“It was very nice hearing from you last night.”  She begins.  “How have you been?”

She asks me about work. She asks me if I’ve been eating my vegetables.  She tells me about how before there were cell phones, boys would actually have to call a girl at her house, so when a boy drunk-dialed, usually it was a pissed off father answering the phone instead.  And suddenly, all my face-palming-shame is washed away.

“Next time, maybe don’t call so late.  Be a good boy.”  The conversation ends.

I am an idiot.  But at least I’m an idiot with good people in my life.

Bump it with:

Dating at the Speed of Life

I’ve decided to exhaust every possibility of finding”the one”.  To say yes to more things, to take more risks and to be open minded, knowing that finding You, may no longer be the strait and narrow path I imagined as a boy, but some per-chance-happenstance unexpected twist of date.

So… I signed up for an evening of speed dating.  All I’ve known of speed dating, is what I’ve seen in the movies and on television.  It’s always some comical plot point:


So in truth I had no idea what to expect.  I get to Bar 35, and the back area is partitioned off for a private event.  The place is beautiful, the right mix of dimly lit atmosphere and interesting architecture.  A tiki-styled bar with pseudo-thatch roofing.  A raised area with low booths and chic’ glass tables, counters and high stools lining all the walls and bamboo.   High surfaces and low tables, open spaces and closeness, organic expansiveness and solid brick and mortar.  I make a mental note to add this to my list of places to bring a date… assuming it’s not a girl I meet here.

bar35

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The hostess greets me warmly.  I give her my name and she gives me a name tag.  She asks me if I have a preferred nickname, and I wisely decide against “Optimis Prime” for the evening.   I look around and  I notice there is just one other guy standing there holding a beer awkwardly.  Yikes, I’m too early.  Should’ve hung out in my car and sung more karaoke.    But I’m already here.  At least it gives me more time to acclimate to the situation.  So I start chatting up lone-guy-with-a-beer.

“What’s your name?”

He hesitates.

“JP.”

“It say’s Patrick on your name tag.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Where does the J come from?”

“Umm…

“So what do you do? ”  I ask him.

“I work at a hotel. ”

“What do you do there. ”

“Just… hotel stuff.”

I hope you’re slightly more forthcoming when ladies talk to you. I suspect he is some sort of janitor.

More people begin to trickle in.  Guys, one by one, looking frightened and overwhelmed, and girls in pairs or trios clinging to each other for safety like gazelles entering the lion’s den.  I introduce myself to everyone.  People start forming into protective huddles of conversation.  I  wander aimlessly, never staying one spot for too long.  Like oil separating from water, the crowd inevitably shifts with all the guys panning to one side, and all the girls to another.  It’s beginning to look like a freshman dance.  I point this out to the guys, and they chuckle nervously.

Finally everyone arrives.  Thirteen girls and thirteen guys, and lucky me I’m starting on table thirteen.  I love it.  The hostess explains the rules of speed dating: each person has seven minutes with their date, at the sound of the bell it means there is one minute left.  Each person has a card; if you like the person you’re chatting with check yes, and if they check yes for you then your contact info will be exchanged the next day.  So paper-and-pencil-Tinder.  Got it.

And we’re off!

It’s funny, how you can boil down what a person is, into five short minutes.  It’s funnier still, how after saying this abridged version of who I am over and over I begin to question what it is exactly I’m doing with my life.

“I’m a manager/server at a restaurant.  Kinda fancy-ish… steaks, pork chops, beef cheeks.  Have you ever had beef cheeks before?  It helps if the cow smiles a lot…”

“I’m writing a Vampire novel.  It’s about how being 200 years old and hanging out at a high school makes you a pedophile, not a teen heart-throb…”

Everybody is extremely nice and polite.  No weirdos, no psychopaths, no crazy cat lady like on TV.  Everybody is strangely normal.  As I’m on my third or fourth “date”, I begin to get the sneaking suspicion that I’m the weirdo, the hyperbolic characterization of comical-crude and intrusive-incarnate: I’m the one asking the workplace safety inspector what’s the most horrific injury she’s ever seen.  Limbs?  Toes?  Noses?   I’m the one asking the civil engineer is there some conspiratory plot to keep the roads in disrepair so the people who repair roads are forever employed?  And I’m the one starting the date with, “Hey let’s do shots!”  Well I did that one time, as she recoiled in horror, clutching her water to her chest, and squeaking out a tepid, “No thank you”, as if I had offered her rat poison.

And the I met The Ringer.

What happens if somebody has zero matches?  Thirteen new potential loves-of-your-life in the span of two hours and nobody likes you back.   That must be a soul-crushing realization: out of all these strangers– nobody likes you.  Nanny nanny boo boo.  But it must happen, I’m sure.  There must be a way to give each person at least one “match” so they can walk away from the experience with positive feelings and a sense of hope.

This girl was gorgeous.  Prettier and more put together than most of the other girls at the event.  She sat with an air of confidence, with her back leaning against the wall and her chin tilted in the air.  Why didn’t I see her earlier?   She had spent most of her time chatting with the hostess of the event.  That was my first clue.

We start chatting and she’s friendly and charismatic.  I ask her questions about herself, and she keeps giving me short, concise responses before turning the questions back on to me.  I can’t really figure out too much about her, but she seems interested in me.  Like really interested.  I feel the spark of hope ignite in my stomach.  I begin to imagine standing at the end of a long aisle as she slowly approaches me in a white dress with her face veiled and our friends and family on either side.  I imagine how our children would look.  I imagine her naked.  Okay, maybe I imagined that first.  But still.

The Long Aisle
(Funny how in my own imagination I still create the girliest of weddings)

 

I start talking about vampires, and she doesn’t recoil in horror.  She doesn’t burst into peals of laughter either.  She just says, in a very soothing and encouraging voice “Oh that’s very nice.  I think you’ll do very well”  Or something to that effect.  It’s reminiscent of  being in pre-school and showing the teacher my finger paintings, and she ooh’s and aah’s over how good it is.  Up until this point I was lapping up all the good feeling and encouragement, but this sits funny with me.

I start giving her all the gory details of my writing.

“He doesn’t survive by biting people on the neck, no instead he tricks high school girls into letting him go down on them on their period…”

“Oh and there’s another vampire, she looks twelve and all she does is spend all day masturbating and luring men to the house to eat– Chris Hansen style…”

She doesn’t flinch.  She’s not grossed out.  But she doesn’t get excited the way fans of my work do either.  She just endures it, like a power point presentation on the migratory habits of the red breasted finch.   At this point I’m pretty sure I’ve tanked any chance of getting a second date with this girl.  My mouth has a way of doing that.  I’m trying to come up with more ways to weird her out when the bell rings, and I’m off to the next table.

– – – –

I go through more people.  I’ve got my canned questions down now, and I’m hitting a cadence and a stride with these dates.  Ask her about that thing she just said.  Okay laugh now at her joke.  Okay now a funny anecdote.  What does she do again?  Oh crap.  Ask her about hiking, and waterfalls…

Everybody is polite.  Everybody is nice.   But nobody is that right mix of proverbial freaky-fuzzy to stick to my wall of emotional Velcro.  They just roll down the side and are soon forgotten as soon as that bell rings.

– – – –

Finally  I’m at my last table.    I’ve had three beers so I’m at that right mix of honest and brave, but with no bathroom break, so I’m just waiting to make a mad dash to the restroom.  This girl is cute, with an easygoing smile.

“Drinking Guinness?”  She asks me as I sit next to her.

“Yeah how’d you know?”

“I’m a bartender.”

“I’m an alcoholic.”

“We’re going to get along great.”

What unfolds is perhaps my most genuine conversation of the evening.  No canned material.  No pre-conceived questions.  We just talked about beer, and the service industry.  Heck, I didn’t even ask her who her favorite Disney princess was.  Maybe it’s because I had to pee so badly, but time has snarled to a slow crawl.  I’m literally hanging on her every word, each syllable one second that separates me from that blissful stream of urine exiting my body in a torrential hiss.  I’m torn between my urge to soak her up like a sponge, and my urge to unload like said sponge twisted and wrung dry.

The bell rings.  I thank her for a lovely evening and make a mad dash from my seat.  When I return the hostess is giving everyone directions on how to fill out their cards.  Check anyone you want to talk to again.  At the end of the night I checked three yes boxes.  The Ringer, The Bartender, and one engineering girl who was mousy and boring, but had really nice big pair of… eyes.

I hang out for a bit.  So does the Bartender.  We sit we talk and we laugh.  I offer to buy her a drink.  She says she’s got a long drive home, but she hopes to see me again soon.  That’s got to be a good sign, right?

IMG_20150319_212447

– – – –

I got my emailed results the next day:

The Bartender and the Ringer would like to hear from you again.

I’ve yet to reply to either.

Bump it with:

Shallow Waters

“Shallow” is such a funny word.  We write off people for being shallow, for not having more depth and dimensions, or for not digging for meaning and significant layers of character in others.  Because a “shallow” person keeps everything on the surface, and is looking for everything on the surface.  But when you really think about it, isn’t that just another way to describe… “Honest”?

Because honestly, I’m shallow.  And I embrace my shallowness as an intrinsic part of me.  I can use all the big words and read all the thick books I want, but at the end of the day I’m still googling  and ogling “big tits” and “skinny waists” and not “character” and “personality”.  Thank you Internet.

Because we can’t all be onions.  Some of us are just skin deep.  And that’s me.

Shallow Waters
“No Diving.  And No Deep Conversations.  And Don’t ask about Nietzsche.”

– – – –

I met this girl through Tinder.   And I knew right away she wasn’t like any other Tinder girls.  She was smart and articulate; she had a clever comeback to just about everything I said.  The written word flowed from her so quickly and spontaneously, I knew she wasn’t musing and mulling over her answers.  No she was lighting quick,  her thoughts manifesting as fire-from-the-hip quips.  And we exchanged volley after volley of clever turn of phrase, like a game where something is volleyed back and forth and back and forth in rapid succession.  Volley after Volley Like, with a ball… Like lacrosse.

I remember, I messaged her for the first time just as I lowered myself my hot bath to soak for the night.  And I typed and she typed.  I was still grinning and laughing  as our conversation filling up the memory of my phone even after the water had long gone cold.  And my pruned fingers stopped making my touch-screen work after awhile, but still I stayed not wanting to lose the glory of that evening.

She was amazing, and I had to meet her.  So five days and a lifetime of glowing-screen finger-roaming hours later we agreed to see each other face to face.

She was ordinary and comely, so much so that I walked right past her the way to our first date.  “Looks fade” my father always said, “find someone who you can have a good conversation with”  And in the grand chromatic scale of vibrant colorful girls… she landed somewhere between khaki and beige.  But once she opened her mouth, I was reminded of everything I was drawn to. She had a dry piercing wit and a near encyclopedic knowledge of all things movies, pop, culture, and TV.  So we had a lot to talk about.  Imagine an Asian Julia Stiles before she did that crappy escort series for Netflix.   More like, Julia Stiles when she did that dance movie with where Hip-Hop meets Ballet… and Hip-Hop doesn’t steal Ballet’s purse.   Damn, She would know exactly which movie I’m talking about.

2001_save_the_last_dance_005
“Oh noes, interracial dancing!”

So we dated.  Somehow I squeezed myself into the ill-fitting facade of a gentleman, where I didn’t get us liquored up and laid out on the first night, instead I was opening doors and we were holding hands, and the prospect of kissing her was something I strategically planned’ on the third date instead of my usual, blitz-kiss-do-or-die-dive-bombing-strafe attack.  And it worked.

Fighter-Pilot-and-Active-Shooter-Prevention-Advice
(pew pew pew… hormone missiles away!)

So after several dates, weeks, and a healthy grownup investment of time later, she comes back to my place.  And between the wine and the movie, and the hormones and the uncertainty, things get heavy and we begin a game of backgammon.

She was always wearing long pants and these flowing tops, like a cross between a poncho and maternity wear that seems to be so popular with girls these days.  So most of her was mostly covered most of the time.  But I felt like this always added to the allure, like a modern-day self-imposed body-burka of sorts.  And because I had been doing my best impression’ of a gentleman this whole time, I never tried to grope, poke, or magically David-cop-a-feel.  So I began to undress her, eager to explore the treasures beneath.  But as I removed each subsequent layer (notice how I’m alluding to my first paragraph about depth and shallowness here, because I’m fuckin’ clever and shit) I became more confused.

It was as if her body was a stage and once the curtains were raised, her bra and panties were a series of pulleys and straps designed to keep the scenery in place.  And once those came undone the sandbags and catwalks came tumbling to the ground.  She was a work of art, assembled from a mix of parts by a blind schizophrenic reading Ikea instructions in Chinese.  The worst was the hair.  She had a unkempt hedge of black curly brambles so thick and so deep that David Bowie was wandering around in it twirling glass orbs while rocking a codpiece.  Her tangled mass sprouted a long and winding misery-trail that traveled up and into the valley of her navel like a reverse Rapunzel… with Bran climbing his little unbroken-legs to the top to see incestuous siblings mid-coitus.  There were oddities and novelties of her naked body too numerous and confusing to explain.  Like, don’t you girls have meetings about these things?

broken stage
“Grooming?  Tweezers?  Exit, stage left.

She was always talking about “going to the gym” and “just leaving the gym” and “can’t hang out tonight because I’m at the gym” which only added to my confusion.  How could she be at the gym so often, but have what seemed to be… the opposite of results?  Was she battling gym leaders for badges while trying to Catch em’ All?  Or did Gym stand for something else entirely, like Generous Yogurt Man?  or Gravy, Yams, and Meat?

Fully clothed the next day’ we make plans for our next date.  Maybe it was the wine, maybe it was my lights I tell myself.  Maybe I was nervous, maybe it was all in my mind… Oh I know!  The beach!  Under the harsh truth of the sun all shall be revealed.  I pick her up a few days later, and the conversation in the car is great.  We laugh and we share.  And when we get there I’m elated and happy.  And we sit on the sand and she begins to strip…

Her sprawling mass of curly black brambles spilled out.  It peeked out of the corners of her bikini to greet me, with creeping tendrils climbing up her pale thighs eager to escape, no longer hidden in the shadows of my drunken bed but out in the open for the world to see.   And she waded out into the shallows beckoning me to join her, and I noticed the water turned her fuzzy patch into a waterlogged sponge, that hung and clung in a thickening mass of damp hair between her legs.  And I kept thinking, if she just went in a little deeper maybe I could forget it was there.

So I joined her in the water and she hugged me and our stomachs touched with hers meeting mine more than half way with just’ a little too much fuzz.   And her hairy pubic-pseudo-penis tucked into her bikini brushed against me.  And I… I couldn’t pretend to be a better man than I am.

She wasn’t polished or glossy.  She didn’t tilt her chin and angle her chest for pictures.  She didn’t wear makeup, or own any dresses.   She didn’t wax, she didn’t shave.  And all that plastic bubble gum pop, superficial surface that I profess to hate– I realized I secretly crave.  More than scintillating, stimulating, intellectually-titillating conversation.  More than an emotional fit.  And  didn’t want to change her.  So things ended.

Because I’m shallow.

I am shallow.

But I embrace that.

Bump it with:

Perfume

Elevator

I first caught her scent in the empty elevator. The tiny mechanical room was filled with her presence, wafting in the air as clear as if she were standing there’ right beside me.   I breathed her in letting her smell wash over me.  I  imagined myself a blood hound, picking out shreds of evidence from her aroma.  I imagined her: sassy and sophisticated, wearing boots, toting books, and GMO free groceries, into the tiny elevator just moments before me.  Serendipity and happenstance had made us miss each other by minutes, and all I was left with were wisps’ and mystery.

Her essence was ethereal and light like lilacs and cotton candy.  Not the heavy-handed perfume of a woman demanding to be smelled, like a trashy low-cut bodice with blossomed-bossoms exposed, expecting to beheld.  No, this was a woman of class and substance, full of culture and fine art that it left an indelible mark upon the world around no matter where she traveled.  Alas, I stood there in the tiny room with four walls, speeding upwards to my home –alone.

I scoured the elevator in the weeks to follow for any traces of her, finding only the smells of takeout dinners and groceries, the sweat of working men and other unpleasantries, but never her smell.  Some days the elevator smelled of cleaning solution, bleach and simple green erasing any trace of her.  Slowly, I began to give up and her sweet scent was almost erased from my memory.

One fateful day I was riding the elevator  up to my apartment, playing absently with my cell phone.  A figure entered the elevator, interrupting the solitary confines of my elevator ride.  So preoccupied was I, with my device I didn’t even bother to look up.  But suddenly the elevator was full of that wonderful familiar smell, the scent I had been searching for weeks before and had all but forgotten.   At last I had found her, and at last I would be able to confess all the love in my heart.  I glanced over:

“Sup”   Said the burly bearded hipster next to me.

“Sup.” I replied.

….And that became the longest, most uncomfortable elevator ride of my life.

A Mouth Full of Hot Air

Every once in a while you meet a person whom you never want to hang out with again.  The problem with me is, over time I allow myself to forget everything that was horrible or annoying about that person, and I find myself hopefully optimistic the next time they want to hang out.  It’s like getting a whiff of something particularly foul smelling… like blue cheese; you want to take a second sniff just to be sure that yes, it was in fact as horrible as you first thought it was.  Tonight was my second whiff, and it was equally as foul.

She’s pretty like I remember.  Especially in pictures on her social media pages, she knows just the way to tilt her head and angle her breasts to make herself look stunning.  She’s perfected presentation on the two dimensional stage that is the internet.  She gets in my car, still pretty, still equally as glossy and made up and as elegant as those photos.  Then she opens her mouth, and then the night begins to crumble.  The car ride is only fifteen minutes, but by the end of it I am exhausted.   She goes through my ipod, commenting about each artist or song.  “This artist sucks, I can’t believe you have this”  “These guys used to be so good.  What ever happened to them?”  I open my mouth to answer, and she’s already on to the next band “My best friend dated the bassist from this band.  But then they broke up”  The band or the couple? I ask.  “I dunno.  Oh my god I haven’t heard this band in years, play this”  She bounces through my playlist in the same rapid fire succession, playing each song for fifteen to thirty seconds before skipping on to the next.  The entire car ride is a series or previews, both of conversations and of songs, nothing meaningful or interesting, just little starts with abrupt ends leading into little starts again.

She gets down to the local music, she seems to know someone from every band on the island; it’s like playing a one sided game of seven degrees to Kevin Bacon, but I am completely oblivious to the names she is dropping or the people she is mentioning.  I nod my head absently, waiting for a break in the carpet-bombing cascade of language.  There is none.

We park and walk to the bar.  She’s still talking.  I marvel at her cardio; her mouth has been going practically non-stop and she doesn’t seem even close to being out of breath.

“You’re cute, do you wear makeup?”

“No” I reply.

“Good you shouldn’t, makeup is for fags.”

The couple walking opposite of us on the sidewalk glares at us angrily.  She is oblivious to the toxicity of her own mouth.  And continues talking.  Her vocabulary is littered with colorful pejoratives, “This girl’s a bitch” “That guys a cunt” “This girls a slut” and on and on.  There are about five mutual friends between us.  These colorful euphemisms are used to describe all the people we both know.

We end up at some seedy bar in the heart of the sprawl (at her direction), where apparently she knows everyone there and can get us in for free, and get us free drinks.  Neither of which happens.  The bouncer she is  “super good friends with” is really more of a casual acquaintance, like a person you pay money to when you’re getting into a place.  Not a super good friend, unless the guy who bags my groceries sometimes is my super good friend.    I pay our cover charge.  We get in.  Nobody she knows is there working.  In fact it’s almost as if nobody knows her here.  She glances around the bar:

“Oh there are a lot of black people in here.  I’m so tempted to say nigger when there are so many black people around.”  I think it’s important to note, that in this type of situation when mentioning a taboo word, one would normally say the taboo word in question, softer than the other words.  Nope, she blurts it out louder.  Eyes turn to us.

“Please don’t.”

“Does that ever happen to you?”

“No.”

“Don’t you just want to yell it?”

“No.”     …because I’m not a seven year old child.  I have self restraint and I know how to behave myself in public around people of different races and cultures…  This seems like a lot to explain.  “Please don’t.”  I repeat.  Her eyes dance, intrigued by the fact that she’s been able to shock me, or nullify me into silence. I don’t remember what we talked about much.  I don’t think I was an active participant.   Still we drink, hoping the alcohol will somehow lubricate things.

She runs into an old acquaintance who actually was from one of the bands we were listening to.  He chats her up, and I am left on my own to watch the TV.  This actually makes me very happy.  Her rockband friend, senses he too has  made a terrible mistake and begins to try to engage me in conversation to break away from her.  I prefer the TV.  My responses, though friendly, are cursory at best.  We go through two more rounds.  Maybe it’s the beer, but her  friend is actually quite nice, a lot more fun to talk to than her.  His stories are interesting, about crack addicts and break ins and about how aging affects a musician’s ideology.  She keeps interrupting, trying to pull the conversation in another direction.  I pay for our tab and we leave.

“I’m hungry.” she complains.  I myself was actually a bit hungry, and buzzed enough to believe that forty five minutes of this couldn’t possibly be that much more harmful to my health.  I was mistaken.

We arrive at a takeout place in the odd hours of the morning.  Drunks like us stumble in, order their food and make their way over to wooden tables to eat.  We sit down.  She’s rambling about music again.  The fact that I had five bands on my ipod she recognized somehow makes us kindred spirits.  She pulls out her phone and begins playing music on her phone.

“This is the song I was telling you about.”  She pokes at the tiny screen, as her tin-thin speakers rattle out their brittle rendition of whatever piece of music she wanted to share.  It’s muddled and sharp, bouncing off the walls of the dining hall.  “Don’t you like it?”  Other patrons look over at us in irritation.

“Maybe you can show me that later.”  I gesture at the couple sitting five feet from us, separated only by a narrow wooden partisan, now sharing my personal hell “It’s kinda loud.”

“But I want to show it to you now.”  she insists.

I touch her hand and lower the volume on her phone.  “Why don’t you show me pictures instead?”  Her paperclip sized attention span is redirected and she begins thumbing through her phone.  I must confess, my intentions were slightly nefarious here.  She seemed like the kind of girl who would keep nudes of herself on her phone, or at the very least something of her in skimpy lingerie.  No such luck.

Instead I subjected myself to a slideshow of her friends, her co-workers, her pets, guys she is stalking, things she happened to take pictures of, some rocks on the ground, dirt, accidental pocket shots.  Each picture comes with a personal narrative and back story.  This is not a conversation mind you, but a presentation, a non-stop assault of words in rapid succession, leaving no room for comment, question, or discourse.  I made the initial mistake of thinking this was a conversation.  Slowly, I was pared down and reduced to single word answers.

“Yep.”  “Uhuh.”  “Interesting.”  “Cool.”

And when her presentation became too overwhelming, I started simply grunting.  I finished my food.  She had barely touched hers.

“Wow you eat so fast.  Everyone tells me I eat so slowly.”  I had so much time to eat while your mouth was moving for the past fifteen minutes.  

She talks about music the whole drive home, listing all the bands she’s seen and the people she saw them with.  Mind you, we still only have the same five mutual friends in common, none of which are the people she is talking about.  These are just people, a long laundry list of empty names to me.  Perhaps she’s unaware of how friends, or individual human experiences work.  The stories shift rapidly.  I’ve given up on trying to follow them long ago.  My mind wanders.  One of the video games I play, has the option to surrender during a match if the other team is winning by a significant amount.  The players on your team need to agree to surrender for it to happen, and then you just sit back and wait for the game to conclude itself.  I feel myself subconsciously clicking the surrender button.  I count the streetlights as they pass overhead.  I imagine what I will eat for breakfast tomorrow.  I imagine this night being over.

We get to her place.  Please leave.  She thumbs through my playlist, again playing fifteen seconds of several songs.  She talks about the bands again.  Please, just leave. And then, she leans over to kiss me; it’s an over eager kiss where her face makes forceful contact with mine.   I feel her tongue at the seam of my lips.  I turn away coughing, pretending to have something caught in my throat.

“You’re really cute.” she exclaims as she tousles my hair.

“Thanks.” I reply. Please just leave.  I’m a little surprised by my own aversion to her.  Somehow her mouth has nauseated me beyond what her body can offer. Please just leave and get out of my car.  I drum my fingers on the steering wheel anxiously. She sits there, toying with her seatbelt awkwardly, running her fingers don the length of the strap.  It sits pressed between her shapely breasts, like a silver river of safety.  Am I really saying no to this?  She opens her mouth.  Yes I am.  She fidgets with the buckle.   Oh god is she stuck?  Am I going to have to free her like some trapped animal trapped in a snare?   Finally she unbuckles her belt.

“I had fun tonight.”  She smiles at me.

“Me too.”  I lie.  That’s what you’re supposed to say right?  Even though it was a terrible evening?  Me too.  Fun.  Yeah.  Please just leave and get the hell out of my car.  She kisses me again, I evade it with my cheek.  Sensing the evening is done, she leaves.  And I am alone in silence with my thoughts for the first time in the evening.

I get home.  My wallet is significantly lighter, and my self-esteem more battered than before.  I was almost face raped.  This is what it must feel like to be a girl on a shitty date.  She texted me some gibberish later on in the night.

I’ve yet to respond.

…Man, I hate being single.