Inside My Head

the literary rantings of Angie Frissore

Flee

I had been smart enough to select a bar stool to the left of him, giving myself a good view of the lobby area of the restaurant. The positioning made it much easier to pretend I was paying attention rather than plotting my escape plan.

Two weeks earlier, I had found myself in an e-mail exchange with a WPI grad student who seemed pleasant enough – the photographic evidence pointed more towards neo-hippie than to pocket protectors. There had even been brief phone conversations, which had gone surprisingly smoothly, and then, ultimately…this.

I had almost ignored him completely upon his arrival at the agreed-upon destination, an almost-rundown lake side family restaurant with a small bar – until he recognized me from my photos. In this, my date had an unfair advantage, as the pictures I had sent to him were actually recent, unlike his own apparently. He carried with him a minimum of forty extra pounds, all of which being fat and pasty.

Okay, don’t panic, I thought. He just gained some weight.

I was surprised at how calmly I had handled the surprise introduction, though I was not at all embarrassed by my early denial of his identity. As we dove into the first (only) round of drinks, WPI openly told me about his interests, which included medieval role-playing games.

“So you like Dungeons and Dragons,” I stated, almost choking on my drink. This was going to get ugly…fast.

“Well, yeah, I guess,” he mumbled, caught slightly off-guard by the assumption. It was obvious he had hoped to avoid that stereotype.

“That’s really…fascinating,” I said, bored, but somehow managing to feign interest.

“Yeah, I don’t really play that as much anymore,” he said. “It’s not so easy to get into at my mom’s house.”

“You live with your mom?” I asked, smiling and trying to hold back laughter. Granted, I had done my stint at the house of a parental unit, but let’s be real…I was a girl.

It was sometime around that point that I no longer heard the words that were coming out of his mouth. I had tuned out completely, wrapped up in thought on how best to get out of the situation. I wondered for a moment if I even cared about sparing this poor lad’s feelings. And then, suddenly, like a beacon in the night – I saw it.

The ladies’ room.

There it was – about six feet from the main entrance to the restaurant. It would be so easy to just…slip right out. As I examined the restroom’s proximity to freedom, I suddenly remembered one small detail that would, perhaps, foil my master plan. I had brought my coat, given the crisp April night air.

Don’t panic, I thought. You can figure this out.

I looked at WPI, who was still talking and apparently not noticing my straying gaze whatsoever, and smiled, before suddenly shivering.

“Do you think it’s cold in here?” I asked, rubbing my arms.

“No, at least, I don’t think so.”

“I am absolutely freezing,” I said, pulling my coat on. “Oh, that is SO much better.”

You are a god damned genius, I said to myself with a self-assured grin. All I had to do now was to wait for the right moment, the right break in the conversation. After about ten more minutes, I could no longer pretend to be in any way interested in anything this person had to say, and I was nearing the point of utter, brutal honesty.

“Would you excuse me?” I asked, politely and coyly. “I need to use the little girls’ room.”

“Oh, sure, no problem,” he said, standing as I rose from my seat. It was a shame that he was a gentleman.

January 12, 2009 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | Leave a comment

“Do not go blindly…”

After a few weeks of settling into single life (something I hadn’t been used to in years), I finally decided to take Amy’s advice and ‘get out there’…mainly by going on an internet dating site. I had done the internet thing back in college, actually achieving a long-lasting friendship as a result of it. I hoped that I could ride that success again after years of being out of the game.

I sat for what seemed like hours, staring at the computer monitor, trying to formulate an appealing profile. I wrote and re-wrote, trying desperately to find the perfect combination of words, until I realized that most of the responses I would get would be mainly a result of the photo, and not so much what I’d written.

I finally settled on a cute-but-witty little paragraph, uploaded a couple of (what I considered to be) my best pictures, held my breath, and hit the ‘post’ button. This was it. I was internet dating. I called Amy.

“So I did it,” I moaned, after Amy answered the phone.

“Did what? Kill someone? Eat a pigeon?” Amy said.

“Yeah, Ames, I ate a pigeon. Weirdo. Anyway,” I explained, “I posted an online profile on some dating site.”

“You did? Holy crap! That’s awesome!! I’m coming over so we can check out the selections.”

…………………..

“Oh my god,” Amy gasped, “This one’s got a mullet!!” She collapsed in giggles on the floor as I examined the extent of the mullet factor. We were dealing with a full-on, mega mullet – this guy wasn’t fooling around.

“Aw, come on…go easy on him,” I said, trying not to laugh. “I’m sure he’s got the best trailer in the whole park!’

We erupted in laughter for a good five minutes before returning to the dating site’s search results. Things weren’t looking good for Single Abby.

After a few dozen profiles of overweight, role-playing, dateless rejects, we decided to scope out my competition and took a look at the profiles of other women on the site.

“Well, the good news is, you’ve got it in the bag,” Amy laughed, noting how one woman was proudly sporting the garden weasel – bangs frozen in the form of a curling iron and teased to such a degree that would add a good four inches to one’s height.

“Dare I say….”

“Don’t do it, Abs,” Amy warned.

“That I have….”

“Abs, stop it.”

“Some stiff competition?” I erupted in hysterics, more so over Amy’s reaction than to my own humor (which was convenient, considering there really wasn’t any).

“It’s like dealing with a child sometimes. Anyway, you can’t get discouraged,” Amy assured me. “Maybe the good ones just have to come to you. We should be patient.”

“We’ll see…I don’t want to have to resort to Captain Mega Mullet,” I moaned.

…….

After a few days of little activity on the dating site, I finally got an email from a thirty-year-old single father – a Flight Medic, not originally from Boston. We exchanged several emails over the course of the week, finally deciding to meet up at Fins for lunch.

I realized upon pulling into the parking lot that I was dreadfully early, so I strategically parked behind the largest SUV I could find in order to not be seen. I had a storm of butterflies in my stomach – I hadn’t been on a date in years, let alone a blind date. Not that this date was particularly blind; we had both seen pictures of each other, and were both, most likely, praying that neither of us lied about it.

I saw him approaching from the distance, and a wave of relief washed over me. He represented well in person, at least from what I could tell. I got out of my car and headed over to him, smiling, when it finally hit me. I was towering over him.

It wasn’t a deal-breaker for me that I stood a good three inches taller than my date. I was, after all, wearing my stealth-sexy heeled boots (gaining their name from the outsider’s inability to properly see, under cover of denim, just how high the boots came up my thighs). I was a little disappointed in knowing I’d have to wear flats should we have a second date. I hated flats and always felt like a little kid shuffling around in them.

We had a great lunch, much to my surprise. He was handsome, articulate, young at heart, and had a great sense of humor. The service was slow, and we fully amused ourselves by making fun of other restaurant patrons and listening to his more amusing tales of life as a flight medic.

As the hour grew later, he hesitantly looked at his watch and sighed.

“I have to pick up Sophie,” he explained, looking disappointed. It was a good sign. “I wish I didn’t have to leave!”

“Well, that just means we’ll have to pick this up again, and soon,” I said, coyly, as he walked me to my car.

“I was hoping you’d say that,” he said, laying a gentle and polite kiss on my lips. I began to think I could get used to the whole internet-dating-thing. Blind date #1: success.

December 27, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | Leave a comment

Moving On

I wasn’t sure if it was right, but then again, I wasn’t certain it was wrong. I couldn’t be certain. I mean, it was research, right?

I’d spent a considerable amount of time underwater, routinely coming up empty-handed, but yet, I carried with me the hope of still finding that pearl, no matter how ridiculous I looked in the process. It had to be out there…and if I listened to my own common sense, and that of others, I’d end up settling for a shiny piece of sea glass instead.

There were no longer fresh scars from Damon…there weren’t even any that were almost healed, but still itched like hell. I couldn’t remember what it had been like to have him bruise my ego or my heart. In fact, when the dust settled and I stopped and looked around, there was no negativity in general, whether Damon-related or otherwise, and I stopped for a moment, in awe of the rarity of it all.

I sipped at my coffee, watching the snow fall through the window, and waiting for Rick to drive away. He left early, citing work-related necessities on behalf of his ride home, and was picked up at 10:00, a day and a half earlier than planned. I wondered for a moment if his plan would have worked, had he not been picked up in a different car. Part of me wanted to be angry with the lie, but the majority of me was just glad to see him leave, freeing up the rest of my weekend.

I settled down on the couch and wrapped a fleece blanket around myself as Taco curled up next to me. I fumbled momentarily to retrieve my cell phone from Taco’s armpit and called Samantha.

“Hey…what’s wrong?” She asked, sounding worried. She had expected me to be far too consumed with Rick’s visit to be calling.

“Nothing’s wrong,” I said. “Rick left early.”

“Really? Why? In the snow?”

“Yep. Who cares why, really…I’m kinda glad he’s gone.” I complained.

“No good, huh?” She asked, knowingly.  She knew there was only one main reason I’d be so nonchalant.

“No good.”

“Ugh, so, um…when did you realize this, if you don’t mind me asking?” she asked.

“Day one.”

“Dear god, woman…you should fucking sainted.”

December 26, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | 1 Comment

Friday Night (prelude to teaser….)

There had been break-ups in the past.  A handful of attempts to part ways, some more lasting than others, but I had always gone back to the security of Micah.  The in-between times, though, when I was free to roam and do what I please – those were times filled with youthful debauchery and a flagrant disregard for the other sex.

Each time I grew stir-crazy in the relationship, I broke it off, sometimes even going as far as to offer the promise of a future reconciliation just to get myself out.  There were aspects of my personality that seemed muted when coupled with Micah.  I was no longer the individual – I was the girlfriend.  I had fine-tuned my new found talents for feminine prowess and manipulation, and was eager to put those talents to play within the general, single populous.

We had experienced a six-month hiatus early on, just as I was finishing school (and moving into my own apartment).  I took a job running a mall portrait studio, and decided that I needed some space to acclimate myself to the post-collegiate world surrounding me.  Micah understood, and while by no means happy with my decision, took a step back to let me sew whatever oats I seemed to be holding onto.

My weekend tradition of hitting Lansdowne St. was soon resumed as Catherine and I began frequenting our favorite 80’s-themed club night again.  It had been a matter of ritual in college – Boston on Friday nights, and local bars on Saturday night.  This ritual had been sidelined by Micah’s jealous nature, as I was coerced into patronizing the north shore bars he was used to (and had cohorts available to report in on my behavior if needed).

The kick-off came one warm, May Friday night, and Catherine and I headed into our favorite stomping ground in the Fenway.  It was the one club that we could both agree on – she adored clubbing, and I conceded that since no one could look sexy while dancing to 80’s pop music, I would willingly club myself unconscious (leaving myself an  appealing option should the night truly become unbearable).  And, since she was always willing to drive, most evenings worked out in my favor.

We quickly consumed our first round of over-priced mini-cocktails while scanning the crowd, which was surprisingly pleasing for such an early hour.  Wall of Vodoo’s ‘Mexican Radio’ was blasted through the speakers as various pleather-clad club regulars slinked about the dance floor.

“I’m heading to the bar,” Catherine shouted.

“What?” I yelled, unable to make out a word she said.  She pointed to her empty drink, then to mine.

“Me…bar…more!” She mouthed, and I nodded, turning back towards the crowd.  I spotted a small group of about three or four guys walking into the room and was assessing the situation, when my gaze met that of an incredibly good-looking, younger-looking guy trailing behind them.  I looked away, knowing I had been caught in the act, and wished I wasn’t holding an empty drink as I fidgeted with my straw.  After a few seconds, I boldly looked back towards the door, but the group had disappeared into the crowd.  I let out a small sigh of relief that I hadn’t completely embarrassed myself.

I turned towards the bar to look for Catherine, who was now returning with two more Pixie-cup-sized drinks.  She rolled her eyes as she handed a cup to me.
“Remind me again why we come here?” She asked, exasperated.

“This was always your idea,” I gently reminded her. “Don’t blame me for the ridiculous willingness with which we throw money at these city bartenders.”

“Um, yeah….” Catherine slowly muttered, a sly smile forming across her face.  I looked at her, puzzled, and she tipped her head a couple of times before suddenly disappearing.

I turned to look behind me and there, standing right next to me, was my little staring-contest opponent, smiling.  I hadn’t been able to notice before, given the distance, but I had never seen eyes quite like his, at least not on a human.  His eyes were large and piercing blue, and looked almost Husky-like.  I couldn’t keep myself from staring into them.

“Um…hey,” I mumbled, nervously.  I had been caught off-guard, and fumbled for whatever coyish behavior I could muster.

“Hey,” he yelled, trying to be heard over the music.  He muttered something inaudible, and I just smiled and shook my head, pointing to the speaker.  He simply took my hand and led me onto the dance floor.  I was really hoping I would not come to remember that moment – the two of us, dancing to Dream Academy.  I really hated that song.

……………….

“So where are you guys headed now?” Huskyeyes asked, as the house lights came up around us in the club.

“Home,” Catherine snapped, still unsure of whether or not we should continue our evening with our new friends.  Huskyeyes had two friends with him, but two cars – and proposed that he and one friend follow us back up to the north shore.  I looked at her pleadingly, having gone to great lengths throughout the evening to stress to her the hotness of Huskyeyes, and the wonders this would do for her best friend who’s just gone through a breakup.

“Well, my place,” I clarified.  I was calling trump.  Catherine was crashing at my house anyway, and Pete (my roommate) would be home by the time we got there.  I also did not want to have to point out that I was the sober one, and in charge of driving us home.   “You can follow us.”

Catherine sighed, before finally conceding (and realizing that it was the better-looking of the two companions who’d be accompanying my new friend).   We got into Catherine’s car, and I drove the two guys a couple of blocks away to get their car.

After quickly navigating my way back on to the highway, I remembered I had someone following me and looked frantically behind me to make sure they were keeping up.  I could see the SUV weaving in and out of lanes, trying to get behind us.

By the time we arrived back at the apartment, Catherine had forgotten all of her inhibitions about bringing our ‘guests’ back with us.  She wildly flirted with the Companion, who seemed to be more than adequately entertained, and we made our way upstairs.

December 23, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | Leave a comment

“Do Something Crazy for Me Again…”

I stepped off the jet way into the crowded arrival gate at O’Hare, pausing for a moment to catch my bearings. I had come to the conclusion that I much preferred to travel in the morning, as most of my fellow passengers en route to Chicago were business travelers, saving me from having to deal with crying children and over-talkative seat-mates. I spent the whole of the two-hour flight replaying the last week over and over in my mind.

It had only been eight days since The Face and I reconnected, and while almost every evening with this time frame had been spent on the phone (for hours, at times), I was still nervous that this would ultimately be categorized as one of the stupider decisions I’d made. I hadn’t seen him in well over a year, yet, here I was, only a couple of hours away from meeting his entire family.

He had accepted my reasoning for walking away from him when we were both in Boston, however weak it may have been. I had given up on trying to come up with an eloquent and poignant reason for abandoning this potential suitor, having simply admitted that when it came down to it, I just didn’t know why I left.

“It might have been the way you always warned me,” I had offered.

“Warned you about what?”

“That your job could suddenly pick you up and move you anywhere,” I reasoned. “It sounded like an excuse to not get too close.”

“Abby, that’s so far from true,” he had confessed. “I wanted to be sure that if we did this, you’d be on board with me. That you go anywhere with me.”

I brushed off my overly-cautious, pessimistic recollection of my past with The Face and decided to enter into this adventure with an open mind (and open heart). After a few minutes of struggling to find my way through the airport to the baggage claim area, I stood by the baggage ramps, scanning the area for The Face. I wondered if I’d even be able to pick him out with ease.

Realizing I had overshot our meeting place, I turned around to head back a bit. Just as I turned around, my eyes locked with his intent stare, as he stood head and shoulders above the crowd. My heart melted in an instant, and I dropped my bags and took off running into his open arms.

He wrapped his arms around me, lifting me up off my feet in a tight embrace. As we kissed, passionately, for a moment, various passers-by each let out a tiny little ‘awww’. I felt as though I was in a dream…a movie scene…and I wanted it to never end.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | Leave a comment

Saturday Morning (teaser)

“Hold on,” I muttered at the sound of the knocking, still half asleep, as I stumbled out of bed and tried to find something with which to cover myself.  I threw on the closest thing I had to a house coat and peeked my head out of the bedroom door to find Tim standing outside, grinning.

“How was your night?”

“Good…I think,“ I mumbled.  “Why?”

“Well, I just spent ten minutes trying to figure out who is passed out in our kitchen sink,” Tim laughed.

“Oh, shit….that’s probably Christine.”

“That was my first assumption,” Tim said.  “Don’t get me wrong, it’s no big deal, I just had to see for myself the shape you must be in if there were people sleeping in our plumbing. I’m off to work.”

“Awesome,” I said, sarcastically. “Have a fantastic day.”

I turned around to fall back into bed and noticed a motionless lump under the covers.  Suddenly I remembered clearly the events of the prior evening.  Strange, good-looking, younger guys had come back to the apartment with me and Christine – strange in the ‘don’t talk to strangers’ sense, though that wasn’t any more reassuring.  Something about sharing an apartment with Tim, an Air Force pilot, had made us rather bold and reckless when it came to visitors.  We had a built-in bouncer.

I wasn’t sure what to do – whether it was wiser to just go back to sleep, or to relocate to another room and let StrangeMan sleep it off.  Christine’s little stranger was passed out on the couch, which put a damper on my relocation strategy.  I soon realized that I had an upper hand in the situation and decided to take a shower and get dressed, putting me in a much better position to confront wake-up time.

December 5, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | 1 Comment

In Defense of Cartoon Violence

“Ahh, you are officially my hero,” I proclaimed, gently taking the mug of coffee from Brian’s hands.  I was having serious issues keeping my eyes open.

“Oh, it’s only now official?”

“Yeah,” I smirked, cradling my new cup of happiness, “before now it was just our little secret. Now I’m not ashamed to admit it.”

Brian sat back down on the couch next to Jeff, who was entranced by Brian’s subscription to a 24-hour classic cartoon network.  The three of us sat, happily buzzed, transfixed on a timeless Tom & Jerry episode featuring a drunken Tom being forced to stay awake after an all-nighter.

“I wish someone would put Beavis and Butthead back on,” Brian muttered.

“It’s already on,” I said, quietly.  “MTV2 runs it sometimes.”

“But it’s not the good ones,” Jeff interjected.  “All they play now are the lame ones where Beavis can’t say ‘fire’ anymore.”

“Didn’t some idiot kid burn his trailer down or something and the show got blamed?” I asked.

“The answer’s in the question,” Brian stated.  “Idiot, trailer…like it was going to take a television show to push that kid over the edge.  It’s bullshit.”

As Jeff and Brian commiserated on the death of good cartoons, I remained fixated on the television, and more importantly, fixated on how cartoons used to be.  In the ninety seconds it took my own Beavis and Butthead to realize they were arguing the same point, I had counted five acts of gratuitous violence on Tom & Jerry.

“He’s got a point,” I said.  “I mean, think about it…in this cartoon alone you have a boozehound housecat, a mouse setting off explosives, and the drugging of the household human.”

“Yeah,” Jeff shouted, suddenly getting some life back in him.  “Then there was the time Tom chased Jerry around the house with a sawed-off shotgun.”

“Or the time Tom drugged the dog and Jerry resorted to putting a bomb under him to wake him up.”

“Jerry threw an iron at Tom’s head and was always putting mouse traps in his face,” Brian added.

“Call me crazy,” I argued, “but none of us grew up thinking that was normal, right?  I mean, aside from Jeff.”

“I only threw the iron once.”

“And that didn’t even have anything to do with Tom & Jerry,” Brian said.

“Right, so….” I started.  Brian let out an exasperated sigh.

“Here we go, Abby’s lesson on life.”

“Shut it.  Anyway, our parents raised us, not televisions.  Sure, we watched a shitload of it, but we had the benefit of having parents who taught us the subtle differences between reality and animation.”

“I distinctly remember my mother telling me that unlike Tom, if I cut the cat’s tail off with an ax, our cat couldn’t simply tape it back on and get on with its day,” recalled Jeff.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | 3 Comments

Dizzy

“Abby, look, I always made it clear I wasn’t looking for a relationship,” The Coworker muttered.

“What?” I asked, confused.  “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Well, I’m just saying, you get all worked up over things…”

“Damon, let’s take a step back,” I said.  “And count the many ways in which I’m way smarter than you and marvel at the ease in which you back yourself into a corner.”

There was a moment of silence on the other end of the phone as he took it all in.  I wasn’t sure how we got on the topic of his lack of desire to commit to a relationship, but I wasn’t going to let him off the hook that easy, not that time.

“What are you talking about?” The Coworker asked, annoyed.

“Well, as much as I do love debating these issues with you,” I said, sarcastically, “your argument is pretty weak.”

“How so? I always told you that.”

“Damon, I was angry with you because once again, I wasted my Sunday waiting on you to let me know what was up.  At some point during the day, you obviously made a decision as to how your night would be spent, and the root issue here is that you never bothered to convey that decision to me.”

“My night got carried away, what can I say?” he muttered, stumbling for words.

“Whatever dude,” I quipped angrily. “I’m getting tired of waiting for you to grow up and stop hiding behind your little shield of ‘not wanting a relationship’.  We’re talking basic interpersonal skills here.”

I hung up the phone without another word – not angrily, but I had just grown so tired of having the same conversation over and over again each time this happened.  I had gone as far, in the past, as to insinuate that this thing we had was simply a glorified booty call for both of us, to which he passionately feigned offense, outraged that I could hold him in such low regard.  Arguing with him was worse than going through the wrong door and ending up on the Rotor, that spinning-floor-dropping-stick-you-to-the-wall amusement park ride.  All I was left with usually was a sense of dizziness and nausea.

Just as I went to put the phone down, it rang again.  Without checking the caller ID, I angrily answered.

“Damon, listen, I’m not doing this now,” I yelled.

“Huh?”

“What?”

“Abby?”

“David?” I asked, horrified.  “Holy shit, I’m so sorry! I thought you were someone else!”

“Wow,” he laughed. “I’m glad I’m not that guy!  Who’s Damon?”

“Oh, no one…it’s nothing.”

November 24, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | 1 Comment

Date Night with The Coworker

I paced the living room nervously, unable to keep myself from glancing at the clock every few seconds.  I had agonized over what to wear, finally settling on a slimming, grey scoop-neck sweater and jeans, and was still at risk of a last-minute-mad-dash to the closet for another emergency change.  The key was to not go upstairs.

Staring at my phone, I began to grow restless as it got later and later into the evening.  I knew The Coworker was on his way, but I couldn’t, for the life of me, imagine how it could possibly take that long to get to my house.   Taco paced around my feet, wondering what was making me so nervous. Finally, the phone rang.

“Abby,” he stated, in his deep, sultry voice that didn’t quite seem to fit his body.  “I’m just coming off the highway.  Where am I going again?”

I coached him through the mile and a half of back roads, and hung up the phone to do one last once-over for good measure.  Another ten minutes passed before I saw headlights creep by the driveway, stop, and suddenly back up.  I stepped out onto the front porch and waved him up the driveway, trying to hide my slight annoyance at the delay.

He was better looking than I had remembered, but he had cut his hair.  As he stepped out of the car, I playfully tussled his now-short hair and smiled.

“What happened to your shaggy hair?” I asked.  “That was so….sexy.”

“My mother said I looked like a drug dealer,” he laughed, opening the car door for me.

I suggested a local steak house for dinner, and we were soon on our way downtown.   I couldn’t help but remark on his car, which was a relatively new Dodge Charger.

“This is a great car,” I said, taking a look in the back seat.  “I’ve always wanted to drive in one of these.”

“Thanks…” he trailed off.  “It’s a rental.”

“A rental?”

“Yeah.  My car isn’t really, uh, date-worthy.”

“How so?” I asked, laughing slightly.

“Well, you do want to make it home this evening, correct?” he asked, grinning.  I was torn between being impressed by his chivalry in renting an adequate mode of transportation for the evening, and being slightly horrified at the prospect of dating a man with an unreliable car.
“Well,” I said, coyly, “I guess that all depends on how the date goes.”

The restaurant was remarkably empty when we arrived, despite it being a Friday night.  The dining room was dotted with elderly couples and the occasional bus boy.  The hostess led us to a corner table, where The Coworker took his seat next to me, rather than across from me.  This guy was good.

We struggled to make small talk throughout dinner, until I finally could no longer contain myself and burst into giggles.  Before long, both of us erupted in laughter.

“I feel like a science experiment in here,” I said, leaning in closer to him.  “Is this as sketchy to you as it is to me?”

“I bet that’s a two-way mirror,” he laughed, pointing across the room.  “We’re being studied!”

We finished our meals, and having broken the ice with what seemed like a twisted sociological experiment in the abandoned restaurant, got to know each other slightly better.  I still couldn’t quite put him together though – there was something mysterious about him, a quiet, understated confidence that led me to imagine what lied beneath his Romanesque features and sly smile.

As we pulled into the driveway, I tried to think of a way of inviting him inside without giving him the impression that he was going to get any sort of action.  I wasn’t ready for the date to be over.

“It really sucks that you have to get up so early,” The Coworker said as he parked the car.  “What time is your flight?”

“Six,” I said.  “But it’s okay.  I’d already planned on just getting in a cat nap tonight.  I never sleep well before I fly, as if I’m afraid I won’t wake up.”

“I definitely would not get up,” he joked.   “So listen, I know you need to get some rest, but I have some weed if you wanna hang for just a little bit longer?”  Smitten, I tried to keep myself from grinning ear to ear.

“I think I can afford a bit more time,” I said, smiling.  “But no funny business.”

“Scout’s honor.”

November 21, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | 2 Comments

“I don’t need to sleep; I don’t even need to breath…”

I struggled though the crowd of passengers as I hauled my overtired body down the jet way, desperately trying to maintain the last bit of physical energy I had left for the second leg of my trip.  I had barely managed to squeeze in roughly two hours of sleep, and even though I had showered and prepared myself, I was sticky with sweat and wishing I hadn’t worn my beat up Sox hat.

As hordes of people rushed by me, I walked almost in slow motion through the terminal, paying more attention to my cell phone than to my surroundings.  Once a signal was found, my phone sounded the ever-familiar alert that I was hoping for.

1 new message.  It was from The Coworker.

I really hope I get to see you when you come home.

I made no attempt to hide the sleepy smile that crept across my face as I came to a stand still in the middle of the terminal.

But of course, I texted back.  I can’t wait.

I was hoping to hear from him, but had prepared myself to not be let down if there was no immediate communication.  After all, I had bigger things to focus on for the time being.  I was headed to Sacramento to meet my new niece for the first time.  There was, however, an underlying suspicion over the issue of follow up from The Coworker: I had behaved myself.  Torn between self-pride and fears of being labeled an unworthy prude, I tried to remain positive and hope that he was better than that.

I certainly had wanted to misbehave.  It would have been so easy; the two of us in my room, sharing a joint, listening to some music in the quiet lateness of the early, early morning.  But now…now I had the assurance that the sexual tension would simply grow until it eventually overtook us both.

Sighing, I made my way over to the gate’s service booth purely out of curiosity’s sake.

“Hi there,” I said, wearily.  “Do you happen to have any upgrades available for the 710 to Sacramento?”

“Let me just check on that,” stated a very well put-together woman in her late thirties, smiling happily.  “We sure do, I can put you in business class for forty dollars.”

“You just made my day,” I said, relieved. “Let’s do it.”

November 21, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | 3 Comments

Don’t be that guy.

  

Samantha showed up at the house sporting a tight black tube top and a pair of ripped-up, skin-tight Calvin Klein jeans. Her arrival was an obvious event, as the sounds of whooping cat calls from passing drivers filtered in through the window. I looked out to see her coming up the walkway.

 

 

She had some catching up to do. Jeff and I were well into our night-out-drinking pre-game ritual, having gorged ourselves on Big Macs and preparing to light another one of Jeff’s expertly rolled blunts.

 

 

This particular weekend’s big night out featured a drive into town to one of my favorite dives to see a really great band that had played in the past with Dear Leader. As per our usual arrangement, Jeff had agreed to do the driving, given that my car would be the night’s transportation. Jeff was not only one of a few select people I would willingly entrust with my car, but more importantly, he was the only person I trusted to stay sober enough to actually get us home in one piece.

 

 

“Dude…” Jeff muttered, almost as if to himself. “Do you know what would be fantastic right now??”

 

 

Samantha and I looked at each other as Jeff passed me the blunt. We were waiting for it – the comment that was coming which would send us into giggling messes. “No…”I coughed. “I do not know what would be fantastic right now. But something tells me you do.”

 

 

“I do. And soon you will as well. But not until Samantha hits that, so then I can hit that, and then all shall be revealed.”

 

 

“Fuck that, we are on the verge of unlocking the secret to ultimate happiness here. Just tell us already!” I pleaded. I needed to know.

 

 

Jeff stared at me blankly for a few seconds.

 

 

“Burgers.”

 

 

I stared at Jeff blankly for a few seconds, stood up, grabbed my keys, and snatched the blunt out of Jeff’s hand.

 

 

“Jeff’s had enough. Let’s go.”

 

……………

 

 

We got to the club as the first of several opening bands was just getting into their set. We made our way directly to the bar, which was ridiculously easy, considering we were more than likely the only patrons there over 21. I glanced around the half-empty room, almost nostalgic for the days when the veil of cigarette smoke masked the lonely, still-sober faces of 9:30 on a Saturday night.

 

 

“I feel like frickin’ Grandma Moses here,” Samantha whined, having almost finished her first drink already. While I knew where she was going with this, I couldn’t really protest…at this particular moment, there was not a good time to be had in the club. The downfall of all-ages shows is that it’s usually a sign of an underage band, which tends to draw only underage people.

 

 

“Yeah, and I feel like a pedophile,” Jeff muttered. “There are girls here that I definitely do not feel right looking at.”

 

 

And with that, I succumbed to Samantha’s peer pressure to venture out into the neighborhood to find a more suitable establishment for the time being.

 

 

“I don’t care where we go, but we’re coming back,” I stated assertively. “I am not missing this show.” I knew that once we found a new place to drink, Samantha would try to insist that we stay there.

 

 

We crossed Lexington Ave and entered the first bar we came across. A bored DJ was spinning 80’s hits to an empty dance floor as a handful of people sat at the bar. Samantha was scouting the place for someone – anyone – she could flirt with, while Jeff and I focused on the drinks we had just ordered and quietly people watched.

 

 

After awhile, the bar started to pick up as packs of college kids and other city dwellers circulated through. I had been left at the bar with a short, but relatively good looking Australian guy who had failed miserably at getting Samantha’s attention. Bored, I brushed off the creepiness of being hit on by one of Samantha’s rejects and allowed him to flirt with me. By this point, I was too drunk to really make out what he was saying, so I just acted as cute and flirty as I could to overcompensate for not having the slightest clue what he was talking about.

 

 

“Do you know what time it is?” I asked him, interrupting a story about boarding school in New Zealand and selling his art to Aborigines (I think).

 

 

“Um….yeah, it’s quarter past eleven,” he replied, unphased by my rudeness. I loved the liberty of being a woman, especially a drunk woman. Even the nastiest of behavior can be interpreted as cute on most occasions.

 

 

“Shit!” I spun around quickly, desperately looking for Samantha and Jeff. I spotted them near the door, as if I had been keeping them there unwillingly, and rushed over to them. The Aussie followed.

 

 

“We gotta go…now!” I stammered. The show was going to start any minute, and I was drunk, and I was not going to miss it. “And you too! You gotta come too.”

 

 

I grabbed the Aussie’s hand and the four of us made our drunken way back to the Hemingway. I was on a mission, and hadn’t noticed Samantha’s protests.

 

 

“You don’t need us there, man….come on, let’s back to the other bar,” she pleaded.

 

 

“No. No fucking way. I knew you’d pull this. I paid for your fucking ticket, we’re seeing this show.” I was starting to get angry. I did not like to be drunk and angry.

 

 

I walked back into the club with the Aussie in tow. A band was playing, but I was too drunk to tell which band.

 

 

“Dude….is this Taxpayer? Did I miss them?” I asked of a random bearded guy whose arm I had grabbed.

 

 

“I am Taxpayer.”

 

 

I stared blankly at him for a second. Had I really just done that? Had I really just asked the lead singer of the band whom I had paid to see if the band onstage was his?

 

 

“And I,” I offered, reaching out to shake his hand, “am an asshole!”

 

 

November 20, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | Leave a comment

Defeating The Demons of Damon

All I had wanted was a logical reason explaining why I had such a propensity to allow him back into my life with ease, only to be ultimately let down, over and over again.  I knew it couldn’t possibly be loneliness – I’d been lonely many, many times before and knew better than to use some unworthy, pathetic soul to fill an unknown void in my life.

It was more than that.  At times it was as if he had some kind of power over me – though he never claimed to love me I often acted as if he did anyway.  I let my whole psyche be influenced by his actions, his words, his lack of words, his lack of action.

His lack of action.

It would be very easy to sit back and absorb the blame, especially after identifying the root cause of my pseudo-obsession with him.  But he was no normal, morally-strong individual, no – he preyed on my weaknesses and exploited my feelings, oftentimes telling me what he thought I wanted to hear, but standing back safely behind his many excuses and ‘situations’.

Heaven knows I tried to walk away…often.  With each hostile final word, there would be a week or two of radio silence before his curiosity got the better of him and he tried to contact me.  And I always gave in.

This time around, I’m armed.  I know what always drew me to him, and it wasn’t him at all.  It was something altogether terrifying and reassuring at the same time.  It was something I could control. I was no longer emotionally at his mercy, and had made that fact poignantly clear to him.

November 12, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | 1 Comment

Hopeful.

The morning of the vendor expo started smoothly – signage and tables had been set up the prior evening, and I sat at the registration table, gently arranging dozens of name tags and waiting for the attendees to arrive.

Once the expo got started, there wasn’t much for me to do aside from sit in the main room and get some work done on my laptop.  Everyone was scattered into various conference rooms as the various Asian vendors made elaborate presentations in hopes to sell their product to our buyers.  I made camp in a corner of the main conference room, which had been set up for breakfast, and got to work, happily munching on the last of the once-fresh croissants which had been provided.

How’s it going over there? Samantha asked in a mid-morning email.  She had been decidedly jealous over the fact that I was not going to be in the office.

So far so good
, I emailed back.  But it’s boring as hell during the meetings.

The various buyers and other staff floated in and out of the main room, as the first round of vendor meetings wrapped up.  I did my part to ensure that people knew where they had to be, and more importantly, got there without delaying the next meetings.

Once things were under control, I sat back down at my laptop, opened up an instant messenger program, and surfed the web for awhile.  About a half an hour later, a notification popped up that I had not seen in over a year.

n350z1975 is now on-line.

I swallowed hard as my heart began to pound.  The Face had not been seen on messenger since I had opted out of pursuing him, and suddenly, here he was at my fingertips.  I struggled with what to do next before taking a deep breath and launching an instant message.

I’m sorry for the way things worked out.  Hope you are doing well.

Quite nervous to witness the fallout of my actions, I closed the messenger program and tried to focus on work.  I sat, staring at the manufacturing database on my screen for a good ten minutes, before realizing that there was no way I was going to be productive.  I opened the messenger program again.

Oh my god, Abby? How are you? Where did you go?

My message had been well-received, causing me to breath a huge sigh of relief.  We chatted for the remainder of the afternoon, taking the occasional break here and there to check on my vendors and tend to my expo duties.  Before I headed into the day’s wrap-up meeting, we agreed that he’d call me that evening.  I didn’t have a whole lot of time to come up with a good answer to the impending question I knew I’d be faced with:  why did I walk away?

November 9, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | Leave a comment

Longing.

I stared at the phone, knowing he wouldn’t call, but hoping it would ring anyway, before finally growing bored with the frustration of it all.  He wasn’t going to call back – he never called back when he said he would.   And thus begins the cycle.

I had fallen back into the routine of him; a sentimental moment of desire, confessions of some kind of emotion, and then, fall to the back burner and become merely an afterthought.  Perhaps there was a part of my subconscious that tried to negate feelings of single-hood-induced loneliness by clinging onto these tiny scraps of pseudo-relationship that we had between us.  Could I trust my so-called feelings when it came to Damon or was it simply just the manifestation of this desire to feel wanted by someone?

Somewhere early on in this…thing we had, he had dropped the bombshell announcement that he was never really looking for a committed relationship.  For all the times I tried to walk away, we were always brought back together.  I knew it would never be what I wanted – what I needed – it to be, and yet I continually subjected myself to this emotional torture.

On better days I attributed it to a greater meaning – some idealistic fantasy in which we’re destined to be together.  On most days, however, I simply compared my addiction to Damon to my addiction to nicotine – I knew it was bad for me, but I did it anyway.  Because it felt good.

And he did feel good.  The seldom times we did spend together were always mind-blowing and amazing, and laced with an underlying subtle romanticism that left me starry-eyed.  There was always a flip side though; there were the in-between times when I wanted to share things with him and I couldn’t.  He had always made it clear that he could never give me what I wanted, and I tried to convince myself that I really didn’t need him in that facet anyway.  But I did need him, on some level, and it seemed that my need for him would become my undoing.

The phone rang, startling me, and I looked to see who it was.  It was my mother.  Dejected, I sent the call directly to voicemail, turned the phone off, and went to bed.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | 2 Comments

Trouble at the ‘Dise

I stood just to the right of the stage, with The Coworker by my side, unable to keep from noticing the small crowd of guys now gathered around us, looking at me.  Every time I looked up to see if I could still see Samantha, it was as if a line of men stood, smiling – ready and waiting to greet my gaze.  I leaned my head on The Coworker’s shoulder, sending the message that I was well accounted for as he kept his arm wrapped securely around my waist.

“Where’s Dougie?” The Coworker asked, eying the backstage area just to make sure his younger brother was keeping out of trouble.  I was nervous that Doug had come along for the ride, given his rambunctious and unlawful nature, and knowing full well that he would be completely out of his element.

“I didn’t realize it was my turn to baby-sit,” I joked, scanning the crowd.  “At least he’s not trying to stage dive again.”

“Yet,” The Coworker said nervously.  I couldn’t help but smile at his concern.  It was clear that he was nervous that his brother’s drunken antics would dampen the evening (this was certainly not an unfounded fear, given Doug’s personality),  but I found it sweet considering he knew how long I’d been looking forward to the show.  It was the first time I’d witnessed Damon be that concerned over something I’d cared a lot about.

“Baby, I’m gonna go grab us some more drinks,” Damon yelled into my ear.  I stared at him quizzically, pointing to the large speaker sitting directly next to us.  He pointed once to his beer, and again to the bar, before heading off into the crowd.

I looked towards the bar, checking to see if Samantha was still physically attached to the blonde Ken-doll-type she had been flirting with.  I wondered why I continued to bother bringing her to shows with us.

As I returned my attention to the stage, Doug suddenly appeared out of the corner of my eye…next to the stage ramp.  A sinking feeling instantly developed in my stomach as he meandered about, trying to look natural amidst the stage hands and club staff.  I secretly crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, until Doug made two failed attempts to get onstage before being pushed aside by the staff.

“Can you believe this idiot?” A random guy said to me, rolling his eyes.  “I’d hate to be here with that guy.”  I felt like cowering in a corner somewhere until the whole ordeal was over with.

“Oh shit,” The Coworker mumbled, alarmed, as he returned with drinks.  “Has he done anything stupid yet?”

“Yet?” I asked with a smirk.  “Or at this moment?”

As Doug continued to linger by the stage ramp, I started to grow more and more annoyed by his childish antics.  This was not one of his booze-filled ghetto rap parties, no – if there was ever an environment that was non-conducive to Doug’s immature and tasteless attempts at humor, the Dear Leader show at the Paradise was it.  I clenched my teeth, trying to stave off my growing anger.

“I swear to god if he fucks this up…” I trailed off, not taking my eyes off of Doug for a second.

“I’ll go corral him.”  The Coworker marched over to Doug, grabbing him by the arm and almost dragging him back to where we were standing.

“What the fuck dude?” Doug protested.  “What was that for?”

“Just shut up and stand there,” The Coworker instructed. “Otherwise, I’m leaving you here.”

“Can I at least go grab a beer?”

Doug ran off to the bar as The Coworker and I tried to enjoy what was left of the show.  As I stood in front of him, with his arms wrapped around my waist, I was grateful that for all of our differences…all of our misunderstandings, The Coworker was quite open to one thing I held dear: music.  Although his primary residence was in hip-hop land, he had an inquisitive mind and was surprisingly accepting of the lesser-known indie bands I continually forced upon him.

Jeff suddenly appeared next to me (or had been there all along, but I was a tad preoccupied) and elbowed me.

“Uh oh,” he muttered, looking over to the side of the stage.  “This can’t be good.”

I looked over and once again saw Doug, who had managed to make his way back into the restricted area next to the stage ramp.  I nudged The Coworker, giving him a pleading look, as he headed over to Doug.  He grabbed Doug‘s arm and started to say something to him, but I could tell that the conversation was not one which involved any scolding.  Suddenly it seemed as though The Coworker was encouraging Doug…almost egging him on, until he turned to walk back to me.

“I don’t know about that kid,” he laughed.   No sooner had The Coworker turned his back when Doug attempted to run up the ramp and onto the stage.  Two beefy club security guards immediately jumped to action, taking Doug down in one swift movement.  As they began to escort him towards the door, he yelled over to his brother.

“Dude – get my coat!” he yelled, beaming from ear to ear.  He was obviously quite proud of what he had accomplished.  I, however, held my face in my hand, sufficiently embarrassed by Doug’s puerile behavior, as the crowd of guys standing around me laughed as he was taken out.  The Coworker sighed heavily and looked at me.

“Well, I guess that’s my cue.”

“Remind me,” I said, trying to laugh off the night, “not to go to any more shows with your brother.”  The Coworker walked away to find his deliquent brother as I worked my way to the bar to attempt to find Samantha.  Within a few minutes, I found her still hanging all over the Ken doll, barely able to stand up straight.

“Hey drunkie,” I said to Samantha.  “We’re going.  Doug got kicked out.”

“Who’s Doug?” she asked, giggling.

“Nevermind, just say goodbye to your new friend.  Jeff won’t wait all night.”

……………..

“Is she alive back there?” Jeff asked, trying to catch a glimpse of Samantha through the rear view mirror.  I looked in the back seat to see a motionless, snoring Samantha sprawled out across the bench seat.

“She’s passed out,” I said, moderately annoyed with the evening’s total breakdown into chaos.  “We should take her keys.”

We pulled into the driveway and I tucked Samantha’s keys into my glove compartment.  I was thankful to have Jeff there, as he never minded doing the sober driving as long as my car was the night’s chosen transportation.  It always seemed like a pretty good trade off to me.

I opened the back door to the car and quietly leaned in closer to Samantha.

“Wake up, peaches!” I yelled, snapping her out of a sound sleep and causing Jeff to dissolve into giggles.  After a couple of minutes of establishing her whereabouts, we went inside, and Samantha hurried to the bathroom.

“She cannot drive home,” Jeff said, concerned.

“Nah, she’ll probably just want to pass out on the couch anyway,” I hoped.  Ten minutes passed, without so much as a sound coming from the bathroom.  I knocked on the door, asking if she was okay.

Nothing.
I knocked again, louder.  Suddenly, a flush.  I breathed a sigh of relief, grateful that she wasn’t passed out in there.

Samantha emerged from the bathroom, stumbling into the kitchen and demanding her keys.  I turned to shut off the bathroom light, and noticed that Samantha had vomited on almost every surface in my bathroom except inside the toilet.

“Um, Sam?” I asked.  “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, why?” she asked nonchalantly.

“Dude, you puked all over the bathroom.”

“No, I didn’t.  I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“What?” I asked, dumbfounded.  Jeff stared wide-eyed, taking in the scene.  “There’s puke everywhere! Come look at this!”

Samantha ignored my request and approached Jeff.

“Where are my keys? I’m goin’ home,” Samantha slurred.

“I don’t have them,” Jeff insisted, looking at me.

“Don’t look at me,” I yelled at her.  “I’m too busy cleaning up the contents of your stomach!”

Things quickly turned ugly as Samantha drunkenly began pawing through every drawer in the kitchen, desperately looking for her keys.  Without warning, she grabbed my car keys and ran outside.

“Is she stealing my car?” I asked, running after her.  When I got outside, Samantha was looking through the glove compartment for her keys.  I grabbed her by the arm and led her back inside as Jeff retrieved her car keys.

“You are in NO position to drive home, and considering you won’t even acknowledge that you puked everywhere, I’m the LAST person you should be messing with right now!” I yelled, having reached my pain threshold with her.

When she saw that Jeff had her keys, she sweetly asked him for them.  He declined, instead offering to call her a cab, stating that we’d deliver her car in the morning.

“I swear if you don’t give them to me, I will not hesitate to kick your ass,” Samantha stated flatly, getting in Jeff’s face.  He looked at me, and exasperated, I gave up.
“Let her kill herself if she wants to,” I said, knowing she’d never make it down the driveway walking, let alone driving.

Jeff threw her the keys and Samantha stormed out of the house, furious.  We watched in the window as she stumbled down the driveway.  As she turned onto the sidewalk, she suddenly disappeared.

“Shit,” Jeff muttered.

Just as suddenly as she disappeared, Samantha appeared again, popping up from the street where she had apparently taken quite the digger.  As she struggled to even put her key in the door of her car, Jeff went outside and finally convinced her to accept the cab offer.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | No Messages - Excerpts from the Draft | , , | 1 Comment