I lament, therefore I am

Three days ago, Drew left me a drunken voicemail insinuating that he didn’t want to see me anymore. He was slurring and yelling and saying it was the best thing for both of us. I really don’t know how to handle his intense mood swings, especially when he’s drinking. When we’re together, he drinks socially, becomes inebriated. When we are apart, it is a different story. He’s the kind of guy who would call his mom at midnight to say fuck you for everything. The world owed him, and when he was drunk he would sell out or write off anyone who crept into his mind at the opportune moment. But this was the first time he’d ever really tried to get rid of me.

I woke up and considered my options. I could have called him, acting like I knew it was just a drunken rant but if that wasn’t the case, it would prove rather embarrassing. I could have called him in attempts to talk him out of what was obviously a horrible mistake, but that would be pretty pathetic too. I took the easy way out and decided to ignore it and let him contact me. As for my personal problem, well, the only remedy that could even marginally help was getting drunk with Vincent. Forgetting the outside world existed.

I didn’t know if I would be able to get ahold of him, however. He was starting to spend a lot more time with Camille, almost every other day or so, which was unheard of for Vincent. I think he has actually gone a year without spending time with anyone but me. And Camille was sweet and came around sometimes, but as people often do, Vincent wasn’t quite himself when she was present. He swore less, wore more colors. I didn’t resent her for it; she meant well, but the difference between the two of us and the three of us was massive.

I missed his nightly visits, the Styrofoam containers of Thai food he brought over, the brown leather notebook we would take turns writing poetry in, his dirty martinis, that goddamned horrible jacket. I picked up the phone and to my amazement, he was already on the line.

The night was spent sitting on the floor, gorging ourselves with peanut chicken and Tsingtao, talking about what a shit Drew was anyway. How it was best to be rid of the headache, how now I could focus on my writing career or another band. Vincent held my hand, got close to me in a more intimate way than I was used to. It struck a nerve. I burst into tears and Vincent put some Rilo Kiley on for me and we had ourselves a bit of a dance party. Nothing like Jenny Lewis to brighten my day.

In the middle of my tabletop rendition of ‘Under the Blacklight,’ Camille showed up, which was one of the worst things I could imagine. I jumped down and greeted her, accepted a bottle of vintage port and a sunflower she brought for me. It was rather sweet but in all honesty I just wanted her to leave. Instead, she informed me of a son of an excellent customer that she wanted to set me up with. Fucking blind dates, I have sworn against them as long as I can remember. But I was drunk and upset and ready to see anyone but Drew.

“Well. Okay.” Her eyes lit up and she started dialing. I knew then and there that I had made the wrong decision. The song was hazy but playing what seemed over and over and over again. “Are we breakin’ up…is there trouble between you and I…”

Last night Evan picked me up at my bar at eight. I always make a point to never get picked up at my actual residence unless we hit it off. It was fucking cold. I was wearing a brown suede jacket I had been missing wearing this season on account of all the rain. He was wearing a black Banana Republic sweater and dark, faded jeans. He was cute but from his appearance, I couldn’t imagine him wanting to date anyone that even had their nose pierced, let alone a sleeve of tattoos. He was too pretty, too polished. He didn’t even have five o’clock shadow.

We got into his forest green VW Golf and drove to downtown Campbell, the spot for our plan, drinks and dinner. I felt relatively open to meeting someone new, but a spot inside me ached for Drew’s comfortable embrace, the nervous twitch of his wrist to spot the time on his watch, the way he kissed.

Evan popped on the stereo and the Flaming Lips came on. He turned it down a bit so we could converse but we didn’t really say much of any substance.

“So, you make pretty good money over at that bar?” Which I thought was a weird question.

“I do alright. Some days are good, some days are better.” He smiled politely.

“What do you do?”

He worked at Google. He began a long, extensive description of what he did, because he either thought I was a fucking idiot that didn’t understand any concept in the code writing business, or that I was genuinely interested. To tell the truth, I was neither. So my mind wandered. I kept nodding, laughing, pretending what he said was resonating, or making me think about things or becoming interested in him. But I was thinking about waterslides, seared scallops, dumb girls who got the insides of their lips tattooed. Drew’s wings on his ankles. Wishing I could borrow them and escape the confines of this new-car smelling car, this preppy gone indie nerd from hell.

I shifted my legs, beginning to feel a familiar warmth between them. I wondered if the kid could fuck, if he at least had that going for him.

We got to Slice just in time. I felt that I might attack him at any moment. He held the door open for me.

“I need a drink,” I said. He laughed as if I had said something fabricated, a joke that had taken weeks of hard work to materialize. I rolled my eyes as he helped me remove my jacket and we both sat down.

Much to my distress, they only served beer and wine. I ordered a Budweiser. He ordered a root beer. I couldn’t believe what Camille had done to me. She could not have, in good conscience, sent me out with a sober fellow. My eyes widened. “Oh, you don’t drink?” I asked in a conversational tone.

“Oh, no, I do. I just don’t drink much beer or wine.”

I nodded, thinking. This wasn’t as bad as I thought, but in the back of my mind, I hoped he wasn’t a girl drink drunk, someone that just ‘didn’t like the taste.’ I stopped to think again. Did it really matter how the guy drank?

The root beer was IBC, and came in a glass bottle much like a regular beer would. He passed on the glass and took a swig from the bottle.

Yes it did.

Dinner couldn’t come fast enough. I had ordered a basil pesto something or other, and he decided on a combination pizza that I could try if I wanted. It was pretty heavy on the sauce, to the point of having to take to a fork and knife. For just a pizza, it was pretty damn good. I looked up from my plate and noticed a giant glob of sauce right on the side of his face.

I didn’t know what to say. I looked around, lifted my napkin to motion wiping his face. He wiped his face (with his hand!) and got some of it off, but mostly spread it around. I covered my mouth, trying not to laugh. “Uh, Evan, you still have…”

He laughed. “Guess I like my pizza a little too much huh?”

I felt my face grow warm with embarrassment. He finally got the sauce off and by then, I was laughing with him. I finished my beer, got the waiter’s attention.

“Another, please.”

On a trip to the restroom, he bumped into a woman he knew. Apparently, she was on a date as well. The trio made their way to our table. A pair of tits with red hair and a baby blue cardigan shook my hand with her fingers, told me her name was Shawna. She was a typical female, very territorial, very self-consumed. I got the ‘ex’ vibe pretty adamantly, as she was touching him a lot and speaking very deliberately. Her date on the other hand, was muted in a black hooded sweatshirt and jeans. He seemed cold and was looking down a lot. As he looked up at me to meet me (his name was James), I noticed shiny green eyes and a silver ball under his lip. I smiled, probably the most genuine smile I had offered all night and received one that I considered equally valuable. Evan practically disappeared, all wrapped up in her conversational skills, no doubt. But it was okay. James and I had taken to making faces at each other, making fun of each other’s dates.

Soon enough, the moment had passed and it was back to cold Italian food and warm beer. But there was something stirring inside me. Something I hadn’t felt since that night back at the bar when I noticed the houndstooth sneakers.

Eventually I made my way to the bathroom, and was pleasantly surprised to find James coming out at the same time. We made eye contact and said nothing. But as I passed him, his hand met mine with a rough scrap of brown paper towel. It was a ten digit phone number scribbled with a blue pen. I nodded, feeling the warmth in my cheeks before I entered the bathroom.

I was ready to leave but we hadn’t had drinks yet and apparently Evan was more interested than I thought. As for my opinion on Evan, the drinks part of the evening served better. Khartoum was pretty busy but not too slammed to get a table. We sat on oversized chairs and drank long islands. I don’t know if he just needed a drink or two to loosen up or had needed Shawna’s reassurance or something, because he started being more fun. He even pulled up the sleeves on his sweater. He was flirting! He had touched me three times; once on the knee, once on the shoulder, and once on the ass but that was an accident, causing him to stammer and sweat, profusely apologizing. He was attractive and smart, if not somewhat of a goober, and I was having a good time but I couldn’t imagine the two of us as anything more than possible, occasional friends. And to be honest, I couldn’t stop thinking about the ten numbers that had made their way to the bottom of my purse.

We drove back to the bar, this time the Postal Service serving as our soundtrack. He gave me a nice safe hug and his phone number before driving away. My phone buzzed as we were saying goodbye and my heart leapt inside, wondering. Could Drew have finally sobered up or come to his senses? Maybe he didn’t even remember leaving that message.

It took forever for Evan to leave. When he did, I looked down, read the text. “Having fun?” – V. It was Camille’s cell phone. I smacked my forehead, giggling at all the collected stupidity the evening and its intentions contained.

I went inside and sat down on a familiar stool. My other favorite bartender was working. He had covered my shift so I could go on the date. “How’d it go?”

“Well, I’ve had quite a few drinks and I need one more, so you figure it out.”

He grinned at me, slid the bottle of Jim Beam down the bar. “When are you just gonna marry me already?”

“I’m not that drunk,” I said, pouring myself a shot. I took it down, let it rejuvenate me.

“Hey, have you seen um, Drew around here?”

“Oh yeah. He just left.”

I nodded, pensive. My mind began switching from blank to cluttered. Did he come in because he saw my car in the parking lot? Did he stay because I wasn’t there? I looked down at my phone. No missed calls, no text messages. I poured myself another drink. Opened the brown paper again, said the numbers in my mind. “Drag.”


4 Responses to “I lament, therefore I am”

  1. February 8, 2008 at 2:54 pm

    I remain jealous of your descriptive powers, love.

  2. February 8, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Hello Jolie, I enjoy your exceptional writing.
    It think it has has a sincere quality of nakedness and vulnerability to it. You have the unique ability to draw my attention into your words because I think you speak directly from the center of yourself; right from the guts, so to speak.
    This raw sincerity in your writing allows me to relate and share in your experiences.

  3. 3 B-Town
    May 7, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Sounds better than my date.

  4. 4 b-town
    May 19, 2008 at 6:46 am

    ‘White domination is reproduced by the way that white people colonise teh definition of “normal”‘ (Dyer, 1988: 45). –> Kinda reminds me of yer date…he seems like your classic, complicit, yuppie white dude.

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