Katie and her sister Jenna were the first two people at the hotel bar. Katie's hair changes color every time I see her. "Your hair!" I smiled as I picked up a newly darkened lock. "It looks great. My hair was flat-ironed too, but it washed out in the walk from the bus stop."
Katie frowned and exchanged a look with Jenna. "We parked in the hotel deck so we didn't get wet."
Christopher nudged me. "Katie thinks she's too good for the bus," he whispered.
"Yeah. That Katie," I facetiously muttered.
I chose that hotel bar because I wanted the party drink. It serves up to four people and comes in a bowl with super-long straws. I wanted my own bowl and just have that be my drink for the night. Economically it was justifiable because it's 4 servings for $23. Any single drink was in the $8-9 range, so I was saving money too. Win-win.
I looked at Christopher, "Don't worry about my bill here. I got my drink."
"Good. I wasn't going to get it anyways."
I ordered my drink. The waitress asked how many straws to bring. Sightly embarrassed, I held up my index finger and watched her eyes get as big as plates. "It's my birthday!" I explained. She smiled.
Then Christopher ordered the exact same thing. This time the waitress groaned, "Oh Lawdy, tonight is not going to be a good night."
"I ate! I promise!" I called after her.
It was like having my own bowl of hunch punch, crushed ice included. Friends filtered in. Birthdays are such a big deal to me. Anytime someone invites me to a birthday party, I always go no matter how well I know them and how much it is going to cost. It's the one day of the year where you can celebrate an individual. And I certainly felt loved.
MamaBear came. I felt a pang in my chest when she walked in because I just missed her so much. She is one of the highest quality friends you could have. I can't say enough about her. She is a type of person to show up to your birthday party when you haven't seen each other in close to a year and it's like time hasn't lapsed. And even though she doesn't really have the money, she'll buy your $23 drink.
MamaBear stood up to leave with her wife. "Bye!" I called. "Thank you for coming. Seriously, it means so much to me." They waved and turned.
"Have fun with your dildos!" Christopher then shouted.
I screamed his name and slapped him on the leg. I was mortified. I can't believe he said that to one of my dearest friends. And when Harvey found out what he said, she slapped him on his other leg. It's not cool to make fun of my friends.
The punch bowl started to take full effect. M-Joy and I switched places at opposite ends of the table so I could grill her date. Harvey took this time to grill Christopher. I took my punch bowl with me, even though there wasn't much left. I tried to ask her date questions, but I couldn't think any harder than What's your favorite color?
Christopher got jealous that I was talking to another guy. M-Joy had to inform him that the guy was actually her former boyfriend of 2 years and that there was no threat there. During her grilling, Christopher told Harvey that he has no plans to every marry. That he thinks marriage is a stupid institution and he wants to be just like George Clooney: a rich, single playboy.
By this time, my punch bowl was empty and I had returned to my seat. I kept thinking about the missed directions, the empty box and the card with just CHRISTOPHER printed inside. I was drunker than I had been in years. I looked at him as squarely as I could manage.
"Do you love me?"
So fine. I was that girl who got drunk on her birthday and inappropriately asked her boyfriend in front of her 10 closest friends if he loved her. It was a terrible spot to put him in. But really, all I was asking for was the truth.
My friends' faces dropped. In the last two minutes they watched my boyfriend declare that he doesn't love me and he wants to be a playboy. On my birthday.
"M-Joy! Bathroom!" I shouted.
"Got it," she called back. Not only did she follow me, but so did every other girl in the group.
"Oh my god, are you okay?" They all asked as if a family member had died. Hugs were passed around.
"Yep. I'm fine. I'm okay." I said curtly. And I was as fine as I could be without seeing straight. I certainly wasn't heartbroken. I was just mortified that the secret was out. My 10 closest friends just saw me get treated like crap. Poor Sarah, who always has problems. The only one in therapy. It was like getting on the bus in front of them. It was like getting on the short bus in front of them.
If that doesn't kill a night, I don't know what does.
I meekly asked Katie for a ride, so I didn't have to take the bus home. She agreed.
Back at my apartment I told Christopher that things were over. That he didn't love me and the relationship wasn't going anywhere because he didn't want it to, so there was no point in continuing. I flopped down on the couch and told him he could have my bed.
"But I do love you," he said. His voice sounded like a petulant little boy who was in trouble with is mother. I was disgusted. I didn't want to hear it in these circumstances. I didn't believe it in these circumstances.
"No you don't. You told my 10 closest friends you didn't. What changed between now and half an hour ago?" I mumbled from the couch cushion.
The little boy teetered off to bed.
The next morning, I was grossly hungover. Things didn't seem that urgent anymore, so I got off the couch and climbed into bed. Christopher woke up.
"I can't believe your friends are so adamant about marriage. They think just because they are married and happy that everyone should be."
I know Harvey, and I know that is not how she talks. I immediately got back out of bed and went back to the couch. And when I started throwing up an hour later, he never got out of bed to check on me.
He got up several hours later. I had already eaten lunch. He acted like nothing happened the night before and it almost convinced me that maybe I did blow things out of proportion. Then, just like he always does, he asked for a ride home.