Valdosta and I went out of town together last weekend. It was Harvey's husband's 30th birthday and 15 of my closest friends drove back to our college town for some heavy drinking. We met and formed our friendships in those same bars, so it felt right to return to celebrate.
Athens, Georgia is a drinking city. Hell, the university itself is currently ranked as the number one party school in the nation. We boast 64 bars in a 3-block radius. The best part of all? The booze is cheap. The downside? The booze is cheap so everyone is quick to buy a lot of it.
When Valdosta asked what to expect during our big night out, I said, "A hot mess." Friends agreed. And that's exactly what happened.
Valdosta, Government Mule, Jenna and me started drinking at 2 o'clock. We had three beers a piece. I got noticeably tipsy. Then we met up with the group for the main event, took a nap, and was back at the bars by 6:30. At the urging of Valdosta and Schmoozer, dinner was accompanied with a jager bomb. And a beer.
I leaned towards Schmoozer. "What are you drinking?"
"Vodka and Red Bull."
"Ooh! Let me try," I reached out.
"No!" He pulled his glass away from me. "I don't want your cooties tonight."
"Tonight?!" asked Valdosta.
"I mean ever," Schmoozer corrected facetiously.
"Hey! No one's ever complained about my cooties!" I slurred. "My cooties taste great!"
We left the resturant bar and headed to the next bar on our to-do list. There I had three gin & tonics and a blow job. A blow job is a girly shot of Bailey's and Kahlua topped with whipped cream. The trick is you can't touch the shot glass with your hands, otherwise it's a hand job. We were big into blow jobs in college. (That's what she said.)
The next bar was dance club that only played 80's music. Valdosta and I split a pitcher of beer and he ordered two more jager bombs. And that was the turning point of the night: the second jager bomb.
When I was in college, jager bombs were given in two parts. You got a glass of Red Bull and a shot of jager, drop and chug. Now jager bombs come premixed in a plastic cup. The cup is only about halfway full. When the bartender mixed our jager bombs at the club, the cup was all the way full.
"Uh, I think we should do this shot in two parts," suggested Valdosta.
"Balls up, Valdosta," I cajoled. "No one goes halfsies with jager."
He shrugged. We toasted and chugged. I sputtered afterward.
"I told you we should have done that in two parts," he laughed.
The girls pulled me away and we danced. Then Valdosta pulled me away and we danced. We returned to our pitcher of beer. Valdosta watched the others dance.
"I can't believe Katie is single," he said. "She's so great."
Fire alarms in my head. No way. Not again. Need we revisit my year-long insecurity of showing interest in guys who prefer Katie? Not again. And not with Valdosta.
"You can't leave me for Katie," I said. I'm not sure he meant it the way I took it, but he hit such a throbbing, exposed nerve. And that damn second jager bomb.
Valdosta was taken aback. Apparently I just got weird on him. "I don't want things to get too much more serious with us," he said.
Well shit, that was the wrong thing to say.
He tried to explain himself, but the conversation is fuzzy. He said something to the extent of he didn't want to get so serious that we had to have talks of someone leaving someone. I think.
"Are you dating other people?" I asked.
"Yes," he admitted.
"Are you sleeping with other people?" I immediately asked.
He said a lot of things. He said he hadn't dated for a long time before he met me. He said he really liked me, and that I am the only one he's dating seriously. He said he's wasted years of his life dating the wrong people and wanted to be sure he's not wasting his time the next time he gets into a relationship. He said he's still not sure he ever wants to get married.
I think all of those things were meant to be taken in a positive context. That he likes me and takes dating seriously. But all I heard was, I don't want to commit to you, and then, You're not good enough for me.
"So what do you think?" he asked.
I ran my hands through my hair, mussing up the roots and readjusting the locks falling across my shoulders like I always do when I'm anxious.
"I told you where I'm at. Where are you?" he asked again.
Mel walked up, "Hey guys, we're moving to the next bar for the midnight birthday shot."
Jesus, it's not even midnight. That damn second jager bomb. "Give us a minute," I said. "We'll meet you there."
"So?" prodded Valdosta.
I couldn't take my hands out of my hair. Every strand had been properly fluffed and now I was going back for second and third rounds.
We had finished the pitcher. "I wish I had a beer," I said.
Valdosta spun me his PBR. I hate PBR, but I took it. I don't know, if I didn't have enough alcohol in me by then, I don't think there was enough alcohol in the world to prepare me for this.
"This isn't the time nor the place I wanted to do this." I stammered. I rambled. I yakked my feelings all over him. I told him I was in a previous relationship that very nearly destroyed me but I got through it. I told him that I date a lot. I've dated more than I should have to date, and that I really liked him and saw something different and special in him. I told him that I was dating two other people, but I broke up with them after Christmas because it seemed like the right thing to do, which is technically true because I never saw Memphis again since Christmas, even though we had been in contact, and the Hungarian was over way before that. I said I didn't regret that decision.
"So what now?" I asked. Clearly we're in two different places.
"Nothing changes," he said. "I still want to date you and see you."
We met up with everyone at the next bar. I ordered more shots (red snapper--had to keep the jager theme going and not mix colors). And then I headed into the bathroom and cried a little to my girlfriends. I don't think I can count the number of times I have cried in that particular bar bathroom. They said what I already knew. That it's time for me to withdraw, start dating other people again and play the game. I nodded. I'm good at playing the game. I just thought this would be the one person I wouldn't have to play the game with. I dried my eyes.
Valdosta saw me and asked if I was okay. I laughed and said I was. Katie thrust her beer in my hand, which if you're keeping count was my eleventy-ninth drink of the night. We played Pac Man.
The rest of the group headed to the same sandwich shop that Valdosta, Government Mule and I started out at. Valdosta and I headed to another bar that his roommate had suggested before we left on our trip, and there we had another shot. It was called a sex bomb and it was some clear liquor (mixing color alert) in a shot glass placed on top of chop sticks over some juice cocktail. You pound the bar until the shot falls into the glass and then chug. From what I remember, it was fun and it tasted good.
Then Valdosta had us walking quickly to the sandwich shop. He said it was cold out; I was so liquored up that I couldn't tell one way or another.
"Baby, we have to slow down. I need to stop and rest. I'm feeling wonky," I said.
"It's too cold," he said. "Keep moving."
"But I'm wonky. My stomach is wonky. I'm wonky!" I chanted for an entire block.
We stopped by a tree. There was already a pile of vomit at the foot of it.
"Get sick here," he said.
"I don't want to yak; I want to sit," I protested.
He faced me. "Just do this," he put his finger in his throat. "It's what I do."
"I don't wanna."
"You'll feel better, I promise. Just puke and rally, baby. Puke and rally."
There were about 4 policemen within 40 feet of us. He stood between me and the policemen. I did as he said: sex bomb in, sex bomb out.
I stood back up.
"You yak very femininely," he said. Well at least I have that going for me.
By the time we made it to the sandwich shop, everyone had already gotten their orders and were taking them back to the hotel rooms. We pressed the elevator button in the hotel lobby. The doors opened. Someone had taken all the fake plants in the hotel and shoved them inside the elevator along with an iron bench. I shrugged and took a seat on the bench, not really comprehending that something was amiss. Valdosta laughed.
The elevator opened on the next floor. A couple stared inside the elevator and saw us sitting on the bench amid this jungle of plants and looked at the two of us like we were the world's biggest assholes. So I scooted over on the bench and made room for the woman, who also took a seat.
Schmoozer tried to sleep in our room. Valdosta kicked him out. We climbed into bed.
"So we had a serious conversation tonight," I said.
"What now?" I asked again.
"Nothing changes," he said again.
"I don't want to get hurt," I mumbled.
He brushed back my hair. "That's not my plan," he said.
The next morning, Valdosta found the Gatorade I had packed and chugged it and brought it into bed with us.
"This is a good idea," he said, gesturing to the Gatorade. "We should do this every time."
I reached my hand out for it. "Uh, you don't?"
"It's a good move." I drank half of the liter. "What's your hangover cure?"
"Nothing. I'm a glutton for punishment."
Everyone else had left. Valdosta and I were on the hunt for some Chinese before we left town. There we learned about the shooting in Arizona.
Then we both shouted simultaneously:
"Wait, you're a Republican!?"
"Wait, you're a Democrat!?"
"Do you still like me knowing I'm Republican?" he asked. "I'm with you: socially I'm very liberal, but I think we're in times right now where economy is more important."
I stared in disbelief. He doesn't want to commit to me, yet he's asking me if I still like him.
"I'm more middle of the road economically," I said. I took a bite out of my crab rangoon. "What was your favorite part about last night?" I asked, changing the subject. There were a lot of favorites to be had.
"I think my favorite part of the night was you sitting on the floor of the hotel room drunk and you were throwing Combos in the air for me to catch with my mouth," he said.
Of all the moments he could have chosen, he chose a simple moment when I was being myself and goofing around. Why does he do that? Why does me make me like him and want him to be my boyfriend when he doesn't want to be?
I'm more distraught about this than I thought I would be. For the first time I'm like, Oh, this is going to fizzle out. This isn't going to go anywhere. And of course because I've been snowed in my apartment for the last three days and have been alone with my thoughts, it's now translated to He's figured out that I'm not good enough. I couldn't hide the fact I'm damaged from him. Yep, this is going to be my story. I'm that girl whose feelings are never reciprocated. I'm a sad sack of a person. When am I just going to accept this?