The story should start with the fact that I went skeet shooting Saturday morning with Harvey and Katie. Shooting a gun was on my list of things to do before I turn 30 and time is rapidly running out. I was happy the girls offered to go with me; I had already pre-purchased two sessions back when Valdosta and I were together and he wanted to take me.
We piled in a car and headed down to the South side of the city by the airport. We walked into the gun shop. I put down my two certificates and I am handed two shotguns and two boxes of shells. Just like that. We received zero instruction on how to handle, load or shoot the guns. Just peace be with you, and go with God.
This explains the size of the bruise I currently have on my right shoulder. The recoil bruise is larger than the palm of my hand; I literally look like I took a punch. Both of my arms feel like they are broken because I didn't know how to load the shotgun and I exerted way more effort than was necessary.
Ruining your shoulder is probably the worst thing to do before your weekly kickball game. This season I decided not to play softball with my friends, but instead play kickball with the people I met over the fall kickball and winter dodgeball seasons. The team I joined was the team that we always looked forward to playing because they were so friendly and fun. Besides, with Schmoozer and Katie, Government Mule and Jenna, Harvey and her husband, and Vince and his girlfriend, my group is all coupled up. Great for them and blah, blah, blah, I don't want to be dependent on them anymore for my social life. They've all been hibernating doing couple-y stuff and I feel like an asshole when I hear about their dinners, etc. that I wasn't invited to. So maybe the story should start here: I branched out on my own in an effort to make new friends.
I walked out onto the kickball field. Everyone has been accepting of me, but I've been struggling with feeling like an outsider. Like my own group of friends, their group has a lot of history and they do a lot of activities together. For instance, no one showed up to the game on Saturday because they took a booze bus to the stadium to watch the season opener of baseball. I wasn't invited, therefore I wasn't hung over, so I was present at the game with a handful of other people. We didn't have enough female players according to coed rules. We should have forfeited the game. Instead we got to play, but got an automatic out whenever we reached the end of our lineup and a fourth female player wasn't present to kick.
Whereas I usually play catcher, a useless position for a kickball game, I had to play second base instead. It was this fact—I had to play second base because everyone else was hungover from the booze bus—that I became a full-fledged member of the group. When the runner headed to second base (coincidentally enough, it was Clemson, the guy who asked for my number a couple of days ago), the first baseman shouted my name and threw me the ball. I saw the ball heading towards me and I screamed, "Noooo!" I didn't want the ball; I can't catch the ball. But unlucky in guns, lucky in kickball. I caught the ball, tapped my foot on the base and got out the guy who had been trying to score on me in more ways than one. I earned my spot on the team. Maybe this is where the story should start.
We lost the game. Of course we did: we were outnumbered and getting outs every inning just because we didn't have enough people. But the score was 6 to 4 and I was proud. We headed to the team bar. Two boys sandwiched me at the bar while the rest of the team sat at a booth. The three of us ordered pitchers of beer and swapped stories .
"So what are you doing tonight?" asked First Baseman.
"I was supposed to be painting, but my shoulder is killing me." I lifted up the sleeve of my t-shirt and exposed my bruise from the shotgun. He recoiled and I explained about the lack of direction.
"You should have told me! I would have taken you shooting!" he exclaimed.
"Well, where were you?" I shot back.
"Here, let me get your number. I'll take you tomorrow and show you how it is properly done."
The guy on the other side of me spoke up. "Wait! I want to go shooting too!" It was Statham. Statham was the first guy I met playing dodgeball in December. It was his team we played against and won that day. While the rest of his team was celebrating their win, he was telling me about his awful night on the booze bus and how it ended with him breaking up with his girlfriend.
As First Baseman was trying to get me to go to a club with him that night, some girls appeared behind me. They were going to a drag show and meeting up for dinner beforehand. They invited me out to girl's night with them.
First Baseman looked at me, "We'll do the club in a couple of weeks," he said. "Go with the girls."
The girl turned towards him, "Come with us! Meet us for dinner!"
First Baseman accepted. So did Statham. And so did Clemson when I invited him as I was leaving.
I was showing up to girl's night with three guys. This is where the story starts.