When First Baseman arrived on the patio of the Mexican restaurant, he stopped short. Seated before him were 8 ladies in summer dresses sipping on margaritas and not a single dude to be found. He grabbed a chair from a nearby empty table and sat himself at the head of the table, adjacent to me.
Within 5 minutes, Statham arrived. He walked coolly past the table and took a seat at the other end. Then the rest of the boys began staggering in. Clemson joined Statham at the far end of the table and a couple of other guys grabbed another table altogether and added it the lineup of ours. I was surprised with how quickly everyone cleaned up. It was only an hour earlier that we left the team bar in our sweaty kickball clothes and muddy shoes. And now everyone, myself included, was showered and dressed up.
After a few minutes of chatting, I leaned my chair back. "Hey, Statham!" I called over the backs of the three girls separating us. "Any word?" It was bad code for Any word from your now ex-girlfriend?
"Yeah," he shouted back. "We talked and break up is still on. By the way, she's sitting across from you."
Oh god, I wanted to die in that moment. So did the ex-girlfriend as she got up from the table and went home. I had seen her before; I just didn't recognize her and know that's who she was.
After that, I focused my attention to First Baseman and two other couples in front of us. We split a pitcher of margaritas and had great conversation. I barely even touched my food. The night was good; I felt like I belonged.
"Hey, let's keep the group together tonight. Let's just head over to the regular bar instead of the drag show," I offered.
The girl across from me whispered, "Do you think that would be okay? I don't want to go anymore either."
Four of the eight girls headed to the show; the rest of us caravaned over to the bar. It was a typical night, nothing special: we sat outside on the patio and talked as pitchers of beer appeared in front of us. The band inside began playing a song that I always dance to, and I coaxed another girl's date to dance with me; it seemed more harmless than to pick any of the boys. When the song was over, we turned around and saw the girl and Statham watching us.
First Baseman was the first to leave with promises to call me on Sunday for shooting lessons. Then other people began to leave at the same pace that they had trickled in at the Mexican restaurant. Then it was 2 a.m. Everyone was gone except for Clemson and Statham, who were sitting on either side of me.
"It's a long drive for you. You shouldn't go home tonight," said Clemson.
"I have an extra bedroom, you can stay with me tonight," offered Statham.
"You take my bed and I'll sleep on my couch," offered Clemson.
That was the moment the light went off in my head. Both of these boys, these friends, these teammates are trying to take me home with them.