Ed. Note: This story goes back to early July.
While I didn't have anything in common with Valdosta's doppelganger, the most beautiful boy alive, his friends were welcoming to me and played several rounds of flip cup with me at the league bar. And the week after that, they played flip cup with me again.
There were two of them. One had a mutual friend in common with me from high school, and one I recognized as the pitcher of the team with the beautiful boy. The guy with the mutual friend is tall while the pitcher is my height. Since our teams had already played each other, we’ve already interacted on the playing field.
It’s like a middle school dance in the bar. The three of us are standing around in a semi-circle, pint glasses in hand. The beer serves as our cigarettes: something in our hands to distract us from the stilted, getting-to-know-you conversation. You can rotate the pint glass in your hand. You can switch which hand you’re holding your pint glass. You can drink from the pint glass. You can comment on what marketing label is printed on your pint glass. Mine was a Budweiser glass shaped like a bowling pin, despite the fact I wasn’t bowling or drinking Budweiser. All we needed was a brick wall to lean against with our teenage angst.
I asked for their names. The pitcher told me his name is A.
"What's that short for?"
He pauses. He pauses a little too long.
"What? You don't know your name?" I teased.
He told me his name is Abraham.
"Oh yeah? Let me see your license." I held out my hand expectantly.
He padded his shorts. "You know, I actually don't have my wallet tonight. I left it in the car. My buddy is getting my drinks tonight and I'm paying for his next week," he shrugged.
Because we’ve all just finished kickball, we’re at the bar in our uniforms: team t-shirts separating us by color, Nike running shorts for the girls and basketball shorts for the guys. I’ve noticed the guys will change from their shoes into flip flops while the girls will keep them on. But it made sense that he didn’t have his wallet. My running shorts don’t have pockets either.
I let it go and the flip cup game began. I don't remember them being here and playing with me in previous seasons, but A assured me he’s been here. Clemson approached the flip cup table. This was back when we still weren’t speaking. He passed me and patted A on the back and called him Abraham. So does everyone else in the kickball league. So does the bartender.
And this goes on for weeks. I'm playing flip cup every week with my new buddy Abraham who goes by A. And with a name like Abraham, I get it.
Flash forward to my night with Clemson where I have him in the empty restaurant and he's apologizing for being such a shitty friend. I'm sitting at the table and am periodically quietly crying, drunk and a little hurt.
In the midst of the apology, Clemson stopped. "You know his name isn't Abraham, right? He's playing a prank on you and has the whole bar in on it."
I burst into fresh tears, but played it off the best I could. I don't know. I was already crying and feeling not well-liked through this conversation with Clemson. I was embarrassed enough as it was and I learned I had been calling the guy by the wrong name for weeks upon weeks. It was baffling to me exactly how many people played along for this extent of time. Waiters, bartenders, people who knew me, people who didn’t, and Clemson who wasn’t even speaking to me. In that moment it was painful because all I saw was the amount of people lying to me.
The next week, I spy A. He’s standing by the jukebox with his team. Kickball had just ended and the bar was packed with players.
"YOU!" I shouted. "I have beef with you!" I was half-smiling, but I was still half-angry.
He feigned shock. "About what?"
I was returning from the bar and was trying to wade through the masses to join my team. I almost spilled my vodka tonic, but caught it.
He gestured to my glass. "You go do what you need to do. We'll talk later."
I sat with my team and ate dinner and enjoyed some conversation until the flip cup table was set up. As usual, A appeared next to me to play.
"I have beef with you," I repeated.
"About what?" A asked.
"You know what."
"No, I don't!"
"Yes, you do!"
"I really don't," he laughed nervously.
"OH, HOW ABOUT THE FACT YOUR NAME ISN'T FUCKING ABRAHAM?!" I shouted at him.
A doubled over laughing. He laughed so hard that he had to walk away from the flip cup table. He wiped away tears from his eyes. He's enjoying this. He's enjoying this too much.
"I had the entire bar in on it," he laughed.
I stood facing him, arm akimbo. "I know," I said flatly.
"Who told you?"
"I cried!" He doesn't know that I was already crying when I found out, but I wanted him to feel the tiniest bit bad for deceiving me.
Clemson walked up. "Hey, man. You sold me out!" A charged. "You made her cry!"
Clemson made eye contact with me. He didn’t know what A and I had been talking about. All he knew was his and my conversation the previous week. He answered seriously. "I know. I was apologizing to her and I felt bad so I threw you under the bus so she wouldn't be angry with me anymore."
"So what's your real name?" I asked.
I held out my hand again. "Let me see your license."
A reached in his pocket and extracted his wallet from his basketball shorts. He handed it over to me. I snatched it from him and examined it.
"YOU TOLD ME YOUR LAST NAME WAS SMITH. YOU LIED ABOUT THAT TOO?!" I shrieked.
A doubled over laughing. It was like the joke was brand new again.
I tapped my foot impatiently. "Joke's on you. I don't take the time to learn someone's name to learn another name. You will always be Abraham to me."
"I am more than okay with that."
~Monday, October 10, 2011
Ed. Note: This story goes back to early July.