~Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Double, Double, Toil and Trouble

If it was me, I would want someone to come up to me and ask how I was doing after I got dumped. In the end, that's not what I chose though. I chose to not speak unless spoken to.

And no one ever spoke about it.

After being at the beach house a few days, I approached Harvey when we were both alone:

"Has Katie said anything?"

Harvey paused, thinking about how much she wanted to reveal to me. I noticed. I saw the gears spinning behind her eyes and I was horrified. Harvey, my good friend for the last 9 years, debated whether to trust me or not. It hurt.

"She told me on the ride up," she finally said.

Through Harvey, I heard Katie's version. She decided the relationship was over as soon as Schmoozer left the Mexican restaurant to get coffee with me. She said after that incident, she purposely didn't contact him for a week to gauge how Schmoozer would react (this matches his version; he told me at the bar that he hadn't spoken to her in a week.) She said she always knew the relationship was one that would not progress very far. And then she gave her blessing for me to date him if I really liked him.


Harvey continued. Harvey said that the people out at the Mexican restaurant that night thought Schmoozer and I were together because we arrived late, talked about running and left at the same time.

I became irritated. I internalized all of that drama. I didn't call Harvey crying after Government Mule and I had it out. I kept it separate from the group and called my mommy. Katie and Government Mule and Jenna and now Harvey—it is starting to feel like a witch hunt.

I felt myself explaining myself to Harvey as I did to Government Mule and Katie. I ran five miles for the very first time in the history of the world and I was tired. And they were drunk. And loud. It was an impromptu moment in which I said yes to coffee on a Friday Night. Big fugging deal.

Let me now remind the room that when Katie and Schmoozer started dating, I went to her and told her I didn't feel comfortable talking to Schmoozer anymore because they were now dating, and Katie comforted me and expressly stated that I was friends with him first and it would be okay to maintain that friendship.

I'm irritated and I'm hurt. I'm irritated that coffee became the Great Coffee Fiasco of 2011. I'm also hurt because of the group, no one came to my defense. No one thought enough of me that I wouldn't steal Katie's only boyfriend of the last five years. I wouldn't do that to her.

Schmoozer expressed interest in her—refering to her as "the pretty one"—when he and I went out on the not-a-date. And if Schmoozer ever did make a move—not that I expect him to—I would never forget that. Katie was the pretty one. Katie was the girl he chose. I would be the second choice, and my self-esteem isn't high enough where I would ever be okay with that.

Truth is Schmoozer and I are like peas and carrots: we just get along really well together. We have similar personalities and similar perspectives. We have the same dating style. We have similar financials. We both venture out of our comfort zones; that's how we found each other. We are highly compatible.

"Schmoozer," Harvey spat. "I don't trust him as far as I can throw him. I don't know where he came from; he joined our group out of nowhere. I've never met his friends. His roommates are a weird couple that doesn't have any friends. He changes major cities every three to four years. I don't trust him."

Harvey was angry and clearly siding with her friend. Her friend Katie.

"Do you still go running with him?" she asked.

I chose not to mention the happy hours and the nights at the bar and the parties we've been to in addition to running. I chose to not mention that I've met Schmoozer's other friends, as had Mel. Facebook would display that I'm now friends with them as well.

"Uh, I randomly went running last week and he was at the trail as well," I admitted.

Harvey said nothing.

And neither did Katie. Besides Harvey, Katie hadn't told anyone else about the breakup.

~Thursday, May 26, 2011


Tonight I'm heading to my beach house for four days with Harvey, her husband, Mel, Swayze, Katie and South Carolina bestie and blogger creativevintage.

Schmoozer and his best friend declined invitations, saying it was too soon after the breakup and he needs to lay low for awhile.

I have not heard from Katie since Warrior Dash almost two weeks ago. I don't know whether I should acknowledge the breakup, or play dumb since she hasn't told me. I didn't even know if she was still coming, but Mel received confirmation through some avenue or another. However, Mel e-mailed her about carpooling on Monday, and—in typical Katie fashion—she hasn't responded.

What do you think, Universe? Should I play dumb and let her tell me? Or can I ask her how she's doing?

~Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Relationship Status: Single

Late last week, I picked up my office phone and called Schmoozer.

"What's up?" he asked.

"I finally got the link to my Warrior Dash pictures, but the website is blocked at work. Can you click on the link and tell me if you see anything, like me jumping over fire?"


I heard him type away. "Nope. Nothing yet."

"Argh. Anyway I was looking at more races. Did you know there's another one three hours from here in Tennessee in September? You'd love it. Will you go with me?"

"I don't think I'll be around then," he said.

Schmoozer had been increasingly complaining about Katie. He went so far as to tell a mutual girlfriend he didn't know that well that he wasn't into Katie anymore.

"But you'll still hang out with me after you're gone?!" I whined.

"I want to take some trips this summer. I'm going to be traveling then. That's what I meant," he told me.

Oooohhh nooo. I assumed he was talking about no longer being with Katie. I basically just dismissed his entire relationship.

"Right then. Welp, I gotta go!" I cheerfully compensated. I put the receiver back in its cradle and sank my head into my hands at my desk. I just screwed up. I wonder if he's mad. I debated calling back and apologizing but ultimately decided to sweep it under the rug.

It was quiet in the office; I'm usually one of the last people to leave. I heard my phone quietly vibrate. It was a text message from Schmoozer.

Have you left work yet?

Nope, in a few minutes.

Come meet me at happy hour.


He couldn't have been that mad if he immediately contacted me back and invited me out. Our office buildings are separated by a bar. That's where I met him.

I walked in and squinted, my eyes not being able to adjust to the darkness of the wine bar. I saw a figure wave and stand up. I assumed it was Schmoozer. I took a few steps and recognized him. He reached down to hug me, then he turned around and introduced me to his eight coworkers. He grabbed another chair and brought it to the table for me. I sat between him and his best friend.

His coworkers were laid back and I immediately fell into step in the conversation. We talked about zip-lining, white-water rafting and Warrior Dash, all things I've done in the last year.

Schmoozer took a swig of his beer and turned to me. "I'm ending things with Katie," he announced. "After the group goes out tomorrow."

"That's been postponed!" I began to laugh at him. "You know Katie moved that outing to mid-July, right?"

He shook his head. "I can't wait that long."

I put my pint glass down and faced him. "What are you going to say to her? Practice on me."

Schmoozer cleared his throat. "Well I'm going to ask her how she thinks things are going--"

I immediately cut him off. "You can't do that. That's asking an open-ended question, leaving her room to say 'I really like you and I'm hoping for more commitment.'"

Schmoozer's best friend cut in. "She's right, man."

"Let me tell you what Valdosta told me, because he did it right. And if this is template break-up language, please don't tell me because I really respected him for it and I don't want that memory tainted."

Schmoozer smirked.

"I'm serious!" I laughed, batting his arm. "Don't tell me!"

"He said when he started dating me he was honest in his intentions and hoped that deeper feelings would develop, but it just didn't happen for him."

"Wait," he said, sitting up straighter. "That's actually really good. Say that again."

I repeated myself. Schmoozer pretended to write it down.

He got up to use the restroom. As I sat there, I realized that I just told my guyfriend that I've known for less than a year how to breakup with my girlfriend of five years. I became somber. I felt immensely disloyal to Katie. And maybe I was disloyal to her. Maybe instead of helping with a gentle breakup, I should have pushed him to stay with her and talk about how awesome she is. But I've been spending a lot of time with Schmoozer over the past couple of months—after Warrior Dash, Schmoozer called me and not Katie to see how it went. I've watched his feelings wane; I knew there was no talking him out of it.

"You're a bad friend, you realize that?" piped up Schmoozer's best friend, verbalizing my thoughts.


"Katie. I thought you were friends with her."

"I was. I am."

I was flustered because I couldn't articulate my feelings. My relationship with Katie is very different than my relationship with Schmoozer. Katie, to my disappointment, is a fair-weather friend. We don't hang out one on one. She's not great at responding to texts, e-mails or phone calls. We don't chat; we see each other in group settings. But, if I was in a crisis, she'd be there for me.

Schmoozer, I spent a lot of one-on-one time with. Not only does he return every text, e-mail and phone call, he also initiates them to me. Lately, I've been confiding in him. When I've fought with various people in the group, he remains impartial and listens. I had an incident with Jenna back in March and I was quickly losing my temper. It was Schmoozer who grabbed me and took me outside, calmed me down and fixed the situation as best he could.

You have different relationships with different people. And Schmoozer is the kind of relationship that we can talk about breakups; Katie's is not.

"I've become closer with Schmoozer," I said lamely. It was neither a thought I knew how to articulate nor a thought I wanted to acknowledge. Just the acknowledgment felt like I was betraying a girl who had never done a single thing to me.


The following evening I received a text from Schmoozer.

It is done. I am a free man.

~Monday, May 23, 2011

Are you a warrior?

This post was requested via Twitter by Nicole.

The previous weekend changed my life. I walked my dog and left her bowls full of food and water and walked out my apartment door with a cup of coffee.

I got in my car and began driving. Driving alone soothed me. As I left the city, eight lanes narrowed into two lanes. Driving outside the city isn't about traffic and who cuts off whom; it's about steadfastness and consistency. I could finally use cruise control and worry about more important things like my playlist. I made a mental note to leave the city more often.

I was driving two hours North for a race. Warrior Dash isn't just any race though. It's a 5k with 11 obstacles positioned throughout it, similar to a military boot camp. I parked the car and boarded the bus that would take the runners to the woods where the race was held. Every seat inside the bus was covered in trash bags, ensuring that no one would actually touch the cloth seats.

As I walked to the fields, I passed people leaving after running an earlier heat of the race. Warrior Dash starts every half hour to accommodate the thousands of people that attend. The people leaving cheered at us... and were completely washed in mud.

At the starting line I saw Katie, Jenna and a few other girls.

"We know you've been running, so if you want to go ahead of us, you can," they offered.

Instead of a starting pistol, Warrior Dash has starting... flames. Either side of the start banner shot fire into the sky. I took off and that was the last time I saw Katie, Jenna and crew.

I did well on the running portion. I started at the back of the heat and kept passing people. I've never passed so many people in my life. By the time I made it to the first obstacle, I was mixed in with the athletes.

The first obstacle was a lake. As in swim across it. Most everybody waded through it as far as they could, but I reached a point where my feet no longer touched the ground. I propelled myself forward and began swimming freestyle, which wasn't as weird with shoes on as I thought I would be. But as I did that, I accidentally kicked the girl behind me in the face. She was pretty pissed and started yelling at me. But really, this is Warrior Dash and not doggie paddle. So, I'm sorry.

The other side of the lake began the second obstacle: Knee-High Hell, which was tires tied together. Only there was so much mud from the lake in between the tires, that my foot sank in an extra two feet. It was easier to go slower and tred on top of the tires instead of going inside them.

After the tires were a bunch of gutted junk cars and trucks that completely blocked the path. The only way was to climb over the cars. I slid through the cab of the first truck and then over the hoods of the remaining cars, landing with a resounding thud back in the mud.

Then I approached a hill. The hill was covered in more tires and long rope to help pull yourself up them. That wasn't very hard.

After a short dash, I came to the next obstacle. They were over-unders: A 3-1/2 foot wall to go over paired with mud and a barbed-wire fence to go under. There were five of these. At the start of the obstacle, a guy next to me urged everyone to go faster. "Just jump the wall like you stole it!" he shouted.

I studied him. "Do you have experience with that?"

He laughed. Then it was our turn.I rocked out the first three, still keeping up with the athletes as I propelled myself over the wall and then slipped into the mud each time, but by the fourth wall I grew tired.  By the fifth wall, I missed my first attempt at heaving myself over it.

"Do you need help?" the guy asked.

"Yes, just give me a good push."

I hurled myself at it and he pushed me over by my ass. I fell completely and landed in the mud.

He peeked over the other side of the wall. "You okay?"


He jumped and we ran another short distance to the next obstacle. The next obstacle had me nervous: it was an 18-foot tall vertical wall with a knotted rope. Uh, I've never climbed anything in my life.

I found the guy who shoved me over the short wall. "Uh, excuse me. Do you mind if I go in front of you? That way if I need another good push, you can-" I made clicking noises as I imaginably made more butt-pushing motions.

"No problem," he laughed. He turned to me, "Hey, is my make-up running?" The lower half of his face was covered in warrior face paint.

I laughed. "Nothing worse than runny make-up! But you look fine."

Then it was my turn at the rope. Yep, the guy immediately needed to grab my ass and lift me up to get started. Then I learned it was better to take one step and use the rope than it was to take two steps and use the rope. He called ahead for the guy in front of me to grab my hand and help me up the top of the wall, but the other guy didn't hear and disappeared down the other side. It was up to me. And I did it.

And then I sat at the top of the 18-foot wall, one leg straddled over either side as I repeated "Oh shit. Oh shit. Oh shit." I didn't know how to lift the other leg and climb down. A girl next to me met my eyes and told me to calm down and that I could do it. So I lifted the other leg over the top of the wall and dangled it below me until I could feel a foot hold. I did it.

After the wall, there was a long run through the woods. This was a difficult run because I'm a distance runner not used to exerting excess energy climbing over things. I was also carrying about 10 additional pounds on me. My clothes and my shoes were holding so much mud that it weighed me down.

There was a cargo net going up another hill, similar to the tires before it. Then there was a cargo-net wall which was anti-climactic after the rope wall. And then there was a flat cargo net that didn't extend in the air, but instead extended horizontally. It required you to either traverse it in a bear crawl or on your hands and knees. I did on my hands and knees and I regret it because it dug into my knees so much that it hurt. I also missed a foothold climbing down it and stuck my leg through the net.

Another trail run, but Warrior Dash had flooded the path so it was sludges of mud coming towards me as I tried to climb the incline. As much as I hated to, I walked this part. I knew I'd slip and fall in the mud if I didn't. Everyone around me was walking it too. By this point, the packs of people had thinned out. Whereas at the beginning of the race I couldn't run as fast as I wanted to because there were so many people, at this point in the woods I only saw three or four people at time.

I emerged from the woods into a clearing. The clearing had another obstacle. It was opaque, black tent that I had to crawl into on my hands and knees. The low wooden beams inside the tent ensured that I army crawled my way through complete darkness. I heard more than one person smack their heads on a wooden beam. I just moved one knee in front of the other in a steady slow pace. The rocks were digging into my skin and were quite uncomfortable. In the darkness, maneuvering through this obstacle, I had my surreal, out-of-body experience. If anybody saw me right now, they'd see a badass. They wouldn't see someone who just took up running four months ago; they would see someone doing it. I wasn't tired. I wasn't panting. I was just steadily moving forward. I was a warrior.

I headed back into the woods. This time trail sloped downward and I ran again. I was thankful for the times Schmoozer convinced me to go trail running with him. I heard his advice, Just take short, steady steps. I clopped my way down the hill and to the next obstacle: Arachnophobia. It was tangles of ropes blocking the trail like a spider web: you had to decide which ropes to step on and which ropes to duck under.

The woods portion was over. I could hear the music from the festival playing beneath me. I was almost at the end.

I approached a giant tarp laid down a hill. Above, hoses poured water down it. Think epic Slip and Slide. At the beginning of the race, I had to sign a waiver agreeing I would go feet first; now I knew to what the waiver was referring. I found the wettest part with the most water streaming down it. My thinking was that it would clean the mud off me. What I didn't comprehend is that more water = faster.

I sped up much faster than I thought I was going to go. Without any control I spun around and began sliding back first. I hollered out to the girl below me that I was coming towards her. She screamed. I plowed into her and did a flip and landed in a pile of hay. Above me a safety volunteer was shouting at me to get up and keep running. Only I didn't know which way was up.

Now that the mud was cleaned off me (as well as the blood running down my leg from an unknown incident), I approached... another mud pit. This was a deep mud pit with barbed wire stretched across it at regular intervals. I jumped into it and splashed down. I could feel the mud run down my face. I crawled my way under the three or four sets of barbed wire. I emerged from the mud pit as a swamp thing.

There was another hill to slide down, but this was pure mud. In case there was a crevice of your body was mud free at this point, this hill ensured that there wasn't. I splashed into a pool with barrels and logs floating across it. I had to roll over them. I saw pictures of the event throughout the day. In the morning, this pool had clear water. By the time I reached it at 1 p.m., it was another mud pit.

I climbed out of yet another water obstacle. I could hear the announcer at the finish line encouraging everyone to sprint. I understood why: two fire pits punctuated the end of the race. The purpose of the mud and water obstacles was to get the racers wet enough that we wouldn't be burned by the flames.

I approached the first strip of fire. It was much taller than I expected. It was at least 2-1/2 feet tall in some places, even taller in others. I looked down. My shoelace was untied. I imagined my shoe catching on fire due to the dangling lace and I panicked. I leapt. It didn't burn, but I could definitely feel the heat of the fire. I came upon the second fire pit and this time leapt a little more confidently.

The finish line was a short distance ahead. I crossed it and was greeted by smiling volunteers. One handed me a medal, one handed me a cup of water and one handed me a banana. A girl in clean clothes came up to me and offered to open my banana for me. I mumbled and thanked her.

The adrenaline began to leave my body and I just stood there with my hands shaking. Boys approached me and high-fived me. I couldn't figure out why so many guys were coming up to me. I learned later that it was because I was soaked in mud. I had huge streaks of it splashed across my face. If I felt like a warrior, I certainly looked like one too.

I don't know why I ended up so much filthier than everybody else. Harvey looked like she hadn't run the race at all. I went into the race knowing that everything I wore that day was going to be thrown out, so I didn't care how dirty I got. I took off my shoes, tied the laces together and tossed them on the heap. Warrior Dash works with Green Sneakers, a program that takes our old shoes, cleans them and then sends them to third-world countries. Seeing the pile of unwanted sneakers really made me stop and think. Americans are so wasteful that we deem shoes trash when they become aesthetically unappealing. The shoes I wore were fine. I bought them used at a thrift store just for this occasion. And even they seemed brand new with much of the padding left. I used them once and was done with them. Because of Green Sneakers, they are now being shipped overseas to Africa where someone doesn't care that the laces are no longer Clorox white. She's just happy she can afford shoes.

Harvey tossed hers on the pile as well. She says she buys new running shoes every year and this is the excuse she uses to get them.

I then peeled off my socks and tossed them into the trash bin. I fished my flip flips out of my bag and stepped into them. More high fives with strangers. If a muddy person passed a muddy person, we'd smile and think, I know, right? If I saw someone that wasn't muddy, I'd smirk and think, You're next.

The Warrior Wash was the original lake I swam through. I jumped into it and began scrubbing, but scrubbing off mud in a muddy lake proved pretty pointless. Embrace the mud. Love the mud.

With all the other racers, I then redeemed my free beer. That was probably the hardest I ever worked for a free beer. But my self-esteem was soaring. Screw therapy; what one needs is to try new things outside her comfort zone. I said the same thing when I learned how to pole dance last summer. I didn't know how to run and jump on a pole and now I do. I didn't know I was capable of climbing an 18-foot vertical wall. I didn't know I was capable of racing over junk cars. Climbing short walls and sliding under barbed-wire fences. I'm stronger than I think am. I finished the race a good 20 minutes before Katie, Jenna and company. For the first half of the race, I was with the athletes, playing with the big boys.

I was so proud of myself that I called my older brother in Texas when I got home. We're not close and we rarely talk. I told him about my day.

"Wow," he said impressed. Neither of us are athletic—he's the brains and I'm the personality—but at least he rowed at college. "I couldn't run two miles without stopping," he said, "Let alone do all of that."

"So what did you do today?" I asked.

"We went out to eat. Tried this new burger place that has unusual toppings. I had arugula..." he droned on.

I laughed to myself. My life is so much more interesting than his.

For an abridged video of the exact course I ran, visit here.

~Monday, May 16, 2011

The Panty Line

"I spent most of yesterday evening and last night thinking about you," he told me.

Mike, my married ex-coworker, called me the second day in a row. We normally talk about once every two weeks, so this was unusual. I spent the previous afternoon telling him the Statham/Clemson story.

"Are you lonely?" he bluntly asked me.

I sat in the stairwell at work, my lip trembling at the honesty that was forced upon me.

"You're telling me about hooking up with guys in secret and  spending the night at other guys' places--"

"Clemson was being a gentleman," I corrected.

"Bullshit. You were in his bed, naked--"

"I wasn't naked! I just took off my jeans."

"You were in his bed with nothing but a thin stretch of cotton separating you two and he didn't make a move."

"I told you, he was being a gentleman. He kept his pants on--"


"Uh, not that I know of," I said meekly.

"THEN HE'S GAY," he said finitely.

Mike took a breath, "You're worth more than that, Sarah. You're worth more than secret relationships and platonic sleepovers. If I was a single guy and you were in bed with me, I'd be moving those panties to the side, that's all I'm saying."

I never thought of it like that. I knew Statham—and now Clemson, much to my disappointment—were not people worthy of my time, but I never once considered that I was treating myself unkindly.

"What's going on with you?" he pressed again.

My lip trembled again. "It's just," I swallowed. "That breakup in January. It was harder on me than I thought it was going to be. It took me a long time to get over that," I said, my voice barely over a whisper.

A couple of weeks ago, I was perched on my bar stool next to the Leader. I had too many beers and was in a confessional mood. I leaned into him, "I dropped a lot of weight since January. Sometimes I wonder if it would have made a difference to the guy I was seeing at the time."

"It wouldn't have," he admitted. "If a guy really liked you, 10 – 15 pounds wouldn't make a difference. The key is to stay uninterested."

It was both good news and bad news. Good news, Valdosta still would have made the same decision to leave me and there's nothing I could have done about it. Bad news, he still wouldn't be interested in me anymore. Either way, the news was liberating; Valdosta was donezies.

Mike's voice softened as well. "I know. I know that was hard on you. But you're worth so much more than what you're subjecting yourself to. You're letting these guys treat you like shit, and you're not shit, Sarah.

"And Clemson, he's just weird," he continued. "You're so outgoing that you don't want to date a guy like that. 'He's a good guy but he's scared of microwaves,'" he mocked. "You don't want a guy that comes with a disclaimer. I'm warning you now, if my wife ever gets hit by a bus, I'm coming after you."

I laughed and sniffed back the tears. Government Mule and Mike build me up. They act like all I have to do to get some guy interested is blow an eyelash off my fingertip. But it's simply not true. When it comes down to it, Mike was right. Clemson, who should be so lucky, didn't cross the panty line.

~Friday, May 13, 2011

Hot n Cold

I am not proud of myself.

I had my weekly night out. I snuck out from work a few minutes early so I could go to the cobbler and pick up my summer shoes that I had re-heeled. I found the last of my date outfits and slipped into skinny jeans and ballet flats. I pulled my hair into low pigtails, smacked on lip gloss and fled out the door.

I've been curious about the whole Clemson scenario. I'd rather not sound like a Katy Perry song, but he was hot and then cold. Something had to happen. I just don't understand. And of course because it's my life and my decision-making skills, I didn't decide to like him until the exact moment he went from yes to no. (He also went from in to out, from up to down, from wrong to right and from black to white.)

I walked out on the patio and met up with the group.

"Hey! How's the face?" they cheered.

I posed: arm akimbo, head angled and flashy smile. "Swelling went down on Tuesday!"

The umpire from the game swallowed his beer. "I was umpping a game last night and told them what happened to you. Still haven't seen anyone take a ball like that."

"Could you please re-enact my fall? I have no remembrance of the incident."

"You crumpled like a sack of potatoes."

"Oh good! That's the exact word I used!" I said excitedly. "I didn't know if I went ass over teakettle or something."

"No, you were dead weight."

And then there were a lot of inappropriate jokes about me being brought to my knees by balls to the face. I believe the guys called it "a typical Saturday."

I looked around the tables. Several people were missing, including Clemson.

"Where's the Leader?" I asked Clemson's friend.

"He's umpping a game. He'll be here in a few hours."

"And Clemson?"

"He had to work."

And then I made the first bad decision of the night. I picked up my phone and I typed, You're not here. Sad face. and sent it to Clemson.

In the rules of my life, my number one rule is Never Be the Drunkest Person in the Room. Rule number two is If You're Going to Be a Man at Night, Be a Man in the Morning. Rule number three is now Never Initiate Contact with a Boy. It's just not something I do, but I did it anyway. It was so out of character for me, but I believed that the Clemson situation was fixable; I just needed to talk to him.

No response.

And then more people showed up and the flip-cup game started and I forgot all about Clemson.

Schmoozer made an appearance, which is unusual for him. He hasn't shown up since January. A mutual girlfriend invited him.

He walked out on the patio. "There you are! I was afraid to come out here. I figured you were working your game," he said, referrencing my flirting.

"I'm always working my game," I winked at him. We clinked beer bottles.

He tugged at my pigtail. "You don't want to know what I call these," he laughed.

"Reins?" We laughed again. "Hey, I'm about to ask you something and it's going to get all uncomfortable up in here," I began.


"The Great Coffee Fiasco of 2011. Did Katie ever talk to you?"

"Yeah she did."

"She called me too. The more I think about it, the angrier I get with Jenna. I can't believe she would think so little of me."

"Yeah, well I'm not really feeling it with Katie anymore," he admitted.

My mouth dropped open. This is not good. Not good at all.

"I'm trying to do the phase out with her so I can still be in the group. I haven't seen her in a week, but she called and asked to do something on Friday so I agreed."

I flashbacked to New Years Eve. Schmoozer and I were standing in front of Harvey's Christmas tree, pulling off the candy canes and eating them. Harvey walked in the foyer.

"You're eating my Christmas decorations! You know those things are five years old, right?!" she hollered.

"I feel like you're pushing me to date Katie," he said after she left.

"That's because you should," I retorted.

"But when I date people from a group, I have to leave the group in three to four months when relationship is over. That's why I had to join kickball to meet new people. And I like you guys and I want to be friends with you guys."

"I'll still be your friend after the relationship blows up," I said. "It may be in secret, but I'll still be your friend."

Commence relationship blowing up. Schmoozer had called it right down to the timeline: four months.

"I just don't think I'll be with her in the long run," he finished.

"Well I could have told you that. I knew y'all were never getting married."

"Then why did you let me date her?!" he exclaimed.

"It's just she's Stop and you're Go." (She's in and he's out, she's up and he's down, she's wrong and he's right and she's black and he's white. Damn you, Katy Perry.)

He nodded.

The timing of this is impeccably bad for me. I know one way or another, this is somehow going to be my fault according to Government Mule and Jenna. To be honest, I don't know if Schmoozer will be able to stay in the group. He came in officially at Thanksgiving and was dating Katie by the end of January. He's spent more time being a boyfriend than a friend. But I was serious when I told him I'd still be his friend.

"Schmoozer, she's only met your best friend once. I've hung out with him at least three times. What does that say?"

He nodded again.

It was the melding of the two groups. Schmoozer met all the players he's been hearing stories about all these months—minus Clemson.

Clemson. I just know that if I got the chance to speak to him, I know I could clear up whatever is making him act icily towards me. I checked my phone. No response. And I thought it was a good text.

We left the bar. I looked at the clock. It was late, but it was still early in terms of how late Clemson and I usually stay out on these nights. If I could just get ahold of him...

My thumb pressed the call button. It was that easy.

No response. Oh my god, that just happened. I just drunk dialed a boy. I can't remember the last time I acted so stalker-y.

It was like ripping off a Band-Aid. Now that I drunk dialed once, it would be easy to do it again. I could text him and he'd know what I had to say! I typed out a text and saved it in drafts. I then revised it and saved it in drafts again.

I flopped down on my bed. Oh god, I'm behaving like a terrorist. Sense got a hold of me and I knew if I had to press the damn call button repeatedly, it better be to my girlfriend. She abandoned me earlier at the bar and went to a guy's house to party more.

I called. No answer. I called her again. No answer. Answer! Argh!

I laid on top of my bed, phone firmly in my hand. I was dying. I was using every ounce of strength I had, willing myself not to call Clemson.

And that's how I woke up in the morning. Lights still on, sprawled on top of the bed, clutching the phone. I looked like an strung-out addict.

I checked to see if I contacted him again. I hadn't. I then deleted him out of my address book. It was the most pathetic I've felt in years.

~Tuesday, May 10, 2011

One of these days, Alice...

I think every girl has played out this imaginary scenario: girl gets dumped by boy, girl gets into car accident or some equally scary-but-not-life-threatening scenario. Boy realizes he loves girl and doesn't want to lose girl.

Every girl wants to be rescued.


I had my kickball playoffs. My poor, little team who had lost our first six games had finally gotten its act together, performing fabulously in the tournament. We started the tournament tied for last place, but starting a seed higher because we had more runs during the regular season. Then we just kept winning. And now we were playing the number-one team and we were tied and in extra innings.

Statham, his ex-girlfriend and Clemson all stayed behind to watch my game. Statham had a cooler of beer he was working through. Clemson was drinking water because I overheard him say he was hungover again. I spoke a few words to him before the game, but that was all. Most of what I heard about him, I heard through Girl from Irish Pub.

My team was on the field. I was playing catcher, which is a figurehead position without much play interaction. In kickball, the catcher stands next to home plate, not behind home plate. The number-one team's strongest kicker was up. The Leader rolled the ball, the kicker ran towards it and--


I crumpled on the field like a rag doll. My face was on fire. I didn't know this at the time, but the kicker hit the ball as hard as he could and it spliced to foul-ball territory and hit me at point-blank range in the face. The umpire came up to me after the game and shook my hand and told me he's never seen anyone take a ball that hard.

I was sprawled on the field, clutching my face and not knowing why. My sunglasses were lying on the grass a few feet from me. I sat up. I was surrounded by five men. I had no idea how they got to me so quickly. It's just like the movies where you look up and see a circle of faces peering down on you. I saw the Leader, the umpire, the kicker, the captain of my team and the guy who rubbed my back in this post.

The Leader crouched down in front of me. "Are you okay?" he asked.

I sat there laughing. It's my default emotion. "Am I bleeding?" I asked.

"No, but move your hands so I can see," he urged.

"Are you sure I'm not bleeding?" I asked between giggles.

"No, but take your hands off your mouth."

I could see myself in the reflection of his sunglasses. I wasn't bleeding, but I looked terrified. I slowly took my hands off my mouth. It was swollen; I could already feel that.

"You're fine," he smiled. "You just have 'kickball' stamped across your forehead."

I laughed again. Only this time a tear slid down my cheek. It was involuntary; my face was burning.

"Do you think I could go sit down for a minute?" I asked. I was disoriented. I couldn't think straight.

One of the guys reached his hand down and pulled me up from the ground. The kicker profusely apologized and I said everything was fine. I took that hit like a champ. A girl from the other team brought me a beer, saying it was cold and to put it on my face to help with the swelling.

I worked my way to the fence in the shade. As I passed Clemson and his friend, his friend said he knew I was okay because he could hear me laughing on the ground. Clemson never said a word to me.

I sat down with my legs stretched out in front of me, rolling the beer can across my mouth before drinking from it. I broke my kisser. Clemson didn't look over and ask if I was okay. The one time this shit happens to me and he's actually present for it. Here's my traumatic-but-not-life-threatening scenario. I realized I wanted him to care. I wanted him to be the first person crouching in front of me, looking over me and making sure I was okay, not The Leader.

But he wasn't.

Also, guess who scored the tie-breaking run and won the game? This girl. He didn't have anything to say about that either.

~Monday, May 09, 2011


After our five-mile jog on Thursday, Schmoozer asked if I would like to do it again Friday after work. I squinted my eye and furrowed my brow as I thought about it. Normally I don't run on Fridays because I have happy-hour plans... but nope, not this week. "Sure! See you tomorrow!" I said.

That night I got a text from Harvey, inviting everyone to dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Unfortunately Schmoozer and I would just have to be late.

The run was tougher on me than it was the previous day. My legs and glutes were still sore from the increase in intensity. But I did it again. Five miles. If I can do five miles when I'm feeling so-so, then I can do five miles every day. It's just a matter of mental strength.

I went home and showered and made it to the Mexican restaurant about an hour and a half after everyone else. Which meant that everyone else had been drinking pitchers of margaritas for an hour-and-a-half longer than me and was an hour-and-a-half drunker than me.

I eyed the margarita. My feelings on it hadn't changed since the previous day: too many calories and too much sugar after doing something so healthy. "No thanks," I said. "I'm trying to lose weight."

"Somebody slap that girl in the face," countered Government Mule.

Schmoozer walked in and was also startled by the drunkenness of the crowd. He took a seat on the other side of Katie. She pushed my rejected margarita to him and he declined it as well, ordering a single beer instead. Everyone was loud and shouting and cheering. Schmoozer and I sat back and observed. A drunken Katie got up to go to the bathroom and Schmoozer took her seat next to me.

"I'm glad we got here late," he said. "We don't have to eat all the calories and spend all the money."

"For sure. I'm not really feeling it tonight. I'm tired and everyone is so out of control," I responded.

"Me too."

Katie returned from the bathroom and took Schmoozer's old seat. She then laid down in his lap. He pushed her up by the shoulders. "You have to sit up. We're at a restaurant," he gently prodded her.

She drunkenly leaned in and whispered to him, "You should be nice to me; I'm rich now." She had accepted a new job offer that afternoon.

I was surprised by the insecurity she displayed to Schmoozer; they've been dating for months now. He even met her parents within the last couple of weeks. But then again, I also don't know much about the relationship because Schmoozer and I don't talk about it and Katie is a private person.

Government Mule grabbed Harvey's husband's soft taco and then passed it around the room when he wasn't looking. I was turned off. That was his meal that he paid for and something like 16 hands had touched it. It just didn't seem cool to me to mess with someone's food. If the kickball group that I had been hanging out seemed like high school, this one seemed like middle school.

I looked at my phone. I made it a good hour. I leaned in to Schmoozer, "I think I'm done here."

"Me too."

I stood up from the table and waved goodbye to everyone, which was received by over-the-top boos and hisses and jeers. Schmoozer then stood up and received it as well.

We stood outside the restaurant. "It was just too drunk and loud in there," I said.

"I thought it was going to be a small group, not 25 people," he agreed. "I think I'm going to Starbucks instead," he said as stepped towards his car.

My throat hurt from shouting to be heard inside. "That sounds nice."

He turned around. "You wanna come with?"


"Just follow me."

We were sitting outside the Starbucks with our coffees. I had already lamented to Schmoozer my latest update re: Statham versus Clemson and we had moved on to telling stories about really embarrassing things we did in college while we were inebriated—I was in the middle of telling Schmoozer about the time I threw up on a guy—when I saw Government Mule's SUV pull up.

Oh shit. This did not look good.

Then Katie's sister pulls her SUV into the Starbucks' lot.

They eye us and go inside to retrieve their coffees. Schmoozer moved to the seat next to me so Government Mule and Jenna could sit together.

Government Mule sat down. "It got too crazy there. They flipped a table and broke a glass," he said. "How did y'all know about this Starbucks?" he asked.

"Schmoozer knew where it was and I followed him."

I updated Government Mule on the conversation and retold the story in which I yakked on some dude. The conversation seemed go to well with the exception of Jenna who didn't say a word.

Then Starbucks had closed and we all stood up to leave. I said goodbye to everyone, telling them I'd see them at the party tomorrow.

About a half hour later, I got a phone call from Government Mule.

"What's going on with you and Schmoozer?" he asked directly.

"We're friends," I said. I pointed out how we were talking about my guy troubles and how I was telling embarrassing stories about myself, neither of which I would mention if we were anything but friends.

He told me he'd been hearing stories about how Schmoozer and I spend a lot of time together, citing the morning walking around Chattanooga and tonight's coffee as examples. He said we always arrive and leave places together.

I laid my cards out on the table with Government Mule, whom I haven't even spoken to in two months. I said I see all the dinner and movie events on Facebook to which I wasn't invited, and it hurts my feelings. I said I felt the distance from the group. Schmoozer is the only one who keeps up with me and makes the effort with me and I needed his friendship, especially with my kickball league currently imploding.

Government Mule countered that I could always text and call him.

"Bullshit," I spat angrily. "You sent me an e-mail back in March asking me if I was okay and I sent you one back saying that I wasn't, and YOU never responded. We haven't spoken since. Do you know what it feels like to open up like that and then be dismissed? So, no, I can't count on you."

Government Mule crumbled, not having a rebuttal. "When someone tells you they are not okay, it's not an e-mail chat. It's a talk you have in person. But the next time I saw you, we were surrounded by people and the time after that I got mad at you, and, no, I never said anything. I'm a terrible friend. I'm sorry."

He then warned me that it's been awhile since Katie had a good relationship and he didn't want to see it end traumatically. I said I hoped he expected more from me because she's my friend and I want the same thing for her.


The next morning Katie called me in tears. Apparently Jenna gave her a whole different side of the story, one that was not entirely true. She tried to call Schmoozer but he didn't answer, so by the time she reached me, she was hysterical.

"I tried to go home with him last night and he said no," she cried. "He turned down nookie to get coffee with you."

"That's not what happened. He told me and Government Mule and Jenna that you had a race the next morning, but you didn't have your stuff on you. He knew that if you spent the night at his place, you'd skip the race."

"Jenna didn't tell me that part."

"Ask Government Mule. Also ask him if we were sitting next to each other when he drove up, because we weren't. Jenna is wrong about that too."

"I just don't want to be the girl that he hangs out with, and then he gets coffee with someone else," she sniffed.

"What can I do? Do you want me to not spend time with him anymore? Do you want me to run it by you if we do? What can I do so that you feel better about this?" I asked earnestly.

"Nothing. It's not your problem. It's my problem with Schmoozer."

"Do you still want me to go to your party tonight?" I asked.

"Of course."

I got off the phone. I felt awful. Katie never shows any emotion and she was crying. I had enough drama with the one group so I returned to my home group, only for that one to implode as well. I needed to talk to somebody, but I literally had no one to call. All of my girlfriends are friends with Katie and I didn't want to spread any more drama around.

I called my mom. She knows all parties involved, including Schmoozer. He doesn't have any family in town and I had brought him home for Christmas. Being the only man in the house, Schmoozer carved our Christmas ham at dinner.

"Sarah," she said. "Do you remember Gone with the Wind?"

"Of course." That movie is the reason my family settled in the city.

"Do you remember the scene where Scarlett consoles Ashley and they are seen together? And because of the rumors, Scarlett didn't want to go to Ashley's birthday party. Then Rhett Butler finds out and he pushes her to the closet and finds the slutty red dress and tells her to wear plenty of rouge? He told her to look her part?"


"You better go to that party tonight," she said. "It's incriminating if you don't. But I'd wear a turtleneck if I were you."

~Friday, May 06, 2011

Through the gossip mill

I told myself that the last post I wrote about Statham was going to be the last post I wrote about Statham. I was done with the drama and I just wanted to feel normal again.

He showed up to my weekly night out this week. He never shows up that night. But I saw him and his baseball cap bob into the bar and my stomach dropped. I didn't want this boy who had been inside of me ignore me again so publicly. This was my one night out a week where I have fun; I didn't want my feelings to be hurt again.

He approached the group I was standing with. I grabbed my purse and ran into the bathroom to just collect myself and just breathe. This wasn't supposed to happen; he wasn't supposed to be there. A girlfriend saw me panic and followed me in the bathroom. The anxiety chest pains that I thought were just a part of life when I was with S had returned this week. I'd be sitting in the late afternoon writing at work and I'd have to stop and grab my heart. It hurt. And here I was in the bathroom clutching my chest again.

I quickly composed myself and returned to the group. Statham looked at me, "Why do girls go to the bathroom in pairs?" he asked jokingly.

"Duh! To make sure all clothes are tucked in/hanging out the way it's supposed to be, to make sure there isn't toilet paper streaming from your heel, to pass you toilet paper under the partition when your stall is out, and to stand in front of the door when the lock is broken."

"You know what would solve those first problems? A mirror."

"A girlfriend is better. A girlfriend will tell you that you're beautiful and the mirror rarely does that."

And that was that. I meandered over to Clemson, which ended up being a cluster in and of itself. He was in a mood. He he told me that he was really hungover and had a lot of work to do before the week was finished. Intellectually, I know I need to take whatever Clemson says at face value: he isn't one to lie or make up falsities for the sake of sparing feelings. But I was disappointed nonetheless. I thought I was going to get my flirt on and I didn't.

By that time I was being summoned from across the bar—the flip cup game was starting and people wanted me on their team. I was so relieved that someone wanted my attention and I didn't have to wade around in this awkwardness anymore. Statham moved on to his ex-girlfriend's table, where he remained for the rest of the night.


Yesterday at work, I got the same e-mail I received the previous week: Margaritas. After work. This time the e-mail made more sense: it was Cinco de Mayo and the country over would be drinking margaritas that night.

I typed back that I would be late. Schmoozer and I were scheduled for a run after work. I met him in front of the river.

"We'll run at your pace tonight. If I feel like I didn't get enough of a run in, I'll just continue on after you've finished," he told me.

I set my pacing watch and we took off. Because he wasn't working as hard as I was—his 5k time is about 12 minutes faster than mine—he was chatty. I tried to keep up the conversation in between breaths.

At the 1.75 mile marker, there are two options: you can either run straight and complete the 3.1-mile stretch, or you can circle around and add another 2 miles to the total run for a distance of 5.1 miles.

"What do you say? You want to turn left?" he asked.

"Okay, but if we do, I'm going to have to stop and walk at some point," I puffed.

"It's your pace."

We turned left. We lapped walkers that we had already passed. Schmoozer began a game of targeting people he knew we could pass and then beating them.

"Black, up ahead," he pointed. In front of us was a girl in black running. "She's going too quickly and she's going to run out of gas. Let's pass her." He pointed a finger gun at her and made laser blowing-up noises.

Sure enough, she tired out and we passed her.

"Blue, up ahead," he said as he found a new target.

At 3.5 miles, I had to stop and walk a quarter mile before finishing the 5-mile run. It was my most successful run to date. Just having Schmoozer beside me was enough to keep me going so I wouldn't look like an idiot and stop and walk.

At home, I stepped out of the shower and wrapped my hair into a turban. It was cool out; I would have to wear long sleeves if I met up with the group for Cinco de Mayo. I sat down at my computer and looked at the invite list again. Everybody was going, including Clemson, Statham and Statham's ex. I sighed. I was worn out from the run. I couldn't think of a cute outfit I hadn't worn yet that had long sleeves. I sat quietly and listened to myself. I didn't want the calories or the alcohol of the margaritas—tequila isn't exactly known for making people get along. More than anything, what I really wanted to do was plop down on my couch with my wet hair and watch Grey's Anatomy.

In the spirit of my 5-mile run and being healthy, that's exactly what I decided to do.


Waiting for me this morning was an e-mail from Statham. I was surprised because we've all but become strangers to each other. He told me that in my absence, the gossip mill was in full swing last night. It's a group that if you're not there, you're going to be talked about. I can't and don't want to make every event anymore; I'm going to be talked about eventually.

I responded and asked if there was anything I needed to know.

I received this response:

That Clemson is a good guy.

Your name came up, so I purposely started telling him that I'd heard the 2 of you had "been" together... he denied it. A couple of other people had heard the same thing, but Clemson explained that you just crashed at his place one night instead of driving home after the bar.

Good guy... kinda changed my opinion of him...

Oh yeah... no reason to be weird around me... kinda awkward walking into the bar the other night and the conversation stopped when you saw me walking over to say hey.

Tears stung my eyes as I read the e-mail. Why would Statham approach Clemson and start making up lies? Statham knows nothing happened; I told him so. I guess Statham wanted confirmation from both sides. And what's it to him anyway? He's spending all of his spare time with his ex. He should be relieved that whatever rumor is circulating about me doesn't involve him. Instead he's stirring the pot.

I don't care about the Clemson rumor. It isn't true. And even if it was, there are no ramifications. We're both single people without any league baggage. He hasn't hooked up with anyone from the league. I have, but due to Statham's concern about his perception of being a good guy, I know he'll never say a word.

But what's it to Statham for being concerned about anything regarding me?

~Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Relationship Status: It's Complicated

I still see my core group of friends about once a month when we attend one of our pre-planned trips out of town. Facebook tells me that in between the couples are attending movies and going out to dinners. There isn't any animosity among us; we just haven't been as close as we once were. At one point I would have called Government Mule and Jenna my best friends, now not so much.

Schmoozer is the only person who consistently keeps up with me, which shocks me because I've known him the least amount of time. Not only does he respond to every text and return every phone call, but he also wakes me up early Saturday mornings with offerings of breakfast and e-mails me during the week for lunch and/or a running partner. We ran a 5k together a couple of weeks ago and then attended a city festival.

As we walked through the park, I spied a swing set. "Swings, Schmoozer!" I cried. "When was the last time you were on a swing?" I handed him my beer and my purse as I sprinted towards the set and climbed on. I pumped my legs as I soared higher and higher in the air, noting that swinging requires more abdominal muscles than I remembered. Children abandoned the other swings as I gave it my all.

"You're scaring the children away!" he shouted after me.

I wanted to jump off mid-swing and feel like I was flying, just as I used to when I was little, but I was scared.

Schmoozer and a bystander encouraged me and I jumped off and landed on my feet. I did a curtsy and then returned to Schmoozer. Two grown men then took up the swings.

"Did you see that? I just made swinging cool," I cheered.

Schmoozer laughed and was silent for a beat. He opened his mouth and expressed doubts for the first time about Katie. We don't do this; we don't talk about her. My friendship with Schmoozer is strictly about the two of us.

He said he likes to get out and do things and explore places. "I hate TV," he said. She, however, is a bit of a homebody. She was supposed to run the race with us that day, but she didn't buy her number in time. Then she was supposed to watch us run and go to the festival with us, but she couldn't get out of Schmoozer's bed. I tried to locate her at noon and she was still asleep.

"She said she's pretty much where she wants to be for the rest of her life," he said. "Her family is here and she has no desire to leave." Schmoozer has lived in three major cities and has plans to leave our city in three to four years.

"You're still going to be here for several years. Who knows what is going to happen between now and then?" I said.

"I know. But I told my mom where I was going today and she told me it would be a good place to get some girls' phone numbers. She said, 'You're not going to marry that girl, are you?'"



Then we found a hookah station giving free samples and Schmoozer taught me how to smoke tobacco. The conversation was forgotten.

A couple of weeks later, Schmoozer, Katie, Swayze and I were sharing a hotel room for my thirtieth birthday. We had traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee for the weekend. It was Easter morning. Swayze snuck out early to return home for familial obligations. Schmoozer wanted to go exploring and find some coffee.

Katie reluctantly got out of bed and made it a block before she abandoned us and returned to bed. It was just Schmoozer and me walking through the town, waiting for everyone else to wake up and meet us for lunch. And because it was such a small town as well as Easter morning, the streets were empty. It felt like the apocalypse had occurred. Not a single car was parked along the street and not a single business was open. The only time we saw people was when they scurried to the church doors.

We eventually found a heathen Starbucks open inside another hotel and we grabbed our coffees and pounded the pavement. We spoke to a man in his bathrobe, a woman dressed in Civil War garb and a guy tying his necktie on his way to church. We found an elevator going up a steep hill for the handicapped and we crossed the half-mile footpath bridge going over the Tennessee River. On the other side, we stumbled upon a preacher speaking in an amphitheatre behind a steamboat and hundreds upon hundreds of people sitting on the grass in their Easter best listening to him.

By the time we met up with Katie for lunch (she was still asleep and we had to wake her to meet us), we had walked over 6 miles and burned over 2,000 calories. "I can't believe she missed all of this!" he frowned. We sipped our Cokes and planned a trip to Portland and Seattle in the summer to do much as we had that morning.

At times I feel like his stand-in girlfriend, the one he does stuff with when the real one isn't present. But the difference in which he treats us is night and day. With me he's tough and loud and boisterous and with Katie everything is softer: his voice, his touch, his spirit. The gentleness of his interaction with her illustrates his feelings for her. It's just he's never expressed anything about her, and now he has and it happens to be hesitation. Katie is one of my dearest friends, and I feel like I'm in a really awkward position knowing this kind of information.

~Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Final Score

 A couple of days later and I'm back on the field for our weekly game. I re-tied my laces and began stretching. Running during the week has done me well with kickball—my game has improved.

Girl from Irish Pub trotted across the field towards me. "Hey, Sarah! Guess what? Statham and I ran a 5k this morning and I had my best time since college! Statham must have gotten into racing because he grabbed all of these flyers and told me we're doing those races!"

"That's great!" I cheered, but inwardly I groaned. I am thrilled for her and her time, and I'm even more thrilled she wanted to share the news with me, but I am over Statham. I am of the mindset that I'd rather he not exist right now. Snip, snip and cut him out of my life. He's treating me like shit and I think people would be appalled if they knew the whole story—that he came on to me, slept with me and then vehemently denied it while ignoring me—but I can't tell anyone. I just have to suffer silently and pretend like it's okay.

I stood up and brushed the grass off my little red running shorts. The ones Statham flirted with me over. It didn't help matters that we were playing his team today. I turned around and looked at my team. I saw the Leader, Girl from Irish Pub, First Baseman and the Tattooed Boy. I smiled. These are my friends.

"Where's Clemson?" wondered Girl from Irish Pub as she checked out the other team.

"He's out of town at a bachelor party," I answered automatically.

She studied my face, surprised I knew the answer.

The game began. In addition to Clemson being absent, Statham also declined to show. I was grateful and was really able to enjoy myself. It showed. The Tattooed Boy kicked a line drive and I began running from second to third base. The other team caught the ball with the intent of getting me out, but the ball had dropped beneath my feet. If I put my foot down, I would have gotten myself out. Instead I did a classy windmill maneuver, swinging my arms as I tried to balance myself on one foot mid-run and then hopped over the ball as if it were a bad dance. My team laughed hysterically. We beat Statham's team, finishing our regular season ranked higher than his.

Immediately after the game Girl from Irish Pub phoned Statham, "Yeah, we beat you. Are you coming to meet us?" Ugh, it's like he's everywhere.

We headed to the crawfish boil. I met up with an old classmate. As he and I laughed over tales from high school, I saw Statham approach. With his ex-girlfriend in tow. Oh my god.

I shot him a look.

"We're trying to be friends," he said.

"Mmm hmm."

"I can see you don't believe me."

"That's because I don't." The way she was touching the back of his arm proved him to be a liar.

"Look, I'm kind of an expert in this area," I told him. "You can't be friends with people you have loved."

"Then I'm glad I never told her I loved her," he answered.

My mouth dropped open, "Seriously?"

"I take that kind of thing seriously."

In that moment, I was glad that Statham was forever tarnished in my mind. If he didn't love the girl after a year, he had no business being with her. Just like Christopher had no business being with me. Statham says the right things and tries to play up the nice-guy act, but he isn't. He's a snake. I see it now in the treatment of his ex-girlfriend.

He and his ex sat at the table adjacent to me. I felt the energy being sucked out of me. I didn't want to be there anymore. I didn't want to be so close to the situation anymore. The past month has been exhausting and mostly not fun. This isn't me. I am better than this.

I looked at my phone. I wanted to be around people that loved me. And I knew just the girl. She's my South Carolina bestie and she was in town this weekend. Best of all, she gets me because we discovered each other through our blogs. She knows my whole messy story and still accepts and loves me. She was exactly what I needed.

I need you, I sent her.

Come here, lover, she sent back.

I stood up from the table and walked straight out the door, saying goodbye to no one.

~Monday, May 02, 2011

Rumor Has It

The next morning I showed up to work late, blood shot and bleary eyed. I forgot my security pass so I had to ring the bell in front of the large, heavy mahogany doors. I struck a pose, arm akimbo and a tired smile, for the girl answering the door.

"You look like shit," my coworker said when she saw me.

I felt like shit and I smelled like an ashtray. It was the single most unprofessional moment in my life. I sat down at my desk and opened my purse, only to discover last night's clothes stowed away. I shoved them in my desk before anyone could see. As one of the remaining single girls in the office, this kind of behavior is always expected of me, but I've never taken anyone up on it until now. I knew I would be fine as long as I got my work done and didn't make this a frequent habit. As Harvey always says, "If you're going to be a man at night, be a man in the morning."

I sat very quietly at my desk before I opened up my e-mail. Waiting for me was an invitation from the Tattooed Boy. Margaritas, it read, After work.

Sweet Jesus, I can't think of anything I would like less at the moment. I wasn't the only person on the e-mail invitation; I also noticed First Baseman's name as well as Girl from Irish Pub. That's the rough part about making new friends: when you are first invited to things, you always have to accept until you are sure you have received the standing invite. It's a lot of work.

I looked in the corner of my screen and saw Statham's green light by his IM status. I haven't spoken to him at all that week. The drama of almost being caught had scared him off. I clicked on his name and started typing.

By the way, you were right.

About what?

The rumors were about Clemson and not you.

When the Leader was sitting next to me last night, I followed Statham's instructions. "Hey, you said that you heard I hooked up last week. I didn't do anything with Clemson," I said. That way I could find out to whom he was referring without incriminating Statham.

"Oh... haha... I didn't mean sexually," the Leader back pedalled.

Later that night when I was in Clemson's bed, I asked him why he told everyone I spent the night.

"Who did you hear that from?" he asked.

"Leader, Girl from Irish Pub," I swallowed. "Statham."

"I didn't say anything to the Leader," he replied. "I told Girl from Irish Pub because I was asking her advice, and I told Statham."

Statham never told me he heard it directly from Clemson. And from what I infer from the way they talk about each other, they aren't friends.

Clemson paused. "When I told Statham, he was really inquisitive. He told me y'all went out to dinner. He said you have the best taste in the city."

My eyes fluttered open from resting on Clemson's shoulder. I was shocked. Statham, the boy who didn't wish me a happy birthday and has been out of contact for most of the week, was curious about my whereabouts. He had liked me. At least at one point in time he did.

The IM I received from him this morning, however, did not allude to the same feelings.

Thanks for clearing that up, it read. I closed the window and moved on to my morning.

That afternoon, I got an angry e-mail from him: I mean, yes, I am very upset about the whole "rumor" thing... it caused such a ripple effect of drama... but, you apologized... and since people weren't actually sitting around at a bar spreading lies about me, I guess I shouldn't be upset.

I raised an eyebrow. First of all, the "lies" are true. Secondly, I brought something that I thought was relevant to him; he's the one who panicked and called several people telling them about the rumor, including his ex-girlfriend. He should have let it go until I got confirmation from the Leader. I tried to warn him: Statham doth protest too much, implying his own guilt.


After work, I headed to happy hour hosted on the roof of a building and met up with the Tattooed Boy. Girl from Irish Pub was already seated.

"Y'all I do not feel well," I said as I slumped in a chair.

"You're telling me," she laughed. "I got so drunk last night that I was throwing up until 5 a.m."

I immediately felt better. Funny thing is, we were not out together. She was at another bar with First Baseman re-enacting my night. She even arrived at work at the same time I did.

Another couple arrived, then First Baseman and then the Tattooed Boy. The six of us shared stories of our respective nights out and laughed.

Then Statham teetered in.

He took a seat one chair over from me. He then didn't make eye contact with me for the first 20 minutes he was there. He leaned in to Girl from Irish Pub and whispered something. She whispered something back. I knew he was talking about me; I recognized this behavior from when he did it to me about his ex-girlfriend.

Statham was so worried about being caught with me that he was now denying my very existence at a table for seven. Un-fucking-believable. Who's the bitch in this relationship? It isn't me. I interacted with everybody the same as I normally would, including Statham. Only then did he finally warm up to me.

The Tattooed Boy then asked if anyone would like to move to a second location. I accepted while everyone else ducked out. First Baseman slipped a few dollars in my hand and told me to tip the rooftop guitarist. People stood up from the table. I leaned back and whispered to Statham, "Walk me to my car?"

He grimaced and then accepted.

I waited until we left the building and were alone in the parking lot.

"How mad are you?" I asked. "You understand that it was a misunderstanding on my part, right? That's what I want to convey to you," I said.

"Yeah, but the damage is done," he said. "It's like the accusation of rape: it's harder to clear your name with a rumor like that."

"I took it to you. It was your choice to run with it and tell everyone else about it," I said.

"To be honest, I don't know you well enough to trust you, so I called the people that I've known for years and do trust."

I looked to the ground. It was dark out and the parking lot was near-abandoned. I could hear Queen's "Fat Bottomed Girls" echo from the guitarist back on the rooftop patio. I told Statham that his over-compensation in respects to his non-interaction with me had hurt my feelings. I said that I knew he was trying to protect his ex-girlfriend, but to just remember that I am a person too. It's not fair to treat me like shit because I accepted his advances.

He agreed and apologized, but I knew it wouldn't change anything. "It's just that because of the almost-rumor, I am so afraid of doing anything else; it hasn't even been a month yet. I've been laying low and letting everything die down." He said he respected me for telling him how I felt instead of letting it fester.

"I didn't know you were going to be here tonight," he said.

"Yeah, I figured that."

"I heard you came with the Tattooed Boy."

I tilted my head back and laughed. So that's what Girl from Irish Pub whispered to Statham. "Ridiculous." It was probably the only rumor I've enjoyed so far; let Statham think that I'm highly sought after.

"I don't regret what I did with you, but know that I don't normally do this. You're the only person I hooked up with from the league."

It was just rhetoric to me. Statham says the right things, but his actions of ignoring me were still in the forefront of my mind. Because he's shorter than me, usually I stoop or lean on something when I'm with him. I felt myself arch my back and tower over him.

"You're the only person I've hooked up with as well, despite what you may hear about Clemson, or the Tattooed Boy," I paused, "Or whomever you hear about next week," I added for good measure.

"That's right, the Tattooed Boy is waiting for you," he said. "And Clemson-" Statham cut himself off. "I can't do this. I got to go." And he turned on his heels and walked away.


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