A few days later and it was our weekly night at the bar again. I sat at a table with friends. I looked over my shoulder every few minutes. Abraham's game must have gone long. He wasn't here.
I wasn't in the habit of coordinating these nights with him. If one of us couldn't make it, the other would know. But I never checked what time he would get there versus what time I would.
I saw some of his team enter the bar and I felt at ease. His game was over. But still, no sign of Abraham. Other people recognized how distracted I was. I was practically stalking the bar from my seat at the table. Abraham is very easy to pick out of a crowd, which made me even more frustrated.
A girlfriend of mine approached me to say hello. As I saw her and waved, Abraham appeared beside her. We don't do this. We don't talk until the drinking games commence in an hour or so. The girlfriend saw him and darted away so we could talk.
"I couldn't find you," I said, worried.
This time he smiled. The tables had turned since the previous week. "I saw you. I always knew where you were."
He was wearing a different colored shirt than his team colors. It had thrown me off. But still, I should be able to recognize the guy I'm sleeping with.
The conversation was a little stilted. This was new for us, to be together the entire night. Abraham, sensing my hesitation, eventually returned to his team. Suddenly I missed him and wanted to force through the awkward talk.
"Are you coming back?" I cried.
My girlfriend returned to the table.
"Sorry! I saw him and I didn't want to interrupt you two! How are things?"
I clapped and did the little girl squeal. "They're good. They are really, really good!"
"Aw, that's cute!" she said.
As I passed Abraham and his team during my trips to the bar, I'd place on my hand on his back. We haven't been advertising us, but we haven't been hiding it either. It felt good to touch him as I passed him, to let him know I was there and I saw him. I loved the intimacy of the gesture.
We set up the tables for the games. As usual, I tapped Abraham on the shoulder and he followed me.
"It's your turn Abraham," said the Leader.
I shot Abraham a death stare. That was my name for him.
He shrugged and chuckled. "It's leftover from that prank I played on you."
Abraham would periodically lean in and ask me who the other players were. I'd answer with first names, last names, hobbies and any relevant facts. I never realized how much I had been accepted by the kickballers over the past six months until Abraham noted how much he didn't know playing over the past three years. It mainly speaks to the differences in our personalities: the social butterfly versus the wallflower. But Abraham being by my side every week has brought him into the inner fold of the group. People were talking to him more and more often. He was becoming one of us.
The band began to play and one of Abraham's teammates brought over the demo CD.
"Let me see that. I know that band. I used to drink with one of their singers back in 2006," I said, grabbing the demo CD.
"See! She knows everybody!" said Abraham. It made me feel good that he was impressed.
During the night, underage girls appeared in the bar wearing slutty Halloween costumes. I frowned. It was mid-October; Halloween was still 2 and a half weeks away. The band fell over themselves posing for pictures with the girls and then giving them t-shirts to pass out. I was annoyed. I grew so annoyed that I began tapping my foot on the ground. It's just all so easy to use your youth and your slutty costume to get attention from boys at bars. What I've cultivated--speaking to both the kickball group and Abraham--has taken a lot of time and a lot of work. It wasn't easy for me. And here the entire bar has stopped to pay attention to these two girls.
I was jealous. I was so filled with jealousy that I was angry. The Beautiful Boy crossed the bar to get a free t-shirt from the girls. Abraham watched his friend walk away and looked at me mischievously.
"Go on. I dare you." I said.
Abraham did not go get a free t-shirt.
The novelty of the girls in slutty costumes eventually wore off and everything returned to normal. The band began to play again. The drinking games resumed. My flash of anger was over.
We kept an eye on his watch and once again darted out of the bar early. Before I started going home with him, Abraham and I would stay at the bar for five to eight hours. Now we were averaging two and some change. The pretense of staying out late to spend time with each other was no longer there. We could be much closer at his place.
~Thursday, October 27, 2011
A few days later and it was our weekly night at the bar again. I sat at a table with friends. I looked over my shoulder every few minutes. Abraham's game must have gone long. He wasn't here.
~Monday, October 24, 2011
After Yom Kippur, Abraham met up with his other "suffering Jews" for dinner. As he was driving home, he saw a car with my alma mater's flags flying. He thought of me. We had been texting that afternoon and he knew my team was playing and that I was hopeful for a win. My team had indeed won. He knew I'd be happy.
As he got closer, he noticed that the car was a shocking blue: the same shocking blue as my car.
He saw a husky's head happily hang out the window. The dog looked similar to the SMS picture he received the same afternoon.
As he approached the red light, he saw the bumper sticker. The one that I have on my car. He looked through the windows at me.
I was in a great mood. Harvey threw a party to watch our alma mater play and we had won. They had switched the TV to a horror film, but I decided to call it a night. It had been a long day for the Femme Fatale and me.
As I was driving home, a song came on my Shuffle that had my name in it. I turned up the music on full blast and began to sing loudly.
Behind me, the Femme Fatale's tail wagged. She was looking at something. I didn't pay much attention. She's a beautiful dog and often receives attention at red lights.
My hair stood up. I had the feeling I was being watched. I looked over my shoulder and jumped. I was being stared at. Hard.
"Who is that creepy-- Oh."
My phone began ringing. It was Abraham.
"I was wondering when you were going to look at me."
"You scared the ever-living shit out of me! I feel like you caught me with my pants down."
"Yeah, you seemed into your... song."
I blushed. The light turned green. We began driving down the road together.
"Where are you going?" I asked.
"Home. What about you?"
"Want to go home together?"
"Sure. Let me drop off my dog and I'll head over."
"Drop off your dog where?" he asked.
"My apartment?" I was confused. Where else would she go?
"Why don't we just head to your apartment then?"
Abraham followed me home. I said my prayers because not only was I wearing a dress for the football game (despite being teased for continuing to dress up for game day), but also I had actually cleaned my apartment. Not only were things put away, the toothpaste marks had been scrubbed off the counter.
I have a really nice apartment, but it's small. That's City Life. Abraham's condo is twice the size of my apartment. Every time I step foot in his, I marvel at the sheer size. "Look at all this space you have!" I gasp. What I have not told Abraham is that despite my small-ish apartment, it's the largest one I've inhabited. This is me living large.
Abraham smirked upon seeing it. He finally understood why I continually make such a big deal of his place.
I saw his smirk. "What? I have a foyer! Where's yours?" I knocked on my counter top. "This is marble!"
"No! It's nice!" he recovered. "It's you."
Then he saw my TV and doubled over laughing. This was the playful Abraham. The one that teases me with a fake name.
"I don't like buying new electronics when the old one works just fine. It's wasteful." I crossed my arms in front of my chest.
"How much does your TV weigh?" he sputtered.
"About 300 pounds," I cracked a smile. "It is kind of bulky, isn't it?"
Then he saw my shitty desktop computer I've had since college sitting on a small desk in the corner of the room. He bit his lip and shuddered.
I made eye contact. We broke out into laughter.
"Okay, let me see this view you've been telling me about," he said. "I don't have a view."
I grabbed two bottles of beer from the fridge and took him to the roof. We were surrounded by skyscrapers lit up in the clear night.
"That's uptown, this is midtown and that's downtown," I pointed.
"And that's the strip club," we both said in unison as we pointed to building directly across the street from me. We laughed.
"It's chilly up here. You'll have to keep me warm," he said as he swigged from his bottle.
"You? The Yankee?" I jeered.
I wrapped my arm around him and rubbed his back. He wasn't shivering; there was nary a goose bump to be found. It took me several minutes to realize that maybe he said it so we would be close. We hadn't had any contact since he came over.
Absentmindedly, I leaned in and kissed his temple. I learned from Valdosta to be sloppy with affection. To be an affection slut and give away pointless kisses. I loved how I felt when Valdosta was instantly comfortable with me. I felt instantly comfortable with Abraham. If the worst thing I put into the Universe was giving away too many kisses...
Back inside the apartment, Abraham was affectionate in a way I had yet to experience with him. We’ve always left the bar and fallen into his bed laughing. Now he was sitting on my couch with his arm around me and his head pressed into mine. Affection inside and outside of the bedroom are very different. Outside the bedroom it feels more genuine. It's like saying, "I’m touching you because I simply want to."
He flipped through my cable and settled on some American Pie marathon of the straight-to-DVD movies. He decided that the movies were better on mute, so we watched the silent films and guessed what was happening. It gave us time to talk. We were both surprised with how much we had in common. For example, there is a local musician that I’ve been a fanatic of for years. When he brought up the singer, he was dismissive saying I wouldn’t know him. Wordlessly, I got up and provided him eight autographed CDs and countless ticket stubs. I pulled up my interview with him that was published in the newspaper. Abraham sat there stunned. I beamed.
We stayed up all night, basking in the pleasant newness of him and me alone together. At 4 a.m. when the house party next to me died down and college kids screamed across the lawn who was driving (oh god, I was glad to be home), we too decided to call it a night and settle in the sleepy slumber of my bed.
He asked which was my side of the bed and crawled in the adjoining spot, having stripped down to his boxers and t-shirt. I stood on the other side of my bed in the darkness. I was wearing a dress with a hoodie zipped up for warmth. I wasn’t going to crawl in my own bed wearing a dress. It seemed silly to change. I removed my clothes and slipped inside the sheets.
I snuggled up to his shoulder and he wrapped his arm around me. He was startled at my nakedness.
“I wasn’t expecting that at all,” he stuttered. He sat up and removed his t-shirt.
He commented on the darkness of my bedroom. I used my hands to find his newly bearded face. Abraham took advantage of the lack of sight and teased me with playful kisses. Forgetting it was early morning and that I had thin walls, I tilted my head back with shrieking laughter as he licked my face.
We would remain this way for 11 hours: naked in my bed laughing. His body would be my playground. Not having someone in my bed for so long made me opportunistic, loving every lump and bump in front of me. Abraham recognized this and commented on it.
“I like you exploring my body,” he said as I prodded his hip bone.
We shared stories and kisses until early Sunday evening, when he finally left my bed. We had done it: spent an entire lazy Sunday in bed together. We set new records together.
I dressed and leashed up the Femme Fatale. The three of us walked into the parking garage and stood in front of his car.
“I had a good time,” I smiled.
“Meh,” he shrugged, pursing his lips to keep from cracking.
I laughed and patted his cheek. Despite having known each other for three months, we were both astounded with how good of a time we had together. I kissed him and sent him on his way. We both had football to watch.
I shook my head and chuckled to myself as I walked the Femme Fatale down the street. That night wouldn’t have happened if it hadn’t been for a single red light.
~Friday, October 21, 2011
I was horrified. HORRIFIED. I have thrown up 100% of the nights I spent at Abraham's house. I did the math.
I sat slumped over my desk, doing my best to just. sit. still. I had to work over the weekend to make up for this; I knew that much.
Abraham commiserated with me via text. He had stolen out to his car to take a nap that afternoon. Abraham was great through the whole ordeal. He's the hero of the story. I'm certainly not.
The thought I'm not ready kept circling my mind. I am not ready for love. I am not ready for a real, live, grown-up relationship. If I was, I wouldn't have done something so childish as to get stupid drunk and consequently stupid sick. Here was a boy I liked and he's already seen me at my absolute, absolute worst.
As the days passed, I still heard from Abraham. Every day.
"He's still talking to you? You may have met your match," laughed Schmoozer. It was Schmoozer's birthday and we were at a café sharing a piece of birthday cake. My present to him was the story.
"You wouldn't have taken care of me?" I asked curiously. Surely, a friend such as Schmoozer who knows me better would have taken care of me.
"I wouldn't even give you one of my spare bedrooms. I would have stuck you on that shady couch downstairs in my house that everyone is afraid of. I would have also made you clean up your own mess. And I would have made you leave as soon as you were half-drunk instead of drunk."
He described to me the different girlfriends who have thrown up in his house and how he put them in cabs or driven them to friends' houses to get rid of them. He talked about kissing the one girl who disappeared for a little bit and then discovering that she had vomit breath. He said he would have given me a 24-hour kissing ban and that Abraham was a better man than him.
"Your BF said he would let me yak in his bathtub as long as it was a one-time occurrence."
"I could see him being okay with that," chewed Schmoozer.
"Yeah, he said it's because he's done that to other people before."
"That sounds about right."
"I bought Abraham a new bathmat. I'll give it to him the next time I see him. It's one of those orthopedic ones that feels all squishy between your toes. But I couldn't remember the color of his original bathmat."
Schmoozer laughed again and shook his head. "He's still talking to you and you bought him a bathmat. You two are made for each other."
It had been two weeks since we had seen each other and the whole horrible incident. I was sitting with friends as I saw him stroll into the bar. I was tucked away in a booth in a corner. He didn't see me. I watched him go through the bar and talk to various people.
The boys I were with mentioned Abraham and his pitching skills. "Sarah's boyfriend puts a good spin on the ball. His pitches are tricky," said one guy.
I whipped my head around. "Wait, what?"
I didn't know who knew what. After I left with Abraham two weeks ago, I had not spoken to anyone or left my apartment. I spent the time drying up from the booze. But I know the Leader was probably there when I stumbled out of the bar hand in hand with Abraham and I know how quickly rumors start when he's around.
I moved to another table of friends and sat catching up with them. Abraham was standing on the patio with his back to the window. I was always aware of where he was. But we usually don't talk until flip cup starts. I didn't want to change the protocol.
As I'm talking with a friend, he turned around and peered through the window. I found him staring at me before he quickly turned around. He was looking for me too.
I took that as my cue and got up and went outside to the patio and began talking to the people next to him.
I found the Leader. "Hey, three different teams have come up to me and asked me when flip cup is starting," I told him. We again set up the tables. I moved the tray of free shots to the side.
"Bring those here," ordered Abraham.
I put several paper cups of shots in front of the two of us. He lined them up.
"We're going to play King of the Hill. You ready?" he asked me.
We picked up each shot and downed it and then flipped the tiny paper cups. He won. Then we moved over to the flip cup table and played. I told myself I wasn't going to act differently around Abraham after sleeping with him, but as the shots and flip cup took effect, I found myself casually grazing his butt with my hand. He didn't protest.
As the night wore on, we kept an eye on Abraham's watch. Instead of spending all night at the bar hanging out, we were both counting down until an acceptable time to leave. Midnight, he decided.
"It's 11:46. Close enough," he said.
We raced out of the bar without saying goodbye to anyone. In front of the bar, he returned to his previous routine. He looked down and shuffled his toe in the ground. "You okay to drive?"
"Are you asking to ask, or is this an invitation?"
"It's an invitation."
It was like seeing his house for the first time. In his bedroom, I pulled out my bag and presented it to him.
"I got you something."
He pulled out the bathmat. "You didn't have to do that. I washed the old one and it turned out fine."
"Abraham, your bathmat died a valiant death. Just take this one."
He crossed the bedroom and entered the bathroom and dropped it on the floor. He stepped on it, looked at me sitting on his bed and smiled. "It feels nice. Do you think I can have two bathmats?"
"You can have as many as you like."
He pushed it in front of his sink. "I like it here."
"That's a good place for it."
He left the bathroom and walked back to me sitting on his bed. He cupped my chin and kissed me. I love the whoosh before the first kiss. The rush of excitement I feel as his face approaches mine. The adrenaline of Things To Come.
He climbed on the bed, continuing to kiss me. They were soft, gentle kisses. Kisses being given for the sake of it: without demand and without expectation.
When Lawyered first heard about the bar make out, he did a double take. "He kissed you for an hour without making a move? What person our age kisses like that anymore!?" he hollered. He then told his fiancée, who reacted similarly.
Lawyered made me feel like something was wrong with lingering on first base, but it never occurred to me the very first night or even the present night that things shouldn't be this way. We had entire conversations punctuated with kisses. He told me about his day in between kisses. And in the days that followed, it wasn't the sex I would think about; it was the kisses.
Afterwards, I laid on his shoulder.
"I couldn't find you tonight," he admitted.
"I was there. I was in a corner booth when you walked in. You didn't see me. But I knew where you were. I always knew where you were."
He puffed out his chest. "I almost got you to go home with me that first night." He was proud of himself.
"You never asked. You asked if I was okay to drive. You never explicitly invited me. Had you, I would have gone."
"I did. I asked. I just asked very quietly."
I nestled into him. "Are we going to go on a real, live date now?"
"I don't know," he paused. "I'm Jewish. There's a lot of pressure from my family that I marry someone Jewish." He never asked me what I was, but I guess he already knew. I already knew about him, but it was from my Facebook snooping. It didn't bother me.
We had been sidestepping the religion talk for awhile. The previous week when he traveled home to be with his family, I asked him if he had any big plans. He declined. I only knew it was for Rosh Hashanah because of the Someecards.com email I received. He had the opportunity to tell me and he didn't.
"Does that mean never?" I asked quietly.
"No, not never."
"What are you looking for?"
He was making this hard. He doesn't like talking about dating. It makes him squirmy, both that first night at the bar and again tonight.
"Okay, I didn't ask the right question," I said. "What are you open for?"
He asked the same questions of me.
"I know what I don't want. I don't want to be the girl from kickball you hook up with." I paused and looked at him in the darkness, "I chose you."
"That's sweet," he said genuinely. He reached his arm around me and stroked my hair.
I stopped asking questions. I didn't want to ask anything that I wouldn't like the answer to.
"A bunch of us are meeting Saturday morning for an impromptu game of kickball. I'm making hunch punch. Would you like to come?" I asked.
Abraham sighed. "I would. Any other weekend I would join you, but I can't this Saturday."
"Is it because of Yom Kippur?"
"Yes." He seemed relieved that I asked about it and he could talk about it. I could feel him relax underneath me. "I can't have any food or water, so I'm just going to camp on my couch and watch football."
"What's it for?"
"It's an atonement of your sins."
"For how long? From sun up to sun down?"
"No. It's for 24 hours."
He in turn asked me questions. Whereas I asked superficial questions like whether he liked dogs, Abraham's questions were much more serious in nature. He asked about my family, trying to determine whether we were of an acceptable caliber. I realized he knows a very specific, very irresponsible aspect of me. He still doesn't know me. He doesn't have the same security in me that I have in myself.
I gave him credit for regarding me seriously and asking those questions. Abraham's deliberate; I'm capricious. He's hesitant. I'm hopeful.
~Wednesday, October 19, 2011
It had been five weeks of witty text banter.
I stepped out of work and into the sunlight. I grabbed my phone out of my purse.
I just finished my huge work thing. I'm coming out tonight to celebrate. Get ready.
Should I be scared?
I did not know what a self-fulfilling prophesy that would turn out to be.
I walked into my apartment and dropped my keys in the basket in the foyer. The apartment looked different since I was done with the huge work thing. There weren't books and papers and binders and highlighters spread everywhere.
I also had nothing to do with my spare time. I used to be reading and studying. Now, nothing.
Since I had nothing to do, I slept. I napped until kickball was over and the players would be entering the bar. What I should have done was cooked and ate dinner, but I had a late lunch and my stomach was anxious still from the work thing as well as the prospect of seeing Abraham for the first time since we kissed and I stalked him online.
Abraham was by the bar with his team. I sat on the patio with my old teammates. We compared Tennessee Warrior Dash bruises. I lifted up my leg and showed them my knee with two kneecaps from falling during the trail run. There were scabs on both my knees running down to my ankle. My arm looked like someone attacked me.
At one point Abraham appeared on the patio to say hello to other kickballers. I was standing against the wall when he shuffled past me. He held up his drink to toast me. I responded by giving him a friendly punch in the arm. Only it was a harder punch than I intended.
"Ow!" he said.
Nice job, Sarah.
He moved on to his friends and I sat down at a table. The Leader appeared with a tray of shots, as is the custom for every kickball night. I set down my vodka tonic and picked up a shot with my friends. Because they're free, they're usually not very good and are described by non-food items. "It tastes... purple," I would typically grimace.
These shots were a dusty orange color. I don't know what were in them, but they were particularly bad. Several people guessed jager was the culprit. The Leader left the tray sitting in front of me. A tray of free shots. A tray of free shots on a night where I was feeling anxious.
Every five or so minutes, I would grab one.
And, if I went to the bar and ordered another vodka tonic, I would walk past Abraham.
Vodka tonic #2 or #3 in hand and I turned around. Abraham's team was next to me. Specifically, the beautiful boy was next to me.
I nudged his arm. "Hey, I thought about you in the shower the other day."
He did a double take and burst out laughing. He looked at the rest of the group. "She says she thought about me in the shower! I've never had a girl say that to me before!"
"No! No! I went to Warrior Dash and I cut the hell out of my legs. I remember you telling me when you hurt yourself sliding into base that all you needed was soap and warm water. So I was in the shower digging gravel out of my wounds repeating 'Soap and warm water! Soap and warm water!'"
I lifted the hem of my dress and displayed my knees to him. He, in turn, lifted his leg. "You know, I still have a scar from that slide."
I took my hand and rubbed it up his shin. This is bad. Abraham was standing right there. I straightened up and went and stood by him.
“Are we going to play flip cup tonight? We didn’t play last week when you weren’t here,” he told me.
I had heard something similar from Lawyered. I didn’t attend the first week of kickball because I was busy with work. He said no one went out afterward and there was no flip cup.
“Sure. I’ll go set it up.”
The Leader and I set up the table outside on the patio. I still carried my vodka tonic with me. Flip cup had become so popular with so many people lining the tables to play that the measly swallow of beer I got every game wasn’t enough. But surely enough, Abraham appeared by my side as he did the previous kickball season. We had a good time playing. We always do.
The free shots and the three vodka tonics and flip cup and no dinner had caught up with me. I was drunk. I was a level of drunk that I wasn’t quite prepared for. I may not be able to control my emotions when I drink, but I’ve always been able to control my composure. I’ve never blacked out and I’ve never bit it in a bathroom stall because I was simply too drunk.
Both of those things were about to change.
I took a seat in the iron outdoor chairs. I was sitting with The Leader and Abraham. The three of us were talking about drinks. I named a new shot I had at the bar, the Leader talked about something that tasted like bubblegum and Abraham named his drink. Because the three of us had never heard of the other people’s drinks, we decided to order them all for everybody. The last thing I remember is downing the first of three shots and laughing as Abraham tried to flip the heavy shot glass on the table.
Ooh, look! We’re leaving the bar! Okay! I guess it’s time to go!
We’re holding hands! I wonder why we’re holding hands. I really love holding hands.
I’m holding his hand not because I like him, but because if I literally lift my foot off the ground, I’m going to fall down. Must shuffle.
I’m sitting on his bed! This is going to be fun! Where is Abraham? The bathroom door is shut. Okay, he’s peeing.
I kicked off my cowboy boots and swung my legs like a child. All of a sudden, my stomach dropped. The rumble of regret was building. Oh no.
I ran up to his bathroom door and knocked on it.
“Come in!” he called.
But there wasn’t enough time.
I’m pretty sure Abraham swung the bathroom door open the exact second I threw up. I just remember lunging towards his bathtub while he screamed, “I said ‘Come in!’ I said ‘Come in!’”
There are different levels of throwing up. There’s the one where you just feel it’s in your best interest, so you hold your own hair and force your finger down your throat and femininely leave your bad decisions behind. And then there’s the DEFCON 1 version where you’re doing your best Exorcist rotating-head impression while begging the other person to not look at you.
I was in the latter camp.
I closed the bathroom door to be alone in my humiliation. He opened it and found me dying on his floor.
“How are you?”
“Just leave me,” I murmured face-down from his bathmat.
“You’ve been in here a little while. I’m going to go to bed.”
“Yes, please do.”
He handed me a bottle of water. I drank from it and immediately threw it up. Okay, so no water.
I fell asleep. When I had woken up I had moved from the bathmat over to a pile of Abraham’s dirty laundry that was discarded on the bathroom floor. The pile of clothes was soft compared to the cold tile floor. I could really use a shower.
I stood up up and turned on his shower. Despite losing my stomach lining down the drain, I was still very drunk. I got into his shower, propped myself against the back wall and aimed his shower head at me. DIDN’T OCCUR TO ME TO TAKE OFF MY DRESS. I think my thought process was keep my clothes on to wash them as well. Apparently I also drug his bathmat into the shower with me to clean that too.
I emerged from the shower. I didn’t look for a towel or dry myself off or take off my clothes yet. I stumbled straight into his bedroom. Abraham raised his head off the pillow where he’d been sleeping.
“You need a shirt?” he offered.
He got up and pulled out a t-shirt from his dresser. I left my wet dress on the bathroom floor and put it on. I climbed into his bed and he spooned me.
“You’re really cold,” he observed. To be fair, Abraham was also drunk. It didn’t occur to him to get a towel to dry me off or perhaps the reason I was cold was because I was sopping wet.
I snuggled up into him, pressing my butt into the curl of his body. “Everything in your bathroom is wet and awesome,” I gently warned him. I did my best to clean up the scene, but I have no idea how I really left it.
Despite me spending the last hours of my life barfing in his home, Abraham was affectionate and, more importantly, not pissed off at me. I was now awake and he was now awake. We engaged in pillow talk. Places we’ve been to at the same time without knowing the other person was there. Our impressions of each other at the kickball game we played together. Our geographical histories.
“I Facebook stalked you,” I admitted. Sweet Jesus, I hate that Drunk Me can’t keep my mouth shut.
“Oh yeah? What did you learn?”
“I learned you have a t-shirt collection,” I copped out.
“I do. And you’re in it right now.”
“I am?” I breathed. Drunk Me is also easily impressed. “Did you Facebook stalk me?”
“I did, but yours is on lock-down.” He sounded disappointed.
“It is.” He had stalked me too. “You should kiss me,” I whispered.
“I am not touching you until you scrub out that mouth of yours,” he replied.
I had completely forgotten how this night had ended. I never would have suggested that we kiss had I remembered I had been puking not too long ago. But the talking and the cuddling was so nice that I forgot about it.
We got up. He gave me a spare toothbrush and we stood at his sink at 6 a.m., brushing our teeth. I looked at our reflection in the mirror and giggled. How funny we looked, brushing our teeth together. Then I handed him back his toothbrush. I half-expected him to drop it directly in the trash, but he placed it in his cup.
We climbed back into bed. Commence making out. Commence passing out.
The next morning, I woke up staring at Abraham’s back. His shoulders seemed so broad laying in bed. Much broader than I remembered. He shut off his alarm and rolled over. I laid my head on his shoulder as he texted his boss that he was going to be late for work. My alarm went off 10 minutes later. I turned it off and we fell back asleep.
We woke up again at 10:30. He texted his boss that he was going to be even later. I tweeted my curious whereabouts and then called out late to work myself.
All of a sudden, what I remembered of the night started coming back to me. I panicked. “Omigod, I didn’t close my tab last night. And I left my purse outside on the patio. BY THE WAY, I DIDN’T DRIVE HERE, DID I?”
“I closed your tab for you. You were too drunk to do it. He handed you your slip to sign and you just kept handing him your card to pay, even though you already paid. So I signed for you. Your purse is right here by the bed. Your phone was in it, remember? And I drove you. I put you in my car and I debated waiting it out for a bit, because I knew you were going to be sick.”
None of this sounded familiar to me.
“How much was my bill? It should have been about nine dollars.”
“It was 36 dollars.”
“You ordered shots for everybody.”
That part came back to me. I remembered the word “bubblegum” and Abraham flipping the big shot glass.
“When we got back to my place, we somehow ended up on the floor in front of the bathroom. You crawled into my lap. We kissed there until I had to go to the bathroom.”
Nope, none of this is familiar, but it does sound like something I would do.
“Wait. We kissed before I threw up?”
“Was it any good?”
I was horrified. This has never happened. I’ve never blacked out.
Abraham made a move to get up. I wrapped my leg over him, pulled myself on top of him and laid my head on his chest, still tired. “No. You tell that boss of yours that you can’t get up because you have a girl on top of you. He’ll understand.”
Abraham ran his hand up and down my thigh as I laid on him. We drifted in and out of sleep.
“How are you feeling?”
“I’m could really go for a waffle. My stomach is empty.”
I heard voices in the other room. “Who is home at 10:30 in the morning?” I moaned.
Abraham got up and checked. “My roommates. Apparently no one went to work today.”
I buried my head under his blankets. “But I don’t want to do the walk of shame in front of them.”
He chuckled. “Do you want me to tell them to hide while you leave?”
He got into the shower and then returned to bed next to me. He leaned his legs on me.
He whispered, “I’m not going to lie. I saw what you did to my shower and I dry heaved a few times. By the way, can you wash bathmats?”
I groaned again. So much shame so early in the morning.
I kept my face away from him, but I put my hand on the thigh that was leaning into me and caressed it.
I didn’t intend it, but I knew where my hand was. He knew where my hand was. Things up to this point had been strictly PG rated. And now because of where my hand naturally fell, we were at the crux of the nature of our relationship. We both held our breaths.
I thought about what my friend Mike had said all those months ago when I was doing this dance with Clemson: You were in bed with him, but was he hard? No? Then he’s gay.
I could tell by the stretch of the fabric that Abraham was not gay.
I thought about the previous night and my behavior compared to Abraham’s behavior. I was a psychotic mess. Abraham never complained. He took me home and took care of me. He picked up the pile of dirty laundry that I slept in and put it in the wash along with one yucky bathmat. He put my wet dress in a bag. He was in bed beside me, not angry, but affectionate.
I felt so guilty that I had I’m-sorry sex.
~Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I don't know how to describe Abraham. He's the kind of guy that you would miss if you didn't look twice. He's there, in the background. He says he was there all those nights I've been at the bar. By contrast, I am not a background person. Abraham recently said to me, “Take everyone you know here and divide by 10. That’s who I know.” He’s been a member of the league for three years; I’ve been a member for less than one.
The only real reason I noticed him in the first place is because he was the pitcher of a team I was playing against. Had he played any other position, I would not have seen him. I’m the kind of person that likes to have fun with the pitchers and try to psych them out. Lawyered likes to refer to this as "flirting." Abraham played along with my antics.
I stood behind the plate and pointed to my eyes and then to his eyes and back to mine. Then I stuck my tongue out at him. He laughed and pitched me the ball. His team was good. I don’t think I made it on base the entire game.
And then it was his turn to kick. As catcher, I crouched into position next to Abraham. Lawyered pitched the ball. Abraham made it on base easily. When Abraham was on third base, I was ordered to block home plate to prevent him from scoring. I did as I was told. The result was Abraham crashing into me as he scored. I didn’t know it was him at the time. Abraham would remind me of this months later.
That’s what I knew of Abraham the nights we played flip cup together at the bar. He understood my playful nature and was reciprocal. He would tease, such as giving me the fake name. He would laugh as I blew his cup off the table while he was trying to flip it. He’d pour my beer from his own cup as I scrunched up my nose and complained of backwash.
One night, sometime after the kissing but before I went to Mexico, I looked him up on Facebook. Whereas I have all of my information hidden, Abraham did not. I admired his ability to have a public online presence. I doubt I’ll ever be able to have one after my days spent with S.
I clicked through albums and albums of pictures. In those pictures, I didn’t see someone who was perpetually in the background; I saw someone who was the star in his own life, which, really, is what Facebook is all about. I saw the hockey fanatic, the baseball fan, the beer drinker, the amateur runner. I saw someone who loves his family. I saw his playful nature extend to his funny if not awkward profile pictures. It humanized him. It turned Abraham from That Guy From The Bar into That Guy Who Has Interests And Feelings. That Guy Who I Want To Know.
And what may have been born from boredom morphed into a full-fledged crush.
~Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Thus began the great text contest.
Abraham, self-proclaimed "Not good at this" and "Better at text" was present only in my phone inbox. He teased me with being home in bed while I powered through work the following day.
Two days after making out with him, I woke up on a Sunday morning with what would become Walking Pneumonia and the Cough from Hell.
I groaned and rolled over in my bed. I'm sick. How could I have gotten sick? I closed my eyes and sniffed. I thought of co-workers who have possibly infected me. Lord knows I haven't been around other people...
My eyes snapped open. Oh yeah, there was the whole making out at 4 a.m. by the dumpster of the bar incident.
It was raining outside. I rolled over again and snatched up my phone.
I'm sick and I'm debating whether or not to blame you. Send.
Buzz. It probably is my fault. It's also my fault that there's no power right now because of the lightning I provided.
I looked out the window. Just a light shower. There's no lightning downtown. Send.
Buzz. Give me a minute. I work slow on Sundays.
A few days later, the earthquake happened on the East coast.
Buzz. I'm being blamed for earthquakes now too! How ya feeling?
Like I dropped out of a butt. Send.
Buzz. I've never been dropped out of a butt. How was it?
Shitty! Ba dum dum. Send.
And that became our excuse to contact each other. Instead of two grown adults who say things like I enjoyed having your tongue in my mouth and would like to arrange for that to happen in the near future, our rapport became based on the weather. But not just any old comment on the weather. We had to be witty and breezy.
A few days later, Hurricane Irene came for a visit. Thanks for diverting Hurricane Irene away from Mexico for my upcoming trip! Send.
Buzz. Oh good. I was focused on keeping her away from Jacksonville where I'm headed Friday. Pushed her away from Mexico by accident.
When I stepped off the boat, I turned on my phone. As promised, Tallahassee was already blowing up my phone with texts and a Facebook friend request. I tweeted. Real life resumed so quickly.
There were zero missed calls and zero text messages waiting for me. Maybe because everyone who contacts me was on the boat with me. But Abraham's absence was noted.
As I climbed in the car for the drive back to the city, I sent him a short text.
Buzz. Wow, they let you back in the country? :)
Whatever, the country's net worth just increased with my presence!
Because of beer and liquor sales, right? :)
A group of friends were sitting at a bar a couple of days later watching the college football games. I looked at Lawyered.
"So I sent back to Abraham, 'I have five more days before I return to work; we should get into some trouble soon.' And he responds that he partied too hard in Jacksonville and is taking the next two weeks off from drinking."
"Silly girl," laughed Lawyered. "That was a test. He was testing you. He only knows flip-cup you. Making-out-by-a-dumpster you. What did you send back?"
"I don't think I responded at all."
"You were supposed to say. 'Who said anything about drinking?'"
"I didn't say anything about drinking! I crafted a 'We should get into some trouble soon.' There was no set day or activity. If he liked me, he would have worked with me. I don't think that invitation was too dense."
"Sarah, who says 'We should get into some trouble soon?' That is such a guy response. Seriously!"
I stuck out my lower lip, beginning to pout. "I thought it was good! It was non-committal and a little bit flirty!"
Then Schmoozer's BF opens his mouth and drops the bomb. I slump busted in Mexico. These people didn't know that.
Lawyered smacks his hand down on the table and laughs uproariously. "Oh! Oh! This is rich! You are all hung up on some guy and you had sex--" he starts counting on his hand "Three days ago!"
I crossed my arms in front of my chest. "That was different! That was vacation sex! That's not real-world applicable. It's been compartmentalized!" I hissed at him.
"You're a dude. I'm convinced of it," he responded. "Only a guy would say vacation sex doesn't count and then ask a guy out by offering to 'Get into some trouble.'"
Schmoozer's BF was wiping tears away from his eyes. Lawyered's BF was snorting with his head down. I wanted to lunge across the table and strangle them all.
"You don't like this guy," Lawyered continued. "If you did, you wouldn't have shtuped this other guy on vacation."
"Uh, I'm not putting all my eggs in one basket for some guy I've never gone out with. That's completely ridiculous."
"Yeah, you're 30. If you have any eggs left," he teased.
I shot him the stink eye.
"Okay, okay. You like this guy? This is what you do. You failed the test. You text him on a school night and ask him to go get a yogurt after work with you. There's a Pinkberry right around the corner."
Lawyered paused thoughtfully, "Or you should just shtup him. That'll get you a dinner date before anything else will."
Monday night (aka, the school night):
Could I interest you in some all-ages fun? Perhaps a coffee or an ice cream after work this week? Send.
Buzz. I'm actually booked for the week, even without drinking! I've gotta keep you waiting.
Eff this. I stared at my phone incredulously. If he had just sent the first part, I would have deleted him out of my phone and never given him a second thought. But how the hell do I respond to "I've gotta keep you waiting?"
I paced my bedroom floor. I would want you good and rested and on your A game, so you let me know when you are available. Send.
That was it. That was my A game. This witty banter back and forth, this was the best I could do. I'm tapping out. I went ahead and deleted his number.
A few days later I received a picture message from an unknown number. It was Abraham holding a German beer stein.
I'm baaaaaaaaaaaack! His abstention from alcohol was over.
I groaned. Now I have to be witty again. This is starting to hurt my brain.
Brilliant! It must taste as holy as God's tears! Send.
~Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The summer kickball season and two months had flown by. All of a sudden it was the last night. I chewed on my hamburger from the bar and looked at my male teammate.
"There's this boy I've spent the whole season talking to and it's the last night and I'm not playing next season, so I need to get this guy to act tonight."
He put his burger down and wiped his face. "Which guy?"
I pointed to Abraham on the other side of the bar. He was drinking a beer with his team. A and I had spent the entire season together, drinking and playing flip cup. Every week we talked and hung out. It's been two months.
I wasn't sure how much I liked Abraham versus how much I was bored. Barring the whole fake name incident, he was nice. We had a good time together. He was dorky in what I deemed an acceptable way. He always wore a backwards baseball cap, something I hadn't seen since the 1990's. But every week when it was time to play flip cup, I'd tap his shoulder and he'd stop mid-conversation and come join me. Besides, he always pours my drink for me.
"So ask him out," said my teammate.
"WHAT?" I said exasperated.
"I know there's that whole theory that about hunting and gathering and how guys don't like being approached, but let me tell you: we do. We like being approached."
I thought about it. "Do you like being approached even if you aren't interested?" I was trying to suss out a worst-case scenario.
"It's still flattering."
"What do you say if you aren't interested?"
"I'd probably fib and say I was already seeing someone." He finished his burger and grabbed his beer. "But don't automatically assume he's lying if he tells you that. That's just me."
"I always thought that if a guy liked you enough, he'd make a move."
"What is this, the 1950's?"
"What if I say something and he turns me down and then I'm the crazy girl at kickball because I put myself out there to him?"
"Are you kidding me? Half of this room has already slept with the other half of the room."
He had a point. I saw a girlfriend of mine cross the bar. She's slept with three that I know of. None of them turned into relationships, just a lot of jealousy among the guys.
I stood up from the table. My teammate slapped my ass, "Go get 'em, champ!" he cheered.
The Leader was setting up the flip cup table. I crossed the bar and looked for Abraham. I didn't see him. I approached the beautiful boy.
"Where's A? Flip cup is starting."
"He's at the bar across the street getting a drink with his roommate. I'll text him for you."
Uh, okay. Now I feel really self-conscious. I didn't ask the beautiful boy to contact A for me, but he did. And now I look like a stalker. I wondered if the beautiful boy was just being nice or if there was a reason Abraham needed to know that I was looking for him.
After a few rounds, Abraham appeared at the flip cup table. He waited until someone else exited and then took the guy's place.
"You came back!" I said.
"Yeah, I just went across the street for a few minutes."
"I know. Your friend told me. He texted you, but I said it wasn't necessary."
"I got a text?" he pulled out his phone and then saw it. I wish I kept my mouth shut.
We played flip cup. Schmoozer's BF came in with my girlfriend he's dating and he finally got to meet everybody. She immediately joined in the game as he sat back and watched.
It was a good night. Everybody got a little crazy because it was the last official night together before a 4-week off season. Boys were getting drunk. Girls were screaming "Woo!" People were dancing. I had already lost my purse twice and I think Abraham fed me his backwash during flip cup.
"Hey, look!" pointed Abraham.
I turned around. I saw a random girl quickly pull away from another girlfriend of mine. Girl fight!
I crossed the bar and grabbed and hugged my friend. "I will end you," I threatened the girl I didn't know.
The girls laughed. "We aren't fighting! We were hugging! We're friends and it's my birthday!" said the stranger.
What the ---. I was drunker than I thought I was. Then what was Abraham pointing at? I felt like the worst person in the world for threatening to kick this girl's ass on her birthday. I called the waiter over and bought two birthday shots to make up for what I said.
I handed the first shot to the girl and tried to hand the second shot to our friend. Our friend turned it down, saying she wasn't drinking that night. I seem to remember her saying that earlier.
"Drink it with me!" said the birthday girl. She didn't care that I threatened her a moment ago. I drank half the shot and put the glass down and tried to walk away.
"You didn't finish it!" she cheered.
I picked up the glass and finished the shot. That set the tone for the rest of the evening, which turned into a drunken blur.
At one point Abraham was at the bar and getting a refill. I was seated at a table waiting for no one in particular. A boy I’ve seen around the bar over the past year approached me.
“I know you have a crush on my friend,” he said, gesturing to Abraham. “But can I have your number?”
Just how obvious is this Abraham thing? I peered across the bar to Abraham. His back was to me. I gave the other guy my number.
The birthday girl came back to me at the table. She had tears in her eyes. "Thank you for buying me a drink and celebrating my birthday with me. I have a little girl and haven't left the house in three years. Just thank you. You have no idea how much that means to me." We hugged it out.
Abraham returned to the flip cup table. I got up and joined him. "What the hell were you pointing at? Because I almost started a girl fight over it."
"Clemson was lifting up his shirt."
I told him what happened. He laughed. Flip cup ended and we found another table and sat talking. Part of the group came up to me and declared they were going to a diner to eat. The crowd was thinning out.
We then moved to the bar and continued talking. I had the Leader tell Abraham the story about how I got knocked unconscious. When Abraham got up to go to the bathroom, the Leader whispered in my ear, "Just close the deal already."
"I'm trying, believe me."
Abraham returned to the bar and bought a round of drinks for the two of us. "I'm calling out sick tomorrow," he announced.
"You should get my number and call me sometime," I blurted. "Because it's the end of the season and I'm not playing next season and we won't see each other anymore."
"My team is dissolving."
"So play on another team. Play on mine."
"I can't play on yours."
"[Statham's Ex] is on your team. We don't exactly get along." I made hand gestures to demonstrate the not-getting-along part.
"I had no idea."
It wasn't entirely true. It's not that we don't get along. We're really great at being in the same space and pretending the other person doesn't exist. But I could never do that to her. That's her team.
"So you should get my number," I repeated.
"I'm not good at this," he said.
He was serious and his voice was low and dejected and it had completely taken me aback. I thought back to what his friend told me earlier in the night, “A’s not used to girls hitting on him.” I mean, we are old—I’m 30 and Abraham is 34—we’ve been out there in the real world and dating for an average of 14 years. What is there not to understand?
I paused. Maybe he’s not interested. Maybe the whole I’m-not-good-at-this business is his version of I’m already seeing someone. Maybe it’s his way to blow me off.
Maybe he’s a player and this is his way to keep himself available to me without actually doing any of the work.
"What's there not to be good at? You get my number and you call me. It's simple."
"I'm better at text," he said.
"Then text me."
He pulled out his phone and I put in my number and dialed my phone. "You realize I'm saving your number as your fake name, right?"
"So are you going to call me?"
"I don't know," he shrugged. “You should keep coming out next season even though you won’t be playing.”
“I will. I do. I did it in the spring season when I played on the weekends and y’all played on the weekdays. I was here all those nights you said you were also here. And because I wasn’t playing, I looked cute.”
“I bet you did,” he smiled.
"Look, you can call or not. I'm not going to cry over it," I said nonchalantly.
"Then don't call and we'll just be friends," I said.
"I'm not ready to say that either."
I threw up my hands in the air, exasperated. Really, call or don't, but make up your mind!
"I'm calling out of work tomorrow because I'm hanging out with you. Know that," he said.
"What time is it, anyway?"
"Three a.m. We’ve been here drinking for 8 hours."
"WHAT?" I screamed. "No bar should be open that late. They should close and make me go home."
I looked around. There were less than 10 people left, including the Leader.
"Walk me to my car?" I asked.
In front of my car, Abraham had finally made up his mind. He looked at my mouth, giving the pre-kiss signal, then he leaned in and kissed me. Just when things were getting going, our teeth banged. I was still a little drunk.
"I'm sorry. I can do better," I said.
We kissed again and banged noses.
"I can do better. I promise."
We kissed again. We finally got our acts together. Tongues mingled. Fingers intertwined.
"Much better," he murmured.
We spent the next hour making out by my car. He's a good kisser. He kisses exactly like I do: in Morse code. Short kisses punctuating long kisses. It stayed PG rated, but it felt so good just to be touched. I hadn’t gone on vacation yet and the last time I was touched, I was being held by Clemson while I cried. I took advantage of the opportunity. My fingers tickled his beer belly by the elastic waistband of his basketball shorts. My palms explored his cheeks. My hands squeezed his shoulders. I wanted to make a mental map of him with my fingertips.
He was playful as well. “I’ve been wanting to do this all season.” He grabbed my kickball t-shirt, the one I had cut up and bedazzled, and untied one of the bows cinching the sleeves.
I finally pulled away. "I need to go home."
"Are you okay to drive?"
"Yeah, we haven't had anything in the last hour."
"Are you sure?"
I guess the option to go back to his place was on the table, but he wasn't explicitly inviting me. Besides my stomach was feeling disheveled from all of the drinks.
"No, I need to go home. I need to either eat or yak, and I haven't figured out which one it's going to be yet."
He took a giant step backwards. I probably would have too. Sometimes I wish I wasn't so honest.
"So, are you going to call?"
"I don't know."
"Alex!" I pounded his chest.
"It sounds weird hearing you say my real name," he admitted.
"Then I won't. I'll never say your real name again, Abraham," I laughed and patted him on the cheek.
"Have a good time on your vacation in a couple of weeks," he said.
"Yeah, thanks. I will."
It was rough the next day. While Abraham had taken the day off and was sleeping, I was at work and thinking about the shots and the almost girl fight and the drunken making out. It was a really fun night. I probably should have been a little embarrassed about it, but I wasn't. There was a tongue in my mouth. I was happy.
~Monday, October 10, 2011
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."
~Saturday, October 08, 2011
Since the first Warrior Dash I ran in May had changed my life, I immediately signed up for the next closest race in Tennessee in September. After that first race, I believed I could do anything. I was confident enough I had even taken a Crossfit class. I told myself I was going to train harder than I had for the first one and that I was going to do better.
The best laid plans.
After the 10k race in July, I made the decision to quit running for the rest of the summer. I'd still tie on my sneakers and make it out about once a month for a 3-mile jog, but it was simply too hot. I've been told time and time again that endurance dissipates after a week and a half of inactivity. I had stretched my running pause well beyond that.
Lawyered had talked me into joining his Saturday morning boot camps with him. It succeeded in building up the arm strength I never had. I could now at least support my own body weight.
Then the cruise had happened and then work became busy with 60-hour weeks. And then it was September.
I piled in the car not with the group I had run the first Dash with, but with several friends from kickball: Lawyered, his best friend and a girlfriend from my second kickball team. We drove to the Bonnaroo site in Tennessee, which happened to also be the Warrior Dash site.
It was hotter than I expected. And whereas the first Dash was in the North Georgia mountains, the second one was in a giant open field with no tree coverage. There was no lake to swim. There were no water obstacles at all. It was running on a flat dirt surface punctuated with obstacles built in the dirt. Approaching every obstacle felt like approaching a playground.
As I was running the mile or so towards the first obstacle, I got winded much more quickly than I ever had before. We rounded a bend and approached a trail run through gravel and stumps. I looked down at the path below me. I dodged a veritable hole in the ground.
Whoa, I thought. If I would had stepped in that, I would have fallen. That would have been embarrassing.
And as I'm having this thought, I tripped over something entirely else. I did that thing where you try to recover by going into a jog, but since I was already running, my jog became a sprint. I was running too fast. And I didn't have control of my run.
It was the longest fall I've ever taken in my life.
I had tripped and recovered into a sprint, but it was a sloppy sprint. I knew I couldn't keep it up. As I ran, I slowly felt my body weight push forward and forward until I went ass over tea kettle and bit the ground. This whole process had to have taken 20 seconds. When I actually fell, I was nowhere near the spot where I tripped.
There was blood streaming down my leg where I hit a rock with my knee. I laid flat on my back and tried to breathe from the epic fail I just had in front of so many people. About 5 guys stopped and asked if I was okay and pulled me up from the ground. Fantastic.
My knee throbbed as I ran again. Instead of mud, there was blood pooling in my sock. Lawyered and everyone else were so far in front of me. After the first obstacle of climbing a hay bale tower, I said "Fuck it" and started walking.
The over-unders of the previous dash were set in mud. Climb over the wall and fall into a pit of mud and slide under the barb wire. But in Tennessee, there was no water and therefore no mud. It was climb over the wall and land gently on Mother Earth and crawl under the barb wire.
The 18-foot wall that had scared me so much in the first Dash was an early obstacle in the second one. And as I approached the painted black tower, I thought No big deal. I already know I can do this. I didn't need to ask a stranger to grab me by the ass and lift me up. I grabbed the rope and was up and over the wall. No big deal. The time I lost in running/walking, I made up for in my quick execution of the obstacles.
Then the next 6 obstacles were variations of that wall. There was that wall, but at a 20-degree angle that required you to run up it and use your upper body strength. Then there was the wall that you climbed up and then slide down a fireman's pole. And then there was the wall you climbed up, but the back was covered, so you had to jump off it or slide down it.
Every time I approached another big black wall, I thought, You've got to be kidding me. I didn’t think that because I was tired, I thought it because I was bored. I already knew I could do it. I wasn't learning anything. I wasn't being challenged.
And that's how the second Warrior Dash went. I was unimpressed. I spent the summer chasing that high I had with the first one, only to realize I couldn't reach it again.
I do that a lot. I find something that works for me and then I chase the exact replica of it. After Valdosta, I was (and still am) attracted to men that look like him. Valdosta will never be found in the pages of GQ, but I'll always have a fondness for beards because of him.
I spent the summer hibernating in my comfort zone. I was hanging with the same group of people. Drinking in the same bars on the same nights of the week. Doing the same thing I always do.
I'm going to have to find yet something else to drag me out of myself and get that resulting high. But—as a testimonial to myself—the list of adventures that can accomplish that for me are growing thin. I've already done Warrior Dash, a 5k, a 10k, whitewater rafting, kayaking, zip-lining, rock climbing, rappelling, and so on and and so forth. I don't know what else is out there for me. I don't know who else is out there for me.
It's time for me to just fucking try.
Love, Sarah at 9:34 AM|
~Friday, October 07, 2011
I got up what I assumed was a couple of hours later and made my 8 a.m. breakfast in the dining room. And then I went back to my room and slept. I hadn't slept the entire trip and I was finally exhausted. I crawled back into bed and joined Katie in Slumberland. The windowless cabin make the room pitch black and inviting.
Around lunchtime, Harvey knocked on our door. It was the last full day of the trip and apparently everyone had slept in.
"How are you?" she asked with a hint of mischief in her eyes. I assume her husband told her I blatantly left with Tallahassee the previous night.
I leaned against the door frame, still tired. "I slump busted," I whispered.
It was cool if Harvey and the boys knew, but I didn't want it getting around to Katie and Swayze and Jenna. I don't know why. I guess despite my singleness, I didn't want to live up to the expectation of me. The expectation being exactly what I did the previous night: get drunk and hook up with a stranger on a cruise ship. Spending time with the kickballers this year has ignited some college-level wildness in me. But I stand alone in this group of people. The girls are coupled up and Swayze is hopelessly in love with Katie. I mean, I spent my vacation partying with married brothers. Harvey knew me from college, when she would be the one to instigate the wildness.
She looked puzzled. "What's slump busting?"
I guess she's been married for longer than I thought.
"Doing what it takes to end a dry spell."
"Oh. Oh!" She turned around to her husband, "Sarah slump busted!" she laughed down the hall.
Well, so much for that.
I grabbed my bikini and towel and headed with them to the pool. We largely sat in silence, either reading or listening to music with periodic dips in the water.
I recognized the girl in front of me. She was the date of Tallahassee's roommate the previous evening. He had gone back to her room before we had gone back to his. She turned around. I waved.
"Have you seen the boys?" she asked me.
"I haven't. Tallahassee asked me to wake him up this morning, but I thought that would be weird so I just came out here instead."
Just then the two boys came walking across the deck. I froze. My night life had been very separate from my day life; I didn't want them intermingling. But it was too late: Harvey was already looking at me curiously to see how I knew this older woman to whom I was talking. Now the boys were approaching me. And Harvey's mother-in-law is a few chairs away and will learn very quickly about my vacation sex.
To avoid any uncomfortable conversation, the woman and I got up from our lounge chairs and crossed the deck to meet the boys. Tallahassee hugged me and scolded me for not waking him up.
"I didn't want to look like a stalker," I shrugged.
"You don't look like a stalker when I ask you to do it."
"You want to get together later?" Yes, I was asking him in code for sex. The seal had been broken so I may as well get it while I still could.
"Sure. What time?"
"Okay. Five o'clock. My room," he said. He gave me another hug and continued walking with his roommate.
I returned to my lounge chair. Harvey eyed me but didn't say a thing.
At four o'clock I conveniently disappeared without telling anyone where I was going. I showered the sun and salt water off me and put on fresh clothes. I mixed a rum and Diet. We had all of this liquor left and I didn't want to carry it off the boat.
I knocked on his door. Tallahassee answered. He and his roommate were sitting on their respective beds. I was surprised to see the roommate here. Didn't he understand the code for sex? I basically said, Come over. We could watch a movie.
I sat on Tallahassee's bed hours after I had left it the first time. The three of us made small talk. Then the roommate got up and filled a 20-ounce water bottle with vodka and announced he was going on a walk.
Tallahassee made his move. It was pretty mechanical on both of our ends. Buttons unbuttoned. Zippers unzipped. It wasn't romantic; it was two people who decided to be together.
Tallahassee had stamina. And I didn't know where my next sex was coming from.
This time the roommate started calling when he was ready to return to the room. After the 16th ring, I looked at Tallahassee. "You better get that," I said.
"Yeah I think I should."
He got up and mumbled into the phone about needing more time. We got the 10-minute warning again.
Afterward I dressed and laid across his lap. He ran his fingers up and down my back and into my scalp. I groaned. There was a difference in the way he treated me. Tallahassee was nurturing and a caretaker. I learned why: he's a father.
He pulled out his phone and showed me pictures of his daughter. I said the obligatory Isn't she beautiful.
His roommate stumbled back into the room without the water bottle. He drank the entire thing in whatever time we used. He was shitfaced and decided he needed to pack immediately. I didn't get up from Tallahassee's lap. He didn't stop caressing me.
"What are your plans tonight?" he asked me.
"We have dinner at 8:15. That'll last until 10. Then we're going to a piano bar before we go to the closer bar at the discotheque." I automatically tapped my wrist with the baseball closer signal. "Why don't you meet us at the piano bar at 10?"
I left the boys to do their packing and headed back to my room to change again for dinner. I slipped in my chair at the table.
"Where have you been?" I was asked.
After our final dinner, we headed to the piano bar. By now I had finished most of the liquor I brought and I was able to fit my fun flask in my purse, which meant no more returning to the room. I periodically turned around and looked for Tallahassee. He didn't show.
At midnight, the piano bar closed. I still had a bottle of wine in my room and I wanted to share a toast with my friends at the front of the boat. I wanted to tell them how much I loved them and how much fun the trip had been. We made it through unscathed.
I poured my bottle into 10 glasses collected from everyone's bathrooms and we headed outside. Only the places where I wanted to toast were closed again due to the high winds. As we stalked the boat, we lost Katie. Jenna went to go find her.
We chose the very end of the boat instead. In the darkness we watched the boat churn through the water. We were almost back in the States.
We waited several minutes. Katie and Jenna had not returned. Swayze then went to go search for them. Then Swayze never returned. We must have waited at least 20 minutes. Harvey wanted to toast without them, but I refused. This was a group thing and we were going to do this as a group.
The winds swept higher. The Boston Brother's wife began to complain; she didn't want to be there anymore. This wasn't what I imagined. I didn't think it would be so difficult to tell my friends that I loved them. I just wanted a moment. Everyone knew this. But Katie and Jenna and Swayze couldn't be bothered.
The Boston Brother's wife complained a little more loudly.
This is ridiculous. I said as much. I walked off the deck of the boat and headed straight to the discotheque. Whatever happened with Tallahassee earlier in the night, I knew he would be there.
The roommate's date saw me and squealed. "I love your dress! Where have you been? Tallahassee thinks you blew him off and he's been sulking all night!"
"What? He was supposed to meet me and he didn't."
The roommate saw me and ran up to me. "You're here! Where have you been?"
"I don't know! But I'm here now!"
The dichotomy between this moment and the the previous ten minutes was odd. My long-term friends were not available; my short-term friends cheered at my presence.
"Tallahassee's been upset. He hasn't even been drinking. I'll go get him." The roommate ran out of the discotheque.
"Yes! Tell him I'm here!" I called after him.
I sat down next to the date and pulled my flask out and refilled my drink. I'm glad I make friends easily. I always have options.
Tallahassee returned to the discotheque and waved at me. Then he started dancing with someone else.
I frowned. "For someone who was so upset about missing me, he sure isn't acting like it," I commented.
She leaned into me. "He thinks you ditched him so he's getting back at you. Giving you a taste of your own medicine."
By Jesus, she was right! I turned to her wide eyed. She was Yoda. She was Dating Yoda. "How do you know that?" I asked exasperated.
"I'm older than you. I know what's going on."
"Will you be Facebook friends with me?" I asked. I have much to learn from her. She wrote her name on a napkin.
Tallahassee returned and we talked. Turns out there is more than one bar with a piano on it. And he went to every one but the one I was in looking for me.
My new Facebook friend stood up and we all posed for pictures: Tallahassee, his date, the roommate, and his date. These people wanted me.
"Let's get out of here," Tallahassee whispered in my ear as he grabbed my waist.
This time we didn't close down the discotheque. We didn't go to the 24-hour pizza restaurant. We went straight to his room.
As we were laying in bed, the roommate opened the door. "It's your turn," he announced. "Time to go for a walk."
Tallahassee and I stood up and got dressed. The roommate led in his date. we were kicked out of his room. I didn't want to take Tallahassee back to mine. I couldn't do that to Katie.
We wandered the boat hand in hand and ended up in the exact spot where my toast was supposed to take place. We lied down in the wooden lounge chairs and watched the stars. You could see the Milky Way from the ocean. I don't know that I've ever seen the Milky Way before. You can't see any stars in the city.
I told Tallahassee at my failed attempt at the toast. He said he was sorry that things turned out like that. He reached his arm across the chairs and comforted me.
"They have to be done by now," he announced.
We got up and headed back to his room. He opened the door and quickly shut it again.
"Nope, they aren't done yet. All of his sheets are on the floor," he laughed. Tallahassee called the 10-minute warning to his roommate and this time we headed to the computer room and sleepily cuddled while waiting them out. It felt good to get a taste of our own medicine. We owed the roommate this.
The roommate opened the door and walked the date back to her room. Tallahassee and I climbed back into his twin bed. I swear, they were the most comfortable beds alive. He spooned me and we drifted off to sleep. I was tired; both boys snoring didn't phase me.
The next morning came. We were back in the States. The roommate picked up his phone and began sending and receiving texts from his bed. It was the first time I heard a phone chime in five days. The spell was broken.
"I better go pack," I said.
"Meet us for breakfast?"
I headed back to my room. Katie was asleep. I didn't ask her what happened the night before and she didn't offer. I pulled out my suitcase and began packing. The announcer called that our floor could disembark the boat at this time.
There was a knock on the door. It was Tallahassee and the roommate. "We decided to skip breakfast. I think we're going to head on."
"Yeah, okay." I was disappointed.
The roommate hugged me and disappeared. Tallahassee pulled out his phone. "Can I get your number?"
"Yeah, but I haven't turned on my phone yet."
"I'm going to text you before I get off the boat."
He hugged me and kissed me. I knew I would never see him again. He lives four hours from me in a small town in South Georgia. I have my life in the city. It was what it was.
Love, Sarah at 12:37 AM|
~Tuesday, October 04, 2011
That night a party was being held on the lido deck of the boat. Our group had all managed to stay together (minus BB's wife, who I never really saw again after that night; minus Katie, who was back in bed). The party was hosted by the break dancers and a DJ played those songs that require choreographed dance moves (on a related note: The Mississippi Mudslide is really the biggest pile of shit I've ever had to dance.)
The girls were all out on the deck dancing while the boys ordered buckets of beer. The Boston Brother quickly pointed out Tallahassee standing on the deck above us, watching us dance. When the party had broken up, I wandered up the stairs to meet him and his roommate. I felt awkward purposely seeking him out; we've always just run into each other at the discotheque.
He didn't make me feel awkward though. We leaned against the railing and I pointed out the various friends he had heard about, but hadn't met. I shook my glass.
"You're out," he noticed.
"Yeah. Want to walk with me back to my room for a refill?"
That was the only thing about drinking the contraband liquor. Walking to a bar to get a Diet Coke and then walking back to the cabin to spike it with rum was a bit of a pain in the ass. However, it did keep me mobile and counteract at least some of the calories we consumed on vacation. And because of the central location of my room, it wasn't that terrible of a walk. I estimate it took the same amount of time as flagging down a waiter and having them go to the bar. And when I got my bill at the end of the trip, it was hundreds of dollars less than other people's.
I opened my room and tried to sneak in. Tallahassee courteously waited outside. Katie, as usual, was in bed asleep. As I began the Zombie Walk towards the dresser, she flicked on the light.
"Sorry, just refilling," I whispered. She was used to the disturbance by now.
"I heard you giggling. Is Tongue of Tongue and Groove outside?" she asked, using the nickname Harvey had dubbed us the first night.
"Yes, do you want to meet him?"
I swung the door open. "Here he is!"
Tallahassee waved awkwardly. "We're going to meet Harvey's Husband and the Boston Brother at the discotheque. You want to come?" I asked her.
She snuggled in her comforter. "No, I'm good here," she smiled.
We went to the discotheque and danced just like we had every other night. The Boston Brother danced with the curly-haired brunette again. The entire group went for pizza again.
It was 3 a.m. I pushed my pizza plate away from me. "Ugh, I'm wonky," I announced.
There was never a problem with sea sickness throughout the trip, but as the boat left Cozumel and headed back towards the States, something had changed. Either the boat was going faster as it returned home, or we were battling the ocean currents, or something. But it was harder to walk without stumbling. The rocking of the boat was felt at all times. We'd teeter through the hallways sober the same way we teetered through the hallways drunk. I wasn't sea sick, but I was noticeably off. I found that walking as high up on the boat as I could made me feel better.
I looked at Tallahassee, "I need to go for a walk."
"Let's go." This wasn't our first walk of the evening. It wasn't even our third.
We stood up from the table. Harvey's Husband and the Boston Brother barely looked up. "Have a good night, y'all," they said. Just like that. I was getting up and leaving them in the restaurant with a boy and they didn't notice. This was not part of the accountabilibuddy code.
We tried to climb to the top of the ship, but it was roped off due to high winds. That might have something to do with the rocking. The winds were so strong that they bit at my ankles with every step I took, trying to snatch them out from under me.
Tallahassee grabbed my hand as we casually crossed each deck, with me murmuring about feeling wonky. There was an ease between us. He was a good ol' boy from the South: soft-spoken and agreeable in nature. He was nurturing with his hand rubbing up and down my back any time I said I didn't feel well. He was 34, but he didn't act like any 34-year-old I knew. He was a little more seasoned. The wrinkles in the corners of his eyes demonstrated this.
Hand in hand, we returned to our floor. We were standing in the grand lobby. It was quite the view to see the atrium extend seven floors above us with elevators and a marble staircase and a grand piano and then realize you're standing in a freaking boat.
"Do you want to lay down in my room?" he asked casually.
Instead of turning right down my hallway, we turned left down his.
"I'm probably not going to sleep with you," I said matter-of-factly. But the answer was already in my statement: "probably" meant I could be talked into it.
"Not a problem," he responded easily.
His roommate was already asleep and casually snoring. We climbed in his twin bed and he spooned me. We cuddled for about three minutes before he made his move.
We began to make out. He rolled me under him and then he did the one thing that always changes my "no" to a "yes." The term "slump busting" had also come to mind. It's been awhile and he's a nice boy and this might end my dry spell.
"Your roommate's gotta go," I whispered. I'm not in college anymore. I'm too old to have sex with someone in the same room.
"He's gotta go."
Tallahassee woke him up and told him he had to go for a walk. To give the roommate credit, he woke up and grabbed his shirt and shoes and left the room without complaining.
It was sex. It was what it was.
His roommate had tried to come back once, but we weren't done. This time he muttered. "You have 10 more minutes!" he grumbled as he left again.
It turned out he walked outside and thought he'd curl up on one of the deck chairs, but it had rained and the cushions were wet. He went and sat in the computer room, laying his head on the desk.
He had given us more than 10 minutes before he returned to his room and fell back asleep. Sleeping in the same room as two boys was much different than with Katie. For one, both of these boys snored.
I sat up in the middle of the night in full panic mode. I woke up from a dead sleep not being able to breathe. My cough had returned. My body shuddered and tears squeezed from my eyes as I tried to inhale between racking coughs. Tallahassee got up and gave me a bottle of water and rubbed my back as I doubled over, trying to breathe. This continued. The cough went on and on and on.
"You done yet?" mumbled the roommate.
Tallahassee laid back down and put his arm around me. These boys didn't sign up for this. They didn't decide to share a room with a girl with a horrible cough that would wake them up in the middle of the night. I felt my hand across the floor until I could find every last of article of clothing I had.
I kissed Tallahassee. "I'm going back to my room," I whispered.
"Come and get me when you wake up," he said sleepily.
I snuck out the room and into the hallway. Jesus, it was light outside. Even on the water, I could tell it was early morning light. Most were still asleep and would not witness my dash of shame back to my cabin, thong in pocket.
Love, Sarah at 8:34 PM|