In the early light of dawn, vampires return to their coffins after a night of lecherous bloodsucking.
I scroll through the Facebook feed in a bleary-eyed stupor, in the space between waking and sleep. An ex-fling from last year – one that barely registered on the FWB Richter Scale – has become engaged. To someone who looks like Miley Cyrus – The Hannah Montana version. I vomit everywhere. C’est la vie. A werewolf howls at the moon.
The February chill whips around my coupe as I speed across the bridge. Fluorescent lights glow in the distance, on a hill, like the Great and Powerful Oz. I somehow got invited to a “press opening” at the casino, for their nightclub. I’m psyched! I plan on schmoozing with whatever “industry insiders” are there.
I get lost and park my car in an extremely far location by accident. Row 578 Section 46, something like that, in the parking garage. I hop into the descending elevator.
“Are you here for the press party, too?” I ask an elderly couple in patriotic sweatshirts.
The elevator dings! and I’m released into the wild. I follow the fist-pumping beats to the nightclub area. A judgemental-looking woman with a clipboard makes sure I’m on the list, hands me a gift bag, and I go into the party. The crowd appears to me an intimidating hoard of old guys in suits. Some middle-aged couples sit around the periphery. Where’s all the writers? I know a writer when I see one. A skinny, bespeckled chap is sitting at the bar. I reach over him and grab a chocolate-covered strawberry.
“Hello!” I say, “So you’re here for the press party? Who do you write for?”
His girlfriend appears.
“Oh, we both write for Lacrosse Monthly,” she says.
A short, awkward conversation begins, until I get the hint and leave. That’s when I spot a devastatingly handsome guy smack in the middle of the room. He seems about my age, with thick brown hair, medium height, wearing a dress shirt and tie. He has the sullen, brooding romantic expression that I adore. The furrowed eyebrows…. definitely the sexiest person here.
I walk up to him in my Professional/Erotic Stilettos and introduce myself.
“Hey, I’m AJ,” he says. “And this is my dad Francis.” An older guy with a goatee and a Nikon comes out of the shadows. “He’s a photographer.”
We chit-chat; AJ tells me that he sells ads for a newspaper. A cocktail waitress appears brandishing a tray of glowing, technicolor shots.
“All right, ok!” AJ takes two shots from the tray. I am trying to sip the same glass of wine the entire duration of this open bar event and be on my best behavior… but my willpower is slipping. I pluck a shot off the tray and take a sip.
“Bleh, I don’t like it,” and set it back down. I must maintain control.
AJ runs off to the bar after asking what I want to drink. He returns with an armful of beverages.
“We have to make this open bar count, we only have two hours,” he says.
AJ and I grow increasingly inebriated together. Between trips to the open bar, cocktail waitresses revolve through the crowd, offering “samples.” Then, AJ points out a towering ice sculpture. Behind it, martinis are being shaken.
We drunkenly navigate our way to the shimmering sculpture, staring at one another, drunk and drooling. This AJ fellow is a serious casanova. Selecting a martini glass, he holds it beneath the ice-cold stream of booze and extends it my way. With a raised eyebrow, he says – “Let’s go to the slot machines.” He makes it sound like a romantic invitation.
We stagger out of the sanctioned soiree. AJ sits down and whips out a pack of Seneca Menthols.
“This machine isn’t taking my money,” I slur, trying to shove a limp one-dollar bill in the slot.
“Here, I got it,” AJ valiantly says, putting a five in.
We puff away on a few Senecas and talk. AJ asks me about my life, my ambitions, and seems interested in everything I tell him. His green-blue eyes are large and expectant.
“I just can’t believe you don’t have a boyfriend,” AJ says. “Here’s my number.” He hands me his business card. “Let me put it in your phone!” He puts his number in my phone.
I stub out the Seneca in an ashtray and lean over to AJ, who is leaning over at me, and we smooch. Sparks fly; an orchestra of slot machines create the soundtrack. Beneath the white dress shirt, his body is bangin, I can tell. AJ pulls back, and loosens his tie.
We saunter back to the party. Francis is dancing front row center with a martini in each hand. He grabs me by the arms and starts gyrating to the floor. I am 50 Shades of Blitzed.
The open bar has been over for an hour and a half. AJ continues buying liquor for all of us. Towards midnight, he squints at a receipt in horror. “My God.” He looks at the floor in befuddled silence.
Francis, AJ, and I all put on our coats and head to the entrance.
“Well, bye!” AJ waves and leaves suddenly.
“Goodbye!” Francis, with a wobbly zigzagging strut, exits after him.
I’m standing in the lobby alone. Great, I’m up a creek, drank a creek, without a paddle…now what am I gonna do? The prominent Hotel Check-In desk is to my right. Maybe I can score a sweet room for the night, with a bathtub and mini bar…Could be posh. I picture some hangover room service in my drunken mind. My God maybe there’s a continental breakfast.
One should never make the assumption that just because a lad gets you wasted, that he’ll also take care of your drunk ass and make sure you get home. That’s a common misconception.
“Hello, hi…” I mumble to the poker-face desk girl. “How much for a room? I think I’ll just crash.”
“The last room we have available is $475 dollars.”
“WHAT?!” I’m shocked. That’s more than my rent. “It can’t be! One night? There’s not a closet or anything?” I’m backing away, back up right into a sitting area and plop down upon an ottoman.
I call my FWB D.D.
“Daniel….Dan, please…I’ve had too many martinonis and I’m stranded at the casino and there’s no room for me…Was falling in love, but he left…Hello?! Hello!”
But Danny-Boy doesn’t answer. I get a large, black coffee and wander the barracks of the hotel until dawn. This place is open 24 hours, after all.
“If a guy totally ignores your Facebook Friend Request and doesn’t call you, ever, does it mean he never wants to see you again?” I ask a random co-worker. She doesn’t know what to say.
“But you don’t understand,” I bite into a carrot stick. “It was magical.”
I get home from work as pissed as ever. It’s been two weeks, and AJ was clearly Wild for the Night Fuck Being Polite. What the fuck! No one does that!
In a fit of curiosity, I find AJ’s Facebook profile, with my request sitting there stagnant, suspended in time. Clearly there is SOMETHING that I am not intended to see.
I see a recent status of his posted on the side. “Feeling Blessed – At Molly’s Tavern.” Why would you be feeling blessed at Molly’s Tavern? There’s nine people tagged, all family given the last name, except one girl. I click on her name. A giant picture of her and AJ is her main photo, with captions like “beautiful couple!” and “congratulations!”
Wow, that was way too easy,” I think to myself. “He’s lucky I’m not a psycho bitch.”
I close my laptop and go outside, with a renewed sense of clarity.