Private Magazine

Tag: Drinking

Please, Stand By

Christmas Eve 2020

It hasn’t been 24 hours yet so it’s still ok for me to be fuming because once midnight hits and the ghost of Jacob Marley arrives in my boudoir along with the ghosts of however many other ex fling-a-boo’s, I have to be ready.  Prepared.  Armed to the teeth. 

It’s been four months since Jason’s been, you know… In the ground.   I haven’t gone out on any dates.

(Going to the biker campground with Schmitty in his carbon-monoxide steeped pick-up does not count as a date, even though I drove that hunk of junk into the compound past county sheriffs desperately trying some artful and hilarious diversion tactics, because Schmitty was scared due to his expired registration, and the “HOGOROSA CANCELLED” sign flashing on the Thruway.  But then Schmitty abandoned me for biker crank, and I was left cold and alone in my freezing tent, which I dubbed “Camp X Ray,” and screamed into the soulless air: “I’m alone! I’m abandoned! I’m alone and abandoned!”  until an LL Bean-catalog older guy built me a campfire).

I’ve unplugged from Jason’s cronies.  I’ve found solace in solitude.  

That is, until Rusty, my ex-boyfriend from the grindcore band, reappeared back into my life. Again. 

It’s not what you think.  His bandmate diedOf Covid.  So of course I went to the memorial at Lombardo Funeral Home, stood around with Rusty and The Growler (swoon), and some other guy who happened to be there in a satanic/celestial printed mask and somewhat of a Tony Hawk: Pro Skater vibe about him that I couldn’t quite trace. 

The very next day, I already had a friend request from him, and why I actually clicked it and looked at his profile I really couldn’t tell you, other than I remembered him from the night before.  I never saw him with his mask off, reader.  But I was physically attracted… a modern phenomenon indeed. 

“Are you the same guy from [Redacted]’s Memorial last nite?” I send via Messenger. 

“Yes,” Dan says, a totally easy to remember name, thank God. “I was going to message you and say you looked familiar, like we had totally met before, maybe at the Mohawk…”

So of course I tell him about my DJ gig,  the “Mid-Life Crisis Happy Hour.” 

“I have, like, a page that you can, you know. Like.” 

“Oh that’s awesome, yeah, I would love to get together sometime,” Dan says. And he sends me his phone number.  Old Skool. 

And I go into detail about how I’m suffering corneal infiltration from the ill-fitting contact lens in my left eye, that I look like Quasimodo, but giddily declare that I just need a week with my Rx drops and then I’d love to. 

“Either on Friday, totally we can go to Canal Club 52,  I know the bartender, but might have something to attend to, but if not, on sunday we could do the ny beer project so I could get us a reservation on sunday,” Dan is texting me like a werewolf who hasn’t had sex in awhile. “After six.”

“Yes, dinner would be lovely,” I return the favor, electronically, vaguely, with a few romance-tinged emojis to punctuate the declaration, “I miss going out to dinner.” 

And then the sentence that was to be the nail in my coffin, dear reader. 

“Either night would be fine with me.”

So up until then, of course we do the usual texting all-the-time thing, and I engage in some harmless Facebook stalking.  Turns out, Dan’s street nickname is actually “Chopper” Dan since he builds custom motorcycles, and looks to have a pretty huge group of biker homies, and without his mask on he looks pretty good, although way older than me.  But I’m into his ‘look.’ I hate to admit this but he definitely looks like an older version of Billy. (Billy! Shout out to Billy, who’s probably reading this right now. How the hell are YOU holding up?)

So on that fateful Sunday night, a mild, star-filled night brewing with potential, I uncharacteristically allow Chopper Dan to pick me up.  But only because, in a strange twist, Dan lives in my neighborhood, across the street from Jason’s grave and on the next street over from Schmitty himself. And we are heading all the way out to Lockport.  

When Dan texts me that he’s “here,” I find him at my front door.  Yep, old skool. 

“Hey there,” I say.  His hair is slicked back and he’s definitely, sniff sniff, wearing cologne.  I climb into his giant truck clad in a leather minidress with vertical zipper, opaque stockings and my chunky platform boots with the grommets. 

“It’s so crazy how we were in the same movie,” I tell him.  Yes, not only did I get a hot date following the Metal Memorial of Rusty’s bandmate, I was cast in the role of “Lucifer’s Secretary” by the guy with the webzine!  Apparently I have the look they needed, not to mention a job at a law firm.  And last minute, Dan was asked to be an extra because his friend owns the bar where they filmed earlier that day! “A total coincidence to be sure.”

So we cruise up to Lockport, and I’m totally at ease. I mean, all of l these coincidences must mean Dan and I are meant to be. 

“So, what else did you do today?”  I remember Dan said he’d be free “after six,” so I figured he was with his son, who is a teen, and I figured they were out and about doing “manly things.”

“Oh, hm, nothing really.” 

We arrive at the restaurant, and finally Dan shuts off the Godsmack emanating from the speaker (wtf?) that I’ve chosen to ignore. And it turns out to be a pretty decent evening. Perhaps this was due to the 10 p.m. curfew for bars and restaurants, making dates conveniently short these days, and infusing them with an easy vibe of having zero expectations whatsoever.   So far…Over our shared appetizer of boom boom shrimp, Dan admitted something shocking.  Something I reached out to my gal pal Robin, who just moved back to LA, about.

“He told me…Well, he told me he’s never read a book.”

“WTF DUDE.”

“I mean, he said the last book he finished was Dr. Seuss in childhood…”

“RUN.”

“He’s got to be fucking with me,” I’m staring up at the cracks on the ceiling of my room. 

“Don’t sell yourself short!”

And I knew right then and there, Dan would become the subject of an eventual blog.  Since he would never read it and all.  But in less than a week’s time…well, even I was surprised by the quick expiration date. 

The next day as I’m exiting the good old Main Court Building and trudging towards my car, Dan and I have fallen into a little texting tete-a-tete about you know, this and that.  Being Monday and the fact I’m fatigued from being out the previous night, I figure tonight will be a night for chillin’ solo, putting my room back together, which is in shambles…All the usual post-weekend stuff. 

“Hey, want to watch the CKY livestream with me next week?” I ask him, more to gauge his interest, and see whether or not I scared him. 

“CKY, I’m not familiar with them, i guess it would depend on what I had going on that day,” he says. “I was thinking of driving around Hamburg and checking out the light display at the Fairgrounds today or tomorrow, would you be interested?”

Shambles be damned! I guess Dan is smitten. 

“I’d love to,” I reply, “But I really need to track down a picture frame for my boss’s gift.  We are exchanging Wednesday.”

“well, I have some things to pick up for myself.  I’ll go with you. We can go to Hobby Lobby. I have a coupon.” 

“Hobby Lobby? Don’t they, like, have something against birth control?”

“Oh, geez, I don’t know anything about that.”

“Yeah pretty sure it was a scandal, uh, I swear I’m not a radical…Um, sure, I guess we can go there.” 

Yep, the old two-days-in a row means pretty soon I’ll be walking down the aisle like Stephanie Seymour towards Axl in the “November Rain” video, I mean…is there a better confirmation that he’s, like, totally into you than the infamous Two Days in a Row?

As we are about to enter The Dockside, conveniently located on the Erie/Niagara County borderline, post-Hobby Lobby, I link my arm around Dan’s.  We walk several steps… Then I take it away.  Just checking to see if we have…chemistry. 

We decide to split the poutine, and Dan orders me a pinot, along with his drink of choice…sweet n’ spicy sangria.  What?  He is comfortable with his masculinity, okay. And he has a reliable vehicle, so I will never have to be “DD” again! 

“Did you once have red hair?”  Dan shows me a picture of my Albright Knox ID from 2012 from my Facebook page.  “Is that your natural color?”

“No, definitely not.” 

“Also, you had curly hair in a picture that I liked.”

“Curly? Where?”

He shows me a selfie, a recent profile picture.

“Oh that, those are beach waves.”

Dan might be insinuating how he wants me to wear my hair…

Nah.

I don’t know if it was the wine, or the simple luxury of going out to eat, inside, with a guy who owns a reliable vehicle – but either way I wasn’t phased by much. I was willing to overlook anything. Anything.

“Have you seen Monster Garage, with that guy Jesse James? I think he’s cool but he must be a total dick. I mean, divorced like, five times? Marrying Sandra Bullock? I mean, why? She’s really not sexy…He is clearly some kind of gold digger…” I continue to carry on about Jesse James for like, five minutes.

“Jesse James yeah, we hung out,”  Dan shows me a picture of them together with Jesse’s most recent ex-wife, the Paul Mitchell heiress. “They were down in Daytona for Bike Week.”

“No WAY!” Dan looks pleased with himself.  “Sorry, I mean I never met the guy. I’m sure he’s very nice in person.” 

“His porn star ex went totally psycho,” he says.  “Smashed everything.”

“Well – he probably drove her to it, let’s be honest.” 

As the night grows dangerously close to 10 p.m., closing time, Dan picks up the check.  I offered to pay last night, and he looked insulted and said, “You really think I’d invite you to dinner and want you to pay?”

“Um, no.” 

So this time I don’t offer.  We head to Dan’s truck.  

“Joint?” I hold it up under the passenger seat overhead light. Dan didn’t even see me roll it, as I should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for being able to roll joints in the blink of an eye.

“What? Oh, I’ve never smoked weed in my life.”

“What.”

“Plus it would stink up my whole truck.”

And so, I leaned in and gave him a little kiss instead.  No tongue. It was quite chaste. I have an oral fixation, what can I say.

And so – alas!  This blog won’t conclude with Happily Ever After.  I mean, does it ever?

On Christmas Eve Eve, I would not have been opposed to one of Dan’s random invitations, since finally I didn’t have to work the next day, or all weekend.  But reader,  that didn’t happen.  I got a super long text at 4 p.m., sure, but…

“Hey i have been super busy all day,  i tried to get us a reservation but couldn’t so i will have to get back to you after the holidays.”  And then a smile face.

At first I was like, “ok, cool, do you watch true blood?” 

“A little,” he says, before ghosting me the rest of the night. 

Wow, really.  I have been placed on standby.

So I said, “I really don’t know why you need to get back to me…For what?”  I mean, he didn’t even know what I had planned that night, or any other.  He will probably pop up and ask me to help organize his garage, or something.  So I said, “You can just leave me alone.”  Dramatic, yes. “Have fun at Hobby Lobby.” Ok, so a tad immature.  But I feel like he was taunting me with that Hobby Lobby business. If anyone has a Planned Parenthood connection, I know someone who needs as much educational literature mailed to his house as possible.

Yes, like Janis Joplin once said, “I am a wild airplane…And have been placed on standby.”  Actually she never said that.  But that’s me alright, a renegade airplane, crashing and burning, or at least lost somewhere near the Bermuda Triangle.  And that’s ok.  Because in the end I can’t date someone who’s never read a book, or Playboy or Hustler for the articles, and who isn’t 420 friendly, I mean…Seems like kind of a bland existence. 

READER SURVEY:  WHAT ARE UR DATING DEAL BREAKERS? Send your answers to: factorygirl1987@gmail.com

It Started With A Syringe

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I was at work the other day and ended up having a conversation about losing your virginity. Believe it or not, I wasn’t the one who brought it up.

“I was thirteen,” my co-worker, Ginnifer with the Blue Mani, said.

“I was fifteen,” said Shelby with the Mauve Lip Liner.  “And I’ve been on birth control ever since.”

“I was…seventeen, um, eighteen,” I said. “But honestly it took me that long to hit puberty.”  

We ended up trading stories about the loss of our virginities, about how, like Madonna and Britney Spears and Cyndi Lauper, we all became “touched for the very first time” and “hit one more time” and “time after time” after that.  

It all started in college. When I got to my room in Alumni dorm, I unpacked my Smiths CDs, issues of Nylon and Woody Allen movies to go out and party right away. It wasn’t long before I had a crush on a hipster I saw buying photo paper and film at the bookstore.

“He had glasses and a plaid button-up shirt – unbuttoned halfway,” I gushed to my BFF/roommate Tara as we ate mysterious dining hall casseroles. “I want to know his name.”

The very next day in the dorm,  I was listening to Belle & Sebastian and writing in my diary when our landline phone rang.

“He’s in my logic class,” Tara said. “My philosophy class. The guy with the glasses.”

“No effin way.”

I shadowed Tara’s next logic class for the purpose of learning this guy’s name. He turned out to be a senior named Tommy who said many intellectual things. I was swooning.

A couple days later, I was in our dorm searching for my clove cigarettes. The phone rang at 3:00,  about the time logic got out.

“Tommy wants to know if we can find him a syringe,” Tara said.

“My brother’s diabetic, so probably. For what?”

“His ‘Drug Life’ photo project.”

“I’ll go to LoGrasso. Have him come to our room.”

I walked to the health center, and believe it or not, there must not have been an opiate epidemic in 2005 or something, because I was given a syringe right away, no questions asked. Sweet!  I ran back to the room, and pretended to be working on something at my computer. The door swung open. Tara entered; Tommy was behind her.

“David LaChapelle, David LaChapelle,” Tommy was saying, wearing jeans completely frayed at the bottom with a giant hole exposing one thigh, Doc Marten boots, long wool overcoat and those glasses I had a thing for.

“I really appreciate you doing this for me,” he said while snooping through my bookshelf. He picked up my Annie Hall DVD. “When are we going to get married?” Turns out, Tommy was a huge Woody Allen fan.

“I have to find a few more things for the shoot,” he said. “Want to come along? I’ll grab you guys some wine afterwards.”

Oh yeah, Tommy was 21. It was all music to my ears.

“I saw The Dandy Warhols in London,” he said. We were squished in the backseat of our other friend Valerie’s broken-down Cutlass. She was the only one with a car.

We drove to Wal Mart, the only store in town, to find a “drug dealer-esqe” gold chain, Shower-to-Shower bath powder (“the only kind that really looks like coke,” according to Tommy), and a fake nail (“even though we could probably score one from a theater major,” he said). After Tommy purchased all this stuff, and a box of Franzia, we dropped him off at his place.

“Call me later and we’ll drink wine,” he said.

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Tommy and I started hanging out after that – walking around campus, smoking cigarettes, that kind of thing. One night he invited me to his house – off-campus.

“Sorry, we don’t have heat,” he said, opening the door and wearing a coat.

“Oh, okay, that’s cool,” I said.

We went up to the drafty second floor. Someone with a tie-dye tapestry over their door was blaring Grateful Dead. Tommy took me into his room and closed the door. There were stacks of books everywhere, photos tacked to the walls, an electric keyboard, bong, pack of Ecstasy herbal cigs, Velvet Underground & Nico poster, and a carpet that seemed to double as an ashtray.

“Wow. Your room is so cool,” I said.

We sat on the floor. Tommy rolled a joint, took out his iPod, and put the Brian Jonestown Massacre on. We smoked, and I got super high and paranoid because I was innocent and had no tolerance for weed back then. Tommy’s face kept getting closer to mine, somehow. He was about to kiss me when suddenly a dreadlocked girl barged into the room.

“Do either of you have a cigarette?” she yelled.

I looked at Tommy. He looked at me and said, “She’s trying to quit.”

“Um..uh, here,” I extended a Marb Light her way, my hand shaking. She retreated into the hall, shutting the door.

“Damn,” Tommy said. “Sorry about that.”

“It’s okay,”  I said. “So, where were we?”

This blog never gives an explicit play-by-play because it’s better to leave things to the imagination, in my opinion. It’s classier. But when I left Tommy’s house that night I wasn’t as innocent as when I entered.

“Tara,” I said, turning the light on and waking her up. “It happened.”

“Oh. My. God!” She sat up in bed and hugged me. “I’m so proud of you!”

The next morning, we were celebrating over DIY omelettes in the dining hall when I felt nauseous.

“BLEEEEGHHHHHH,” I puked for a good five minutes in the bathroom then came out, pale and sweating. “Tara…I’m so sick.”

I was in bed for the next 36 hours, perspiring, worried I was pregnant, watching The Virgin Suicides.

“Baby girl…You can’t be pregnant,” Tara said. “It’s got to be the flu.”

Sure enough, it was the flu. The only “clean” glass I could find at Tommy’s was totally cloudy and under the bathroom sink, but I was desperate.

The following semester, Tommy left to study abroad in the UK. I thought I’d never see him again. But junior year, Tara and I took the school van down to Pittsburgh, where Tommy was in law school…

READER SURVEY: WHAT SONG WAS PLAYING WHILE YOU LOST YOUR VIRGINITY? FACTORYGIRL1987@GMAIL.COM

The Sex Drive

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“Never speak to me again,” I hiss through gritted teeth in the Crabapple’s parking lot. “Because you are immature and insincere.” I hang up my cell, hang up on Dan and his stupid voicemail message –  “I don’t know why you called this number, but you did.” I send a hectic text – “I never wanna see u again! :(”

I stand in the middle of the parking lot, alone and abandoned. Dan and I were supposed to go to my downstairs neighbor Michael’s show at Nietszche’s. But when I arrived at Crabapple’s (of all places) to pick him up on my way home, he was drunk and stoned and went to “close his tab.” He rushed off and left me with his friends. Twenty minutes passed. I checked my phone; I had a text from Dan which said “I had to go.” He ran off down the street.  But why?

——————————

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A month has passed. It has been a month without a peep from Dan, a month devoid of an apology or explanation. I lay alone in my bungalow, attempting an early night’s slumber.

My phone ring-a-dings, announcing the arrival of a late night text. Maybe it’s a sext. It’s from Dan.

“I am not a monster.”

Ignoring the text, I turn over and close my eyes. My phone dings again.

“I’m not a harmful person.”

I turn over on my other side, put a pillow over my face. My phone dings once more.

“Can I bring you food?”

I toss and turn and pull the sheets around my body. Another text arrives.

“I’m outside your apartment.”

Bolting upright in my loft bed, I nearly knock myself out on the slanted roof ceiling. Climbing down the ladder, I rush into my bathroom and peer out the window. Sure enough, I see some fool clamoring out of a Liberty Cab. It’s Dan, hair in a wild explosion around his head, shoes dragging across the pavement in drunken irreverence.

“I missed the way you smell.”

“Well, it’s been a month…What was that whole disappearance about, anyway?”

“I double booked,” Dan says, clomping down my basement steps. I situate myself upon a bar stool. Dan removes a marijuana stash from his pants. “Friends came from out of town, but we had plans too. I got overwhelmed.”

“Why didn’t you call me and apologize?”

“You said to never speak to you again.”

“When a girl says that, it means you should apologize.”

It all becomes water under the bridge. We make out upon the moldy washer-dryer unit while a silverfish watches.

————————–

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Another year or so has passed. Dan and I have grown into true friends. This sometimes veers into FWB territory. I now see Dan with a sense of maturity. There’s a gentlemanly aura in his eyes.

He has taken on the role of proprietor at a new Cheektowaga speakeasy, and has seen it grow into success.  Recently, Dan bought a school bus. It’s one of those half-sized white buses. He painted it with the logo of his bar and is the DD/chauffer to his friends.

I yearn to take a joyride on Dan’s bus. Dreaming of the bus, I fantasize about the bus at night. I’m staring out my window and remembering that night that Dan showed up in a Liberty Cab. I wish he would show up in his bus.

—————————–

I’m walking down Elmwood when I learn that Dan is headed my way. It is a warm Sunday morning, with the sun sending down the perfect brunch-friendly rays. We decide to fetch bloody marys.

I wait for Dan outside. He rolls up in a giant black truck. Not his own white Toyota, or the beloved bus.

“My car battery died last night,” Dan calls down from the towering truck. “I borrowed John’s truck.”

I climb up the passenger side and give Dan a smile.

“So where should we go to brunch? Bloody marys…”

“Well, it would be cool to go someplace around here, but John needs his truck by 6, so I was thinking we could go someplace in Cheektowaga, get my car jump-started first, or else we’ll have to leave here at a certain time.”

“Oh, yeah, let’s get out of here for a while. I’m so sick of the same-old same-old.”

We go a reasonable 55 miles per hour down the 33. I blast Metallica.

“Why the heck are you going so slow?”

“I’m never in a rush to get anywhere.”

We pull up the gravel driveway of the speakeasy and spot Dan’s petite white Toyota, depressingly dead by the dumpster. Dan whips out the jumper cables.

“Will you show me how to jump start a car?” I ask.  Dan adheres the clamps to some parts under the hood.

“Now, when these are attached,” he says. “It means they’re live. They will spark.”

“Oooohh, sparks.”

The cars create a medley of vroooooms and sputterings and smolderings. Dan’s car comes alive, and we climb inside. We travel a meandering route of side streets I’ve managed to never go down, even though I’m from this town and lived in it for 20 years.

“What the fuck is this street, Floral Ave.? Isn’t it a dead end?”

“No, far from it,” Dan says. Sure enough, it turns out to be a shortcut to the gas station. While driving down Floral Ave., Dan extends a fancy pipe full of weed my way. I take a hit.

“Well, you could at least wait for that  guy to cross the street.”

“Oops, my bad!”

Dan takes a hit himself.

“Well, you could at least wait to be out of eyesight from that woman gardening,” I say.

After getting some gas, we head to Otto’s.

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Otto’s has been located on  the same Cheektowaga corner my entire life, a stone’s throw from the house I grew up in. Up until today, I’ve only crossed the threshold of Otto’s once, five years ago. It turned out to be an Italian restaurant, with a bar in the back. Dan tells me that they have the best bloody marys in town. Their flickering marquee declares the Patio to be Open.

We head through the bar, get two bloodys, and go out to the patio. We wait for Dan’s friend Ben to arrive.

Ben shows up in a red muscle shirt with an older guy in tow. The older guy is scrawny and weathered-looking. He says his name is Bob. He sits at the end of our table. I’m baked, and keep my sunglasses on even though we managed to find the least-sunny patio in this hemisphere.

“Who’s working at the speakeasy tonight?” Ben asks.

“I think Kimberly Wieners is bartending,” Dan answers.

Wieners?” I exclaim.

“You’d like Kimberly Wieners,” Dan says.

“She doesn’t look like a wiener,” Bob speaks for the first time.

“Well, I’ve never seen one, so whatever.” I roll my eyes.

“I could put mine on the table if you want – ”

“No, thanks. It was a joke, obviously.”

I move my plastic lawn chair close to Dan.

“Oh, I need to drive John to his truck at the speakeasy,” Dan says suddenly.

“I’ll come with you -” I say, getting up.

“No, stay here,” Dan says. “John is operating on two hours sleep. We don’t need to shock him awake with more people than necessary.”

I’m left alone with Ben and Bob. It’s cooled down and I’m chilly. We head inside; there might be some rap music emanating from the bar. I just finished the bloody mary. It was good.

“Car bombs!” Ben yells. A round of car bombs manifests.

“I haven’t had a car bomb since college, wow, I feel old.” I take a sip, but put it back down.

“Shots!” Bob yells. The young bartender pours shots of Jaeger. I decline. It’s all going on Bob’s tab.

“Do you think I can just have some wine? It’s really all I drink.”

“Ooooh, fancy-prancy!” Bob turns to me, points a finger in my face. “I’ll buy you shots, but I ain’t buyin’ you no wine.”

He ends up buying me a pinot grigio anyway.

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“Hey, wear your hair down,” Bob says to the bartender.

“Um, wow, just because you gave her a dollar tip, you think you can dictate how she wears her hair? You’re a prick.”

“You’re crazy, you’re fucked up,” Bob responds, pack of Senecas rising out his breast pocket. I take a large swallow of wine.

“So you’re a wine drinker?” Ben asks calmly.

“Yeah, it agrees with me, and it’s good for you in small doses I guess.”

“Nah, dude, a glass of wine a day is like one cigarette a day,” Bob ignorantly declares.

“What? No, wine contains antioxidants and resveratrol.”

An argument ensues and only rises in intensity between Bob and I, despite the fact he continues buying me drinks and bumming me cigs. He refuses to acknowledge the medical journal article that I pull up on my phone. I’m about to pull my hair out. Dan returns and sits down next to me.

“Thank God,” I throw my arms around him.

“She’s crazy, dude.'”

“He’s a dick.” I say.

“You better be careful,” Dan says, “She might write about you on her blog.”

Bob looks truly scared for a second, then brushes it off.

“Go ahead – write it! Just make sure you spell my name right. Bob Zielinski. Z-I-E-L…”

After a while of getting nowhere, we leave Buzzkill Bob getting Skittles from the quarter machine.

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Ben, Dan, and I embark on a short, tipsy stroll to the speakeasy. We are on busy Union Road in broad daylight.

“Please, guys, can we walk down a side street?” I’m power walking ahead. “I do not need my parents to drive by and text me asking why I’m walking down Union Road in the middle of the day with two guys. My mother will question what I’m doing with my life. I do not need it right now!”

We get to the speakeasy. The bartender, Wieners, keeps the wine coming. I load the jukebox with Britney Spears and Trina. I’m smearing on  a lipstick overdose and dancing around the bar. Dan appears to be having an awkward convo with the other bartender; it seems like they used to date or something.

Stumbling up to Dan, I’m ready to get my bus ride on.

“Let’s role play Forrest Gump and Jenny on the bus,” I say in an intoxicated whisper. “I’m fatigued, let’s go!”

Dan is still mid-conversation. He hands me the keys to the bus. I wander out of the bar, locate the bus, stumble aboard, and lay down sideways on a seat.

After a little bit, Dan gets on the bus. I left the keys in the door. We sit down side by side.

“You don’t hate me?” Dan asks.

“Hate you? Why would I hate you?”

“I always mess up.”

“Nonsense. You are great. The bus is great. Everything’s fine.”

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Dan starts the ignition and we pull out of the parking lot. We cruise back to the city.

 

(Dan and Michael were introduced in my first story “Names Have Been Changed to Protect the Innocent,” so read that first if you haven’t!)