We sat at the booth eyeing girls walking in– checking out their asses. I’m not that particular, just make it big enough to sink my teeth into and I’m all set. There was this one girl, latina maybe or white, came in and hoo boy, I felt my heart skip a beat. Fuck an hourglass, this girl was a pear on two legs. Up top was this gorgeous head of dark wavy hair and those nose rings that I love so much.
Hey man, why don’t you go talk to her, my boy says. I eye him. I don’t think so, I say, half laughing, my heart creeping up my throat.
My face grew hot. My tongue ties itself into a double, no, triple knot. C’mon, he teased, it’s just a girl– they’re people too y’know. He cocked his head to the left and played with his eyebrows. Deflect. God dammit deflect, my inner voice screeched. You sure about that, I ask. I thought they were just pussies with feelings. He chuckles. A wave of relief passes through my shoulders.
He sips his two dollar beer and I gulp mine. The nerve train has left the station as I feel myself sinking in my seat, getting smaller– feeling out of control.
Bro, he says, still eyeing that hottie across the bar. Just go say hi. I shake my head smiling, filling with dread. C’mon, he says, I’ll go with you and talk to her friend. You just have to say hi, he councils, then the conversation will just, he shrugs, happen.
But I know that’s a lie. Conversation just doesn’t ‘happen.’ Not with me at least. The first twenty seconds after an introduction my brain says whoa hold on there buddy, why is this person interested in talking to you. What do they want. Are there any secret motives. All the while I’m trying to think about what to say and how to do it in a timely fashion that I usually follow up with something in a shaky voice, trying desperately not to choke on small talk. And now I’m hoping the bar catches on fire or something so that I can get the fuck out of here.
He stands up and stretches out a bit while walking around to my chair. Let’s go bro, he says, pulling on my arm. I pull back, frustrated. This mother fucker can’t seem to take a hint. Finally after more prodding I stand but I take a hard right to the bathroom. He puts his hands on my shoulders and I turn, pissed. Yo, I say, get off of me. I’m taking a leak. Alright fine, he tells me as I walk away, I’m going over there and talking to her then. Fine, I yell back adding a fuck you under my breath.
I can’t even piss in the bathroom I’m so tense. A couple of drops, but no stream. Another guy walks in and takes the only other urinal right next to mine. Shake a leg. Zip. I walk out without looking up from the floor. Right back to my seat and my nearly empty beer. I look to my left, and the motherfucker is chatting up the girl and her friend and they’re laughing. Admiration and hatred mix together in my stomach and I wonder how he does it. How do you just walk up to strangers and make friends, let alone flirt? If magic existed in this world, that would be it.
I upend the beer and leave, no goodbye, no wave, no nothing. The walk home is brief, but because I’m feeling some extra self-loathing tonight, I chain two cigarettes instead sticking with one. Fuck it, I think, maybe these can give me cancer and I can finally leave.
The apartment is quiet and dark when I get home. My room is still a mess and I have the sudden, very powerful urge to clean. Too late for that I tell myself. Tomorrow.
But I can’t sleep because it’s not clean. And, I’m a little light headed from the smokes and the beers and growing extra-potent no-good feeling of self-loathing. After a few minutes of staring at streetlights outside my windows I consider that maybe, just maybe, the room being messy isn’t the reason I can’t fall asleep. Numbers start sprouting in my head: student loan debt, rent, my paycheck, and on and on.
Soon its people. To relationships I should mend maybe. Dad? No. Maybe I should text my ex and tell her no hard feelings and I wish her well. No. Please no. I should’ve just went and said hello to that pear at the bar. Maybe she would’ve like me, maybe not. I’ll never know now. How did he do it. Charisma super powers. Fuck man, I think, maybe I’m socially retarded. Is it anxiety? Do I need pills for that? No. I don’t want to be on medications. And on. And on. At some point the stream of conscience thought gives way to sleep. Somewhere. It’s so light I wake up twice in the night to check the time. No, not late for work.
And the cycle continues.