Monday, June 23, 2008

This Is What My Life Would've Been Like If I Hadn't Gone to College

Yesterday morning I got up early and packed my car and drove to Buffalo a day earlier than I'd originally planned. I wanted to surprise the Boy From Work, who was working until nine o'clock. When I got into town, I drove up to the restaurant, circled the lot once, and sent him a message.

Would you do me a favor? the message said.

Usually the BFW is bored at work during his long Sunday shift--and the lot, which was mostly empty--seemed to support my idea that he'd be bored at that very moment and be able to text me back and say, What?

And then I was going to say, Come outside and give me a kiss.

So I waited and waited and waited, and the BFW did not respond. So I shut my car off, fixed my makeup, and went into the restaurant. The bar was empty, except for two snarly-looking guys who were drinking beer and trading stories about girls. I sat at the other end of the bar and waited for the bartender to come back from wherever she was. When she came in a few seconds later, she smiled, asked me what I wanted to drink, asked me how I was. Then, as she was pouring me a potent vodka-cran, she said, "Do you want me to get the BFW for you?"

"Sure," I said, "but this is a surprise. He doesn't know I drove in. I was supposed to come tomorrow."

"Oh," she said, raising her eyebrows, looking impressed. "Well, in that case, let me just go back there and tell him there's someone at the bar who really needs to talk to him."

"Sounds great," I said, and a few seconds later, a sweaty and shorn BFW--who just recently cut off all his hair--was standing in front of me, not looking all that surprised.

"I knew you were coming!" he said. "I just knew it!"

All I wanted to do was pet the boy's head. He looked so cute. And I would've rubbed his buzzed head all night if he let me, but he had to get back into the kitchen and get some things done before he was able to get out of there for the night, so he snuggled me close to his drenched, french-fry smelling body, introduced me to the two guys at the bar, and left me to my own devices.

So it was just me, the bartender, and the snarly guys. Before he'd left, the BFW had instructed me that if one of the guys gave me any trouble, all I needed to do was kick him in the balls.

Now one of them was slanting a smile my way. "I like to cause trouble," he informed me. "If you think you want to cause any trouble, you just come sit down here at this end with me."

"I'll consider it," I said. I drained my vodka-cran. Down at that end of the bar was my favorite thing in the world: the bar-top console that had Naked Lady Picture Find on it. "I do love the erotic photo hunt," I said.

"It's broken," the guy said. He gestured to the game, which was unplugged from the wall. "We don't know what's wrong with it."

"Sad," I said. "That's the one thing in the world that I'm good at."

And suddenly the guy lifted up from his seat and came down to my end, his beer caught between two fingers. "I think I'm going to sit down here and cause trouble with you," he said.

"Okay," I said.

For a while, we discussed women. We talked about how they're trouble, rotten, just plain no good. We talked about how sometimes they can redeem themselves--if they come home from the bar and do what they are asked and then, in the morning, disappear.

"I just had a girl," the guy told me, "who left a note that said she had a real good time, and that if I wanted to have more good sex with no strings attached, I should give her a call."

"Wow," I said. "Now there's a hell of a girl."

"Yeah," he said. "Now there's a hell of a girl."

This kind of talk required backup, so I called the only person I knew who would delight in sitting at the bar and listening to stories about the local skanks: I texted my favorite waitress--let's call her Bianca--and told her to get her ass down to the bar immediately.

Her message back said, Okay, but I'm broke.

I told her she and I could share a giant plate of loaded fries--which the BFW would dot with melted bleu cheese before bringing them out to us--and whatever else she wanted.

She was there in five minutes. Before she arrived, I'd informed my new friend that we were about to be joined by someone more uniquely suited for this kind of talk. "You'll like her," I said. "She's young and blond and dirty."

"She sounds like my type of girl," the guy said, and of course she was. When she sat on the stool next to me, it was suddenly a whirl of stories of the type that would delight any guy who enjoyed drunk girls--and this guy really, really, really enjoyed drunk girls.

"You know," Bianca said, "I got rocks in my underwear once. How about that?"

"How did you get rocks in your underwear?" he asked.

She'd gotten rocks in her underwear after a night of binge drinking in the town where I went to college. She'd let strange boys buy her shot after shot after shot and then she let her friends pile her back into a car. When they were on their way to somewhere else, Bianca realized she had to pee. Badly. And right that second. Her friends let her out of the car and she--instead of waiting until they got her to the bathroom--pulled down her pants, sat down on the road like it was a toilet seat, and went. The next morning she woke up with pebbles pressed into her butt, scattered in her panties.

"And there's this," she said, flipping open her phone and showing us a picture of her squatting over a sink. "My friend was on the toilet, and I couldn't wait anymore," she said.

The snarly guy loved her. If she hadn't been four years older than his oldest son, I'm sure he might've tried to take her back to his place. But before proclamations of love could be made, Bianca got a message from her best friend, who was at the town park--specifically the hockey rink--and Bianca's boyfriend, whom she'd been fighting with all day--was there, too. He was playing hockey. This was news to Bianca. Earlier that day, they'd gotten in a fight because she'd left her house without informing him of where she was going and what she was doing, so she found it interesting that now he was off doing something he hadn't informed her about.

"Oh, that's it," she said. "He's so fucking dead. I'm going to go down there and tell him he's so fucking dead." She looked at me. "Let's go. Want to ride with me?"

I did. After all, it sounded interesting. It sounded like an intriguing way to kill an hour while I waited for the BFW to get off of work. And so we said goodbye to the snarly guy and told the BFW we'd be right back, that we had to go take care of something, and we were off.

On the way there, Bianca rolled down the window and smoked a cigarette, frowning every time she put it to her mouth. It was a warm night, so people were roaming across the town. There were girls wearing too-short shorts, guys with long hair and goth clothes. Bianca knew them all. She told me who was whose boyfriend or girlfriend, who was a bitch or a slut or a fucking idiot. She told me which ones she was related to, which ones she used to date. When we passed a cop, she said, "Oh, that's the one who's friends with my ex. He likes to follow me around town and try to intimidate me." She flicked her cigarette. "He's pretty hot. I'd fuck him."

When we got to the park, there was a bunch of boys playing basketball on one of the courts. Bianca's cousin was among them. "Hey," she yelled. "Don't let the hood rats get in my car, okay?" Then she turned to me and lowered her voice. "See the one in the teal?"

"Yeah," I said. "He's cute."

"I used to date him," she said. "He's really bad in bed."

By then we were stalking toward the hockey rink. We could see her boyfriend, who was sprinting from one end to the other, yelling things like, Hey! Fuck! Hey! Hey! Hey! Over here! Come on! FUCK!

"Does he see me?" she asked. "Oh, he sees me. He totally sees me. He's dead. Look! He knows he's fucking dead!"

"What exactly are we going to do?" I asked. It seemed unlikely that he was going to pause the game so he could come over and work things out with Bianca.

"We're going to stare at him," she said. She crossed her arms and stared.

I stared, too. I tried to look tough. Pissed.

She flipped open her phone and typed. Don't think I'm here for you, she said. If he asked, she was going to tell him she was there to see her friends, who were over by the basketball court.

And then, right in the middle of the game, her boyfriend took his phone from his pocket, read it, and typed, Did I say you were? before running back down the rink and swatting at the puck.

"Well," I said. "Okay."

"He's so fucking dead!" she said. "Okay, we're done. Let's go. I'm not speaking to him ever again."

On our walk back to the car, she pushed her already-pouty lips out to an impressive frown. "How often do you do this?" I asked.


"Fight like this," I said.

"Oh," she said, "every day."

And then she started telling me about the guys on the basketball court--which ones she liked, which ones she didn't, which ones had babies, which ones had been arrested, which ones had babies and had been arrested because they were selling drugs out of their apartment while the baby slept, which ones were retarded, which ones were fuckers.

"You know," I said, "you're all very incestuous, even if you did go to that big high school."

She turned and glared back at the hockey rink one more time.

"Okay," I said, tugging on her shirt. "Let's go. I want a hot fudge sundae. Let me buy you some ice cream."

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