Okay, don't feel you have to read this as it doesn't pertain to the story at all. Just go ahead and skip over it. Honestly, you won't miss anything.
Okay, for those of you still with me, I'm going to bitch about something that all soda (pop for those of you in the midwest) users will know about. Here are the facts so far that I've gathered. Early 90's - To help slumping underage beer sales, the major beer producers in the USA and Canada introduce the "wide-mouthed" can. This wider opening facilitates chugging by increasing the inflow of air and the outflow of liquid to gain maximum performance while chugging beer. Soon all the major breweries provide "wide-mouthed" cans and university students rejoice everywhere! Mid to late '90's - Mountain Dew introduces its "chug a dew" campaign in which actors who've probably never been outdoors in their lives portray extreme outdoor sportsmen, who after climbing and working their way up a cliff all day decide to chug a Mountain Dew, rather than replace all the important fluids they've lost by drinking water or a sports drink. Soon Mountain Cans cans sport the "wide-mouth". I can understand this, and I can understand the need for beer companies to do it. But why does Pepsi have to do it? And Dr. Pepper? When was the last time you chugged one of those? And Coke, being the Classic One, still maintained their regular can opening. But now, just as I was about to begin typing this next chapter I opened a can of Coke and found that they too had gone to the "wide-mouth". And why does this upset me you ask? Because, when you open a "wide-mouth" the goddamned soda splashes all over your hand and friggin' keyboard, and you have to put the f'n can down and get a paper towel and clean up the shitty mess. And am I going to chug this Coke? No! I'm going to sip it, quietly, as I write. I'll end with a warning every freedom-loving person should heed:
First they came for the classic bottle drinkers. And I did not speak up, for I was not a classic bottle drinker.
Then they came for the pop-top can drinkers. And I did not speak up, for I was not a pop-top can drinker.
Then they came for the regular opening can drinkers. And there was no one left to speak up for me.
Working at the Club
I woke with a start not sure of where I was. The telephone was ringing. As my eyes adjusted to the light I realized I'd fallen asleep on the couch. I got off the couch to catch the phone and promptly discovered the effects of gravity. After picking myself off of the floor and rubbing my bruised elbow, I got to the phone just as the answering machine was about to pick up.
"Steve, it's Ryan!"
My heart stopped in my chest and I almost dropped the receiver. "Ryan?"
"Yeah, how's it hanging man!"
"Umm, fine. You sound in a pretty good mood," I said hesitantly.
"Yeah, well me and Deb are back together."
The blood was starting to rush into my head. "I thought your girlfriend's name was Jessica?"
"What? What are you smoking?"
"Wait, who is this?" I asked becoming real confused.
"It's Ryan... Biggs!" I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Ryan was a friend from school!
"Christ, I thought you were someone else! How the hell are you? I haven't talked to you all summer!" It turned out, Ryan was going to New York next weekend and he wanted me to come into the city and hang out with him. I wasn't sure I could get off so I told him I had to get back to him. We talked for ten minutes and caught up with what had been going on. Then I hung up and flopped back down on the couch.
The phone rang again. My chest got tight. Sometimes I have a sixth sense about stuff. I was sure this was Ryan.
"Hey," he said in a quiet voice.
"Hello." We both paused, waiting for the other to say something. I heard only silence coming from his side of the line. "Well," I continued, "I got your flowers."
He laughed uncomfortably. "Yeah, I guess, I.. well, I sent you some flowers."
"Yeah, I know," I replied searching for anything to say back. "I got them." Thinking back on it, I just loved the whole idiocy of the whole conversation.
"Yeah, I um... I guess you did." Again silence.
"So..." I said.
"So..." he said.
"How's your girlfriend?" I asked.
"History," was his quick reply. "Can I set some things straight for you?"
"You have my attention for now," I said.
"She came back to me, I didn't go crawling to her."
"Good for you," I said sarcastically.
He chuckled. "Yeah, thanks. I wasn't having sex with her when you called. She just caught me off guard, though, when she came by. Of course I wanted to hear her out. I had to. I decided this morning it wasn't for me." I mulled over this thought. He was waiting for me to say something. "So... What do you think?"
"About what, you or us?"
"About me. About us."
"I think you're an ass." I let the words soak into his head before continuing. "But, I think I'm still crazy about you for some whacked up reason."
Ryan giggled. "Whacked up?"
"I'm trying to cut back on my swearing," I countered.
"Oh, what are you going from PG to G?" And there we were again, joking as if nothing had happened. It made me a little uncomfortable.
"Listen, I gotta think this over. You are saying you want to get together with me, right?"
"Unless, your girlfriend calls back."
"NO!," he said getting defensive.
"I'm kidding, I'm kidding," I said, trying to call him down. I noticed with some surprise that I was smiling and feeling pretty damn good. "I'll call you when I've thought things over, okay?"
"Maybe. I don't get off work tomorrow night until late."
"Like what time?"
"I don't know. 9:30, 10:00. That's late when I've been there since 7 in the morning."
"Well, I don't think my parents will be around until much later than that. They have tickets to a show in the city tomorrow. Maybe you should just come over right over work."
I mulled that over long and hard. "I'll call you when I've thought things over."
"All right," he said dissappointed.
"I'll talk to you later."
I hung up the phone and stayed standing by the receiver. Then, I quickly dialed another number.
Half an hour later, I found myself at the Carriage House Café. Its one of the seediest bars you could ever imagine, but its easy to get served. My fingers were nervously kneading and tearing up a Heineken coaster, a bar habit of mine. The five empty glasses in front of me were going to wreak havoc on my morning tomorrow, but I figured I could nap most of the morning. I was waiting for an answer to my question. "So?" I asked my companion.
"So, you need a shrink, not my advice."
I chuckled and finished the rest of my Stoli and coke in a gulp. I motioned over to the waitress who was trying to make herself look busy. It was tough for her to do. Besides my friend and I, her only other customers were the flies slowly drowning in the stale beer spills that caked the counter and tables.
"Maybe I should pay you, would that help?"
My friend Donna shook her head. "I'll ask you a simple question."
I waited for her to ask it. She just probed me with her eyes. "Shoot," I said.
"But that doesn't matter," I slurred. My eyes were getting heavy from the vodka.
"Exactly. You're looking for substance. You're looking for a summer fling, something you might want to come back home to depending on how it goes. You're looking to just 'be' with somebody. Something you've never had before with a guy. Now I don't know either one... well I met Ryan, but I don't know him at all. You have to be the one to decide which guy will give you substance. You have to choose the guy who you're not going to have to call, but will wait for you to get home on a Saturday night after work because a date is implied. You have to choose the guy you're going to go visit when you get a break from school. You gotta choose the guy..." she broke off as the waitress dropped off my drink. "You gotta choose the guy whose going to make this summer the best one you've ever had," she finished. She sat back in her chair to let it all sit in.
I had to hand it to her. She knew her stuff. It became clear as rain what I needed. I knew what I wanted out of this fling. I was searching for more than just sex. Except, still I couldn't come any closer to my three alternatives; Ryan, Adam, or a bottle of baby lotion and my left hand. "I hear you, babe," I said.
The next morning I was desperately seeking for the answer to a different, yet still difficult question. Why had I felt the need for that seventh Stoli and Coke? Or even the eighth? And for the love of Pete, why had I needed that ninth and tenth one too? By the time Donna drove me home I was more lit than a Christmas tree. On the way to work I almost pulled over to throw up. I get headache hangovers occasionally, but I never get nautious.
Brad spent the first hour doing everything within his abilities to not piss me off. We finally got the course set up. I fell asleep exhausted on the break room couch, too sick to even try and find a hiding place. At 10:30 I woke up, feeling vaguely better. Then I noticed the General Manager and the clubhouse manager smoking a cigarette together at the breakroom table, staring curiously at me.
"Good morning," William, the manager said.
My face turned red from embarrassment. It must have mingled nicely with the green face I had from my nautiousness. I guess must have looked quite Christmasy! "Hey," I said weakly.
"A little too much to drink last night, I'm guessing?" William asked.
"Or too much to drink on the course yesterday?" Barry, the GM asked. My heart dropped until I realized he was kidding.
"Yeah, I had one too many vodka's last night. Sorry, I'm sure everything's fine out there. Brad would have..."
"It's all right, Steve," Barry cut me off. "There haven't been any complaints with the drinks so far. As long as the work's getting done, a cat nap when you're not feeling well isn't a mortal sin. Would you want to go home?"
"No, I'm good. I'm sorry. I'll be fine the rest of the day."
"All right, stay in the shade as much as possible," Barry finished.
"Will do," I said. He could be a prick about most things, but sometimes the GM wasn't half bad. I found Brad outside getting the cart to go out on the course. "Hey, dickhead!" I started, pissed off at Brad. "Why'd you let me sleep on the break couch? Barry just busted me."
Brad looked up at me and smiled. "I did try to wake you up. Barry said to leave you be."
"Oh," I said, eating my words and anger. "Sorry. All right, let's hit the course."
"I'll drive," Brad said. Hey, the kid was smart!
I finally started feeling better and by 3pm my hangover was totally gone, and I had drunk enough gatorade and water to to sustain a small country. The only thing I really wanted was another shower to wash away the liquor I had sweated out of my skin. But I was happy. As happy as I'd been in a couple of days. The tournament was almost over, my paycheck was going to be too fat for its envelope, I had tomorrow off, and I planned on spending it floating all day on the lake with a beer, err maybe an Evian water in my hand.
At 6:30 the championship flight finished up. The jackass who had won and probably made six figures anyway (if not more) picked up a check for 20G's. Brad and I broke down the course, washed everything out and put all the coolers back. We did inventory, cleaned the cage, returned the carts, and then wearily headed in to help in the back of the bar for the reception that followed. For the next two hours I scrambled back in forth from the kitchen and the patio bar with dirty and clean glasses. In addition I went up and down the stairs to the liquor room hundreds of times while I fetched whatever bottles the bar needed. Finally, by 9, the last of the members were slowly making their way out the door.
I was leaning up against the bar and enjoying a coke after a long weekend's work. I should have been exhausted. Yet I felt a second wind coming on.
"Hey dickhead!" George called out to me. "Phone call."
I scrunched my brow trying to figure out who was calling. Probably my parents who hadn't really seen me in three days. He handed me the phone and turned back to the other bartenders.
"Hello?" I said.
"Hey, it's Ryan."
"Oh hey," I said, a wide smile already starting to crack my lips. "Fancy hearing from you!"
"I wanted to get a crack on picking you up before George got to you," he joked. I laughed and looked over at George, who at the very moment was picking at his yellow teeth and telling some disgusting joke to Bruno as he scratched his ass. Not exactly the vision of beauty!
"That would be a shame if you lost out with me to George." I turned my back to the bar so the other bartenders wouldn't be able to hear my conversation well. Not that they were listening, but I was still cautious.
"So..." he paused.
"So..." I responded. I noticed our conversations were not as easy as they used to be!
"Will I be seeing you tonight?" Advice from the other night popped into my head. Someone who you're not going to have to call, but will wait for you at home on a Saturday night because a date is implied. I could tell he was trying to suppress it, but I could hear the anxiety of his voice.
"Well, I'm pretty damn tired. We were slammed the whole night up until about ten minutes ago." I was lying. I definitely had a second wind.
"Come on," he pleaded, a little pathetically. "I can offer you a warm bath, a massage, and then bed. We don't even have to make out."
"Maybe I need to make out," I playfully added.
"Well, I can't determine what you need until you get over here," he said seductively. Just then I was interrupted by a tap on the shoulder. I turned around to see George holding a champagne bottle out to me.
"Stevie, great job this weekend! Take this," he said handing me the bottle of champagne. "Go find a lady, get drunk, and screw all night." I smiled and nodded my head to acknowledge my appreciation and took the bottle of champagne.
"Well? Steve?" I heard on the end of the line, as Ryan searched for my response.
"Wait a minute," I said. "Is this stuff any good or is this shit?" I asked George, putting my hand over the mouthpiece of the phone. An idea was definitely forming in my head!
"It's good," he reassured me. "What the fuck would you know anyway about fine champagne, you go to Penn State you dickhead."
I faked an angry face at George, and then turned around to talk again to Ryan.
"Steve?" he asked again. I was staring at the champagne. Realizing how bad I wanted to open it, and sip it sitting in a bathtub while getting a massage.
"Are you gonna come over or not?"
"I think I'll see you in a little bit," I said to him.
Twenty minutes later I pulled my car to the side of the road in front of his place. I cut the engine. I picked up the bottle of champagne and inspected it once more. Then I picked up the flowers I had luckily been able to get. I had to convince the flower shop to re-open, but I had been persistent. I smelled them once more, and inspected them carefully. I looked up in the rearview mirror and adjusted my short cut crop of hair as best as I could. It was all in vain, since I had come right from work and couldn't make myself look any more presentable. I smelled under my armpits. Whew! Maybe I could take a shower first!
I opened the car door. Then I paused, and closed it again. Was I doing the right thing? Was this really what would provide me with substance this summer? I mulled over all my thoughts once again, everything that happened in these past few weeks. It had all been a twister, but I felt, for some reason, that it was going to be okay... that this turmoil would die down and things would begin to become stable again. I looked into the mirror, into my own eyes for the first time in a while, and said out loud to myself, "Yes, this is right." The look in my eyes convinced me. I smiled to myself, and then opened the door, unhesitantly this time.
I paused at the doorway. This will be my last chance to abort, I thought to myself. No, my mind was made up. This was okay. I knocked confidently on the door. The door opened.
He just stood there blinking at me in his boxers, and did nothing else. "What are you doing here?" he finally asked. I handed him the champagne bottle. "What the hell is this?" he asked in disbelief, looking it over. I then handed him the bouquet of flowers. He looked at them and started to laugh. Then he looked up at me and saw the look in my eyes. His expression became serious again. He looked back down at the champagne and flowers and then up to my face again. Tears were beginning to well up in my eyes; the same went for Adam's.
"Come in," he said. I stepped into his dormitory room, bare but for the few decorations he had been able to put up in the short time he had been there.
"It's nice," I said. "Quaint." Adam laughed.
"Small is how I'd describe it, but 'quaint' is a nice way of looking at it."
"At least its yours," I added.
"So... so what brings you here?" he finally asked. I think all he wanted was to hear me say it.
"And Ryan?" he asked.
"Ryan wanted me to come over to his place tonight. I obviously wanted to go someplace else. I'm just sorry it took so long."
"To get here?" he asked.
"No, it took me so long to figure out that I really wanted be with you."
Adam nodded his head. "I kind of knew from the start what I wanted." He walked over to me and took me in his arms, he went to kiss me, but then embraced me in a huge hug. There would be plenty of time to come for kisses. He walked over to his bed and grabbed two plastic cups from a half unpacked bag. "They're not crystal, but I think they'll do," he said as he set them down on a table and started to uncork the champagne.
"I think they'll do fine," I said. The cork popped off with a burst of champagne, and dripped all over the floor. Neither of us could have cared less. Then he poured two tall glasses of champagne. Despite my body's condition, I felt I could have a little alcohol tonight. To celebrate.
He handed me a glass. "To us."
"To us," I toasted.
That's it. It seems a horrible place to leave off a love tale, but I don't think I could do it any more justice. Sorry for all of you who loved Ryan but face it, he acted like a dickhead most of the story and he's probably still sitting in his room right now waiting for me to come over. Thank you to everyone who wrote and even rewrote me. Your kind words and mild come-ons always brightened my day! Seriously, thanks. If you like my writing, look for NACHT GALLERIE in the encounters (one-night stand) section. Send me an email and I'll let you know when I've posted it. I'll part with some final words and advice:
Love yourself, be true to yourself, and never forget where you came from - a slimy, smelly, bloody hole in your mother.
AKA - firstname.lastname@example.org