another friday night
“Do you have a smoke?”
I patted my pockets down looking for some cigarettes I knew didn’t exist. But not out of habit like when I looked at my wrist for the time even though I never wore a watch. I wasn’t showing visible proof that I didn’t have any like when the bums outside of 7-11 ask. Out of desperation. I really hoped some might be there.
Fucking Murphy’s Law. Bill had been even more obnoxious than normal while rushing me out the apartment. He had to get to the bar early, I am not sure why. Stake out his claim or something. Load up the jukebox so he would actually get to hear the songs he wanted. I was in no hurry- those weren’t the songs I would want to hear.
“Shit dude, turn around. I forgot my lucky Spirits.”
I have one box of American Spirits I have been nursing for the last three months. My lucky box. I bought it after me and Jaime broke up. I thought I might take up smoking to ease the situation (that’s what they always did in the movies anyway) until I remembered how much I hated smoking; how gross I thought cigarettes were. But… I had spent money on them, so I felt it was my duty to smoke them, so I always took them with me when we went out drinking. I fostered some belief that a beautiful girl who was trying to quit would ask me for one, and we would make a connection, share a couple drunken drags and then she would quit completely for me. Most nights I ended up pulling lonely drags outside after pounding my Jack and Cokes. Maybe it wasn’t such a lucky box.
“Dude. Chill. They never fucking get you anywhere anyway. You’ll be luckier without them.” That’s how he said it. Two sentences. Sharp, precise.
I knew there was no way we would go back for them even before I had said anything. This point was sealed as John turned the corner, speeding away from the apartment complex, slowing down more for the turn than the stop signs or other cars.
* * *
She was the most beautiful girl in the bar. Hidden behind sexy Lisa Loeb glasses and a Baseball hat, I wondered how many other guys in the bar had noticed this. Eyes so blue I would have been convinced she was wearing contacts were it not for the glasses. Most guys were checking out the girls showing off their tits, wearing lip-gloss that made you want to put those lips to use. This was the same as in every bar, especially in every college town, all across the country. But the smoker… She either didn’t care, or knew she was cute enough to shun that bullshit. It was most likely the latter. I scanned the room. I could tell her I left my pack with my friend and run through the room trying to find some before she moved on. I wanted to hold her, take her home and kiss her eyelashes, watch Wes Anderson movies with her.
I spotted Bill near the restroom watching some girl throat a beer bottle for attention. Some drunken ass was yelling something about Lake Havasu and boobs. Another ass was shoving quarters into the jukebox. I could smell his cologne just by looking at him. At a bar this crowded, the box would be playing tunes picked at 8:30 by people like Bill. Cheesy classic rock and frat-rap favorites. Biggie and Tupac. I smiled at the thought of him wasting his money. I wished I were in a bar where I could choose the music. Get rid of almost everybody but the real alcoholics and play good depressing heartbroken music. Sip my whiskey and listen to Waits tell me the piano was drinking again. Then I remembered my gaze for smokes. I was getting desperate- I was about to lose my one chance with this girl. This girl who was just tan enough to know that it was actually from the sun instead of a bottle or bed. This girl with little freckles under her eyes (oh those eyes!) and a big butterfly ring on her index finger.
I nodded my head in agreement and continued looking through the room. I barely knew what I was looking for anymore, and I was wasting valuable time sitting there on that stool, instead of going to get it.
She tapped on my shoulder. “What are you drinking?”
I had to physically shake myself out of it. “Jack… and Coke.”
“Mmm. Good choice. Two of those please.” And she held up two fingers to the bartender. She threw me a little crooked smile. Her teeth just barely showed through the slit her lips made. I wanted to run my fingers over those lips and tell her how cute they were. Instead:
inner monologue: “Jack is always good stuff. My name is John.”
Actuality: “Braughhghkuu…” in a weird gurgle/voice cracking combination.
She played it off wonderfully with another sly smile. Still a little crooked.
“My name is Sara. I’m actually glad you don’t have any cigarettes; I am trying to quit. I couldn’t think of anything else to start with.”
“John.” And I threw my hand out a little too enthusiastically. Was this actually happening? This girl was initiating conversation with me? Sara was getting me a drink? I threw the bartender a confused smile. “Is it Sara with or without the h?” That is the brilliant conversationalist I am.
“Without actually. And John?”
We were flirting over how we spelled our names, and the simpleness of it washed over me. I tossed back the drink in two gulps once the bartender sat it in front of me, and I felt relaxed.
“Well somebody has good taste,” I said as the juke started playing Zeppelin, Plant orgasming through the speakers.
* * *
Sara and I continued to talk about everything from school to riding the bus, and everything in between, including the great topics of music, books and movies.
Sara argued: “Not only was Eyes Wide Shut misunderstood and under appreciated, but it was Kubrick’s best.”
“Well yeah, Eyes was great, but better than 2001? Better than Clockwork.” I was glad someone else appreciated Eyes Wide Shut, but claiming it was better than Clockwork Orange was ridiculous. I was afraid was going to get me worked up, especially considering the empty glasses piling up in front of us.
“Clockwork Orange! Such a typical guy answer!” Sara practically screamed - but more playful than angry. “The dreamlike lighting alone in Eyes…”
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