I’m on my couch, in sweatpants, watching a spy movie when a series of texts comes in from my sixth grade ‘girlfriend.’ Mind you I’m now in my mid-twenties. We had met for coffee the week before and things went well so this was not entirely unexpected.
The texts describe a minor professional crisis. She’s in medical school, training to become a dentist and was unable to take her licensing exam today. But now she’s out celebrating some milestone with her classmates that only those in medical cliques really understand.
She’s urging me to come join them, a forty minute drive away. I continue watching the film, secure in the fact that I’m not the kind of thirsty motherfucker who drives forty minutes to get some ass. Right? Wrong.
Fuck it. Let’s go. Living with your mother in the middle of the woods has its psychological tipping points and when opportunities like this present themselves you don’t just waste them. Gift horse’s mouth and all that.
I exit the highway. ‘This is my hell,’ I say with a sort of astonished chuckle. I’ve never been to this area and for good reason. On both sides of the four lane road, office buildings containing defense contractors, insurance companies, and assorted medical professions sprawl as far as the eye can see. Towering above them all is the Medical Center looking something along the lines of a Modern American Medical Krak des Chevalier.
There are some slight nerves about the situation I’m about to walk into, but ‘Come on. This is a layup,’ I say to myself.
A late night, R&B love song show has been playing on a local hip-hop radio the entire drive. The show is primarily sponsored by bail bondsmen and features shout-outs from local women whose men are currently incarcerated. It’s thin facade of grooviness is backed by some depressing racial realities.
Sidenote: This show, as a symptom of some pretty significant socio-economic and cultural ills, really deserves an article on its own.
I arrive at the bar – a sports bar whose every angle is covered in high definition – which is situated in a semi-circular office building, because of course it is. I can only assume the tenants upstairs are an unending series of claims adjusters, accountants, and associate managers whose only real option, and thus the raison d’etre for this establishment, is to drown their sorrows on Friday nights in hopes of approaching a level of brain damage similar to that which entertains them on Saturday and Sunday afternoons in the fall; all conveniently in the same building.
Sidenote: The parking lot is a nightmarish fucking maze that forces me to circumnavigate the whole damn place before finding the bar’s entrance. I can only imagine the level of planning that went into this place and the mastubatory handshakes that accompanied its completion.
It takes a disturbingly long five minutes to order my first bourbon of the evening. If I have a beer I’ll be asleep in twenty minutes. Thank god it comes when it did because I recognize another kid from my town, who was a year above future-dentist and I, and is also apparently in medical school. Small talk ensues. He always seemed like a good kid but he’s too drunk to get much out of at this point.
I’m introduced to some of her friends, who, I’m beginning to realize, are also too drunk to hold any substantial conversation with. When I ask my former grade school paramour how long they’ve been there, I get an answer with no real grammatical structure but coherent enough for me to know it’s been awhile.
Her friends have now left the two of us at the bar and Maker’s Mark #2 arrives with far too much ice.
Sidenote: one of the bartenders also took my first glass when there was still plenty of bourbon-soaked ice, the philistine.
I finally gather that they’ve been there since around 1700h and had been drinking in class before then, around 1300h. This ‘never happens,’ she says. For the sake of the medical profession, I should hope not.
Our weeks-long fling in 6th grade is brought up and I express surprise that it hadn’t at our coffee date, a large portion of which was spent discussing dentistry. She was certainly dedicated to her craft. Apparently she had a good line about it but I cut her off in conversation; an unfortunate habit of mine
The bar is closing, it is a Monday after all, so we leave. We decide to take her car and I insist on driving. She lights a clove cigarette, which we share on the 5 minute drive to her condo.
Sidenote: The parking lot is even more intimidating post-MM’s.
We arrive at said condo and make our way into the kitchen.
Wine, an ‘expensive Malbec’ is opened and poured. I get the bigger glass, I think she wants me to catch up.
After a piss, I flop onto the couch where she is already seated and physical contact, which had already been significant at the bar, begins anew.
Making-out commences. Since the intimacy of our childhood romance had only gone as far as holding hands and maybe a hug (this is brought up in conversation at the bar but remains unconfirmed by either party), this is a first.
Sidenote: This is also where the exact timeline gets a little blurry, for obvious reasons.
A pause in the action as the initial lustful momentum flags and we gather ourselves a bit. At this point, I’m having a hard time reading just how drunk the lovely blonde is. She’s clearly in control of herself to a degree that is admirable for a drinking session that has, reportedly, gone on for the better part of eleven hours but there beginning to be hints of real KO inebriation. And more to point, she is still drinking her wine – it was the expensive Malbec after all.
During the hiatus, we begin to chat and she goes more in depth into the day’s mishap. It was her fault and she starts to get emotional about it but (thankfully) gathers herself and cuddles into my lap. Making out recommences.
I decide it’s time to make the proverbial move and I unbutton her pants. Second base has been skipped entirely and we’re on to third. I believe that it’s only a matter of time before we move upstairs.
Another pause. While I go take another piss (I currently have the bladder of a nine year old girl), she goes upstairs and changes into ‘pajamas’. This consists of a long-sleeve shirt that just about covers her thong.
I suggest we go upstairs, she demures. There’s now a growing concern that she might be too drunk so I don’t push the issue. There’s also a brief moment of astonishment that, 14 years after our last romantic encounter, this is happening. Further oral contact.
I’m now seat with my legs up on the couch and he’s on top of me. She rests her head on my chest.
Steady breathing. She’s asleep.
I wake up. She’s still asleep on me and is showing no signs of regaining consciousness anytime before the sun’s up. I push her onto her back so that I can get up. She is dead to the world.
Decision time. Going upstairs myself and sleeping in her bed is out of the question. She has two roommates and so I’d be faced with the prospect of having to choose randomly between at least three doors. These are odds I’m not willing to take.
I could try and sleep on the couch but it’s curved and she’s taking up too much prime real estate. The prospect of a shitty night’s sleep and followed by a morning rush-hour drive is not on.
According to Google Maps, My car is only a twelve minute walk away. It’s cold but not too cold. I’ve got a heavy jacket. I doubt she’d want me to stay anyway, maybe, but unlikely. When she wakes up, the devil will likely be with her and no one wants anybody around in that state.
I slip out and quietly shut the door behind me. Not that it would’ve made much of a difference.
Google Maps takes me through a series of condo complexes with names that connote forests and glens and a general sylvan paradise that this, whatever it is, most certainly is not.
Sidenote: According to Wikipedia, the first condominium complex in the US was built in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1960. In the intervening 56 years, this architectural plague has spread to all corners of the continent.
Walking past building 5 of one of these faux-arboreal glens – I know because there was a large cement numeral 5 standing next to the path – I realized that this is America; the condos and the insurance companies and the military contractors and the sports bars in the basements of commercial parks and the R&B songs sponsored by bail bonds companies and the childhood sweetheart who’s becoming a dentist.
This is the depressing kind of thought that comes at quarter-to-two in the morning, after a quasi-failed tryst with a childhood sweetheart.
I get to my car in a now-empty parking lot. The radio show is long since over but the hip-hop station stays on. The Medical Center is regally silhouetted by an almost-full moon. I tail a Dominoes truck the entire 37 minutes home.
I arrive at home and promptly fall asleep myself.
Originally from Northern Ireland, Robert Dennis “Danny” Blanchflower played for Tottenham Hotspur from 1954-1964 and captained the club during its most glorious period, including the historic 1960-61, double-winning side. Danny would go on to a successful career as a broadcaster and journalist, including a controversial 1968 piece for Sports Illustrated on the troubles of the then-nascent North American Soccer League. Danny died in 1993 and thus did not write this piece. The real author, a committed Spurs fan, would like to apologize in advance if this piece denigrates the name of such a legendary footballer.
Cover image courtesy of grendelkhan via Flickr