I don’t even want to know what time it is. We’ve been kicked out of the bar, but Jessica somehow managed to talk the old guy in front of the neon to sell us a bottle of Jack Daniel’s to take with us back to the motel. We’re in her room, and I’m trying to get her to shut the hell up for a second so that she’ll pass out, but she just won’t.
I think I’ve heard about every little annoying thing that Harold has done since they’ve known each other…and we’ve still got a few years to go.
“And his sister. Do you know he talks to his sister like eight times a week?”
“Yes.” See, the thing is, I’ve already heard all of this before. Because she bitches about her weird little marriage world on a daily basis. It doesn’t usually seem like bitching, because it’s so off-hand when you hear about it each day, and when it only takes up seconds of your time.
But when it’s dumped out in front of you all at once, it’s flabbergasting. I mean, how do people stay married? Why do people stay married? This shit, everything from annoying to outrageous, it’s too much. This is why she thinks I should be sad? Because I’m missing out having to sacrifice every part of my life to another person? Because I don’t have to consider someone else’s feelings every time I make a decision, no matter how mundane? Shit, man, if I was the weepy type, I’d probably be crying for her right now. It’s depressing, is what it is. Her life, yeah, but even more than that—this is how an entire world population thinks we need to live, practically. And why?
It’s beyond me, man. She’s still rambling, and I realize that I’ve lost about ten minutes to my own thoughts, and she hasn’t even noticed.
“Look, Jessica—it’s awesome to hear about how lousy it is to be married. I mean, even there were any sort of hidden thoughts back in the darkest corner of my mind that were entertaining notions of ever getting married—I don’t think there were, but if there were—you’ve killed them and desecrated their burial ground with all of your horror stories. So thank you for that. But seriously, it’s like three in the morning, you’ve knocked back enough booze to give your liver nightmares for the rest of your life, and I’m tired as shit, okay?”
“Oh, come on, don’t go.”
“Man, fuck that—I’m tired and this boring as shit.”
“Don’t go,” she says again. There’s something in her voice this time. It’s need, but it’s not needy, and I realize I’m in trouble here.
“You’re drunk, babe.”
“I have to go.” I stand up. She’s hot, and I would be lying if I said I hadn’t ever thought about what it would be like to hit the sheets with her, but I wouldn’t do it even if she was sober. One thing I learned a long time ago is that you don’t fuck your friends. Figuratively or literally. It’s just bad business.
“You’ve fucked worse than me,” she says.
“Of course I have,” I tell her. I’m tapping my jeans, a quick pocket-check. The way you do it, especially if you have a tendency to nail housewives, is you always put your shit in the same place.
Front right pocket: cell phone, pack of gum, Zippo lighter. Even if you don’t smoke, you keep a Zippo lighter filled with fluid handy—you’d be amazed at how often the closer of the evening is just having a nice lighter at the right time.
Front left: keys. You don’t keep much of anything else in there with your keys, because keys have a tendency to turn all sideways and crazy, making anything else you put in there stick out at odd-looking angles. The long and short of it is, if you get too much in there with your keys, you look like a fuckin’ dork.
Back left pocket: wallet. I’m probably different from most people in this aspect, because I’m left-handed. I keep my wallet where I can flip it out quickly, in a smooth, comfortable motion, and I keep it in order so that I can pay a bar tab or restaurant bill without even breaking eye-contact. I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about taking your wallet out and paying off a tab without even looking that really seems to get the undies simmering.
Back right pocket: any napkins, business cards, or other scraps that you’ve been handed during the course of the night. I used to put this kind of thing in various pockets until I met these two super-models who were really into…well, it’s not really important what they were into, but I liked it. A lot. After a night (and most of the next day) of all kinds of paradise, I tucked a condom wrapper with their phone number on it into my back left pocket, along with my wallet. Two blocks later, I decided to buy a newspaper. When I got home, I couldn’t find the wrapper, and realized that it must have fallen out when I took out my wallet to pay for the paper. So, yeah, nothing is ever taken out of the back right pocket until I’m safely back in my home.
This system is remarkably handy when you have to take off in a hurry, because within four pats, you know if you’re missing anything, and if you are, you know exactly what you’re missing.
“Are you doing the four-pat flee?”
I didn’t realize I had told her the name of my system. “Just making sure I have all my stuff.”
“You’re running away?”
“You’re drunk, Jessica. You’re beyond drunk. The only good thing about how drunk you are right now is that you won’t remember what you’re supposed to profusely apologize for tomorrow.”
“Why not, Chris? Why not me?”
“Because we’re friends, Jessica. Because this isn’t what you want. Because you aren’t this desperate, you aren’t this lonely, and you aren’t able to get physically involved without getting emotionally involved. I don’t want to hurt you, and even if this was what you really wanted, I would hurt you by doing it. Which is beside the point, because you don’t really want this. Really you’re just pissed at your husband, and I happen to be present and extremely good-looking.”
“I don’t know if I would go so far as to say ‘extremely’ good-looking.”
“Really?” It’s a joke, but she misses it completely.
She stares at me for a few seconds, and having her eyes take in every part of me is sort of uncomfortable. We’ve worked together for years, and it’s just common sense that she’s checked me out, just like I’ve checked her out: subtle observances, quick glances, stolen whatever. But to have her visually catalog me so blatantly, it’s unsettling.
“Okay,” she finally says, “I guess I would.”
“You’re hot, I’m hot, let’s just fuck.”
My dick begins to stiffen, even as I protest. “Jessica, shut up. Just quit talking. Pass out, sleep deep, wake up tomorrow with no memory of any of this, okay? Because what you want, that ruins what we have. Okay? That ends it, babe.”
She’s staring at my crotch. For some reason, that just makes it get harder faster. Me and my dick, we haven’t ever had a disagreement before, so this is new territory for me. You know when you pick up a glass or whatever? Your fingers, they serve a specific function, they grab the glass you don’t ever think about them turning on you. You don’t ever think that someday they’ll just start grabbing shit randomly, disobeying you.
I’ve heard stories about how guys get hard-ons when they don’t want to, but I never really believed them. Me and my dick, we’ve got what Oprah would call a good relationship, you know? We get along.
I suddenly realize that I’ve always wanted to nail the same chicks that my dick has, and I suddenly realize that this is going to be a problem. Right now.
Because she’s still eyeing my hardening dick, I’m still telling it to behave, and I’m also trying to concentrate on how bad of an idea it is to go to bed with a friend and coworker, even as I realize that the words coming out of her mouth are turning me on like mad.
And then, just as I reach the door, she does one of those emotional 360s that chicks do, from totally horny to almost crying again. My dick panics, tries to crawl up into my stomach. I make a mental note to later give it some sort of speech about how this is why it should listen to me.
“Do you think you could just stay for a minute? I’ll stop trying to get you to have sex with me. I know I’m a mess right now, but could you just stay until I fall asleep?”
Fuckin’ chicks, man. I go over and sit back down on the bed. “Be quick about it.”
“Thank you, Chris. Thank you so much.”
“No sweat, babe.”
She gives me a quick kiss on the cheek and runs off to the bathroom. “I just have to pee right quick.” Still too drunk for her usual modesty.
When she comes back, she looks nice. Not nice like I-want-to-nail-you nice, but nice in a way that I don’t see much. Someone just doing their nightly routine, doing what they do before going to bed. Her face is washed, her hair is tied back in a ponytail, she’s in the sweats that she sleeps in. She smiles a drunkenly innocent smile at me and crawls under the covers.
I’m kind of beat, and against my better judgment, I lean back on the headboard a little. Not horizontal, but reclined.
I’m asleep almost as quickly as she is, and I don’t even realize it until I open my eyes and it’s later. The lights are off, she’s kind of snuggled up on my chest. I panic at first, wonder if I broke down and had sex with her, but I’m still very dressed, with all the stuff in my pockets. I think about getting up and going back to my room, but just the thought of it wears me out, and I’m back asleep before I can contemplate anything else.