Surprisingly, she actually likes his outfit, which is too bad, because the shirt is too tight and the jeans make his legs itch. They go to the bar and hang out with her friends, where he hears endless stories about all kinds of shit that he couldn’t care less about. By the end of the night, his ears are ringing because of all the fake, shrill laughter, his brain aches from the sheer amount of stupid bullshit that he has been forced to listen to, and his legs itch so bad that he feels like choking someone.
“Where are you going?” She asks as he pulls out of the parking lot.
“Taking you home,” he says. This is a perfect night to cut off her bullshit. He’s almost looking forward to it. Sure, there will tears, sure there will be screaming. And there will be anger and sad looks and blame and guilt and all of that junk that comes when you finally get your shit together enough to explain to the clueless that this relationship isn’t going to work.
After the night that he’s had, though, he’s immune. He’s Superman. He’s-
Her hand drops to his crotch. “I thought we could go back to your place. I really like your new room.”
He wonders if his dick will betray him, turn his brain against him. But no, thank goodness. Her hand feels too hot, her movements feel too forced. Ha-ha! Victory!
“Nah—I have an early morning.”
The sound of his fly unzipping fills the car before her spoken response. “You don’t have to get up that early.”
The feel of flesh on flesh almost turns him. He feels the skin tighten where she runs her fingers. He gets that almost-nervous feeling in his stomach as he thinks about what it would be like to just-
He forces himself to think about her friends, about his outfit, about that room. What used to be his room. His dick remembers, too, apparently, and stops its stirring.
“Something about hanging around with all of your obnoxious friends all evening just really wears me out,” he tells her, moving her hand from his crotch. He starts to zip his pants back up, but a minivan cuts in front of him, and he’s forced to swerve over to avoid an accident, leaving his dick flopping in the open. Even though his small victory has been cut short, he feels good about it. Even a small victory is enough to start a large battle, and once the battle has begun, there’s no way he can lose.
Instead of a verbal response, she drops her head under the steering wheel. He feels the wetness envelope him, feels the unique hot/cool sensation that can only be attained from someone’s mouth on your dick, and realizes that he has just taken the exit that leads to his apartment.
He wakes up the next morning in what used to be his bedroom, with the knowledge that he has lost. He had his moment, he dropped the ball, and now he will pay for it. The remark about her friends, that will cost him more than he cares to think about this early in the morning. The fact that he rebelled against her, that will cost him even more.
He climbs out of bed slowly, using all the ninja stealth he can conjure, hoping to escape without waking her.
Shit. “Yes, baby?”
“Could you get me some coffee?”
Damn it. He was hoping to just chug a Coke and then wait for her to wake up and make her own coffee. It isn’t that he has a problem with making coffee—it’s that he has a problem with making her coffee. She won’t just drink Folgers like regular people. She has her own special blend of beans from the gourmet coffee place, which means he has to dig it out of the back of the freezer (she insists on keeping her coffee beans at the very back of the freezer, in order to preserve the freshness for as long as possible), find the coffee grinder, and then grind the shit up before he can even start the coffee.
You shouldn’t have to go through that much bullshit before you’ve had your morning dose of caffeine, in Jeffrey’s opinion.
“Not from in the freezer, though—that stuff has been in there for a while. Would you mind running down and picking up a new bag?”
“Baby, that’s like a forty-five minute drive. It’s nine in the morning.”
Maybe this is it. Maybe this is penance. Maybe this is all the retribution he’ll have to pay. If so, it’s worth it to get it over with now. There’s a part of his mind that whispers to him that that’s complete bullshit and he knows it, but he tells that part to shut up, and decides to listen to the part that’s tell him this might be all it takes to make up for last night.
There’s another part that’s telling him that it isn’t too late—that he can still finish what he started last night, that he can still tell her to get lost. He reminds that part about how if she gets lost, he’ll more than likely have to live out the rest of his life without ever again experiencing the thing she did last night after they arrived back home, and the part promptly shuts the hell up.
“All right. Anything else?”
“Maybe a bagel from that place on Twelfth?” All the way across town from the coffee place. Figures.
“All right. I’ll be back in a while.” He steps from the room and begins to shut the door behind him
“Okay. I love you.”
He shuts the door, hoping that he’ll be able to plead ignorance later—“No, baby, I didn’t hear you, I was already on my way to get your coffee and bagels.”
He knocks on Tyler’s door, hoping to drag him out of bed and lure him along for the ride with the promise of a McMuffin or something, but Tyler’s room is empty.
Jeffrey grabs his keys form the living room floor where they were left in the heat of passion, locks the door behind him, and examines his belly button as he walks down the sidewalk.
He drops the green fuzz into the lawn as he walks, muttering a curse at the new blanket.
“So you went all the way to that shitty bagel place on Twelfth, then to the coffee place, and then back here?”
“That’s like a forty-five minute drive.”
“Took me an hour and ten.”
“It’s still not enough, is it?”
“It’s never going to be enough.”
“You have to break this shit off, man. It’s got you.”
“I know.” She’s gone this evening. It’s been two days, she’s been here pretty much nonstop, taking over his life. When she’s here, there’s no way to avoid the bedroom, there’s no way to avoid that blanket. He’s been picking green lint form his belly button, from between his toes, out of his hair. It’s everywhere.
She’s got some thing with her “sisters” tonight, and then tests tomorrow, which gives him a couple days of blessed freedom. Unless she calls him and wants him to bring her something she “accidentally left” at his place. Which she probably will. And it will be super important, something she can’t get by without, and he’ll find himself driving across town. He reaches over and turns off his cell phone, and then takes the bong from Tyler.
“And she told you she loved you?”
“Yes, but it was in a very malicious way.”
“Like…I don’t know—malicious.”
“She said it in a mocking kind of way?”
“No, she was very sweet about it.”
“Was it insincere?”
“No, I think she was sincere about it. In fact, it had a lot of feeling behind it.”
“Then how was it malicious?”
“Maybe malicious was the wrong adverb.”
“Really? But it describes the way she said something. Wouldn’t that be a verb, hence making the malicious an adverb?”
“No—you’re describing the way she said it. ‘Way’ is actually a noun, making malicious an adverb. Maliciously, now that’s an adverb.”
“It’s a damn fine adverb.”
“It really is.”
“So was malicious the right adjective or not?”
“It was. Not. It was not. It was the wrong adjective, I suppose. But it feels right. Because she told me she loved me, and it’s almost like she was using it against me. She does love me, I think, but that doesn’t keep her from making my life hell.”
“Love doesn’t keep chicks from doing shit. If anything, it empowers them. More guilt, when there’s love involved. With more guilt, there are more tears, and with more tears, there is more power.”
“Seems like a pretty cynical outlook.”
“It’s a pretty cynical game, this thing we call love.”
“I hate that blanket, dude.”
“What’s wrong with the blanket?”
“The fuzz—it gets everywhere.”
“Yeah, you have it all in your beard.”
“What?” Jeffrey goes and looks in the bathroom mirror. Not only is the fuzz in his beard, but there’s also some in his left ear. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“I thought you were making some sort of statement.”
“Bullshit. What kind of statement could I possibly be making by having blanket fuzz all over my face?”
“‘I’m a complete bitch, whipped every way imaginable?’”
“If I do, will you run across town and pick me up some of those special donuts?”
“You’re such an asshole.”
Tyler laughs. “Yeah, I really am. You know, though?”
“I really do have the munchies like a mad bastard.”
“Let’s go get some tacos.”