“I think I need a mint or something.” -Anna Faris
The morning sun creeps through the blinds of my bedroom, across my sheets. It stops on the pillow next to my head. I stare at the empty side of the bed. It’s one of the loneliest sights I’ve ever seen. I consider my life. I’ve spent the past three nights partying. Each night I’ve gone home and medicated myself to sleep. The past three mornings, I’ve woken up, expecting someone to be warmly lying beside me. Each morning, I’ve been sharply disappointed. You don’t become accustomed to being alone. It’s comforting to think you will, but you don’t. You won’t become used to the cold, empty space. It’s just something that I have to accept and live with.
It’s pushing noon, and the rays of sun are crawling ever closer toward me. I wonder if it’s pathetic that it’s a Wednesday, and I haven’t been able to summon the strength to peel myself off my mattress yet. But considering all that’s just happened on top of the fact that I’m unemployed and less two weeks from being flat broke, I’d say I’m doing just dandy.
Staring up at the ceiling, I think about my last conversation with The Writer. It’s strange that I’ve already forgotten so many of the prickly details when every breath, every movement, every word was so overwhelming in the moment. It’s strange that those details, despite being so bright, have already dissolved away into time. They barely even exist anymore.
I do remember the last thing The Writer said to me: “Call me when you’re ready.” How do I know when I’m ready? It’s been three days. Is that time enough? With the temptation of calling him stomping around my thoughts, I grab my phone and hold it up, over my face. Scrolling through my contacts, I find his name. I press the “delete” button next to his information. There. This isn’t the first time, I’ve banished The Writer’s number from my phone since our talk. I nearly threw my phone down a hill when I left his house. But seeing as how I’m broke, and a phone is kind of a necessity, I settled on giving his number to a friend for safe keeping before deleting all traces of him from my phone. That same night, I decided I needed his number again and re-entered it. Until I realized that I was being crazy. And deleted it. Again. The pattern of deleting and re-entering continued longer than what would probably be considered healthy, but this last time, my friend deleted the number also. I have no way of getting his digits back. It’s like solitary confinement. But healthy?
With a sense of relief, I toss the phone on the floor next to my bed, and it begins vibrating. “Fuck,” I say, thinking I broke it. I pick it up and see that someone is in fact calling. It’s a number not in my contacts. It’s his number. What’s worse is, I don’t just recognize it. It’s emblazoned in my mind. I realize I have it memorized. Fuck indeed.
I stare at the phone, distantly, as it continues to ring. “Call when you’re ready.” When I’m ready. I consider sending the call to voicemail. I should. Instead, I answer. “Hey…” I say in a great attempt to sound neutral. “Hi, how’s it going?” The Writer asks. His words give me the sensation of going upside down in a loop on a roller coaster. After a short pause, I answer: “Fine. I’m fine. How bout you?” “Good. I have a question for you…” Dread is my response. Gulping, I respond, “What is it?” “You know my friend, that producer? I’m applying for a writing job on his show, and I need to write an episode of something.” “OK…which show?” “Well, that’s what I was going to ask you,” he says. I fancy myself a television expert, and no, I don’t mean like the Kardashians. “I need to write a sample script of a big drama,” he continues. I shake my nerves and go into auto-mode. He wants to write Breaking Bad, which I tell him is likely too complicated, so he settles on a science fiction procedural. “How many seasons am I going to have to watch?” He asks. “There’s three, but you can skip about half of the episodes.” “Ugh,” is his response. “You’ll thank me later,” I assure him. “It’ll be an easy script to write.” “Can I just thank you now?” He asks. “Sure,” I answer.
After a short pause, I break the silence: “Is that all you were calling about?” “Yep,” he answers obliviously. Autopilot switches off, and I crash-land back in reality. I find myself nodding as if he could hear it. “Well, uh, let’s get dinner or something later this week,” he says. Some words fall out of my mouth, and the conversation is over.
I sit down on my floor, Indian style. Then, I remember number six of my reasons why: “He’s remarkably selfish.” Got it. But I’m still having difficulty processing the fact that he just called me. Just like that. And then, I remember number seven: “He doesn’t realize it.” But does ignorance exonerate the sin? That’s a question I’m not ready to answer. I do, however, consider his honesty during our conversation. And I can’t help but appreciate how resoundingly responsible he was with me in my most fragile state. It makes me think of those victims of kidnapping, who fall in love with their captors. God, I would have the worst Stockholm Syndrome.
* * *
After eating dry Frosted Mini Wheats for dinner, I call Trick Bradley. “I need to go out tonight,” I tell him. “That’s fair. Where are we going?” “You’ll see.” I know Trick Bradley well enough now to know that on the other end of the call, he’s sitting there, blinking with a blank expression on his face. “O.K.” “Great,” I say. “Come by around nine.”
* * *
Driving into WeHo, Bradley asks where exactly we’re going. “Take us to the most crowded elderly bar you know of.” “Gross. I am NOT sleeping with some old guy,” he says sticking his tongue out. “Keep it in you pants, skank. No one’s asking you to put out. Listen Bradley, tonight’s agenda is going to be a little unorthodox. I have no money, and I need to feel better about myself…” “Why do you need to feel better about yourself?” I hesitate. “Ask me again after I’ve had two drinks,” I instruct him. “Anyway, tonight is Geezer Night. The way I see it, it’s Wednesday, so WeHo is gonna be pretty empty. When we walk into the elderly bar, all of the guys are gonna be like, ‘Who are those hot young studs?’ And we’ll be all, “Hey guys…who wants to buy us a drink?’ I know. You don’t have to tell me. I’m a genius.” Bradley just laughs at me.
As we pull into the parking lot behind our destination, I realize Bradley has entered through the exit. “Bradley, you’re going the wrong way.” “It’s fine,” he says, attempting and failing to pull into a diagonal spot. That’s when we hear a gargled yell. Looking out my window, I spot two homeless-looking men shoving each other. “This is hilarious,” Bradley says as one of the guys climbs up on a dumpster. Another guy walks over to them. I can’t tell if he’s homeless too, or just a hipster. Or drug dealer. Or a gang member. “Oh my god, I’m not a genius. This was the worst fucking idea ever. We’re going to get mugged. Or raped. Or sold into white slavery. Fuck, I’m going to die in West Hollywood. I do NOT want to die, Bradley. Especially not in West Hollywood.” “So are we still going in?” He asks. The homeless guy on the dumpster tackles the other one as the third man joins in the shoving. I grab the gear on Bradley’s car in put in reverse. “Hell no.”
“So what’s the plan?” Bradley asks nonchalantly as we make our getaway. “The plan is not to die. But still to get free drinks.” “That sounds good,” he says. I have a mile to collect myself before arriving at the next elderly bar, which maintains a less violent parking lot. When we get out of the car, I roll up my shorts to show some leg. “Are you sure I look jail-baity enough?” I ask Bradley. “You look like a pedophile’s wet dream,” he responds. “You’re too sweet,” I laugh.
When we walk in the bar, I look around and realize that we’re not in Twinkville anymore. There’s no Top 40, little flirting, and no bright colors. Instead, there’s a pool table, wood paneling, and a bunch of guys, who look like they’d rather smoke a cigar than a cigarette or joint. Meanwhile, I look like the gay equivalent of a Japanese businessman’s schoolgirl fantasy.
Confidently walking up to the bar, I order a $3 draught but when no one approaches, rejoin Bradley, pressing my back to the wall. “Why isn’t anyone hitting on us?” I whisper. “Do you really want any of these guys hitting on you?” “Yes!” I answer before looking around the bar. “OK, no. Well. Maybe that one guy if I get a little drunker,” I amend. “But that’s not the point, Bradley. This is a self-esteem boosting exercise.” Just then a bear walks by, sliding his hand on my waist as he passes. “Not what I had in mind,” I bark.
A couple of uncomfortable minutes later, Bradley heads to the bathroom. All alone, I’m finally approached. “What you doing here?” The guy asks. He’s gotta be in his early 40s. “Just checking things out,” I answer with a perfect dose of attitude. “Want to come home with me?” He asks. Seriously? You’re not even going to offer to buy me a drink first? Whatever. I’ll fish. “You know, I would, but I’m here with a friend.” “He can come, too.” He suggests. “Yeah, he’s actually my cousin, so that would be weird,” I tell him. “Well can I get you number?” The guy persists. “I don’t have a phone,” I tell him. “Why not?” What I mean to say is: “because I’m poor.” Instead, I say: “I’m Amish.” “You don’t look Amish,” he tells me. “Yeah, well I am. I’m from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Born and raised.” “What are you doing in California?” He asks. It’s a good thing I spent hours upon hours fucking around on Wikipedia as a teenager. “I’m on my Rumspringa experiencing the ‘English’ world. I’m here looking to court a nice gay Amish boy.” “There’s probably a dating site for that,” the daddy tells me sarcastically. I see Bradley returning form the bathroom. “Yes, well electricity’s of the devil, and I’m not looking to sin anymore than I already do. Oh, and you’re kind of cheap,” I say, taking a final swig of my beer. I grab Bradley and drag him out the back entrance.
“Another fail. I give up.” “That place was creepy,” Bradley says. “Right?” “Some super old guy came into the bathroom while I was peeing, and he walked over to the urinal next to me and said, ‘Hi,’ and slapped me on the back.” “That’s unfortunate,” I chime in. “Yeah, and he was like, ‘You know we have something in common?'” “What did you have in common?” I ask. “He said, ‘We’re both peeing.’ Then he tried to shake my hand.” “Well, Bradley, I’m glad you made a new friend.” “Who was that guy you were talking to?” He asks. “Just some creep, who wanted my number.” “Did you give it to him?” “No, I told him we were Amish.”
“Can we just go home?” I ask. “No! Dani and Cindi called while I was in the bathroom, and they want to meet up with us.” Dani and Cindi are Bradley’s co-workers. We’ve gone out drinking with them a couple of times. They’re kind of a blast. “Fine,” I say. “But only if you buy me my next drink.”
After settling in at a karaoke bar across the street, I thank Bradley for the drink. “What’s The Writer doing tonight?” He asks. “I don’t’ know,” I say. “How’s he been? I haven’t talked to him in a while.” “Yeah, we’re not exactly talking right now,” I answer. “What happened?” He asks intently, uncharacteristic of his normal self. “Remember how I told you I needed to be two drinks in when you asked me why I need a confidence boost tonight? Same story. Let me drink.” And I do. I down the entire vodka cranberry. “That was a double, you know?” He says. “Good,” I answer. “So do you want to tell me now?” He asks. “No, but I will anyway.”
“I don’t know if you know this, but I have feelings for The Writer.” “Duh,” he responds. This makes me curious. “It’s that obvious?” Bradley nods. With a slight blush, I nervously recount my talk with The Writer. I tell Bradley everything. “Whatever, he’s an asshole. No, actually, he’s just a dumb douche. Everyone I know, who knows him, thinks he a douche.” “He’s not a douche,” I say. “He’s just…” I don’t know what to say, so I don’t finish my sentence.
“Can I ask you a personal question?” “Sure,” Bradley says. “Did you ever hook up with him?” “No, why?” He inquires. “I was just wondering. I know you guys met on Grindr. And well, we used to call you Trick Bradley. That’s what he had you as in his phone.” “What a fucking asshole, he really is a douche bag.” I pull out my phone and find him on my contact list. He looks at the screen, which reads: Trick Bradley. “I thought you would think it’s funny,” I chuckle. He doesn’t.
“No, that first night we hung out, I thought the whole situation was weird. I could tell you were into him, and he was being all flirty with you. Plus, when we went back to his house, and he wanted us both to sleep in his bed. What was that?” Good question. “And you were being such a bitch that night,” he says to me. It’s true. “Yeah, sorry about that,” I laugh. “I was like who is this douche from New York, who thinks he’s so great.” “I don’t even think I made eye contact with you the whole time we were at dinner,” I admit. “Why are we friends, again?” He asks. “Because I’m amazing,” I remind him. With that, I take a sip from my straw and realize my drink is drank. “All gone,” I say, holding up my cup.
We decide to go back downstairs, but I tell Bradley I need to pee. As he begins his descent down, I try to open the bathroom door, which is located at the top of the stairs. Bradley stops. “What are you dong?’ He asks as I tug on the door handle. It’s not budging. “Trying to get in the bathroom. This fucking door won’t open.” “Cut it out,” I hear the bartender yell at me from behind the bar. Looking up, I realize this isn’t a bathroom door. And the reason it won’t open is because it’s already open. It’s just a door to this section of the bar. I don’t know why I thought there was a bathroom there. Clearly, I’m drunk. “Sorry,” I say sweetly, waving at the bartender, and I run downstairs.
Once I make it to the main floor, Bradley stands there laughing at me. “I’m gonna need another drink,” I say. “No, you need to be cut off,” he says jokingly. Or maybe not jokingly. “Hey!” Yells someone from behind me. I yank around with a smile, but it’s no one I know. “Me?” I ask laughing? “You!” He says. “Who are you?” I inquire, charmingly. “I’m Cappie,” he says. Cappie is a toned black guy in his mid 30s and wildly energetic.
After a bit of chatting, Cappie cuts the shit. “Are you boys single?” “Yeah,” Bradley replies. Bad idea. “What about you?” He asks, staring at me like he’s about to pounce. “No, I have a boyfriend,” I tell him. “And where is this boyfriend?” He asks suspiciously. “At home,” I respond without missing a beat. “And why would he be missing out on having a good time with a cute boy like you?” “Because he hates me,” I say matter of factly. “He doesn’t sound like a very good boyfriend. Why does he hate you?” Cappie asks, placing his hand on my lower back. I arch my eyebrows very seriously and remove his arm. “That’s just what keeps our passion for each other going. It’s a lot of fun,” I say. “I’ll have to try it out sometime. You know, I manage a couple of yachts. You boys should come out on the ocean with me sometime. You can even bring your hateful boyfriend,” he tells me. “That sounds like fun,” I say despite knowing I would never get on some random yacht with this guy. “Here’s my info,” Cappie offers, handing me a business card. “Can I get your number?” He asks. “Sure. After you do the gentlemanly thing and buy me a drink.” He forces a smile and waves down the bartender. “He’ll have a… what do you want?” He asks me. “Vodka cranberry,” I answer. “He’ll have a vodka cranberry,” Cappie tells the bartender. “Two vodka cranberries,” I correct him. “One for my friend. Sharing is caring.” Bradley shakes his head.
After a sip of my new drink, I remember that I never got a chance to take that piss. Cappie tries his hand-on-my-back move again, so I hand Bradley my drink. “I believe this belongs to you,” I say to Cappie as I peel his fingers off my shirt and place his hand on his chest. “I’ll be right back, I need to take a leak,” I tell them. Leaning in to Bradley’s ear, I whisper, “Watch my drink. I don’t want to get roofied and end up on a yacht in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.” As I walk away, I realize that actually doesn’t sound so bad.
Inside the bathroom, there’s a long urinal and sit-down toilet with no stall. While I’m peeing some guy walks in and stands right next to me. After whipping his out, he looks over and down. “Can I help you?” I ask in my pissiest voice. “Nice,” he responds. “Go choke on someone else’s dick, creep,” I say leaving the bathroom without washing my hands.
As I walk back over, I see Cappie trying to stick his hand down the back of Bradley’s pants. Bradley protests, but Cappie manages to get his hand down his underwear, so that his hand is directly on Bradley’s ass. “I wish my hand was my face right now,” Cappie says. Sticking my tongue out in disgust, I dislodge Cappie’s arm from my friend’s pants. “Good lord,” I say pulling Bradley away from him, and we walk out to the patio.
Just then, Dani and Cindi arrive. “Hello lover!” Dani yells. “Ahhhhhh,” I scream running up and giving her a hug. “Shots!” I demand. I’m not sure who paid for them, but we do a round, and I’m practically floored. “Let’s do karaoke,” I demand of Dani. “No, I don’t want to sing!” “I don’t want you to sing either,” I tell her. People really need to stop trying to steal my spotlight. “I just want you as my back up dancer.” Bradley, having been lucky enough to have previously experienced one of my epic karaoke performances, wears an expression of dread.
Before I go on stage, things start to get pretty foggy. And I start to get a little droopy. That is until… “Stop telephoning me-e-e-e! I’m busy!” I’m having a blast until I look out at the audience that looks rather displeased. I stop my performance and partially say into the mic, “Are they booing us?” “No,” Dani assures me, looking a little embarrassed. “I think they are,” I slur. I look back at the crowd. It’s not as big as my last venture into karaoke, but the faces I do see are either shocked or disgusted. Except for one lone chubby girl jumping up and down near the front of the stage. I remember her singing earlier. “You’re amazing!” I yell at her through the mic. “You should be on Glee! You’re a Glee star!” The song ends, and Dani rushes me off stage. “You’re my hag! Will you be my hag?” I slur loudly as I follow her back to Cindi and Bradley. “Of course! I love you!” She answers. I laugh and tell the surrounding people that Dani is my new hag. They congratulate me, and then I black out.
* * *
I come to, sitting in the passenger seat of Bradley’s car. From the looks of it, we’ve only been driving for a couple minutes. I feel a warm, but tiny stream rising in my throat very slowly. It feels good. The stream makes its way to my mouth, and I taste cranberry. “Are you OK?” He asks. With difficulty, I lift my head and nod. The stream makes its way past my lips and drips ever so slightly down my chin. Bradley looks over at me. “Do you need to open your window?” He asks. I shake my head and feel something warm drip on my arm. It turns out the warm stream isn’t just some warm feeling. It’s pink. “Ew. Ew! Open the window! Open the window!” Bradley yells at me. He rolls it down for me, but I’m really not puking. “Are you going to get sick?” He asks. I shake my head again as more drips land on my shirt. “Gross! You’re like…percolating.” I start to laugh and that’s when it comes up. I yack in the direction of the window. But I miss the outside, and it flies into the backseat. “Fuck!” Bradley yells as I black out again.
* * *
Bradley pulls over a couple times and tries to get me to vom the rest out. But my eyes are glossed over. I’m not cohesive enough to process anything until his car comes to a halt outside my apartment. Key in hand, I jump out of the car and open the gate to my apartment building. “Whoa! Whoa! Wait.” Bradley turns the car off and follows me up. Tucking me into bed, he brings a trashcan over that’s already filled with vom. “Don’t remember doing that,” I say. “You just puked into this thing like six seconds ago,” he reminds me. “Oh,” I say. I hear the water running in the kitchen, and Bradley brings me two giant glasses of water. “Once you stop puking, try to drink these, OK?” He says. “Are you going to stay?” I ask. “No, I have work in the morning.” “OK,” I say.
Having never puked in a car before, I’d say this is a low point in my life. And to think, I was doing so well this morning. Well, sort of. What’s that saying? “Tomorrow’s another day?” I gulp some water but spit it up along with some pink chunks. Tomorrow will be better.