Friend zone

Sheep

The Tuesday Party had ended, so the most dedicated of us drunks went to continue our binge at Alibis, our local haunt. It wasn’t a dive bar in the traditional sense.  It was relatively clean, didn’t really attract the dregs, but it was pretty dark inside. There were places of intermittent light; the kind of light that, if you were feeling confident on a particular night, you would consciously wade through when you went the bar or to the bathroom and hope people paid attention. Lloyd was happy to see us come in as he had really wanted to come to the party, but Tuesdays were his nights behind the bar. My foggy guess is there were 10 of us still at it. As it was after midnight on a Tuesday, there weren’t many other people already in the bar, so I immediately honed in on Lauren and her big round head as I walked in the door. We had some common friends, so we occupied the same relative space on occasion, and since I’m good in crowds I had impressed her with my wit.  I had never had an actual one-on-one conversation with her, but I could tell from her laugh she was into me. Tonight was the night. I just knew it.

Not much about the Tuesday Party stood out except, of course, that it was on a Tuesday—the brainchild of Hollywood Gman. His solid logic behind having a party on a Tuesday was, “no one ever has a party on a Tuesday.” Amen. We partied a lot back then, even when we weren’t having parties, so a lot of the days blend together. The only event I can accurately place at the Tuesday party was a bet between me and Skippy turned body shaving turned wrestling match. 

Neither me nor Skippy can remember what the bet was about all these years later. Coulda been a Red Sox game (let’s go Mets!) or a poker game, or how many fucking stars were shining in the sky that night. No idea. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the stakes. We decided the winner of the bet would shave the chest of the loser; a strange win for a straight guy in his late twenties, but a win nonetheless. While Skippy has a decent amount of body hair, he’s no match for my George “The Animal” Steele body, so according to professional gambling guidelines, I made a good bet, because I was getting such good odds! In my estimation, I would only have to win this bet one out of three times to be ahead. More solid logic. Anyway, I won.

Tooch, Gman’s roommate, decided he would be the one to do the actual shaving because he lived in the house and didn’t want two drunks messing up his bathroom. Logic logic logic. Skippy sat shirtless on the toilet while Tooch got the clippers from the hall closet. A small crowd gathered outside the bathroom to watch a 6’2”, 29-year-old father of three have his chest shaved by a third party with no vested interest in the bet at a party on a Tuesday. I wished Lauren was there. How could she not be impressed?

Tooch began to sheer Skippy like a sheep while all of us laughed and cheered. The regret on Skippy’s face was as obvious as it was immediate. “Enough! Enough!” he yelled as clumps of curly black hair fell softly to the ground. It was clear he was getting pretty pissed off. Tooch, cheered on by the mob, was enjoying it too much to stop, so he continued to clip clumps of hair while Skippy tried to scramble away. It probably would’ve ended there if I hadn’t yelled through my cackle, “those are the clippers that Gman uses to shave his balls!”

This turned an embarrassed, regretful Skippy into a less-hairy Tasmanian Devil, and he started to chase me. At 5’6” (at least that is what is says on my driver’s license) I was going to have a tough time handling a raged out, drunk, half-shaven animal and his considerable height advantage, so I ran. He caught me outside and we had a very aggressive wrestling match in the back yard; the same back yard where Norm the Wonder Dog would occasionally scale the chain link fence to go meet his bitches. There were no punches thrown, we’re friends after all, but the aggression with which we were at each other definitely could’ve gotten someone hurt. I held my own. The match ended in stride with the party when the bar-going crowd called out to us to stop being idiots and it was time to leave. The adrenaline flowed as the caravan headed toward the bar.

As soon as I saw Lauren’s planet head I knew it was the night—not that I was gonna get laid, I’m not a closer—I was gonna ask her out. I knew she liked me, or was, at a minimum, entertained by observational dry wit. Thanks to booze and testosterone, my confidence soared. I had already chosen a topic of conversation. I was going to tell her about my decision to donate a kidney to my father, provided I was a match. The tissue typing test was scheduled for the next day. There’s no way she could say no to a date after hearing that. I just knew it was fate. We would get together and she would stay by my side through the transplant and be the rock I was looking for. Then, later in life, we would look back fondly at all the stuff we went through. It was all coming together.

She sat with a less pretty, smaller headed friend who had lost her smile somewhere along the line. Even when she laughed she looked angry. As I approached their table I ignored the scowl on the friend’s forgettable face because that’s how she always looked. Conscientious gentleman that I am, and full of optimism, I observed their drinks to be less than half full. Lloyd called out to me as I was going by, he had my Miller Lite ready.  I gave Lauren a smile and wave and detoured to the bar to grab my beer and order a round for the girls. Lloyd poured two vodka and soda waters or two gin and tonics or sexes on the beaches or whatever the fuck they were drinking. I paid for the drinks and turned around to begin my epic romance.  But they were gone.

They must have gone to freshen their lipstick and giggle about that cute, witty Shawn who just walked in. My heart fluttered. I brought the drinks over to the table and waited. And waited. And wai… you get the fucking point. They left when my back was turned.

I was bummed. No goodbye; barely a hello. I still held onto optimism. Maybe she was bringing her bitch friend home and coming back. Maybe there was an emergency. Maybe she was playing hard to get. Maybe, though, my optimism was simply desperately grasping at straws. I didn’t get it. I never even got to tell her about the kidney. I sat alone and drank my fancy drinks.

The minutes passed as I drank alone and pondered the twist in what I considered my obvious fate. Mercifully, the lights came on for last call. As I walked back to my friends, so we could leave, Tooch asked me, “you know you’re covered in dog shit right?”

Mother. Fucker! My pants were indeed covered in Norm’s shit. Skippy had no chest hair and I was covered in dog feces. I guess the bet was a push after all.

I never got to ask Lauren if that’s why she left that night. She stopped showing up at the bar. Maybe she moved. Maybe she stopped drinking. Maybe she found a new bar. Or, maybe no matter how witty and charming you are, and no matter how many organs you donate, you never get the girl if you’re covered in dog shit.

 

By Shawn Montagna

 

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