The man next to me keeps flirting with the woman behind the bar. I drank so much before I came here that I can't tell if she's just being friendly or if she's really falling for his obtuse advances. To his credit, he's not being overtly awkward about it; general gestures of attraction must be one of his forte. I look down and try to continue reading from the book I brought to the bar but to my surprise my food is delivered to me within five minutes of ordering. All I can figure is that they feed you earlier as a consolation when you come here alone and don't have to make small talk with family members you won't see for another few months. The girls behind the bar are really pretty and I wonder if they think it's part of their job to encourage this man's behavior. All you have to do is take his drink orders, you don't have to give him reason to believe you actually care about him.
I spent the better part of half a day in this mall looking for clothes to wear and everything came out looking gawky and awkward. The kind of things you wear to a friend's house when they start asking you when you decided to start giving a shit. So here I am at this bar and the guy next to me is telling his friend that he lost $700 betting on various sports games and I can't help but burst out laughing.
His friend thinks this is hilarious. "Look, that dude can't even contain himself, you're so stupid, look at him laugh at you!"
"No, no, I'm not laughing at you, I'm not. . ." I offer up as I continue to plow through this rack of ribs and potatoes and biscuits and apple butter. Did you know they make apple butter? Apple butter. What a time to be alive. And I'm giggling and trying to make them sure that I'm not laughing at them as he rests his arm on my shoulder and tells me he's been here since 11AM.
"What on earth have you been doing here?" I say as I try to form some kind of connection with this gambling fool sitting next to me.
"I have a bit of a problem," he says as he inches slightly towards me, but not too close, because for all our bar small-talk, I'm still a stranger waiting for a back to be turned to me.
"I do too, but it's cheaper to keep that problem at home than to bring it out to the bars."
He laughs and then gives me his back as his friend and him continue discussing the girlfriend that he left, or that left him, as I finish my ribs, pay the pretty waitress, and make my way home.
I'm too good at this. I'm far too good at driving home drunk. Unfortunately I'm not blackout drunk yet, and in the morning when I'm sober I'll remember all the lives I endangered, all the women and children and seniors and precious members of society I could have snuffed out along with myself and my carelessness, but for now I chuckle and saunter slowly towards my door, the two step horn of my car signifying that I didn't forget to lock it this time. Two steps backward, one up front.
What is there to do in this home? The cat's already been fed, and I'm caught up on all my favorite TV shows. . .that's a lie, I'm not, but who wants to be finished with all the dramas they love? Who really loves carrying the burden that is a series finale with them the rest of their lives? I draw out the endings as my friends give me shit for not being able to talk about Breaking Bad with them.
I've decided that the only sensible thing to do here is to take baths. It's the only place I can concentrate. Baths are the single reason I was able to get through English AP with a passing grade. Where else could you read Tess Of The D'Urbervilles without wanting to just pass out? Fear of drowning is the only thing that got me through that godawful book. And so I'm drawing bathwater, and fuck it, let's mix up shampoo and turn this thing into a bubble party, because I want to pretend like I'm five years old and I'm never going to die tonight, and I'm going to read this book as shining rainbow castles grow around my kneecaps. And I'm reading this book and to my surprise, well, it's great, but now I can't concentrate anymore because the bubbles look like sheets of armor on my skin and I'm daydreaming of times when I can carry them out with me into the real world. After a couple minutes of self-struggle I toss the book onto the bathroom counter and watch the pages stand stoic in the air, struggling to accept the defeat of gravity. I start to wonder if some unseen ghost was reading with me and is angry at me for throwing the book aside before he could finish the page. I stare and stare, and after a few minutes the book cracks and the pages bend down to form a singularity with the rest of them. Took him long enough.