Victim - Dreams So Real (mp3)
The Sound of Coming Down - The Long Winters (mp3)
So I'm at this local place, Tremont Tavern, Saturday night with a friend of mine. He dashes off to the bathroom while I stand in line at the bar to order a beer.
The female bartender is young and incredibly adorable and has some kind of red and yellow tattoo above her left breast. Not that I noticed. Someone else, um, pointed it out to me. But when she looks at me for my order, she's all pissed off and annoyed, so Billy being Billy, I ask, "What's wrong?"
"That fucking guy over there hasn't left a penny in tips all night. He's paying for three people and not tipping a thing." Then she shakes her head. "Sorry."
"Oh. No problem. You should spit in his beer."
"Heh. I'm thinking about it."
Then, right as I'm about to start ordering my beer, this woman next to me interrupts and orders two beers. And then the bartender looks back at me and takes my order. And then the woman next to me says, "Sorry to interrupt you, but I was afraid if I didn't order right then, I'd totally forget to do it."
"No problem," I said, because I seem to say No problem a lot. "The bartender was just about to ask me for my phone number, and that would have been really awkward. We were getting pretty intense there, so I'm glad you saved me."
"Oh really?" I say, smiling and playing along with the joke.
"No, seriously, he's an asshole," she says.
Hmm. Awwwwkward. "I'm sorry about that. How long have you been married?"
"A year and a half. If you don't count the separation. Which I don't."
"So you've actually been married longer?" Her husband is standing RIGHT behind her, his hand rubbing circles on her back while he talks to this brunette twentysomething sitting in the barstool next to his wife. I am not a quiet talker, but he's not paying the least bit of attention.
"Almost three years, but we were separated for 11 months, so I don't count those as being married."
"Hmm." (Seriously, what the hell else is a fella s'posed to say to that?)
"Yeah, so we're seriously unhappy," she says to me and his hand casually continues rubbing circles on her back while he keeps talking to this other woman. I have no reason to think his conversation with this other woman was the least bit inappropriate, but you couldn't help but feel it was.
It's at this point I should acknowledge that the female in question was, by my own judgment and that of the guy I was with, attractive to a degree that anyone who knows me or has seen me would ask themselves the very same question I was asking myself*: If she was that attractive, why was she talking to you??
This woman, were she not a little too skinny -- we later theorized that her marital misery had yanked at least 20 pounds from her frame -- would be acknowledged as "hot" by most reasonable judges. Even Simon Cowell. She had her natural-seeming (who the hell knows anymore) blonde hair pulled up into a bun, with all these strands falling out of it, a long faceline with a slightly over-pronounced chin, a facial flaw with which I'm intimately familiar from staring at myself in the mirror. She wore minimal makeup and clothing that was neither desperately revealing nor excessively conservative, cream-colored thin-fabric pants and a black tube top kind of thing. She couldn't have been a day over 31 and probably more like 28.
The bartender returns with my beers, and piles them up with this woman's beers. I started at this point to walk back to a side booth where my friend awaited our beers, but she says, "No wait wait." So I stay.
"I watched one of the worst three movies I've ever seen tonight," this woman says to me. Yes, she not only announced that she was unhappily married, but then she re-instigated the conversation with a total non-sequitur.
"It was called 'Downloading Nancy,' and it's awful."
"What were the other two awful movies you've seen?" (It seemed like the best way to go.)
"Oh! I've seen that!" I said.
"Really?? Omygod! Did you hate it?"
"Well, I watched all of it, so I must not have totally hated it, but Ashley Judd is pretty hot, so maybe that had something to do with it." Her husband has now started to take a more serious look in my direction. His hand is still very much running circles on her back.
"That and a movie called 'Vangina Dentata.'"
"Va. Va-gina Dentata."
"No! Holy shit! No! That's it!! Omygod I can't believe you know these movies!! I rented 'Downloading Nancy' on Comcast and watched almost all of it tonight. Totally freaky. You should see it."
"But I thought you said you hated it and it was awful."
"Yeah, I did, but you should see it."
"Is it awful like 'Requiem for a Dream' awful, where the movie is good, but it just leaves you frightened and lonely?" I asked.
"Ooooh. Saw that. Yeah, that was freaky. But no, this one was just not very good. But it did have sex in it."
At this point, my friend came over and got his beer, making me all the more aware that I'd been carrying on this random conversation with a very very attractive blonde woman for quite a while.
"I'll jot that down in my steel trap of a brain," I say, tapping my skull and winking. Because I'm a charmer. And because I'm also a chickenshit not to mention married, I start walking away toward my friend.
"No wait, wait," she says, pulling me back toward her with the power of a mere curly finger. "It has Maria Bello in it. You know who that is?"
"Hell yeah. Cowboy Ugly and History of Violence."
"I totally agree!"
"Anyway, she's in it. I thought that might make you consider it a little more. More than 'Just because Krista says to.'"
"Your name's Krista?"
"Yup, that's me." The response of someone clearly more intoxicated than they're used to. The only sober person to say those words are Ferris Bueller.
"Billy, I see you're married. I hope you're not as unhappy as me."
"You don't look that unhappy."
At this point, I managed to utter something about not wanting to ditch my friend, and backed slowly away.
I felt slightly bad about this because (a) I really don't like backing away from conversations with incredibly attractive women, especially when I'm sufficiently filled with alcohol; and (b) she had just offered a kind of sad and vulnerable moment and was reaching out. But I had to because (a) I'd like to remain married for a little longer, and it sure seemed like I was talking to a very vulnerable and flirtatious woman; and (b) her husband was now staring Terminator-like lasers through my flesh, and I couldn't win a barfight against a microphone stand, much less a living, breathing person.
I then replayed the general conversation with my pal in a relatively hushed fashion, since Krista and her asshole hubby were only four feet away from us. Later that night, after the miserable couple left -- "We told the babysitter we'd be home an hour ago," she leaned over and told me as she was leaving -- we tried to break down the conversation like Chris Berman and Tom Jackson break down football plays on ESPN.
When I got home, I Googled "Downloading Nancy." It's about a near-suicidal wife who meets a dude online and arranges for said dude to meet up with her and kill her. The trailer makes it look like 9 1/2 Weeks meets 21 Grams meets that James Spader/Cronenberg Crash movie.
What I'm saying is, in my drunken mind at the time it happened, the conversation was kind of fun and flirty, albeit a little awkwardly confessional. But now, looking back on it, I think I'm kind of spooked and sad. How are sad people supposed to reach out? Where do we go for help if we're isolated from people we can trust and have a spouse we can't talk to? How can you get a nice-seeming guy to pay attention, REALLY pay attention, when he's drunk and too busy feeling all flattered that this (desperate and panicked?) attractive woman is hitting on him?
Or maybe that's just my conscience trying to find a reason to feel guilty about talking so long to an attractive woman, turning what was a totally random and harmless conversation with a flirty attractive woman into something darker and more disturbing.
Both songs can be purchased at iTunes. I almost used "Crazy Bitch" by Buckcherry, but it's kind of a raw song, and I thought using it risked making light of my final thoughts...