Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Paper Hearts And A Red Haired Tart
His body was hairless and rubbery, water ran from his hair into his eyes as he looked at me and to top it all off he was trying to cover himself with a hand towel. “Oh hey Al,” Kevin said. “You’re a little early. Come in.”
“Actually, I’m about five minutes late.” I stayed as far outside Kevin’s apartment as I could without fleeing to the next county.
“I was just getting out of the shower.”
“I kind of figured that. Is… is this double date thing still happening?”
“You bet it is,” he said with a grin. “Come on in and give me a minute or two to get ready.”
I suggested, “Maybe I should go and get the girls.”
“You don’t know the girls.”
I mused, “I could get the movie tickets and come back.”
“We haven’t picked what we’re going to see yet.”
Then I begged, “…can I at least go get you a bigger towel?”
And with that Kevin dragged me into his apartment and I had to scramble to make sure no part of my body brushed against his nakedness.
“What lovely wallpaper this place has,” I said.
One of my crazy uncles had told me that as long as you don’t look a naked man in the eye you can’t turn gay. Then again this is the same uncle that told me that the movie ‘They Saved Hitler’s Brain’ was made to distract the gullible public from what parts of the Fuhrer they had actually saved.
Truth or not I stumbled into the living room and sat down on a recliner with fabric that I can only pray had been left crunchy and stained from spilled food. I heard Kevin getting ready and wondered how I could have gotten myself into this latest in a series of fine messes.
‘Double date’, an innocent pairing of words on the surface but in truth the only pair of words more likely to cause more misery for a man is ‘I do’.
Kevin had approached me after History class telling me that he was going to be taking a real hottie out on Saturday night but he needed a date for her best friend. His original plan involved hooking said friend up with his roommate Marvin but then he had made the critical error of letting Marvin talk to the girl before they had met. She mentioned working for the post office. He mentioned having a special package for her. It went downhill from there.
After exhausting every other option Kevin turned to me.
So that was how I ended up in Kevin’s apartment waiting to meet the girls and trying to flush the image of the man’s untethered wangdoodle from my mind.
Of all the nights to be the designated driver.
After what seemed like an eternity of flipping through the dog-eared copies of ‘Playboy’ and ‘Soldier of Fortune’ Marvin and Kevin had placed out for guests to read (Please God let that be what they were for…) Kevin came down the stairs wearing the exact same clothes he had worn at college that day, except that he had missed two belt loops instead of one this time.
We drove out to some campus housing in Schenectady and found a pair of girls waiting for us at the bus stop near the corner. They climbed in and we all exchanged greetings.
Alice and Sarah seemed like nice enough girls but very earthy, and by earthy I mean they smelled like patchouli and dirt. We debated which movies we could go see, but it turns out that the girls had certain parameters; they refused to see any films that had realistic or artistic acts or threats of violence and they refused to see any films in which animals or women were exploited.
And that was how I ended up paying to go see ‘Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters’ in the theater.
Well at least the girls enjoyed it, mostly because they had begun toking up in the theater during the opening credits. Kevin joined in but I did not partake.
Yeah I know you’re snickering under your breath at that but it’s true. You see ever since I discovered if left to my own devices I could eat a sheet cake in a single sitting or spend over a hundred dollars at a comic book convention without feeling a single twinge of guilt or shame, I realized I had one of those addictive personalities and that I should stay away from things that might be too expensive, self destructive or illegal.
Was I sensible or an utter utter wimp? Ten years ago I considered it a matter of pride I stayed so pure but as my midlife crisis wears on I do have to wonder if I didn’t squander my life just a little. Even now this is the closest I can come to risky behavior; posting stories of my life on the Internet and hoping some member of my family doesn’t read it and fly into a murderous rage.
Actually I was exaggerating that last part, my family doesn’t read.
After ‘Daffy Duck’s Quackbusters’ had reached its pulse-pounding conclusion I offered to take the girls back home but Kevin said we should all hang out and talk a little. The girls were all right with that as long as we picked up some snacks first.
Kevin told me that we should park someplace remote and rarely trafficked. He directed me to a disused parking lot near the Albany Airport. I recognized the spot, I had been there before.
“Couldn’t we go someplace else?” I said, “I’ve heard that high school kids like to throw eggs at the cars parked out there.”
“Nahh that’s a rumor.” Kevin said, “I used to bring Lizzie out here all the time.”
I hit the breaks, the hippie girls in the back seat when flying everywhere with a clatter of beads.
“Lizzie, the girl from art club?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Kevin said through a mouthful of Hostess Fruit Pie. “You know her?”
“Never mind.” I said unable to comprehend how one of my exes could have ended up with someone like him. I would have thought that dating me meant she had an appreciation for the finer things in life.
We got there and killed the engine, there was a minor Chinese fire drill when Kevin got into the back seat with Alice, Sarah climbed up front with me. Kevin and Alice started swapping spit almost immediately, I had to get out of the car and have a seat on the bumper. It was a chilly September night but that was fine, I wanted to be cold for a while.
“Hey,” Sarah sat down beside me. “Are you feeling all right?”
I smiled at the concern I saw in her plain features and single eyebrow. I wondered to myself could I kiss this girl? Should I kiss this girl? And if I did kiss this girl would I get a contact high? I had heard in more than a few places that every girl was practice until the right one came along. How could I ever hope to kick a field goal if I was still pitching in the bullpen?
Note to self. Nerds should not use sports analogies.
“I’m just…” I said. “…look you’re a nice enough girl but I just don’t…”
“Hey,” she patted my arm. “No worries, I’m not attracted to you in the least.”
I chuckled to myself, “A perfect end to a perfect evening.”
“Besides I think you’re still hurting over someone.”
“It’s not even that, I mean yes I did park here once with someone special once but that was high school, or close to it anyway,” I explained. “I just feel like nothing’s happening. No not that, I feel like nothing’s ever going to happen to me except for failure and breaking even.”
“Wow.” Sarah whistled. “You know, you should learn to just loosen up a little, stop taking life so seriously. You’re going to have kidney stones before you’re forty.”
“I wake up at three in the morning and I just know that all my dreams are going to be ashes! I can feel it in my bones.”
Sarah gave me a hug, “You sure you don’t want to smoke some weed?”
“No,” I patted her on the back.
“What about a handjob?”
I broke the hug, “I... I... What?”
“Well you guys paid for our movie and our snacks,” she explained. “It’s the least we could do.”
Everything shifted into slow motion. I turned to see the windows of my car had fogged up and I could hear Kevin K. Hanson giggling like a cartoon mouse.
I cried “Nooooooooooooo!” but that was only the first dramatic ejaculation of the night.