Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Still Not Quite What They’re Looking For
Loud head-banging music.
Raucous laughter and girlish giggles.
This was in alien territory. I wouldn’t have been invited to a party like this in my high school days and I certainly didn’t feel like I belonged at one in my not quite post college years. I was in my early twenties, everyone else was around seventeen or eighteen.
My brother Phil walked past me and gave me a thumbs up. The poor bastard thought I was mingling when all I really was doing was standing by the beer keg for the front of my Iron Maiden tour shirt to dry.
That’s right, I hadn’t even been at the damn party for ten minutes and already I done something stupid. I had never tasted beer before and for some reason I assumed it would taste more like root beer than it had. I mean why else would they call it root beer?
So I took a big swig from a frothing plastic cup of what I had been assured was Milwaukee’s Best and coughed it all out a half a breath later.
No one noticed but I still stood by the keg waiting for the wet blotches on my shirt to dry. I worked on making small talk with the guys and gals walking up to refill their glasses. Most of my greetings of “Hey what’s up?” “How’s it hanging?” and “Great party huh?” were greeted with a near universal “Who the Hell are you?”
When I explained to them I was Phil’s brother most gave me a confused smile but a few girls made it a point to tell me how hot my brother was.
I told them I was very proud.
It didn’t escape me that this was the kind of gathering Tallulah would have enjoyed. The music, the beer, the dirty jokes- it was all so normal, she would have fit right in.
Was that the reason she had left? Because she had realized the only abnormal thing in her life was me?
“Staring problems?” a voice shouted my way. The shouter was a grubby looking kid with a missing neck and gorilla like arms.
“No,” I said as he approached, “I’m miles away.”
“Miles Away?” he glared at me, “what the fuck kind of a name is Miles Away?”
“No!” I said, “I mean I wasn’t looking at you.”
“Then what the fuck were you doing?”
“I was just staring off into space,” I tried to hide my wince by taking a a baby sip of my beer, which made my wince even more pronounced. I coughed, “Great party huh?”
Now he was in my face, “Who the Hell are you?”
“Wow. Have I heard that a lot!”
“I said who the fuck are you?”
“Actually not to be pedantic you said who the Hell are you...”
Apparently being pedantic, or maybe just using the word pedantic, or maybe just using three syllable words, was all it took to piss the kid off. He knocked the beer cup from my hand.
Well, its not like I was going to finish it.
I couldn’t believe this was happening.
Then my brother was between us. He had moved like a bolt of jean jacketed lightning. “Hey Al, is Roy giving you a problem?”
Now my would be attacker was shouting, “Got a problem with the name Roy homo?”
For a terrifying moment I was about to ask if his name really was Roy Homo but Phil saved me again. He pushed Roy back, “You mess with my brother you mess with me.”
“That’s your brother?”
“Half-brother but don’t mess with him anyway.”
Roy stomped back into the crowd of party-goers. “Wow,” I said, “that is one big seventeen year old.”
“He’s fifteen.” Phil corrected.
“Oh my God.” I squeaked, “I almost got beat up by a freshman?”
“He doesn’t go to our school. He just got out of juvie.”
“Oh my God.” I squeaked again, “What for?”
“Attempted murder,” Phil explained, “some idiot started talking to him with big fancy words and it drove him into a rage.”
“Oh my God.”
“Enough about him.” Phil shoved another plastic cup of beer into my hand, “Why aren’t you drunk yet?”
Ashamed about my dislike of beer I made the best excuse I could, “I find the atmosphere here intoxicating enough really.”
“Shhhhh! You want Roy to hear you?”
Phil pointed, “Now listen. You see that hot girl over there?”
I did and she was hot- pert breasts, frizzy hair the color of honey and pert breasts.
Did I mention her breasts were really pert. I mean wow.
“She your latest conquest?” I gave my brother a friendly nudge.
“No,” he nudged back, “yours.”