"Dude. Come on," he pleaded, sighing and shaking his head.
I refused to look up at him. "I said no, Mike."
"Look, all I'm saying . . ." He sighed again. "Hey—could you hit pause or something?"
"Don't want to."
"I don't care if you want to," he answered. "Just do it, okay?"
I stared at the screen. Thinking about the situation now, I realize I shouldn't have bothered. I should have ignored his request and gone right on playing Mario64. But at the time, the fact that my best friend in the world was standing in the doorway to my room, practically begging for me to listen to him, won me over and made me do the courteous thing.
"There," I said as I pushed the start button, "it's paused. I have paused my game because you asked me to."
"Good," he said.
"Yes, good," I echoed. "Now I can devote my complete and undivided attention to ignoring you."
We stared at each other for about fifteen seconds—which doesn't sound like much when you're reading about it, but if you ever try it, you'll find that fifteen seconds is quite a long time to stare at somebody. After that time had passed, he sighed once more, turned on his left foot, and groaned as he pretended to leave my doorway in frustration.
"Yes, fine," I said, unpausing my game. "Leave. Mario and I are having fun without you."
"No no no no," said Mike as he grudgingly returned to my doorway. "It's not fine. You need to get back out there."
I simply continued playing the game.
"Look," he said, "it's been three weeks since she left."
I stopped moving the joystick, and I stopped mashing buttons. I turned to him and sternly asked, "So?"
"So she hasn't even called you, Joe." He came into the room and stood in front of the television.
The whole Katherine Thing had become a massive point of contention between me and my little circle of friends (which included my future wife). I wanted nothing more than to forget it ever happened. And they wanted nothing more than to remind me how big a mistake I'd made.
"I know, Mike. You don't have to remind me. And you certainly don't have to stand in front of my game while doing so."
"Come on, this will be good for you," he replied. "You need to get out there and get back in the saddle."
"She's going to wear a saddle?" I asked. "Kinky."
He stared at me. "You're an ass." He made his way over the cord of the controller and plopped onto my couch.
"Yup," I answered, scooting over slightly to make room.
"Katherine doesn't love you, Joe," he said.
I looked at him.
"She never did," he reiterated.
I looked back at the screen. Mario had lain down on the ground and begun taking a nap due to the lack of attention I was paying him. "Yeah, I know."
"So why don't you just get past it?" he asked.
"It's not that easy," I answered.
"Sure it is," he said. "You just take every letter and e-mail and whatever that she wrote, dump them, and move on with your life."
"Oh." I glanced his way. "That's all, huh? Shit, where have you been all this time? Damn it all to hell!" I yelled. "Here I've been, like an idiot, suffering through this shit. And all I had to do was throw away some paper and delete a few e-mails!" I turned my attention back to the game, jiggling the stick and waking my plumber from his slumber.
He stood up. "Fine. Stay here and sulk, you dick. Skip out on an opportunity to meet someone new and maybe have a good time."
"Okay," I replied unemotionally. "I sure will."
He navigated himself over the cord of the controller again and headed toward the door. "I don't know why you have to be such a baby about it."
"Who's being a baby?" I asked rhetorically. "I don't go on blind dates. You know that."
"What?" he said with a sarcastic chuckle. "You don't call taking a trip to Savannah with a girl you met on the Internet a blind date?"
"No," I answered, "I've known her for—"
"For a week," he interrupted. "I don't care how long you chatted with her on your little chat program thing, you actually knew her for a week."
"Get out," I demanded. "Go meet your girlfriend and my blind date and get the fuck out of here."
"Fine," he answered as he marched out of the room. "You should know, however, that Rachel says she's totally hot."
"Don't care," I replied as I maneuvered Mario around the stage, then suddenly brought him to a standstill. "Wait—how hot?"
"I dunno," he said, pausing in the middle of the room. "Hot."
"Like Rachel hot? Because if she's Rachel hot, I'm not interested."
"Dude," he said, "that's my girlfriend you're talking about."
"Yeah," I said, "and I hate her."
"Yeah," he answered, knowing this to be true. "Still, show some courtesy, huh?"
"Sure, okay." I paused the game once again so I might pay total attention to Mike the Matchmaker. "The question remains—how hot?"
"I dunno. Rachel said she's really pretty."
"Pretty?" I sneered. "Pretty isn't hot, dude."
"Hot, okay? She said hot."
He shrugged. "She didn't say."
"Have you seen her?" I asked.
"Bah," I answered, turning back to the game.
Mike left the room only to return under a minute later with his cordless phone in hand. "Hey," he said into the receiver as he sat next to me once again. "He wants to know how hot."
I heard some buzzing over the earpiece.
"Here," he said, thrusting the phone in my face. "She wants to talk to you."
"Who?" I said, placing the phone between my ear and shoulder.
"She's really hot," Rachel said from the other end of the phone.
"Like Cindy Crawford hot?" I said, realizing immediately who it was.
"Hotter," she replied.
I chuckled a little. "Right. Just like Scream was a great movie," I said, throwing her opinions back at her.
"It was!" she yelled. "You have no taste in movies!"
"I have impeccable taste in movies," I replied, "and you liked Scream—AND you're dating Mike. The combination of those two things calls into question your judgment concerning any and all matters of taste."
"Hey!" Mike said, elbowing me and causing me to jostle the controller and send Mario over the side of a cliff and into an eternal abyss.
"Great job, fuckhead," I said. "That was my last guy!"
"You deserve it," Rachel said. "Besides, you shouldn't be playing video games while talking to me on the phone. It's rude."
"Well, I don't like you," I said in reply. "So, you know, fuck that."
"Fuck you, too," she said. "Look—go out with my cousin tonight."
"No," I said, tossing the controller toward the Nintendo 64 and lifting myself off the couch. "I'm not interested, okay? I don't want to, you know, get back on the bike or whatever it is Mike thinks I should do."
"Saddle," Mike corrected. "Get back in the saddle."
"You know, that metaphor doesn't make sense. It doesn't even apply to me. I don't even know how to ride a horse," I said.
"You would if you got back in the saddle," he said.
I stared blankly at him.
"Are you going to go out with her tonight?" Rachel asked from her end of the phone.
"No," I replied. Then something sparked in my mind. "Wait—why the hell do you guys want me to go out with her so bad? What, does she just need a man in her life or something?"
"Tonight she does," Mike said under his breath as Rachel began to answer my question.
I covered the receiver of the phone with my hand. "What does that mean?" I whispered to Mike.
"You want the truth?" he asked.
"Yeah, of course," I said, with Rachel's voice still buzzing in the earpiece.
"Her cousin's in town because her parents and Rachel's parents are in Florida for the weekend," he said. "Some sort of adult-getaway weekend thing."
"So?" I said, ignoring the phone.
"So, with Rachel's parents out of town, that gives us the house for the evening . . ."
"Oh," I said, with a tiny little bell going off in my head. "This is about you getting laid."
"Well, no. Wait. Yes but no. You need to get back out there and start seeing people, man."
"Hey, don't turn this into a ‘me' thing, you asshole!" I barked. "You wanna get laid? Just say so."
"B-but—" he stammered.
"No buts—you need a wingman, so be honest. Just say ‘I need you to babysit the cousin while I try to get into my prude girlfriend's pants.' "
"Oh my God, what did you say?" I heard Rachel say from the earpiece.
I realized I'd taken my hand off the receiver to point at Mike for emphasis, leaving it open for Rachel to hear our conversation. "Uhh . . ." I said, "I said . . . uh . . ."
"I heard what you said," she replied. "Why do you have to be so crass?"
"Why do you have to be such a damn prude?" I said, turning it back on her.
"I'm not a prude!" she yelled.
"You're not?" I asked as Mike buried his face in his hands. "Then how come you won't just come over here, where you are one hundred percent free of parental supervision, and get it on?"
"God," she said, sounding embarrassed. "See what I mean? Crass! I can't deal with you guys hearing us!"
"So you'd rather do it in the backseat of a Jeep?"
"Oh my God, he told you about that?" she screamed.
"Of course," I answered, watching Mike's entire body turn red. "He tells me everything."
A muffled noise echoed through the phone, sounding almost like a balloon releasing air through its tightly pulled neck. "I cannot believe you two!" Rachel said once she was done squealing.
"Yeah, whatever," I said with a sigh. "You know what? Fine. You guys want me to entertain your cousin, I'll entertain your cousin. Whatever. I don't care. She just better not be ugly."
"She's not," Rachel said. "I promise."
"Or stupid," I added.
"No, she's really smart," she countered.
"Okay," I said, and hung up the phone.
Mike looked at me. "You just hung up on her?"
"Yup," I answered, tossing his phone back to him.
"You'll be hearing about that one later," he said.
"Oh, I imagine," I said, moving past him. "What time are we meeting them, then?"
"Eight," he replied. "At Outback. Be ready in an hour."
"An hour?" I asked. "It's only five o'clock, dude. We only live, like, ten minutes from Outback."
"Gotta make a stop first," he replied.
I looked at him quizzically for a second. He pointed at his crotch. I immediately caught on and nodded.
For the normal human being, the acquisition of prophylactics should be a two-minute operation, if not quicker. You walk in, you grab a box, you pay, and you go. However, Mike being Mike, the extra hour and twenty minutes was necessary because he needed time to evaluate every product, analyzing both strengths and features of each individual cut of condom. Because of this, a gas station or convenience store was out of the question. We would most likely have to stop at Wal-Mart on the way.
That was fine by me; I figured on visiting the electronics section and fiddling with the televisions on display.
An hour later, he burst into my room and asked, "Are you ready to go?"
"Yeah," I replied while continuing to play Mario64. "Just gotta get my shoes on."
I felt him looking at me from across the room. I looked over at him—he was wearing slacks, a button-down oxford, and a curious look on his face. "Is that what you're wearing?" he asked, pointing at my New York Rangers jersey and accompanying Levi's.
"Uh, yeah," I answered. "Is that what you're wearing?"
"Yeah," he snapped. "It's a date!"
"So . . ." he answered, trying to tie his necktie. "Don't you, you know, want to make a good impression?"
"No, not really."
His face grew red. "Look, if you don't want to do this, I'd prefer you just say so and stay home."
"Really?" I asked with my eyes wide as platters. "What happened to the first two hundred times I said no? Or what about when I said ‘hell no' and ‘fuck that' and—"
"Just . . ." he started. "You know what . . . fine. Just . . . go put on a tie and let's go."
"I'm not wearing a tie," I said, finally guiding Mario to the level in the game I'd been trying to get to for the past hour.
"Yes, you are," he replied, switching off the console.
"Hey! I didn't even get to save, you asshole!"
"Get up!" he barked.
"Fine." I marched over to my closet. It took all of two minutes for me to throw on a pair of khakis and a button-down shirt that halfway matched. Then we ran out the door so he could pick just the right style of rubber for his clandestine coital rendezvous.
Because of my ability to bypass his insane shopping ritual and simply grab a pack off the shelf and buy it, we arrived at Outback nearly an hour earlier than necessary. When we were faced with the question of what we should do in the meantime, my vote of "go the fuck home" was discounted on the basis that I was not the one in control of the vehicle that evening. Instead, at my behest, we elected to go in and have a few drinks.
"But you don't drink," he said in reply to my alternate suggestion.
"I'm starting tonight."
Inside the restaurant, we put gave the hostess our names and waited about two minutes for a seat, which ended up being in plain view of a television showing a New York Rangers game. We became absorbed in the game. Well, Mike did, anyway. I mostly watched the guys in the blue shirts chase the puck across the ice while thinking about Katherine and that great week we shared. And the nature of our relationship (if you could call it that). I thought a lot about the things Mike had said—that maybe I did deserve a chance at happiness, and that maybe what Katherine and I'd had was fleeting and temporary.
I thought about how this evening could be the start of something special for me. It could open the door to a brand new-outlook. I could be starting down a new path with a new person, you know? She might be just what I was looking for. Maybe Rachel wasn't lying when she said this girl was pretty and smart. Maybe this girl was a total 10 and I'd be lucky if she'd have me. Maybe khakis and a collared shirt were called for this evening.
"Hi, guys," I heard a familiar voice say from in front of me.
"Hey!" Mike said, shooting out of his chair to hug and kiss his girlfriend.
"Hey," I said, looking in the direction of Mike and Rachel. I could see someone standing behind them, but I couldn't make out who it was or what she looked like. "You're blocking the game," I said curtly.
Rachel turned her head away from Mike's cheek and looked at me. "Rude," she snapped.
"So is blocking my view of the game," I answered with a smirk. "Where's my date?"
Mike was also looking my way, his eyes the size of platters. I guessed he'd gotten a look at my date for the evening. He was mouthing something to me, but I couldn't make out what it was.
Rachel smiled. "Nice to see you've warmed up to the idea of meeting her, Joe." She broke from Mike, who stepped to the side to let Rachel's cousin walk forward and meet me. "Joe, this is Jennifer," Rachel said cheerfully.
Just then I heard crowd noise from the television screen. Someone had scored a goal. I couldn't be bothered to check who it was. My eyes were fixed on my blind date. "Well now, isn't this interesting," I said as she came into view.
Now, for all intents and purposes, Jennifer was great. Her sense of style was very fashionable and current—I recognized quite a few labels on her clothing as some of the premier fashion ambassadors of the day. She had beautiful, almost shining blond hair that reminded me of the windswept fields of golden wheat that adorn the middle section of this great and glorious nation. Her eyes were as serene and innocent a blue as I had seen up to that point in my life, and her smile, bright as a shore beacon, lit up the room. There was just one teeny, tiny little problem.
"How old are you?" I blurted out before we could even exchange pleasantries.
She withdrew her outstretched hand. "Uh . . . fifteen," she responded, slightly startled at my bluntness.
My head whipped sharply left to face Mike and Rachel, who wore shocked and unaffected expressions, accordingly. "Are you fucking kidding me?" I whispered in their direction. Mike's mouth hung open.
"What's the problem?" Rachel asked.
"What can I get you to drink?" the server with the poor sense of timing said from behind me.
We all slowly sank into our unassigned seats and politely went through the paces of ordering our drinks. Without thinking of decorum or manners, I blurted out, "I'll have a sweet tea."
"Root beer," Mike requested.
The server wrote down what the unchivalrous men had ordered. "And for the ladies?"
"I'll have a Zima," Rachel said.
"That sounds good—I'll have one of those, too!" Jennifer said.
"Uh . . ." Mike said, looking at Rachel, who winked at him a few times.
"You can't order that," I said to Jennifer.
"Yes I can," she said through clenched teeth, indicating that I was blowing her cover. "You didn't, like, order it for me, so I had to order it myself."
"She's, uh . . . not driving tonight," Rachel added, attempting to play things cool. "So yeah, go ahead and order it, Jen Jen. I'll buy." Rachel was giving me a look that said, "We're totally going to go through with this, and you're a total asshole if you rat her out."
I looked at Rachel in much the way my mother would look at my father when he allowed me to do things I shouldn't, like ride four-wheelers or look at Playboy. "She's not old enough to have a license, much less drink!" I snapped.
Rachel and I held each other's stare as the server read off the list of beverages we'd ordered. "All right, I have a tea, a root beer, and a Zima," she said as she raised her head and looked at me. "And I'll just bring your . . . uh, date . . . a Coke," she said with a smile as she closed her little notepad and walked away.
"You ass!" Rachel said, scowling at me.
Jennifer punched me. I turned to face her. She was angry. And fifteen.
"You know what?" I said. "I really gotta, like, piss or something. Come on, Mike."
"You need him to piss?" Rachel asked. "What, you need him to hold it for you or something?"
"Yup," I replied, "it's that big. Mike, let's go."
Dutifully, Mike stood and followed me to the restroom.
"Dude, come on," Mike said for what must have been the hundredth time.
I stopped pacing the tile floor of Outback's luxurious men's restroom and stared hard at him. "Mike, I do not," I yelled, pausing for effect before "want to hear it."
"Hey, don't get pissy with me! It's not my fault!"
"No?" I asked. "Who was it who said ‘Get back in the saddle, Joe!' and ‘You can't hide in your room forever, Joe!' It certainly wasn't me!"
"Aw, come on! How was I supposed to know she was only fifteen? I'd never seen her before! How the hell can you blame me?"
I thought for a moment. "Fuck!" I yelled, slamming the backs of my shoulders against the wall and covering my face with my hands.
"Hey, maybe you could yell that a little louder!" Mike suggested. "I don't think everyone in the restaurant heard it."
"It doesn't matter now, does it? They all think I'm a pedophile anyway—they might as well think I'm a foulmouthed pedophile."
"Oh, come on. You are totally overblowing this!"
"Am I? Dude, I'm twenty-one years old—and I look nearly thirty."
"Well, not really thirty," Mike interjected. "The beard does make you look older, but only like twenty-five."
"That doesn't help, Mike!" I yelled. "Did you not see the server's expression when she took our drink order?"
"What about it?"
"She looked at me like I was the dirtiest man alive!"
"Oh, she did not," he replied with a sigh. "You're just paranoid."
"Well, you're an asshole."
He looked at me, registering my statement. He knew I was right, and he knew that even though he really, really wanted me to let all of this stuff go and make it through the night so he could score with his girl, he was pushing it. If he tried to keep me involved in this evening's events, he would be going far beyond asking for a favor. He would be leaning on our friendship to get what he wanted.
Without a sigh, or a dampened tone of voice, or any other signals betraying his earnestness, he said very honestly, "Dude, we can go home right now if you want. We will walk out of this bathroom, hit the car, and I'll make up with Rachel later. Just say the word, and we're outta here."
I thought about it. I heard what he was saying—and believe me, I wanted to take him up on that offer. I wanted nothing more than to bolt out of there and be clear of the possibility that people might see me and think of me as some sort of Camaro-driving predator who lusted after teenage girls. But there was something much larger at stake.
There was a favor owed.
Almost a year ago to the day, Mike had done one of the greatest things a friend could ever do for another friend. I'd been on a trip with Mandy, for whom I'd once ensnared myself in barbed wire. We were in Myrtle Beach during spring break, and Mandy got it in her head that she was going for a walk on the beach. She wanted me to come along. I agreed and took off my shirt. She got all embarrassed and refused to go out with me.
I asked her at least twenty times to explain before I got her to confess—I was too pale and had a bit of a tummy. Not too big of one . . . just too big to look good among the college spring breakers partying up and down the beach.
To be fair, she had a point—a materialistic, stuck-up bitch can't be seen with an average guy. But all the same, I called my good friend Mike to come pick me up. He drove all the way from Atlanta—a six- hour drive—without even questioning me.
Mike did it without complaining, not even once. He just said, "All right," hopped in the car, and came and picked me up. And he never once threw it in my face or even reminded me that he'd done it. He was way too good a friend to ever pull the old "You owe me one" out of the closet. That made it doubly hard to avoid paying him back for favors. I knew that with enough grit and determination, I could survive the evening and babysit the cousin while Mike and his girlfriend attempted to get it on.
I sighed. "I'm going to regret this . . . but no. I'll stay."
"Thankyouthankyouthankyou," he said, half hugging me.
"Dude, it's no big . . . Well, yeah, it is a big deal. Let's just get it over with."
"I owe you one," he said as we turned to walk out.
"Nope, we're even," I corrected. "So hey, how long has it been since—"
"Two weeks," he answered immediately as he pushed the door open.
"Really," I said. "Why?"
"Parents caught us," he said. "She won't even kiss me in the house now."
"Mmm-hmm," he muttered. "And when was your last time?"
"This isn't about me," I said nonchalantly as we reached our table.
"What isn't about you?" Rachel asked. "Manners?"
"Twat," I answered.
"Oh, it must be respect, then. Is respect not about you?" she asked. "You're damn rude, you know that?"
"I do," I answered, placing my napkin in my lap.
"Joe was just sharing with me how long it's been since he's had sex," Mike said to the table.
"Oh?" asked Rachel. "And how long has it been, Joe?"
"I did stumble across those risqué ads for escorts in the back of Creative Loafing a few days ago," I replied. "Does solo count?"
"Ew," Jennifer replied. "That's just nasty."
"Just wait until you hit puberty, you might change your mind," I said sharply.
"At least four months," Mike said abruptly.
We looked at him, all of us with the same expression, which read, "What?"
"It's been at least four months since you last had sex," Mike answered.
"Wow," I said. "It's amazing how well you keep a topic alive, no matter how much I wish it would die."
"I'm just saying."
"Just STOP saying," I replied, taking a sip from my—ugh!—unsweetened tea. "Nasty! She brought me unsweetened," I said with a grossed-out face.
"Matches your demeanor," Rachel quipped, rolling her eyes.
I tried to watch the Rangers game, but it was hard. Mostly because watching would mean staring right above Rachel's head, and each time I tried to get into the game, she would look at me and I'd look at her and she'd scowl and I'd scowl and my focus would be broken and I'd have no choice but to look off to my right (since Jennifer was to my left and I wasn't interested in looking in her direction at all). But I'd get bored with looking at the wall and the door to the kitchen and eventually look back up at the game, which would cause Rachel to look at me, and so on.
"So, everyone ready to order?" the server said when she finally returned to our table.
We were. In fact, I don't think any of us at that table had ever been more ready for anything in our lives. We all wanted to order our food, eat it, and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. Mike and Rachel for obvious reasons; Jennifer because it was probably already past her bedtime; and me because I'd been set up on a blind date with a fifteen-year-old.
We ordered our respective meals and proceeded to eat them while Rachel and Jennifer chatted about purses and cute boys and really bad music, Mike and Rachel chatted about really bad music, and Mike and Jennifer chatted a little about what she liked to do (go to the mall), what her favorite band was (Backstreet Boys), and what her favorite book was ("I don't, like, read and stuff"). I just sat there and watched the New York Rangers lose.
I let my cold exterior melt a bit and even managed to engage both Jennifer and Rachel in conversation that didn't include some form of insult. It was hard, but I'm a soldier. I was built for this. Plus, my molars were beginning to throb from all the teeth-grinding I was doing.
So dinner was awkward. But it was nothing compared to the movie.
We went to see Urban Legend—Jennifer's choice, backed by Rachel (and apparently Mike, since he offered no argument against it). I was in hell, because I can't stand modern horror films. It wasn't three minutes into the "film" when I looked over at my best friend to share a knowing smile about how stupid the opening scene was, only to find him shoving his tongue into his girlfriend's mouth like a face-hugger trying to impregnate a colonial marine. With a sigh, I sank into my chair and started watching twenty-four frames per second of utter dreck.
And then a ridiculously corny yet super-scary scene happened. I felt a hand grab my forearm and a nose bury itself into the little joint between my bicep and my chest. I heard Jennifer yelp from deep in my armpit. She looked up at me with a face full of earnestness. "That was so scary!" she whispered.
"Mm-hmm," I replied, turning back to the movie.
I began counting the seconds after I turned away from her that she left her hand on my arm. I couldn't help it. It was because she was fifteen and I was creeped the hell out. I wanted to yank my arm away. I really, really wanted to. And I would have, but I didn't want to be flat-out mean. So, I figured, I'd count to about thirty or forty and then stretch a little, releasing her grip and making it look like I had a real reason to knock her off me. I'd gotten up to about thirty-two seconds when another super-scary scene appeared. I again felt her head bury itself in my armpit. I felt her hand squeeze, and I again looked down at her. Again she looked up at me. This time she did not yelp or whisper how scary the scene was. No. This time she reached up to kiss me.
"Gah!" I yelled. I immediately flinched back. She reached my face in time to plant her lips on the base of my jaw.
"Allrighty," I announced, pulling my arm away and standing up, "that's the evening for me."
Mike yanked his tongue out of his girlfriend's mouth long enough to mutter, "Dude."
"Nope," I said, sliding past him and Rachel and reaching the stairs, "I'm out. That's it."
I didn't even hear what he said. Someone three rows behind us elevated the natural volume of his voice to remind us that there was a movie going on, he had paid for it, and if we'd be so kind as to shut up, he would much appreciate it.
I lifted my hand and waved at my friend, his girlfriend, and the little kid they'd stuck me with, all without turning to face them. I'd managed to exit the door when I heard Mike from behind me.
"Dude, seriously—how are you going to get home?"
"Walk," I said, not holding the door for Mike as I exited the theater.
"I can't let you walk," he said from the open doorway. "It's freezing out there!"
"I'll be fine," I said, walking backward so I could see him. "Don't let that door close, you'll have to buy another ticket." I turned back around, almost performing a full walking 360.
"Dude," he mumbled again.
I heard the door close. "Enjoy the evening," I said to my friend who had left me to walk home alone.
"What do you mean?" he asked from behind me.
I turned in shock. "You idiot! You're going to have to buy another ticket to get in there, you know."
"Nah," he said, "I'm not going back in."
"If you leave, I'm leaving," he said. "I'm not going to have this on my conscience all night."
"If I stay, I'm going to have to hang around a fifteen-year-old who's been trying to molest me all night!" I said. "You'll have that on your conscience instead."
"Nah," he said, "let's go."
I looked at him for a moment. "What about having the house to yourself tonight?"
"There'll be other opportunities," he said as he began walking to the car.
"But . . ." I said, beginning to feel like an incredible ass as I chased after him. "Shit. I'm totally screwing you over, aren't I?"
"No," he said, "we should have left the second she brought a kid as your date. You're not screwing me over." He stopped walking and turned to face me. "It took a real friend to even put up with that. Thanks."
He smiled a little and then turned to walk to the car. I smiled a little myself and followed him.
Two days later, Rachel forgave Mike and came over to the house we shared. She'd apparently gotten over her phobia of "doing it" with the housemates present in the house, because Mike's stereo boomed far louder than it needed to all night.
Not that THAT was what kept me up . . . I had old letters to throw away and some e-mails to delete.
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Posted on Monday, October 30 2006
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