I woke up on my Saturday-lite at 6:30 to a text message. Most anyone wouldn’t text me that early. I peaked with one eye–not an emergency. Just an employee calling in sick–and it’s my day off. I forwarded the text to some colleagues and went back to sleep.
I guess I was nervous because the night before, on my Friday-lite, my phone rang a couple of times with a number I didn’t recognize. Too soon to be The Friend. Two weeks…not eighty four days like last time. I didn’t answer; the mystery caller didn’t leave a message. Two times and it was through.
Still, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t rest my mind early this morning without double checking. A thought entered my mind. I sat straight up in bed, nearly smacked myself in the head as I muttered “BACK UP ASSISTANT, YOU IDIOT!” and used the aforementioned back up assistant to roll my contacts list back to a state prior to the last change. I couldn’t remember if I had made any changes since deleting The Friend, but it was worth a shot. I answered the “simple” pin number question three times (it was not quite 7 am yet, okay?!) and finally, slowly, my Blackberry was backin’ that thang up.
But nothing. I must have made other changes, or drunkenly run “back up assistant” to plan for this seemingly sudden stroke of genius nearly two weeks later. Nothing. So back to sleep at I went.
And at 9:45 the phone began ringing again, over and over, from private numbers, from regular numbers. My heart raced, and I momentarily wondered if it was my mother delivering bad news from her typically-blocked-work-number. I selected the last missed call from a known number, held my breath and dialed.
Third ring. Nobody’s going to answe—Hello?
A quiet voice. Not a business, not my mom. Before I can say “Who is this?” The Friend’s voice is made evident.
“What are you doing? Hey listen, my mother is calling, but I need you. Let me call you right back.”
Before I could agree, he hung up. And I haven’t heard from him since. If he was just seeing if I’d answer…he wins this round.
Sometimes, I look at myself, all caught up in a mess with The Friend, and can’t really remember how we even got to this point. As The Killers are wont to say “it was only a kiss, how did it end up like this?” And for a long time I couldn’t remember how we even met.
But this weekend I went to a bar and suddenly had a flashback.
It was my sophomore year of college, and I was at a meeting for a random group with about 25 other people. The meeting was droning on, and I think I had a glazed look on my face. I tend to get like this, from time to time, when I am bored and out-and-out tired of the company I am keeping. I realize it’s probably not polite, but if you lose my interest, my eyes glaze over, I start doodling random things, and usually I’ll mutter or roll my eyes if you keep pushing on.
That must’ve been what I was doing, because The Friend noticed right away. And in the midst of my muttering, our eyes met across the table…holding the eye contact, he simply produced an airplane bottle of Jack Daniel’s from his sleeve and without saying a word, he unscrewed the top, and dumped it straight into my coke. He took the straw, stirred it around and nodded at me as if to say “Is that better?”
I had seen him around, but never spoken to him. I don’t know if I knew that I was attracted to him right away. He was wearing a suit and a tie, carrying a briefcase and seemed much older than me. The fact that he carried airplane bottles of liquor intimidated me, actually. I wasn’t 21 yet. And the confidence he exuded as he poured the Jack Daniel’s into my cup without asking? Did I ever stand a chance against him?
I don’t know, to this day, if he remembers our first encounter. But there is an element of that first night in probably every interaction we have. He’s always been in control, always had the upper hand. Always had me on the line, waiting.
I’m not counting this one as a backslide. I’m just going on with my day.