Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spun the Bottle

Walking on a Dream – Empire of the Sun

Tucked discreetly behind Wallace’s Auto Parts like cigarettes holed up in a middle schooler’s coat was The Factory. An establishment of such regal bearing could only mean something to youths. And it did, as a hub of what places geared towards 18-24 demographics should supposedly be centers of. In a college-town with a sub 50,000 population, that had no suburban loyalty to any metropolitan area, The Factory pretty much had a monopoly on all such spokes and hubs; which mostly meant live music (since that’s always a good place to start with young folks). It was (pretty) popular. It was (kinda) the place to be. It was successful without being a success. Plus, it was quote unquote student-owned so obviously awesome things happened therein. I didn’t mind The Factory. I didn’t like The Factory. At best I found it to be mildly stimulating and at worst it was vaguely embarrassing. Anyways, all of that is to say…

“Hey. Do you want to go to the Battle of the Bands tonight at The Factory?” Luke asked me. We were in his dorm room. I had planned to sleep that afternoon into evening, but had somehow ended up there for a couple hours.

“The Factory’s gay,” I said because as a heterosexual young man everything’s obviously gay. I always felt like an idiot saying the name of the place.

“You go there more than anyone else I know.” He was right. I did. Not cause I liked it. I felt I had to for some reason.

“Good point.”

“So is that a yes or no?”

“That’s a we’re in college, so we don’t have to plan hours in advance.” The concert actually started in like fifteen minutes. I can be such a jerk sometimes.

“Shut up.”

“Seriously, we’re college kids. We’re supposed to be crazy and spontaneous,” I announced. “Actually why don’t we go spray paint “Ram Pride” on Dr. Tock’s house. That could be fun.”

“No. Don’t be stupid.” He hates it when I get like this.

“Welp, I’m done talking for the evening.”

There was a tennis ball on the floor by Luke’s feet. I asked him to toss it to me and he did. This would prove to be a bad move on his part.

I decided I should throw the ball at Luke’s head on the other side of the room and see how hard and close I could throw it without hitting his head. I was curious to see when this experiment would reach its asymptote…

Forty or so minutes later we were being driven to the aforementioned concert venue by our idiot friend Drew. Don’t worry; I’d call him an idiot to his face too. I wouldn’t feel bad about it either. As long as you’re willing to say something to someone’s face and they’re willing to still talk to you after, then I don’t consider something rude, inappropriate, offensive, et cetera. That’s just my thinking though.

So like I was saying, Drew was kinda an idiot. He’d seriously do whatever you asked him to. He wouldn’t do it because he wanted you to like him or anything like that. He was just too stupid to think of any of the many reasons why he shouldn’t do whatever you wanted of him.

After I had hit Luke four times with the tennis ball, wrestled it back three times, and apologized twice, we decided to go to The Factory. We then decided to find someone to take us because neither of us felt like driving. I was pretty sure that someone would end up being Drew, or someone who acted exactly like Drew, or who looked like they’d be named Drew.

Under the pretense of a question mark, I commanded him to take us.

The building the Factory was housed in took the word ordinary to a new average, the word nondescript to a new blend, the word boring to a new lull. And as if it mattered, the place was painted white. The students who were pseudo owners of The Factory were probably still weeks away from realizing how cool it’d be to ask some art major to design a sign to hang on the outside; months away from realizing the awesome irony in leaving the rainbow Christmas lights up year round. It was probably better left unadorned anyways.

As Drew’s truck churned over the gravel expanse leading up to the factory that served as both road and parking lot, it suddenly seemed like a great idea to act like we were pulling up to some hot spot in some big city where people with cameras cared about people who got out of cars.

“Hey Jew, stop up front and let us out,” I said to Drew, unnecessarily slapping the side of his head to make sure he knew who I was referring to when I said “Jew.” I was excited to watch Drew, who had assumed that he was going to enter the establishment with us and proceed to stay within five feet of Luke and me for the remainder of the night, try and locate us in the crowd. The smoke and flashing lights were going to make his mad dash to find us priceless.

There was an open glass door among some fogged up glass windows that covered the only outer wall that anyone ever looked at. Around the outside, scattered pods of people were talking. I rolled down the window just enough for my forearm to fit through and began waving a little. I “asked” Drew to honk a few times too.

Luke rolled his eyes when I inquired about his willingness to get out first to open my door for me. He did it though. I knew he would.

When I got out, I stared at and specifically waved, and I think even pointed, at a couple groups of very confused people. I knew I didn’t know them, but I can guarantee you they spent part of the night trying to figure out who I was and how I knew them. I hope at least one of them lost sleep over it. That might seem stupid, but it made it totally worth it to me.

Here Comes Tomorrow - Niteflights

As I was walking I saw a cluster of girls that I did in fact know 33% of. They were really popular and attractive so naturally I headed over to them.

“Hey there!” I said gaily.

“Hey!” I swear she had never been so happy to see me; the music probably worked her up. The she/her was Jenni Metcalf, resident close-to-perfect girl on campus. She broke away from the other girls and met me as I walked.

I knew her through her boyfriend, Cale Stanley, who was a friend of a friend and was now more or less my friend. He was the best white guy on the football team, and thus the most popular player on the football team. The two of them were, of course, a big deal. Little did everyone know, but once he stopped catching pieces of air trapped in cowhide, she’d finally see the creepy way he smelled his fingers when he was deep in thought and once she dropped down from an anti-bacterial hotness rating of 9.999 to a nice round 9, he’d discover all the weird insecurities her mom planted in her when she made little 5th-grade Jenni put on make-up a year before the rest of her friends. They really were a great couple though. And since when does the football player get the hot girlfriend? But seriously I was so happy to know cliché movie-type stuff like that actually happened.

She wrapped me up for a hug, not a big deal. Jenni Metcalf just gave me a hug, but whatev.

“Are you guys just getting here?” and by ‘you guys’ I mean you Jenni Metcalf, and only you. As if there could ever be anyone else.

“No, we’re actually just heading out.” That’s about right.

“Oh I see, so you came and then you saw me show up and suddenly decided to leave,” I joked.

“Oh that’s not what I happened,” she playfully slapped me in the arm. Jenni Metcalf just playfully slapped me in the arm, but whatev, no biggie.

“It’s fine, I totally understand.” She laughed, so I kept going. “I know how it is; big campus celebrity Jenni Metcalf is too cool for the skinny freshman. I get it.”

She laughed some more, and then stated,“No, but seriously it’s way hot in there.” She nodded towards the building without moving her head. I looked up at it. It was like a huge hyperventilating chest with its windows slightly bulging and pumping to the beat. It suddenly looked kinda ominous. Yikes. It was weirding me out right then. Strange. Anyways, those girls were the types to go somewhere for like 15 minutes, get bored or hot or something, and then jet.

“Are you just saying that cause you were in there? So campus it-girl Jenni Metcalf shows up and the temperature magically rises a couple degrees. That’s pretty self involved.” Another round of non-annoying, melodic laughter ensued, broken up by a couple of her out-of-breath mock denials. Then the other 16.7% I knew came over from that group.

“Oh you!” said Cari as she joined us like she knew exactly what we were talking about and that I was of course up to my old antics.

“Yo Cari!” I called back in a voice that I assumed was how high schoolers in Grease-era America greeted each other.

I think I had hung out with her like three times, but her brother was rushing with me; so Cari and I were, of course, extremely close.

“What are you up to?” She asked. Seriously? Are you really asking me that? I’ll give you three guesses. Hint: look at the building I’m standing in front of.

“Umm, I thought I’d just come here and see if anyone interesting was standing outside.”

That got a laugh. If people thought my sarcasm was mean-spirited I don’t think I could ever say anything again. But they would’ve laughed at anything. They had that natural Friday night buzz.

“You guys should probably get going before the paparazzi figure out that you’ve left the concert.” Girls like that are always impressed if you’re the one who initiates the break in the conversation. Their other girlfriends were getting antsy anyways.

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” Jenni replied; smiling I might add.

“Alright, see yas,” Cari said between sputtering laughs.

“Yeah, see ya,” Jenni understated with that split second linger before she turned to leave. I could’ve been imagining it, but I’m arrogant enough to think that she did. I wouldn’t be surprised if she actually had because I was not trying to pull anything. I was just conversing with her. Jenni had been hit on and/or stuttered at for so long, I knew she just liked to talk to me. I wasn’t hitting on her, I was just being nice. It’s the truth.

Nothing's Wrong - Cloud Nothings

I forgot about Luke. He wasn’t with me and I couldn’t see where he was. As I turned away from the girls I felt the sudden urge to talk to someone, and I slapped the back of a nearby Cade Mutton and asked,

“Hey how much is it to get in?” I really didn’t care what the answer was, and thus didn’t listen to his reply. Plus he’s one of the biggest faggots on campus. We’ve never met, but we knew who each other was cause his girlfriend aided in a class of mine. We’d shared a couple awkward ‘aren’t you going to introduce us moments’ before, so I figured what the heck?

“Alright thanks bud,” I gave his back another slap. Oh, and he was pear shaped. Just so you know. Like really pear-shaped. I can only imagine what his pant buying experience was like. From the waist down he looked like a 45 year-old mother of 6.

I glanced around and saw Luke talking with some guy who probably went on to nothing and whose high point in life was that conversation he had with Luke Metz on the night of Battle of the Bands, you remember that one? Drew was with Luke. My night was ruined.

We spent like five minutes arguing with the girl in the box office. She wouldn’t believe me when I told her I was covering the event for the school paper. Even if you don’t believe it, you still let me in for free because I made your night slightly less boring. I started to haggle with her a bit after that. I told her my roommate worked for the university parking patrol and that I’d get her next parking ticket torn up. She didn’t buy it so I had to buy a ticket.

$7 to breathe sweaty air and hear demo-quality live music seems a bit pricey to me, but in all honesty I was glad to be there. If you were from like Boulder or Austin, you’d probably kinda snicker at this place; think of it as a tad humiliating. Laughable, that’s the word.

You’d say that you hung out in cooler places and heard better music in high school. You may even be right. Sometimes I thought I liked it more because it was kinda lame. It annoyed me, but I wondered if it wouldn’t annoy me more if it were actually the authentically hip place frequented by authentically hip patrons that it was trying so hard to be.

When we first got in, the noise and staccato lights made it hard to place yourself or others. Once my eyes got semi-used to it I looked for a spot for us to stand. I grabbed Drew and shouted in his ear. “I need you to be the fullback. Get us up there.” I pointed towards the front row. Drew scratched his bearded check and gave me a thumbs up.

Luke and I followed in Drew’s wake as his stocky body pushed through the crowd. It was pretty easy to get to the front row. When people have no real loyalty for a band they’re much more gracious about you taking their place.

The next song started and it was so boring that I spent most of it looking around for people I knew. I could only see like three people deep in any direction so I unsurprisingly didn’t find anyone and was forced to listen to the rest of it. The band was called “Lease to Own” if that tells you anything.

For the following number, the singer put down his guitar and picked up a tambourine. It was an upbeat little tune, and since I was in the front row, right against the stage, I extended my arm up towards him. He indulged me by using my hand to hit the tambourine a few times. That was fun.

Houdini – Foster the People

In fact, it was so much fun that I decided to have some more fun. I climbed on Drew’s shoulders, which he was totally up for, and watched the show from there. I see people at music festivals do it all the time and I’ve always thought it looked like fun; at least for the person on top. They’re usually girls though.

Drew rose up and I hung unto his head like the horn of a saddle. When he was fully standing, I saw that I was staring the lead singer right in the face. Like right in the face. It was kinda awkward at first so I decided to start bobbing my head rooster-like to try and break the ice. He looked pretty confused and tried to peer around me, but every way he looked I leaned with and broke into his eye line again; just for kicks. This continued for a bit until I started miming like I was playing defense on him in a basketball game. He kept trying to get around me, but I continued playing very fundamental defense and prevented it.

Finally, he got pretty mad and just shoved me. Those guys in bands always decide to get tough on stage; or really pretty much anywhere where they’re not going to actually have to confront someone face to face. For real. Those guys get a microphone and a couple hundred people with nothing better to do in front of them, or just a cigarette in their mouth, and they suddenly get that confidence they never had while they were off listening to pop-punk and playing WOW alone in their rooms in high school. Fags.

I was too surprised to be scared as I fell back into the crowd. It ended up working out nicely because everyone caught me and just started crowd-surfing me. Unfortunately, I ended being dropped off stage left way in the back.

I now had a personal vendetta against Mr. Lease to Own. If he wouldn’t have annoyed me so much, I probably would’ve just left; or at least politely watched the remainder of the show. I couldn’t let him shoving me go, especially since I had single-handedly made their set like 10 times more exciting.

I texted Drew to come meet me in the back corner. He came and I immediately asked him to fullback me to the front again.

Once we got back up with Luke, I began yelling up to the singer. I kept asking if he remembered me. I told him to take his emo crap back to 2005 where it belonged. I asked him if I could get financing to lease to own one of their albums. Then I started yelling out random numbers to try and distract him. It works when someone’s counting so I figured it was worth a shot. Next, I began trying to guess his lyrics before he sang them. Most of what I yelled up to him ended up being about a homosexual lead singer or crying alone in your room. All the acknowledgment I got from that was a few angry glances. This did not sate me so I reached unto the stage and starting untying his shoes. He started kicking at me, but only a little so he failed to foil my efforts. I waited for the next song to start and then began tying his shoe laces together. He kicked even more, but didn’t stop playing so it was pretty easy to accomplish. That guy was such a seasoned performer nothing would’ve stopped him. He was so focused, so into his music, so passionate; such a true artist.

After that, I just turned around and faced the audience. I lounged against the stage and started playing around with my phone. As I was doing that I got a text. It was from Cari.

hey. we r havin a little house-warming party at our new place. you should come :)

Needless to say, we split quick. I basically dragged Luke and Drew out of there before explaining. I even forgot about my feud with Lease to Own Guy. He was such a queer.

On the way over to the girls’ place we made fun of that band the whole time. They were the lamest. Usually my time at The Factory passes much more civilly. Usually.

The girls’ house was on a corner. There wasn’t much to distinguish it besides that.

Psychic City (Voodoo City) – YACHT

As we walked up to the door I suddenly panicked because I didn’t know whether I should knock or just walk in. It seemed like a really important decision. It really worried me. I knocked.

The door was opened by a way pretty girl with dark hair. I hadn’t ever seen her before. She smiled and said, “Hey!”

“Do Jenni and Cari live here?” I asked.

“Oh yeah yeah.”

I laughed pleasantly, though insincerely, but not impolitely and said, “K, just checking. I didn’t want to be barging in on some random place.”

“Nope. You’ve come to the right spot.” She was really something.

“I don’t think we’ve ever met before. What’s your name?”

“Yeah, I don’t think so. It’s Rachel. Wait. You were talking to Cari and Jenni tonight outside the Battle of the Bands, right?”

“Yup, that was me. Good memory. Oh, and this little dynamic duo behind me is Luke and Drew.” I didn’t let them talk.

“Well, it’s nice to meet y’all!”

“So Rachel. Tell me. Are you getting the vibe that we’re totally going to be like BFF now? Cause I definitely am.”

“Oh yeah! Totally! I’m so glad you picked up on that too. I thought it was just me.”

“No no, I felt it. So like what’re you thinking? I mean, The Bachelor every week obviously, but how about we get in a Spin class together too.”

“Oh, for sure. And also: mani’s, pedi’s, tanning; the works.”

“Fantastic. This is going good places.”

“How is ever going to go good places if you never actually come inside?”

“Yeah, seriously. Why are you keeping us out in the cold? What kind of hostess are you?”

“Get in here then!”

She led us inside and I looked around. It looked like the party had been going on for a bit. We were in a big open room with fluffy looking red furniture. A pretty good amount of people too.

“Oh! You guys have to come here first,” Rachel said.

I noticed she walked with a weird hitch, limp thing. Her right leg didn’t seem to be bending all that much. She was very attractive though. The more you looked at her face, the more beautiful it became. And somehow the limp made her more attractive too. I don’t know.

She took us to a small dining room off the kitchen. One of the walls was completely covered with signatures.

“You guys have to sign the wall.”

“Wow. I’m honored,” I said.

“This isn’t just from tonight?” Drew asked.

“Oh no no,” Rachel answered.

Drew laughed hard. “K, I was wondering.”

“Yeah, Whitney’s brother and his friends lived her before us and started it. So this is like two year’s worth of visitors.”

“Whitney…Foster?” I asked.

“Yup. She’s lives here too.”

“Oh, cool cool. You guys have quite the crew living here.”

“I know! I’m so excited.”

She took us to the kitchen after we had each endorsed the place. They had made a bunch of desserts and stuff. Cari walked in.

“Hey there!” she said. She was very excited. I don’t think there was ever a point in her life where she wasn’t some form of excited.

“Cari! What’s going on?”

Rachel went back to the main room and so we just hung in the kitchen for a few with Cari. Cari already knew Luke through her little brother, but met Drew for the first time. We left when Cari told us about some YouTube video we had to see.

Us guys went with Cari to her and Whitney’s room. They had about a million candles burning in that house. Their room was no different. It smelled good, but almost too good.

On the walls were a bunch of pictures with the girls all over the place: a street in New York, inside the Coliseum, Eiffel Tower, on Santa Monica Beach, in a field somewhere. I started thinking about what they hated about each other; what their pet peeves were and what annoyed them with one another.

Cari was still going on and on about the video. The more she talked, the more I lowered my expectations. Her laptop was on a white desk right next to her bed. She sat on the chair that paired with the desk. Drew and Luke sat and slightly bounced on her bed. I stood behind her. Once the video came up she of course started it too early and so we had to take like three buffering breaks for a three minute video.

We finally just restarted it from the beginning. Some adolescent girl was lip-synching to some song I'd never heard before. When she kept doing the same dance move over and over again to start the video, I started laughing despite myself. I only laughed when she struck up that first dance move again; which the girl did for each chorus. Cari was doing all the dance moves too as she laughed her head off. I looked and saw that Drew was too.

“Yeah Drew!” Cari egged him on.

One thing lead to another and we ended up watching every video that girl ever made. They got progressively less funny to everyone except Cari. Even Drew was getting bored with them. I started doing my own thing and examining the room. I read all the quotes she had written on a mirror with dry erase markers. I didn't like any of them.

Then my attention went back to the pics of Cari and her housemates. The pictures were in frames that said things like best friends and memories. Even if I felt secure enough in my sexuality to put up pictures like that, I don't know who I'd put in there with me. I have lots of friends, but there's something almost matrimonial about the way these girls were best friends. There's this weird absolute confidence about all of them. People make girls out to be pretty catty, but from what I've seen there's just a few insane drama queens mixed in with girls who have these friends they’re like glue with. I still can’t imagine what random petty things they probably found annoying about one another. But there had to be some, right?

I don't really know how to explain it. I just know I don't have it. These girls can do anything with each other and love it. They can watch YouTube videos and copy the dances and have the time of their lives with it. They can go to a restaurant and take a million group pictures by a fountain afterwards and think it’s the tops. I don't get that. I don't understand how that works. Like with my friends, I don't really know if I have best ones. I could probably come up with them if I thought about it, but I don’t want to. I don't think there's one of them with whom I'd actually care to share things I really think about. Sharing that type of stuff sounds exhausting. And if any of them ever wanted to dance along with a video, I'd just start insulting them. It seems like it'd be nice sometimes, but even after I think about it, I'm not sure I want that.

I saw a Cosmo magazine lying close by and started peeking through there as Luke, Drew, and Cari took turns showing each other funny videos. I thought about leaving and going to see what else was going on. It seemed rude, so I couldn't bring myself to do it. Something had to be done though.

"Hey," I said. "I'm reading about the most incredible thing. You guys have to check this out."

"What is it?" said Cari.

"Apparently they've developed a way to spoon without cutting off circulation in any of your extremities. Huh huh? How about that?"

"Really?" she sounded genuinely intrigued.

"Oh yeah. My life will never be the same."

Cari made a weird little squealing noise. My friends just sat there and stared.

"Luke and Drew don't seem to be as excited about this as us, Cari." Luke just shook his head at me after I said that.

"I know! Come on guys this is a big deal!"

"Maybe if they demonstrated to us this ground-breaking technique they would come to appreciate it."

"I think that's a marvelous idea!" She made that squealing noise again and laughed.

"Uh..." Drew said.

"That's not happening," Luke added.

"Are you serious? Not even for Cari? That's so rude guys. I'm disappointed in both of you. Go wait outside in the car."

"I don't care what you say, that's not going to happen."

"Well then, would Miss Cari indulge me by partnering with yours truly in a demonstration?"

"I would love to." She climbed off of the bed where she had ended up and joined me on the floor. I winked my right eye at the guys and Luke rolled both of his at me. Cari wasn't as much of a knockout as her housemates, but she was still pretty good looking. She was a little bigger, but not fat or anything. She probably would be someday though.

Rubbish Zoo - More Ink Than An Octopus

She laid out and I moved in right next to her and in between glances at the magazine I grabbed her arms and rotated her torso till she was in place and then I pressed myself right up against her; definitely closer than what was necessary.

"You guys see how magical this is now? I bet you're both regretting not trying it out. There's some floor space over there if you still want to give it a whirl."

"We're good," Luke answered.

"How's that feel Cari?"

"This is real real nice. How does it feel for you?"

"I wish I could stay here forever. Are all your limbs still awake? Blood still going round-trip?"

"Oh yeah. This is fantastic. Blood still circulating for you?"

I looked straight at Luke and said, "Oh. It's flowing."

He started shaking his head and laughing, "Oh my word." Luke was always saying geriatric phrases like that. I half closed my eyes and opened my mouth like I was in ecstasy. Then I started flicking my tongue like I was going to lick her. They both laughed and Luke covered his face. Cari hadn't picked up on what I had said and couldn't see me so she sincerely asked Luke, "What?"

Before Luke could answer, I chimed in, "Hey, so tell me about Rachel. I've never met her before."

"Whoa! Does someone have a crush on Rachel? Hmm?"

"Who said anything about crushes? That was an innocent question inquiring about my new friend Rachel."

"You know asking about a girl when you're currently spooning with another is bad form. I'm a little hurt...and jealous."

"I'll make it up to you. I promise." I gave her hip a little squeeze after I said that. It was a goofy thing to do, but still fun. I wondered what she was thinking when I did that. I kinda regretted it ten seconds after I did it.

"Well it's not like I blame you. She is so beautiful. So so beautiful. She actually used to be a model."

"Used to be? She's still hot," said Drew with his most intelligent comment of the night.

"Well she did a ton of the whole runway thing. You know because she's real tall and skinny so she's like perfect for it. And also, when I say modeling I mean like real stuff, not like local department store stuff. Like big stuff. Anyways, she got in a car accident like two years ago and it was very serious. She recovered and everything, but her hip got real messed up. You probably noticed she walks with a limp. So obviously she can't do runway stuff. She did some print stuff after, but she's gotten kinda whatever with it all. It's a little bit of a sensitive subject actually. She really doesn't like people knowing."

"Wow," is all I could think to say.

"So why doesn't she want people to know?" Luke asked.

"I'm not sure. I know if I were a model at all I'd want everyone to know," she said and laughed.

"And what is going on in here? Am I interrupting?" It was Jenni. She was standing in the doorway; like an angel I might add.

"Hey Jenni!" I said brightly as I looked at her upside down figure.

"Hi Jenni, I'm Drew," said Drew, slightly out of nowhere.

"It's nice to meet you Drew."

"And I'm Luke."

"Nice to meet you too! I’m glad you guys could make it! But seriously, what are you two doing down there? It looks a little sketch."

"Just taking part in the spooning revolution,” I replied.


"There was this thing in Cosmo about spooning without making your arms or anything fall asleep,” Cari explained.

"Oh. How about that? Well...when do I get a turn? Cari would you mind terribly if I slid in and tried it out?"

"Sure thing!"

It sounds stupid, but I pretty much froze. I couldn't think of one thing to say. It was a pretty awkward situation if you think about it. And not awkward in the way that everyone uses the word all the time nowadays. It was awkward in the most literal sense of the world. I was still loving it though. I won’t lie.

"Is that ok with you?" she asked me.

"Uh...yeah, sure," I was trying to play it cool. I felt pretty awkward still, but she looked movie star graceful even just sitting down on the floor, which distracted me; which was nice. I tried to be a little jocular, "I have to warn you though, it may be so comfortable that you might never want to move again."

"Thanks for the heads up. I'll take my chances."

"Here. Come a little closer. And now, just put your arm right…here...yup. 'K, now I'm coming in."

All I could think about was not smelling her hair or perfume or body spray or lotion or nectar of heaven or anything other scented thing that she might use to make her perfect self even more perfect. I felt like if I did, it'd be creepy then. If I did that, then it'd stop being something fun; like something kinda goofy and innocent and that it'd become just all weird and ordinary.

"Why didn't you wave at me earlier?" I asked from behind her.


"Earlier. When we first arrived, I waved at you."

"Wait. I don't remember that. Really?"

"Yeah. I started out with just a nice polite little wave. Then I got kinda obnoxious with it because I wasn't sure if you noticed and I still got nothing. It was pretty embarrassing."

"And I just ignored you? I promise it wasn't on purpose." She was still buying it.

"Well, it would've been one thing if you would've just ignored me, but then you totally flipped me off. In front of everyone and I was like whatever Jenni, I thought we were friends, but I guess I'm not cool enough."

She laughed and I could feel her laughing against me. I felt weird.

"You're ridiculous."

"What?" She didn't respond. She just laughed some more. "So what do you think?"

"Well my arms aren't falling asleep, but it's so comfy I think I might fall asleep. You?"

I just made snoring noises. She laughed again. I looked at Luke. He rolled his eyes once more at me. I annoy that guy so much, but I guarantee you he'd rather hang out with me rather than anyone else

"I could get used to this," Jenni said and before I could respond with something; presumably a marriage proposal, Whitney Foster popped her head in.

"I'm not even going to ask, but anyways...a bunch of people are about to leave and so I just seeing if you wanted to say bye."

"But I'm comfy," Jenni responded. She groaned a little, then set in motion the momentum required to get up. I was neither sad nor relieved. I may have imagined it, but I'm pretty sure Jenni pressed her body back into mine before she got up. I don't know.

Surfacing – Chapel Club

She was so beautiful though. She really was movie beautiful where you could blow up her face real huge and exhibit it for hours of public scrutiny and somehow you'd end up just marveling at the stars-aligning genetic combination it took to make that.

"Thanks. You were a fantastic big spoon," Jenni turned and said before she walked out.

"Yeah. You’re the best big spoon I ever had," Cari added laughing as she followed Jenni out. "It really was comfortable," I heard Cari say in the hallway.

When they had left I said, "Hmmm? Hmmm? How about that?"

"You're ridiculous," Luke said. I seriously think I get told that a hundred times a day.

"Why didn't you make out with them?" is what Drew had to offer.

"Why didn't you do something besides just sit there and bore everyone? Seriously, you guys have been mannequins. Drew your assignment for the rest of tonight is to say one interesting thing."

"Just because we haven't been hitting on everything that moves," Luke replied.

"Just because I actually know how to converse with the opposite sex. "

"We do too. We're just not obnoxious about it."

"Well all I know is that I got to spoon with Jenni Metcalf chumps. And yes, I'm definitely going to put that on my resume."

"Hey. Do you think they want us to go?" Drew said.

"That's a good question. Since it seems like everyone is leaving, maybe we should too."

Luke shrugged, so we just sat.

I saw Rachel walk by a few minutes later.


"Hey guys!" She seemed like such a nice person. Genuinely nice. Not annoying nice. You could just tell.

"So we've known each other for a while now." I paused for her to affirm.

"A very, very longtime."

"So I can ask you something and expect a completely unbiased and honest answer."

"Of course."

"Well...and remember you won't any feelings, except maybe Luke's, but do you guys want us to leave? Like not just us, but are you all trying to get people out of here?"

"Oh, no. You guys are good."

"You sure?"

"Totally. We were just trying to not make this turn into some raging party or anything."

"Oh well if this isn't going to be a kegger then we might as well split."

"You'd ditch your BFF like that?"

"Ok, you talked us into staying."

"Well we're honored to have you as long as you'll stay."

We then heard some non-crisis screams for Rachel. She excused herself and we were once again left alone. Minutes later, Cari came back to her room and said, "You guys want to play a game?"

"I've never met a game I didn't like," I said. I looked at Luke and Drew.

"I love games," Luke added.

"Sure," said Drew as he laughed for no apparent reason. "What game?" he asked also.

"You'll see," Cari answered. I remember being kinda weirded out by the way she said it. It didn't seem like her when she said it.

Walking out to their living room I recall passing some more candles. The flames peeled off scents which switched in quick succession from autumn leaves to the beach to cookies to clean linen. They smelled really synthetic against each other. The lights were off except for a few lamps and candles strewn about. Rachel and Jenni were sitting on the floor, giggling a little. They didn't seem like themselves either. I also remember realizing that I had no idea what time it was. No idea. For some reason that bothered me.

“Where’s Whitney?” I asked.

“She went out with Criag,” replied Jenni. Criag was Whitney’s boyfriend. Not that it matters.

The girls patted the ground and so I sat down first, to the right of Jenni and three hours from where Rachel sat at my midnight. Luke sat next to Rachel and Cari next to him and Drew next to her and also next to me.

Jenni pulled an empty bottle from behind her and said, "Spin the bottle much?" A mixture laugh/cheer/yell went up from everyone. I looked at Luke and he raised his eyebrows and smiled. "Great. I'll go first."

She glanced around, feigning nerves, then laughed. Jenni rotated her wrist and the bottle multiplied her movement. At first so fast it looked like a circle, then slower, then teetering, then casually winking and pointing its finger at me.

Everyone started laughing because I apparently was grinning really big. It didn’t feel like I was. At least to me. I leaned in towards Jenni, but before I dove, I pulled back and said, "But what about Cale?"

She looked me straight in the eyes and laughed. Grabbed her phone and thumbed something out. She showed it to me. It was a text to Cale. It said "we're over." She hit send. She laughed a little again, slanting in as she whispered, "We do it all the time." Then bringing her head away from my ear, she paused and I went in and sunk my lips into hers. And held 1...2...3... Then I pressed my lips together down on her bottom lip before releasing and then going in again. Then 1...2... And back out a little. Then I titled my head to the other side and dropped my lips back into hers. I slid my tongue out and as it went past her lips she parted her teeth and her tongue came against mine. I rode her movements and reached with my tongue behind hers like I was trying to pickpocket it or something. Then we moved away for good.

I didn't realize it when we were kissing but her hand was on my neck and as we moved away she squeezed it a little and I thought I was going to die. I took some deep breaths and stared right at her. She just smiled at me.

Everyone did that cheer/laugh/yell thing again. And with that we were off. It was Rachel and Luke, then Luke and Cari, then Cari and me, Drew and Luke (which didn't happen), then Drew and Rachel, me and Rachel, then Jenni and Cari (which did happen), and so on and so forth.

I don't know how long we played or what exactly went on or how many times I kissed someone, but at some point I forgot what I was doing. I didn't know if I talked or who I kissed, I don’t know if I laughed at obvious jokes or got self-conscious and put on some chapstick. I just know that thoughts weren't really loosed in my mind again till the night air whetted me as we stepped out of the house sometime later; laughing and waving goodbye to the girls who laughed and waved back.

Dream a Little Dream of Me – The Mama's and the Papa's

When the door closed, we all let out the quietest-loudest cheer you ever saw and grabbed each other embracing one another other and the moment and our luck. I hated it.

I hated them. All of them. Luke, Drew, Jenni, all of them. I wished it never would've happen. I wished it wouldn't take up space in my memory. I wished I could still think about those girls the same. I wished they never would've let losers like us touch them. I wished we never would've spooned. I wished we would've just spooned. I wished they would've still seemed so perfect.

We got into Drew's truck and after about 5 blocks and I don't know how many comments about how awesome that was, I had Drew let me out at a stop sign. I couldn't take it. For real. The way they were talking about it. The way they were smiling. The way they were happy. The worst. I didn’t want to feel like we were sharing this. I didn’t want this to be something we joked about over the phone ten years from now. I didn’t want this. I think they thought I was going to go back and try something with one of them. I don't know. I just knew I couldn't take it.

So I got out and walked and stared up at the stars because for whatever reason, they always look so perfect to us. I was so thankful no cars drove by. That there were no house lights on. That it was just me and no proof of people to force reconciliation with my imagination. That way I could just stare up at the sky. And I did. The stars really can do no wrong to us. If we can’t see them clearly, it’s the clouds’ fault or the city lights’ fault; never the stars’ though. They always seem so perfect to us.

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