A coworker introduced me to a friend of hers last week. She seemed bright and cheerful, engaging smile, dark brown hair that came to a sort of swept forward bob cut, small wire frame glasses and a wardrobe to remind you that perhaps she was a little bit on the punk rocker side of life. So naturally, at my friends urging, started chatting with her. We emailed and texted for a couple days, talking on the phone briefly through the week and agreed to meet up for drinks at Margaritas on thursdays night.
As I pulled into Margaritas parking lot, I got a text message.
“Something came up, I can’t make it”.
I wasn’t surprised. My dating life has been one singular disaster after another and getting stood up again, well, I just had to laugh. I don’t know how I pick these people or how they find me, but I get fooled every single time. Somehow, I’m missing something.
I sat in the parking, staring at Margaritas. Those colors were too bright and cheerful for my mood. The bright yellow of the sign was like turning over on a lazy sunday morning and catching that single beam of the rising sun that has evaded the curtain and lands directly on your face, waking you and reminding you that you should be elsewhere, doing something, anything….I pulled out of the parking lot and headed over to downtown Portsmouth.
A cloud was forming over me, the kind that few things can dissipate. To weather the storm that was brewing, I took myself shopping. Barnes and Noble, Best Buy, BullMoose Music are all wonderful for distracting my troubled mind. I know this is weird for a guy, but going shopping, even window shopping (no, not literally shopping for windows) just seems to distract and calm my nerves.
I pulled up in front of BullMoose and got a parking spot right out front. Holy crap! That never happens. Usually, I have to park up near the square and hoof it to the music store. Suddenly in a good mood, I went inside. I love this store. One of my fantasies is when (yeah right) I win the lottery, my first stop would be here at Bull Moose so i could clean them out of all the other cds I want but don’t yet have. I just picture myself showing up with a shopping cart and just piling it up with cds until there was a leaning tower of Piza in the cart, precariously balanced cds tilting too and fro until I made it to the waiting limousine. Yup, its a mild fantasy, but it’s mine.
I went in through the doors. and my heart sank.
There she was.
In the check out line with three friends.
I felt this lump in my throat and my face flushed. I turned towards the new releases, barely able to see what was in front of me, my mind racing with lots of colorful expletives. She stood there at the checkout, chatting cheerfully with her friends and as they walked towards me to the exit, I pulled on my fake salesman’s smile, turned and said, “hey, how ya doin?”
Not even a glance in my direction. The four of them just kept chatting like I wasn’t there. Like I was invisible and my voice nothing more than an annoying breeze.
They exited the store and thats when I saw the bag one of her friends was carrying: a take out bag from Margaritas.
I heard the four of them burst into muffled laughter outside the front door, obviously some great joke had been played successfully and they were enjoying a good laugh.
Mindlessly, i leafed through the cds in front of me. Finally, i pulled out my phone.
“have a good nite” I texted to her and then deleted her from my phone.
This morning, as I was coming into work, I called my friend and explained to her what had happened. There was a pause then she burst into laughter. Again, I felt like I was missing out on some fantastic prank.
“Thats so like her,” she said through her giggling.
“What do you mean?”
“Oh she always does that, thats just how she is” her laughter finally trailed off.
I could feel that stormcloud over my head again. This time it was worse, thunder cracking in my ears.
“If you friend was such a fucking cunt, then why did you introduce me to her?”
Then the unmistakable click of the phone being hung up.
I sat in my car outside work, waiting for the storm to pass a bit before I went inside. I very rarely get angry, very rarely do I let that emotion overtake me. When I was a teenager/early 20something, anger was something that I could not control sometimes and I lashed out at friends, family, anyone within earshot. It’s a base and ugly emotion that does nothing but worry and destroy. I like to think I have no time for anger anymore, no time for things that waste my time. But this was too much.
Slowly, I felt my bloodpressure comedown, the redness to my face slowly gave way to my usual paleness.
Thank whatever powers there may be for friends. When I get wrapped up in an emotion and lose all perspective, my friends are there to ground me. I had let myself go into a hopeless downward spiral of self hate and anger, but a single helping hand from a good friend pulled me out of that whirlpool. A few emails and text messages later, and the storm was gone, nothing more than a potent memory. A good friend flattered and teased me, giving me something positive to latch onto and that made all the difference. We joked and laughed a bit back and forth on texts and emails. Finally, i felt like I was in on the joke, instead of being the butt of it. And the laughter I heard was my own…