Monday, March 15, 2010

The shoe and the man parade

The black and white tile floor is littered with the debris of celebration: plastic cups, napkins, beads, and even a stray high heeled shoe. There isn’t much room to move around. The crush of bodies is excessive even for this place – a sea of green revelry.

But the shoe sits in a small circle of calm, dancers move around it as if there’s an invisible force field. I stare at it, idly stirring my drink. I wonder who it belongs to and if they’ll come back for it or just leave it to be swept away with the rest of the night’s waste.

The thought makes me sad and at that moment I realize that I look a bit like that shoe – lost, out of place. I’m standing near the center of a group of friends and for once, I’m not cracking jokes or running the conversation. I’m not even listening, really.

The festival has been going on all day. I might very well be the only half sober person in the room. Even the two people I came late with have drunk enough before hand to fit right in. I decide that I need to be on their level and I head to the bar for another drink.

Ten minutes later I finally have another Jack and coke. As I’m walking back toward my group, weaving through the maze of people, a cool hand grabs mine. I smile as I turn, thinking it’s one of my friends. It isn’t. He looks Brazilian – tan and dark, short and muscular, with a thousand watt smile. He’s mouth watering. He tugs on my hand, attempting to draw me to him. I resist, free myself, and continue pushing my way through the crowd.

Back in my original place, I can still see him. He reminds me of another man, most certainly Brazilian, that I had years ago. The sex was fantastic and I have a feeling it would be with this one too. He has the same look in his eyes – a confidence that should seem arrogant and off-putting, but somehow isn’t. Rather than kick myself for not acquiescing, I simply marvel at my self control. After all, I haven’t had sex since New Year’s. I smile to myself. I’ve become a regular girl scout.

I attempt to be sociable and I manage, but not with my usual flair. I’m hauled back to the bar for shots with my friend Claire and the small town heartthrob from a rival school that I’ve met many times over the years, yet he still has no idea who I am. He’s good looking, though dressed in the oddest manner. In the middle of gold beads, stilettos, green t-shirts, wigs and face paint, he wears a plaid button up shirt, tan sweater vest, and loafers.

More shots are passed around. Sweater vest guy tries to coerce me into dancing to every song that comes on. He’s very handsy and I suspect he may be on Ecstasy. It amuses me to turn him down, but it bothers me a bit too. I don’t exactly want to say no, but I can’t say yes either. Maybe this isn’t self control after all. Maybe it’s something entirely different.

The man parade continues with an old flame I ran into right before Christmas. The friends I’m with know him well, but they have no idea about our past indiscretions. He looks at me and I smile nervously, hoping no one notices my discomfort, most of all him. He walks over, but instead of standing in front of me, he walks around and half presses himself into me from behind. He’s over a foot taller and has to lean down to say in my ear, “I sent you text messages. You didn’t respond.”

I turn to face him, an apologetic smile on my face. “I’m sorry! I meant to, but when I got them I was busy. Then by the time I remembered, they were gone and I hadn’t saved your number.”

He looks properly unconvinced, but pulls out his phone anyway. “Should I call you now so you have my number?”

“Oh, you can just text me later. I’ll save it.”

I look up at him, trying to exude a casualness I don’t feel. In truth, I feel like I’m being pulled in different directions. On one hand - he’s attractive, he wants me, he’s free, I’m free, and seeing how much I still affect him is a rush. On the other – I feel dirty. Being around him makes me think of what we did and where we did it and who we could have hurt had we ever been caught. I wonder why I didn’t feel that way when it was happening and I can only assume that it’s because I was too young to really care. Guilt is a rare emotion for me, it was then and it is now. Now I feel guilty for the past, and for avoiding his text messages and not having the balls to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t”, when confronted.

“Ok”, he says, pocketing his phone again. He must sense my reluctance to be near him so he hugs me, says goodbye, and moves across the dance floor to another group. I catch him staring at me often.

When he leaves a little over an hour later, he comes to say goodbye again. I’m pretty drunk, surrounded by three men in a semi circle while I regale them with nonsense. He stands on the edge and holds out his arm hesitantly, like he wants to touch me but he’s not sure if I’ll allow it.

“We’re leaving”, he says.

“Ok!” I smile and throw my hand up in a half wave. “See you later!”

“Yeah, later”, he replies, dropping his arm and backing away.

Without him there to remind me, the guilt disappears. I'm relaxed again. I even dance a little bit. It is my cousin’s birthday after all.

She’s dancing too, grabbing my hands and twirling us around. Claire slaps my ass and I laugh. Someone else hands me a shot and I take it, still moving. My cousin turns around, intent on backing her ass up in my direction, knowing I have no where to go but back into a wall of green clad men. Suddenly she stops, screams, and lurches forward. She jumps, wrapping her arms and legs around someone I can’t see.

When she lets go and backs away, I’m not happy. I’m too drunk to stop the words from coming out of my mouth. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!” Trey doesn’t hear me, but other people do. Her boyfriend’s expression matches mine, but at least he can keep his mouth shut.

It’s not that I mind Trey, exactly. It’s that the night has already been a bit of a drama fest without having him around too. One night stands are supposed to fade into the background and not pop up every where you go. I’ve never been lucky in that respect.

We say hello to each other and take shots. The act feels a bit like using Novocain – numb the reaction. He’s a fun guy, but he’s also an arrogant asshole. And, truth be told, not that great a lay – though I must admit the circumstances were a little difficult.

We used to work together back when I was seeing the kid’s dad. I’d known Trey for a few years though friends. I went to a few of his parties, smoked with him a few times, but that was about it.

One night a bunch of us went out drinking and ended up crashing at a friend’s apartment. Trey and I shared one of the couches – his head at one end, mine at the other. People were scattered all over the living room floor and the other couch. I don’t recall there being any flirtation between us at all.

I was almost asleep when I felt his hand on my leg. I was drunk and I knew he was drunk, so I decided to ignore it. Then, somehow, ignoring it progressed to having sex. I don’t remember all the details in between, as this was several years ago and alcohol was involved, but in the beginning we attempted to do it without changing our original positions - scooting together, legs laced.

It worked at first, but then it just wasn’t cutting it.

He dragged me off the couch and into a bedroom that was supposed to be off limits. We started going at it, but again, things just weren’t going well. By then the sun had been up for awhile and we started hearing people wake up in the living room. We stopped and I had to make the dash of shame, wrapped in a comforter, to get my clothes.

Not a great experience.

Things are awkward at first. We have nothing to say to each other and I know he’s probably thinking the same thing I am – why did I do that?

Our stilted conversation is interrupted by the blinding overhead lights. The bar is closing and everyone is being hustled out. I pay my tab and wait while my friends do the same. I watch as the room that was so packed mere moments before the shouted “closing” empties rapidly. The sea of green is gone. The black and white tile floor, previously only seen in bits and pieces, is open. Trash, mud and glass are everywhere.

My cousin joins me, linking arms, as much for stability as habit. We trip toward the stairs, her boyfriend and Trey following. I realize I left my jacket on a stool and I tell them I’ll be right back. They continue down as I hurry back, kicking plastic cups away as I walk.

Thankfully my jacket is still there. I pause to put it on and that’s when I see it – the lone, black, high heeled shoe. It’s turned on its side, surrounded by bits of broken glass. I can’t leave it there.

I pick it up and take it to the bar. “Someone lost this”, I say. I hand it to the girl. “In case they come back looking for it.”

She looks it over. “That happens all the time. She’ll be back for this one, it’s expensive”, she says, sticking it under the counter.

I turn and walk away. “I don’t believe she will.”


Tony said...

For some reason, it makes me sad that someone lost an expensive shoe. I hope they come back for it.

...I'm also depressed now, and I don't know why. I think you just blew my mind.

Eric said...

Jack and Coke, I could use that right now.

Ed said...

Very well written.

Almost make me want a Brazilian.

But a girl one.

The mad woman behind the blog said...

Oh you, it's like living my 20s all over again, except I went a *little* further w/ the Brazilian.
Weird how through all the alcohol you can barely control yourself, like you're watching everything in slow motion and yet you can remember all the little nuances.
And I agree, very well written!

Hannah Miet said...

This was poignant in a unexpected way. I relate to the sadness behind the scene. Not sadness, exactly. Thought and observation of self within a situation..a lack of oblivion.
I like the way your posts give me a sense of where you llive. You give the town character, without ever overdescribing it.

Judearoo said...

God Ally, there's so much in this. The past is the past; we all do things we look back on and think 'what the fuck was I thinking?' but thats all part of the whole life experience and the big fat not doing THAT again thing. You wont always be the abandoned shoe in the centre of chaos either. Don't be hard on yourself.

Kinda sounds to be like you need a fresh start and a chasce to be away from all those mistakes that keep showing up out of nowhere...

Anonymous said...

Every guy we did it with thinks he can have it one more time.
Especially if they're drunk.

Rusty Hoe said...

Introspection happens in the most unlikely of places. There's something weird about feeling like you are one step out of sync with the world around you, that first inkling that you may be a stranger in the life you are living. I was left with a real sense of disconnect. Life is a series of transitions, some easier than others. Your mojo is still there even if it feels hidden at the moment. Plus if all else fails remember that the we your minions are all in love with you. :)

Miss Welcome said...

I can relate to the shoe too, which is why I don't drink anymore. Very well written.

Ally said...

You're such an awesome writer. I love how the chick mentions that the shoe is expensive.

Sally-Sal said...

She doesn't need the shoe anymore, maybe she's grown past it? :)

mylittlebecky said...

god, i hate feel queasy emotions. i'm such a pussy. i love your stories :)