Open Bars and Random Numbers

When you get a text message from a buddy that reads, “I’ve got an extra ticket to an open bar tonight, you in?” there isn’t much time to fuck around.

You get the who, what, where, and when… and why because it’s an open bar.

It turns out my buddy Tom had purchased two tickets for a Friday night open bar event being held at a little dive in Georgetown a few weeks back. The friend he originally planned on going with ended up out of town for work, so Tom asked me to be his wing-man and take this guy’s spot. All the information I was given was that there was no such occasion or special theme surrounding this thing, it was just one of those drink your face off and meet some new people at a dive bar things.

After a few texts back and forth Tom and I agreed to meet up outside of this place 9:15 PM. We agreed to re-evaluate at Midnight and see if we wanted to bounce elsewhere if we were no longer into what the scene had to offer. I left my group of friends at happy hour and arrived shortly before 9:15, eager to get my evening started right.

I called Tom once I found the place and didn’t get an answer. I paced around in front of the place long enough to get hassled by a bum and burn a couple of cigarettes near the door. Girls looked at me skeptically as I clung to  the brick beside the entrance for another ten minutes as I flipped through my phone and blew steam through my nostrils into the chilly January air. I started to feel somewhat awkward standing around the same spot doing nothing but checking my phone every few seconds. Tom’s text said he was leaving soon, so I figured I’d wait it out.

Around 9:40 I walked up the street to pass the time, I didn’t feel right paying $7 for a drink at a different bar when I knew the free ones were already being handed out right around the corner.

Finally, Tom called, “Hey my bad dude, I’m still getting ready- I’ll be there in 20 minutes.”

“20 Minutes?!” I exclaimed flailing my other arms wildly into the air, “Why the hell did we agree to get up here at 9:15?!”

“I know, my bad. Chill out, you’re still getting into an open bar, that goes all night for free. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Just walk up and tell him that you’re my second and go in now.” He said trying to disarm me.

“Yeah, yeah. Alright I’ll try that, but hurry your ass up; I’m bored! Get here!” I shouted into the phone before ending the call.

I walked back to the venue and waited in a short line until I got up to the front.

I handed my ID to the bartender and proceeded to poorly explain my situation, “Hey so, my buddy’s second or whoever he is supposed to bring isn’t showing up. So can I give you his name and just go in until he gets here? I just got off the phone with him and he’s caught in traffic.”

The bouncer frowned at me. “If you’re taking someone else’s spot you need to have the guy who bought the tickets here to prove you’re with him.”

It was pretty sound logic, so I thanked the guy and got out of line and walked to the next bar over around the corner. It was just too cold to stand around outside.

Finally at 10:15 Tom called, “Hey, I’m out front? Are you inside?” he asked.

“No Tom,” I said, “I’ve been dicking-around playing with myself waiting for you to get here. I stopped at the place next door for a drink, I’ll close out and see you in line.”

I closed out and found Tom towards the front of a short line. I wasn’t happy with him, by this point I had waited around for a solid hour and what was worse is that I had left s good time with other friends to do so. He was all grins as I walked up.

“What the hell took you so long?” Tom called out laughing at me.

“Yeah some asshole told me to be here an hour ago.” I said shaking my head angrily at him.

“Yeah my bad, I was wrecking people in a multi-player game of Call of Duty. I couldn’t just quit out of the game.” He said nonchalantly peeking his head around the shoulders of the people in front of us to see how far back the line went.

“Tom? What? You’re fucking kidding right? You were playing videos games for an hour while my ass waited around in the cold for an hour?” I asked clinching my right fist, “I want to punch you in face, why wouldn’t you just lie to me and make something up?”

“It’s a really good game. I didn’t think you’d be happy if I lied about it.” He said half laughing.

“I kind of wished you had. Prick.” I said rubbing my face at the absurdity.

“It’s cool man, I’ll buy you a free drink inside.” Tom said with a grin.

“This thing does go all night though, right?” I asked.

Somebody behind us spoke up, “It only goes till 11 bro.”

I shot a fiery stare over at Tom.

“Okay, so we’ve got 45 minutes of solid drinking still.” Tom said smiling stepping forward and handing his ID to the bouncer.

We got our hands stamped and went around the corner to get our evening started. The first thing to hit us was the blaring music echoing off the wooden walls and down the hallway by the coat check. We rounded yes another corner and came face to face with a massive sausage fest. This was a college bar and all these guys looked the same. Shaggy hair, a lot of flatbrim hats, t-shirts or flannel, and jeans. Private school lacrosse looking tools with fake IDs and no girls.

“The fuck is this Tom?” I said flicking my hand their direction looking at bar swamped end to end with idiots.

“Yeah this is pretty rough. At least we’ll get the girls when they do come.” He said confidently.

Tom was never known as the guy with “game.” His ability to hit on women was far overshadowed by talent for driving them out of conversations. But he always meant well.

I do like the kid a lot, he’s just one of those people that doesn’t get it right when it counts. That’s not for lack of effort which I should credit to him. At least he tries.

We jostled and pushed our way towards the front and ended up each getting about six drinks each by 11:00 PM despite the idiot bros displaying the worst bar acumen I’ve ever seen; before or since. And that’s comparing it to political fundraisers where people are already kind of out of place to begin with. If you’ve ordered your drink at a crowded bar and have received it… don’t just stand there you dult! Move so others can get a chance to wait 5 minutes for a drink. The 30 feet or so of lengthy bar was filled by guys taking wide shoulder stances jutting their elbows out to maximize their coverage thereby inconveniencing the maximum amount of people in the process. My favorites were the ignorant shit-for-brains leaning up against the bar with their back facing the bar fulling resting on the edge of the wooden lip. In this position they could actually get a view of all the people they were pissing off in the process.

Navigating this place was even worse. You know how natural isles form within bars so you can move within a crowd? These guys had all the conviction of sudden-stop lost tourists. A guy would walk like he was headed somewhere and then stop. Picture a guy spacing out in the middle of a busy sidewalk as if he was seeing the outdoors for the first time. After saying excuse me a few times to no avail I just started to gradually push them aside with a forearm apply as much pressure as needed until I got through. When they’d flip around angrily to say something of to the effect of “Sup Bro?” that’s when I got to dropping some knowledge. These were spoiled rich kids who haven’t ever been in a physical altercation their entire lives, so there was absolutely zero risk of a real altercation taking place.

“Are you lost? You realize you’ve chosen quite possibly the worst place in the bar to stop. I’ll grab you a map from the bartender. Thanks Bro.”

“The bartender got your order right? Oh you’re not ordering? -You’re just spreading out as far as your can at the bar to take up room to burden every else around you that’s trying to get a drink. I’ll just slide in here- cheers faggot.”

“That’s a good place for you. Right in on my foot and at the busiest intersection of the bar. I just farted breh, nah, stick around- that one was just for you.”

Never underestimate my ability to out-crazy, much less out-inconvience others around me in the name of spiteful retribution. I discovered the best way to walk around in that place was to put others at risk of getting drinks poured on them. Having two over-filled drinks in each hand, I’d  raise my arms above and forward. This way my drinks were hanging over the heads of those around me. Add a little geriatric style shaking of my wrists and you’d be surprised how quickly the Sea of Bro parted for me. It’s funny how the prospect of getting lots of free alcohol on your head, shoulders, and shoes will do for someone who chooses to stand in my fucking way.

Tom and I had gotten to the bottom of our last drinks and we had both managed to reach a halfway decent buzz but we needed to make a decision as to where our next spot would be. Most of the people there were pretentiousness young douchers with fake IDs and needless to say I wasn’t really enjoying myself. So I began running through my mental rolodex of possible next destinations. It wasn’t anywhere near late enough to call it a day and I was already in the city. So I ran through the text messages of my trusty phone for a little and put on my “deep in thought” face.

Luck would have it, I had gotten a text less than half an hour earlier from a cute girl I’d met in a bar near the Chinatown area of DC the previous weekend. Given how it sounds, you would think I would be thrilled to charge ahead with making plans with this girl. But this situation was a bit trickier, she was one of those very quick/last minute phone number exchanges that we’ve all done late at night or just after last call. I’ve gotten numbers in passing, on my way out of places, on stairwells, and during a cigarette break- but the last call phone numbers are different.

I think we all grab those late last minute phone numbers because we want to feel like our evening hasn’t been a total waste of our time and money… Maybe at the particular moment I exchanged digits with a stranger, I genuinely felt interested or even compelled by the singing voices of angles to muster the courage to ask them for it. Perhaps I was just drunk. Or maybe you were just the cheap shot glass I bought on the last day of my vacation at the shitty gift shop in the airport to validate that I had done something with my time and it was a gift for my own ego.

The night I got Jennifer’s number, my friends were screaming at me to leave the bar and I hadn’t really had more than half a minute of a diologue with her. But I figured I had nothing to lose. Either way, I walk away with a wet bar receipt in my hand. What’s the harm in giving it a shot? I vaguely remember explaining to her that my friends were leaving and asking if she would be okay with swamping numbers to get to know each other better another time. Admittedly, her number served as the reassurance that would allow me to tell myself, “this night was not a total waste of time, money, and energy.”

If you haven’t gathered by now, that type of phone number almost never gets called or texted after it gets punched into a phone. It only serves to amuse you a few months later when you’re looking through the contacts section and you discover multiple single names or even just poor descriptions of the bar you were at and the gender.“DC girl bleh,” or “O’sully’s Chick,” “Amanda Gril,” “Corrine Nurse,” “Cute Asn, etc.”

Anyway, I stepped outside to call this mysterious “Jennifer DC”. After a few rings she answered sounding delighted to hear from me. I told her about the “open bar” fiasco and asked if she still wanted to grab a drink with me. I told her where to meet and I even gave her a heads up that my buddy might be tagging along if he couldn’t find anything else to do. This gave me an exit strategy in case this girl turned out to be some gross joke of sorts. I wouldn’t put anything past drunk me having a laugh at future me for having no recollection of sabotaging myself.

And so we went. Tom and I jumped out of a cab near Chinatown at a bar called Iron Horse. I had another drinking buddy on the way to meet up with me in case the whole thing collapsed on top of me.

Jennifer and my other friend arrived right around the same time. Thank god she called on the way into the bar because I wouldn’t have recognized her. She was quite the looker; a thin very attractive brunette with freckles dotting her nose and cheeks. Standing an inch shorter than me, I walked up and gave her a huge. This girl was in great shape and had an irresistible smile, things were looking up. I kicked myself a little for my idiotic back up plan to bring my friends along, because I now needed some type of exit strategy from them. As I began to try and get to know her my buddies kept getting in the way with calls from the peanut gallery, demands for more booze, and constant zingers. I guess I wasn’t engaging enough for them thus it wasn’t long before the drinking kicked into high gear. She watched on as my friends slid shots in front of me and I continued to try and cling onto sobriety for dear life.

I couldn’t tell you if they were trying to be fun, trying to throw me off, or just wanted to pound drinks at the bar like there was an award for doing so. But without realizing it, me and the guys had all taken six shots each and I was on my third real double whiskey coke. She wasn’t drinking like we were and I didn’t want to give her the impression that I was a big drunk idiot… or at least post-pone her finding that out. We were approaching 12:30 and I refused to continue on this run away booze train with my guys otherwise I wouldn’t be able to throw together sentences.

When Jennifer skipped off to the bathroom for a bit, I put it straight to my buddies, “Gentlemen, I really need some fucking space. You’re killing me at the moment. Let’s set our sights on a different bar and you guys go work on a few groups on your own for a bit. Me and Jennifer can rejoin towards the ladder end of the night, I’ve barely had any time to talk to this girl, cool?”

“That’s real cool man.” Said Tom sarcastically while folding his arms like a pissed off 2nd grader.

My other buddy rolled his eyes and walked over to the bar frowning to close out his tab .

“I need to fly solo here for a little bit. I’d do the same for you, just give me some god damn space.” I said sternly.

The two of my buddies begrudgingly agreed.

By the time she got out of the restroom we had all closed our tabs and within just a few minutes we were already at the next dive bar. Jennifer and I planted ourselves on a couple of bar stools on the third floor and finally had some time to get to know one another.

It turned out she was finishing up her second masters and had some pretty wild stories of her own. She used to do survival treks out in the wilderness of Washington State and somehow got lost and almost died until she and her group stumbled onto a Walmart. She was well traveled, gorgeous, and had a big sexy brain. I couldn’t believe I had managed to get her number in passing. Things were looking great and I was glad to be along for the ride.

We spent the remainder of the night laughing at one another’s dating stories. She mostly just sipped water while I continued to take heavy gulps from my whiskey cokes as I explained that my dating stories were only good because I seemed to exclusively find the crazy girls…. or they’d find me. It sounds cliche and stupid, but we were finishing each other sentences within practically no time at all. The conversation just flowed and there wasn’t ever a break or pause in our dialogue,  it was great. Eventually Jennifer and I ended up exchanging a few kisses until the bartenders demanded that we leave because it was already past closing time.

Once outside we walked around a bit holding hands stopping to dance here and there. After we exchanged another impromptu twirl and kiss, I looked her up and down, “I have a crazy idea,” I said, “I’m not quite ready to call it a night just yet.”

“Me neither.” She said flashing me mischievous smile.

“Welllll, how would you feel about coming back to my house for a night cap?” I asked putting on my charming James Bond voice.

“I think I could go for that. I’ve always wanted to see where the devil sleeps.” she said giggling with a big smile taking my arm as we walked together towards a cluster of cabs.

We laughed about non-nonsensical things the whole way home until we pulled up. I paid for the cab and whisked her inside.

I poured us a few glasses of water in the kitchen and brought Jennifer back to my room.

We began kiss again, “Just so you know,” she said, “we’re not having sex tonight.”

I laughed, “I hadn’t dreamed of doing anything like it” I said.

We fell onto the bed, “Well I mean, there are other things we can that aren’t sex.” I said slyly.

“Yeah like what?” Jennifer asked propping herself up next to me on her elbow.

“Well technically blow jobs aren’t sex. We could do everything underneath blow jobs in the sexual hierarchy.” I said running my fingers along her side.

“Deal!” She shouted.

That’s ridiculous… I remember thinking as I smiled.

I’m not sure how to register the female psyche just because I don’t have a category in my brain whose sole purpose is to rationalize shit that doesn’t make sense. But I could swear that this is flawed logic, it’s only basis comes from a silly idea placed in the head of young girls reading stupid trash magazines. I think the easiest conclusion to draw is that this move is designed to keep the guy coming back for more so he won’t pull the one-N-done thing. I get that, nobody wants feel used, but frankly I’ve never stopped talking to someone because we’ve had sex. I’ve stopped talking to them because they were crazy, nagging, boring, obsessive, stupid, or broken… But never because I had sex? And isn’t that the whole idea of dating anyway? Taking a chance that this person isn’t as fucked up and crazy as the last one you rolled around with in the sheets?

A wise Alec Baldwin once said in the movie Outside Providence, “Making sex is like a Chinese dinner: It ain’t over ’til you both get your cookies.” Which I think makes reasonable sense…

So with that I took Jennifer’s underwear off with my teeth and made sure that she had gotten a chance to visit pleasure town before I did. After it was all done we both laid there giggling for a bit, the two of us lying still in the afterglow and somewhat out of breath. Without much more than a quick glance over Jennifer sprung up and rolled over on top of me and returned the favor. Things were great, life was good. Never under estimate the power of reciprocation.

After I was finished, I reached over and handed her a glass of water and threw the pillows back on the bed. A quick glance at the clock revealed it was nearly 3:30 AM; quite a day. I pulled the blankets over us and we drifted off to sleep with my arm resting underneath her head.

My eyes cracked open not much later. I had woke to feel the bed shaking. Earthquake? Loud Truck? Seizure? I shifted my head slightly and took turned just enough to see Jennifer shaking like an excited Chihuahua. She was wide-eyed and staring up intensely at the ceiling.

I coughed lightly and clearled my throat, “What’s uh… Everything ok? Are you cold?”

No answer.

That’s it, she must be cold I thought. The old house I was living in had a propensity to get a little chilly in the winter. I jumped up and ran to the closet and got an extra blanket then turned the thermostat up.

“Here,” I said tucking the blanket around her while getting in beside her to warm her up.

She continued to shake and look around the room silently.

“Better?” I asked exhausted, hoping for a yes so I could fall back asleep.

“I don’t even know you.” She said strangely.

“I burst into laughter, huh? Well nice to meet you, I’m Taylor.” I said extending my arm around as if I was going to shake her hand.

“No stupid. I know you, I just mean I never sleep next to people. I don’t trust sleeping next to people I don’t know.” She said getting up as she began putting on clothes.

“Wait what’s the problem?” I asked watching her fumbling to find her shirt.

“I knew I’d freak out later. I’m just… I can’t be here.” She mumbled rummaging under blankets and sheets to find more clothes.

What was going on here? Did she neglect to mention that she got a brain injury from a car accident similar to what happened in the movie, 50 First Dates? Wait- if she did, then she wouldn’t remember it and tell me about it. Maybe she had something more like “anterograde amnesia” like in the movie Momento and I should check her pockets and purse for Polaroids with notes on them… but wait, she didn’t have any tattoos about catching her wife’s killer. I actually remember thinking this.

Had I said something in my sleep? Maybe I mumbled something anti-semetic like, “You know the Jews control the media” in my sleep and I hadn’t event realized it.

As I struggled to figure out what was going on, my slowness to process anything was an indicator of just how drunk and exhausted I still was, I took a peek at the clock, it was only 4:30 AM! I had only been asleep for an hour.

“I don’t mind you staying over, it’s not a big deal. Come back over here.” I asked emphatically.

“No.” She responded angrily.

“Well, wha-” I began to say,

“Can you drive me home. I need to be home right now.” She said in a serious tone.

“Did you forget to feed a goldfish or something? I’m still drunk from last night, can’t we sleep this off for just a few hours?” I asked pulling the covers towards me.

“Where’s the closest metro.” She stammered.

“Uh, it’s five blocks but they’re not going to be open for a while. You’re making this weird.” I said shaking my head.

“Fine I’ll cab it. What’s your address?” She asked hurriedly pulling her phone out of her purse.

“I can drive you, just slow down, give me one more hour of rest. I don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t have to do this.” I said rubbing my eyes.

“What’s your fucking address!” She shouted at me.

I lowered my hands from my face and looked up at Jennifer. She had frazzled sex hair and an general disheveled looney demeanor. I wasn’t going to fight crazy at this hour, I shouted my address out to her in a grieving tone.

She turned to walk out of my room and I called after her, “Can you tell me what the hell is going on. I thought we had a great night? Did I do something wrong here Jennifer?” I asked unnerved.

She flipped me a maniacal look, her right eye was twitching.

You said you attract the crazy girls, WELL I’M FUCKING CRAZY!” she lashed out pointing at her chest before throwing herself through my door and clicking down the hall slamming the front door behind her moments later.

I’m sure this woke up the rest of the room mates in my house who no doubt appreciated that.

I sat there for a good two minutes in silence trying to figure out first what had just happened and then where or when I had miscalculated.
-Maybe she just had to go poop?
-Was there a boyfriend somewhere that she just cheated on?
-Did something happen on one of those off the grid camping sessions?

Too many questions and too many strange conclusions I could have reached. I sent her a text a few minutes later and asked if there was something I said or did.

Her response: “No you’re a great guy, I just need to deal with a lot of the things I thought I had put past me and still deal with the other stuff I’m going through in my life right now. Not your fault. I’m sorry, I’m really embarrassed, please just forget me.

I fell back asleep for a few hours and woke up more hungover than drunk and still just as confused as I was when she had left. I grabbed my phone off the floor and saw that Tom had texted me, “How’d it go?

I laughed for a few moments and tossed the phone back on the ground. I took a deep breath and smiled at the nature of my luck while looking up at the ceiling.

There was an old batting coach on my little league baseball team when I played on around the age of 10 or 11. He always had great quotes that were meant to make you feel better after a tough loss, a bad call, or a strike out. One of my favorites sprung to mind, “Sometimes you play for diamonds and sometimes you end up with a bunch rocks.”

But he was also the guy that said, “Ya know, a billion Chinese will wake up tomorrow and not give a shit.” …So there’s that.

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