I met Courtney at a karaoke bar called Trader Todd’s. We drunkenly hooked up. No sex, just a little PDA in the back of the bar, a thing I often do and often regret. She gave me her number and assured me that I didn’t have to see her again if I didn’t want to. I texted her that night requesting that she make it home safely. Over the course of the next two weeks, I attempted to arrange for a second meeting but various conflicts arose. Finally she found a free evening come Saturday night. That Friday she texted me saying, “Not gonna lie, I’m kind of excited to see you again.” I felt pretty bad. I didn’t really feel any emotion toward her. She was merely an attractive woman who loved my hair. Regardless, my need had more control than I did, and Saturday night made it all right when we met at some bar that had cheap enough drinks so I could purchase a few for myself and her with the money I obtained from donating plasma.
I was always against purchasing drinks for women for various reasons. To me, it appears sleazy, like you’re trying to buy them or get them drunk, not to mention you don’t know whether they’re actually interested in talking to you or if they’re just being “polite” before downing their drink, claiming to run to the bathroom and walking out the door. Plus I have really, really bad luck when buying drinks. Anyway, like I said I don’t normally buy drinks, but since I knew Courtney already liked me I wasn’t worried about it. When she showed up she had a confession. She had become officially divorced as of last week. “So when we mode out two weeks ago you were married?” She tried looking at her brain, then nodded.
“Cool.” I shrugged. We talked a bit more, then proceeded to head to another bar. Along the way she wrapped her arm around mine. That was new. I’ve held hands and interlocked arms with much approximately one girl, so it was a little awkward for me. “Don’t be so nervous!” She said, claiming she had some sort of woman’s intuition. Calling me nervous didn’t make me anything but. The issue was quickly resovled by a cover of Piano Man so poor that it had to be karaoke. She clapped and bounced, grabbing my hand and pulling me across the street to a little bar known simply as Beer, where a short man sat at a piano and occasionally stood to play a Stagg to whatever song the stranger sang.
She ordered us some drinks and put in At Last by Etta James. I judged the crowd and felt that Twist and Shout was appropriate. I stood in line behind an excited blonde descendant of Persia. She turned and nodded, I nodded back and asked “What song are you gonna put in?”
“Well, maybe you could help me!” She shouted over the man in the blue shirt singing and dancing out of focus behind her. She looked so familiar. Then again all women did. “I’m trying to decide between Hard to Handle, Bullet with Butterfly Wings, and Enter Sandman.”
“Enter Sandman.” I said. She squinted.
“Really? But this doesn’t really look like the right crowd for it.” Who gives a shit what the crowd wants to hear?
“I’m sure they’ll like it.” I said. She shrugged and I knew she wasn’t going to pick it. Courtney returned with our drinks and we stood to the side while we waited our turn. She went up to sing her song, and while she did so some brown-bearded man approached, wanting to slow dance with her. She was good, bordering on too good for karaoke. The Blonde metal woman turned to me, complimenting my date. When the song was done people roared and Courtney returned to me, asking my opinion. I told her she was great and quickly downed my drink when my name was called, as I needed the throat lubrication when doing songs back then. I twisted and shouted as people spun in front of me. The blonde woman said something to Courtney, who nodded. The brown-bearded man approached my date again, which I think I did a pretty good job of ignoring.
Everyone cheered when I finished, as they always do. The blonde one told me I “rocked it” and offered up a high-five. Courntey said I did great and so did the brown-bearded man, although who knows what ulterior motive he had. He disappeared shortly after, and the blonde struck up a conversation with us, complimenting our singing abilities as well as the thought that we looked cute together. Her name was called.
We clapped along with everyone else as she took the microphone and muttered “The world is a vampire.” If there’s one thing that’s a guaranteed crowd-pleaser, it’s a gender swapped karaoke song. About a third through Shara’s anthem, Courtney turned to me and asked, “Do you wanna go?”
“Sure. Let’s wait until she’s done, though.” It was only polite, plus I was enjoying the show.
“You know, if you wanna talk to her that’s cool.”
“I’m just saying, I don’t mind and I can see a bit of chemistry between you two.” Oh, please. Women’s intuition again.
“Well I’m here with you not her. I don’t really play those games.”
“It’s really fine with me. I mean I’m kinda bi and I think she’s pretty hot.” She was playing me. I didn’t care I guess. “I’ll go get us some more drinks.” She walked away as Shara finished up. I returned the high-five she let me borrow, and we talked. She said she was in need of some karaoke buddies and emailed me her number. Courtney returned with drinks, handing me one and fucking walking away. I didn’t know what to do, so I kept talking to Shara, who said her friends left already. I looked over my shoulder. Courtney was outside talking to, you guessed it; The brown-bearded man. Shara chimed in, “Don’t worry, I think he’s gay.”
“Oh, its fine it’s only our second date.” Her green egged eyes widened. She couldn’t believe it. She said she thought we’d been together for years. People tended to think that about girls I was with, even if we were just friends. We talked a bit more before I think she feared becoming a pawn in this game Courtney had initiated and said we should do some more karaoke another time. I gave her a salutation and she was off. She was right. I was going to use her as a pawn, but not that way. If Courtney wanted to play this card she was going to have to take all the awkwardness that came with it. I wasn’t about to let another woman get away without owning up to what she was doing. I walked outside, head down and hands in my pockets.
“Shara? Oh she left.”
“Oh!” So much for that chemistry she was talking about. The Brown-bearded man jumped from the ledge he was sitting on.
“Well hey, me and my buddy were headed up to this 4 am bar after one more drink. You guys (pointing at both of us, as if emphasis was necessary) should totally come!” I smiled.
“…All right. So I’m gonna get another drink and then we’ll head out.” he brushed by. Courtney watched him walk inside, shoulders shrugged and feet dangling.
“So,” she said, “What do you wanna do?”
“I don’t know, what do you wanna do?” She had to say it.
“Well, can I be honest?” As if the question wasn’t rhetorical. “I’m kind of interested in this guy.”
I didn’t expect it despite being ready for it. “Okay, then I guess go to the other bar with him.”
“Really? You don’t mind?” Of course I did.
“No, it’s fine.”
“I feel so terrible.” She did, but not for doing it.
“I’m cool, really.” She kissed me goodbye and called me sweet. Told me to text her when I got home, as if she gave a shit. I was livid. Why? a question too complicated to answer. I stormed back home to Rob and Chelseas’ apartment. They had a successful night at Headquarters, and were passed out. I grabbed my bottle of Seagram’s gin and went out the back, drunkenly stumbling toward the pier where Rob and I took late night walks, chugging it down. When I arrived the wind was fierce and the waves clapped against the base, and drops shot into the air like casualties. I screamed Bruce Springsteen songs at the top of my lungs as they fell on deaf waters. No one was on the beach, but even if they were the sound of the lake washing ashore in a ferocious fashion drowned me out.
Once again I was emasculated.
Shunned an shoved aside like I didn’t matter. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I don’t. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have an uncanny ability to make strangers think I do, and that staying one step ahead of them is all I have that keeps me from throwing myself onto the jagged rocks in a swan-dive. Tonight I failed. I felt like Dutch whenever he was wrong about a case. It happens. No one’s infallible, but it hurts more the less it happens. When I was sure my throat was bleeding I went back home to sleep it off, only to find out I had left the keys on the counter.
The phone calls and texts to Rob and Chelsea did no good, as they were in a drunken slumber. I slept outside that night. It was cold and I was miserable, but it built character I guess, and as a result whenever I sing Twist and Shout at Karaoke I let loose and explode those speakers. The crowd goes wild and girls jump on stage, twisting a little closer. That’s because I take my thoughts back to that awful night where a woman I wasn’t really interested in tried to pawn me off so she could take her newly single pussy and fuck a sleazeball who approached someone who appeared to be involved in a serious, long term relationship.
One day my wild singing of that song will cause my brain to burst. It’ll pop like a kernel and I’ll drop off the stage. The karaoke bar will forever be known as that place where a guy sang himself into an aneurysm. No one will think twice that I was reliving that horrible night on fast forward and at some point my brain boiled, locking me into my own personal hell, but it’s all right. I’ll have died thinking of courtney.