Saturday, March 7, 2009

Setting The Bar

“Where’d Kim go?” Jason asked when he returned from the men’s room.

“She had to get going.” Mark pointed his head toward the door. “She just left with her friend.”

“Shit!” He slipped back on to the stool. He rested his arms on the bar. “She was damn fine looking. I wouldn’t mind hitting that.”

“She seems like a nice woman.” He picked up his beer and took a sip.

“Fuck!” he sighed as he shook his head from side to side. “I was thinking she might have gone home with me tonight.”

“No. She’s not like that.” Mark put his beer back on the bar. He took off his cap and rubbed the top of his head with his hand. “She’s not looking just to hook up.”

His mouth stumbled between a chuckle and a smirk. “And you know this how?”

“I talked to her.” Mark felt defensive. She seemed like a nice woman. Her reputation deserved a little defense.

He started to laugh. “Well maybe she just wasn’t that into you, asshole!” He picked up his glass. “She was into me. I could tell.”

Mark let his friend’s pride float above their pints; he had her number tucked in his pocket. There was no need to gloat. He decided to use tact and take the conversation down a different track. “Hey did you watch the Gopher game?”

“What are you saying man? You saying she wasn’t into me?” Jason challenged.

“Why are you asking me bro?”

“Well it was obvious she was into me!” He rebuffed and puffed with pride.

“Okay look. You asked me, I’ll answer you.” Mark closed his eyes and opened his mouth. “A woman just left a bar without saying goodbye to you or even waiting for you to get back. She wasn’t into you. So what? You’re cute. There’s other women. Let it go.” He looked over his friend’s head and searched for a new topic of conversation.

“Fuck you!” Jason picked up his beer.

“You asked me.” Mark picked up his beer.

“Well she wasn’t into you either asshole!” Jason said with self-satisfaction.

“Okay.” He shifted on his stool. It’s was time to go home.

“Well you’re fuckin' smug!” He had too many beers; they pushed his pride and promised it more power than his punch packed. “Are you saying she was into you?”

“I’m saying it’s time to go home,” Mark said as he took out his wallet.

“Well I don’t see her sticking around to talk to you!”

“Okay look. She gave me her number. I’m calling her next week.” He picked up his tab and pulled open his wallet.

“What?” Jason's lungs sunk into his stomach. “How does that work?”

Mark pulled cash out of his wallet and put it on the bar. “She gave me her number and told me to call her next week.”

“It’s not right,” he said with a sarcastic sigh. “It’s so fuckin’ wrong.”

“What?” Mark slid his wallet back into his front pocket. “You’re irritating the piss out of me man. Get over it.”

“I’m irritating you? Do you know how many perfectly good women you’ve gone through? You always find fault with them too. So why do you have to keep getting them? I don’t get it Mark. Seriously. What?”

“I talk to them man. That’s all.” He lost his patience. “You want women? Talk to them. You make some dumb-ass jokes and insult her and then wonder why she’s not into you? Fuck it. How about being real? Get off me.”

“You want real? I’ll do real,” Jason said. He lifted his beer and took a gulp for guts. “You date all these women, can’t keep any of them, never marry ‘um, and then just move on to the next one. You’re so into sins and shit - got to be a shitload full of sins in that. I think dating women with no intention of making any sort of future is a really shitty thing to do to a woman. You act all sanctimonious but you're just actually a fuckin’ prick.”

“Not that it’s any of your business, but I don’t have sex with all of them. Hell, I don’t even have sex with most of them.” He took off his hat and rubbed the top of his head and replaced the cap. “But even if I did - what the hell difference does it make to you? Jesus man! What are you keeping track? What’s with that?”

“I’m just sick of hearing about you!” He lowered his voice and stared at his friend. “I’m sick of hearing about your writing. I’m sick of hearing about your women. I’m sick of hearing about your feet. I’m sick of hearing about your health. I’m sick of hearing about your problems!”

Mark interrupted, “Fuck you! I don’t talk about any of that!”

“No, but everyone else does!” He stood up and continued his rant. “Last week I’m at a party and we’re all talking about how you couldn’t come because of your foot! Shit we talked about you and you weren’t even there!”

“Jealousy is a bitch man! Get over yourself!” Mark stood up to leave. “I don’t even like you anymore. Christ you’re a sick fuck. Get some therapy!”

Jason sat back down on his stool. “What kind of example are you setting anyway? What do you call a man who tells everyone he’s a Catholic and then fucks around and never commits to anyone or anything? What do you call that? I call that a hypocrite.”

“You're dead right.” Mark shook his head. “But I tell everyone that I'm not good. I tell everyone I'm not a good man. I’ve never pretended I was good. And I’ve never pretended that my sins weren’t sins. I don’t walk into Mass and kneel down with sins on my soul and pretend to myself or my God that they aren't there. And I don’t sit beside a man and pretend to be his friend as I seethe against him. But you’re right. I’m setting one hell of a bad example. You couldn’t have made that any more clear. So. From now on - I’ll set a good one for you. I’ll start right now. This is how to be direct, you fuck! I don’t like you. I don’t want to be your friend.”

“Good.” Jason stood up and backed away from the bar. “So give me her number. You’re not going to use it.”

“No.” Mark patted his shirt pocket “If she wanted you to have it, she would have given it to you. I might be a creep but I’m fucking loyal. I’ve just been faithful to all the wrong people.” He turned, left Jason at the bar, walked outside, and dialed her phone.