“So how was your summer?”
“It’s been awful, you have no idea.”
I leaned back on my stool, giving her room to deliver my food. Around me sat remnants of the old college crew, some of whom, like me, were back to mark the opening of a new school year while the others drank their first beers of their final semester.
“Yeah. I started working here this last May, meaning I’ve had to be around her every day. I can’t handle it.”
The waitress in question was a long lost flame, a girl who had, once upon a time, found herself caught up in the front end of my senior year shenanigans. She hadn’t stood a chance. She was still special to me and we still talked occasionally, and had we had met at a different time under different circumstances who knows how we would have turned out. Instead, she found herself working side by side with the siren whose call I followed, co-destroyer of our budding not-quite relationship, and someone she despised unequivocally.
I play dumb and shrug, baiting her. “Who?”
“You know who.”
“O yeah? Why was that a problem?”
“What?? I’m serious!”
“Because you were fucking her the whole time you asshole!” I try and fail to hold in my laughter and she punches me on the arm. Though we’re good now, I know she’ll bring it up again later than night if I see her out. It never fails. I hurt her badly. Irish had once told me, half-joking but not really, that “I ruin these chicks.” I figured he was just trying to get under my skin at the time, and it never really occurred to me how right he was until enough time had passed that I could examine my wake. Sometimes you just get too caught up in the game.
My next pitcher arrives and I watch as they both flit around, doing their waitress thing while expending as much energy as possible ignoring each other.
The siren looks up and we make brief eye contact before she pulls her eyes away quickly. I was on long standing cold shoulder status, interrupted only once by her last time she was in the metro visiting friends, and that was not a fun conversation. How did we get here? How did our good times vanish, replaced as they are with near boiling hatred? Rhetorical…
I had had my eye on her for a while, almost as long as she had had her eye on me. Throughout the years I dated my ex, I would see her every now and then at the bar, checking me out in a very non-discreetly. I was always intrigued as she was one of the few girls on campus whose name I didn’t even know. I rarely saw her, though, and sometimes months would go by between sightings. When I broke up with my ex for the final time, one of the first thoughts I had was that I was going to make it happen the next time I saw her.
That time finally came one lazy winter Wednesday. I was a couple weeks in with a waitress, but she was out of town, and a few friends were out so I decided to join them. When she walked in our eyes met immediately. She had only come with one friend, who went over to a table in the back right away, leaving her by herself at the bar. Our eyes met again, and I motioned for her to join us. I don’t even know what I said, but it turned out she had a competitive streak and was unwilling to let my trash talk about her taste in mojitos and mimosas go unchallenged. Before long we were at the bar doing a tequila shot contest and neither of us were willing to give up.
As the hour grew later, we went through all the motions. The banter, the touching, getting to know each other more, laughing all the way. It would seem I had finally caught the siren, the nameless face that had called to me for over two years, and I sat there supremely pleased with myself. We followed the next logical step and left for my place.
While lying in my bed making out and exploring, she paused and pulled herself up.
“Have you ever done like a friends with benefits thing before?”
“Well it’s just that I think we should. I mean, you’re kind of this dick, bro-like guy who probably doesn’t want a relationship, and I don’t want one either…”
“So… I think we should just have sex. Be like friends with benefits or whatever.”
“Hmmmm…” I rolled her onto her back. “Works for me”
And that’s how we started. For the next three weeks everything went smoothly. On random nights when one of us was feeling randy we’d hit the other up, and if the other was good to go in ten minutes we’d be banging. Her position a mere three houses away guaranteed five star convenience. Sometimes I’d really be feeling my oats and stack it such that she’d be over minutes after the waitress left, until I got too ambitious one night and she pulled in from work with the waitress’s taillights half a block down.
We’d lay there afterwards and talk mostly platonic stuff, something you know even the most ardent “this is just friends with benefits” chicks have a problem with. She was actually very smart and ambitious so we usually had a lot of stuff to talk about, from the intellectual right down to teasing her about her Sex and the City ambitions. Knowing all about me and the waitress, sometimes she’d try to pry me about the situation and what we had been up to lately. Sometimes she was happy for me, and other times she was “concerned”. I merely dismissed her curiosity as the girlish need to know everyone’s business, and left it at that…
Eventually the waitress and I had our falling out, pretty much entirely because she knew about the siren from the beginning from informants around campus. She had toiled in secret, not letting on that she knew, hoping I would realize what I had in front of me before giving up in frustration. Soon, my dalliances with the siren increased in frequency and her stays increased in length. She would text more often, wanted to hang out on daily basis, and stayed the night regularly. We started training for this 10k together, went to bars by ourselves on off nights, and kicked it one night when we were both back in the metro. In other words, in the span of maybe two weeks since the waitress called it quits we were already breaking all the rules, gradually becoming less like the friends we said we were and more like what we claimed we weren’t. In all honesty, I was fully aware of this creeping encroachment, and I did nothing to stop it.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like it a little. I had feelings for her and enjoyed the time we spent together, but in retrospect I think most of all I liked knowing that even this chick couldn’t resist me, that this siren that tempted me for years was finally in my grasp. That despite all the things she said about how I was a total dick she could never like, that I was an asshole, and so on, here she was. Sometimes I’d catch myself thinking “what if?” and then I’d go to the bar and remember why I didn’t want a relationship. I was on a see-saw of indecisiveness.
Finally, after we started to get just a little too close I decided I wasn’t willing to take the next step like she secretly wanted and it was time to start fading away. All the sudden I had papers and exams and all this stuff going on, shit she knew just as much as I did that I didn’t care about. We went a whole week without hanging out and our communication faded, and the message appeared to have been received…
In the meantime, I had finally hung out with this other girl who Irish’s then-girlfriend had been trying to hook me up with for weeks, kicking off what would be a months long on and off saga of games and manipulation with her. Also, during incommunicado week we had had a party, and in the process I had gotten the number of this little blondie Irish had class with and hung out with her on that Wednesday. The table looked set for a busy weekend.
That Friday the crew rolled into our usual spot. After glad handing a bit and making my way to the bar, I grab the first of what would be many High Lifes and turn around, only to be startled by the horror movie-like appearance of the siren behind me. Apparently unfazed at the signals I thought I was sending all week, she pulls close and kisses me. Well, shit. All I had wanted was to shred out some brews and meet someone new that night, and here she was. I couldn’t tell her off, I still liked her and certainly didn’t want to hurt her, but damnit this is ridiculous. I began moving around the bar trying to lose her. It turned into a game of thirsty tag- I would leave and go talk to people, chat up a girl or two, and then bam, like that creepy Ring chick she is right behind me again out of nowhere. Finally, I gave up and we spent the rest of bar time together.
Bar close arrived, and Irish’s girlfriend and her friend invite us over for afties. At this point the siren was away, and Irish, who was fully aware of the situation and has been shaking his head all night in disbelief, and I plow our way through the crowd in a bid to lose her. No dice. I hear her yelling at us from on top the stairs.
“Hang on I’ve gotta grab my jacket!”
We turn and shake our heads laughing and start walking anyway. She speedwalks up and tags along with us to Irish’s girlfriend’s place, where her friend is waiting. Luckily for me, his girlfriend is possibly the best wingwoman ever. She takes the siren to the living room while her friend and I make out in the kitchen. After awhile, I start getting handsy before she shuts me down, saying there is no way we’re doing that while the other chick is here. Damnit.
We all chill in the living room like a bunch of peas in a pod until Irish and I decide to head back, and once again she tags along. I’m pretty salty at this point, haven’t said a word to her in over an hour, and I stay five steps ahead, keeping my silence. When we come to her turn, she keeps walking with us. Of course. Fine, I decide, she can stay the night.
But will I? As we head up to my room, I get a text from the blondie from Irish’s class.
“Hey what are you up to?”
The gears start turning upstairs. The siren plops down onto my bed, waiting for me to join her. I tell her to hang on, and head to the bathroom.
I stand there peeing and text blondie back. She responds. I flush the toilet, and head downstairs and out the door to her place.
Five minutes later and almost to blondie’s place, the siren texts me, asking where I’m at. I put the phone back in my pocket and knock on the door. A smiling blondie opens. I guide her to her room, and before I know it I’m fishing a condom out of my wallet.
I wake up covered in a mat of blond hair, and reach down to check my phone-
“You are such a fucking asshole”