Shh, shh! Okay. Stop it. You’re fine. You’re fine! Just… breathe.
I couldn’t see very well, but I felt fat. The air was bouncing around above me, people shifting beneath me. Sometimes I truly worried about my safety in that old apartment building.
You’re not that drunk. You’re not! You only really had, well, let’s see, half of that vodka tonic, two shots of tequilla, a glass of red- okay, so you shouldn’t have mixed your alcohols, but you were just rolling with the night. You’re fine. Just… breathe.
Michel sat in the corner that whole night pretending I wasn’t there. He just kept rubbing his forehead as though it were a magic lamp, like a genie would swirl out of his ears and grant him the wish of my disappearance. Meanwhile, in my half passed out state, Michelle stroked my back and my hair.
Michel rubbed his forehead harder, harder.
Stop being so dramatic. You’re fine. You’re fine! So, you got a little bit drunk. Who here isn’t? Right? Right. Just… breathe.
I didn’t even notice Michelle’s hand cupping my breast until she drove her fingers around my nipple and then I was suddenly at full alert, my eyes darting around the room, amazed to find no one watching, not even Michel who had somehow managed to get himself up off his chair.
It wasn’t how I’d pictured it, my coming out party... being tit-twirled by my ex-boyfriend’s little sister on my 21st birthday.
THE FALL OF THE FAMILY TREE ROUTINE
“Do you know what it felt like? That night at dinner with my family?” I asked Michelle, my usual defense question to her when things got too real for me.
“I know, I know. They said you ruined their lineage. They disowned you.” She replied, apparently not able to feel empathy for me any more.
“For you. They disowned me for you. I chose you over my family!”
“I never asked you to.”
“Oh don’t-” I stumbled, “Don’t. It’s never verbal, but it’s always asked. That’s what love is- a question. Will you give up everything for me?”
“You’re so naïve, if you think that.”
“Then, fuck you, I’m naïve, but at least I’m honest about what I’m feeling and not some giant enigma cunt who-”
Then she grabbed me and shut my mouth by sticking her tongue down my throat and then down my chest and then she continued the trend down and down… and down.
And that was the end of that argument.
THE WEIGHT OF THE UNNECESSARY MAN
“Michelle and I broke up.” I said, as if it would make the awkward silence ballooning between us less strange; instead it worsened it. A few more seconds of contemplating and I would have realized that, but that’s hindsight for you.
“Oh,” Michel glanced down at his watch, no doubt wondering how much longer it would take the eavesdropping barista to make his stupid latte. “Well, I’m sorry to hear that. I- I haven’t spoken to her in…. since Thanksgiving, I think it was.”
It was Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving 2005. I was there.
“Vanilla Latte for… Michel!” Yelled the lip-ring wearing barista babe as I caught her glance.
“Well, it was nice seeing you again. Take care.” Michel said.
He seemed different. I hoped I hadn’t damaged him too much, though even assuming I could seemed egotistical, but as I watched him dump equal packet after equal packet into his already sweet latte, I couldn’t help but feel responsible for turning his world around in a way he never saw coming. I, more than anyone, know how that fucks a person up.
“Quadruple espresso for… the only sexy girl in here.” The bar girl laughed and then, winked at me.
Michel looked up from his packets and I felt his eyes on me. I felt his bitterness and emptiness and hurt and judgments go almost through me and I wished there were something I could do to shake that unbearable load off of him and make him feel alright about it all. But I couldn't.
I watched him walk out the door and past the street lamp to his parked car.
“You shouldn’t be drinking this much caffeine so late, you know?" The bar girl stood smiling at me, “You’ll be up all night.”
“Yeah, your right.” I laughed, “ I guess I’ll have to find some way to burn off all this extra energy.”