This is a true story.
I was nineteen and it was my brother’s eighteenth birthday. He’d already left the desert and was living on his own with a roommate in a house in town and they were having a party.
Now I’ll tell you my brother is a likeable guy. He’s way likeable although I’ve never been able to figure out why. See, I love my brother all right, but I’ve never really wanted to be in a room with him for long because we’re bad mix. I would always feel like I was choked for air. He depressed me without fail which is quite hard to do.
Now the reason why, is not really tangible. He never did anything wrong to me and there’s nothing wrong with him. I mean, you just can’t argue the numbers. He always had hordes of people around him. He had hordes of friends who would go to bat for him in any and all situations. Every boyfriend I ever had liked him, and he’s a looker too.
So the women I knew who met him always wanted dates. See what I’m saying here? Nothing wrong with the guy, but I always felt low energy around him and guessed felt something similar. Um… Like we disturb one another’s force.
Now back to the story, he’s having a birthday party and I’m supposed to go. I was really torn, because I wanted to show support for him. You know. He’d recently left home and he was establishing himself as an adult and I wanted to be supportive but I didn’t really want to go to his party and mix with “little brother friends”. What to do? Well, I planned to just go and tough it out, but when the day came, I had another idea.
I decided to go to the party, but late. A good forty minutes late. I didn’t plan to go in. Instead I was going to quietly decorate his truck outside the house. You know. With balloons and streamers, and happy birthday signs. Like a wedding, except for a birthday motif. And I would put a card on his truck so he’d know that I was there. Not bad, eh? I’d be supporting him, but sparing us both, so this was my plan.
Still, I was nervous about it. Is it really an okay thing to do, or do I suck for ducking out? And will the partygoers be inside? Will I even have the opportunity to sneak and do this? What if people are standing in the front yard drinking beer? Hmm.
Well, if it didn’t work, I planned to just go to the party and this is what was on my mind, when I stopped at a bar on the way, for a nervous and jerky orange juice and soda.
See, I was really pretty crazed about this. Ughhhh to family in general, so I was pretty much preoccupied. I was beside myself until I could get this duty discharged, so I has all these balloons and stuff; tape and string, under the seat of my motorcycle, and I had left home too early.
I was ahead of schedule, waiting for it to get a little darker outside, so I stopped in the bar to let twenty minutes pass. Basically I was waiting to sense a window open up where I felt I could get over there, decorate the truck, and get the hell out and be able to breathe normally again.
So I walk in the bar, and it’s packed. This was a major singles place, but I didn’t have anything like that on my mind because look at what I do have on my mind. The trauma of my brother’s birthday, that’s all, and it was huge. My heart was in my throat about it so I chose this bar because it was familiar.
I knew the bartender. I greeted him, got my drink and went to post up at a bar type setup, built around a pole. Can you picture this? It’s a set-up conducive to people cruising each other. People sit on stools around a bar, built in a square shape, so they’re facing each other, with the pole in the middle. Maybe three people can sit at each stretch of bar but the place was full so people were two deep around this pole. About fourteen people were gathered, facing each other, facing the pole.
Well, there’s nowhere to sit, but a blond guy pops up to let me sit down, so I take the chair. He stands next to me and I feel him focus on me. “Ugh,” I think. “No, I don’t like you, and I have a lot on my mind.” I have this brother problem, right? Guilt and so forth. I’m in the mood to brood, that’s all, and I don’t need anything else.
I actually think about moving but I don’t. The place is packed for one thing. And I do want to sit down. Plus I’m very comfortable in a bar and I’m sure I can rid of this guy. All this, and I know I’m leaving in fifteen minutes anyway. I should be okay.
To be continued.
Well, he starts to chat me up. The Blond, I mean. I’m not really a mean or a rude person unless pushed so I just maneuver. I thwart him by starting to chat up *everyone. Know what I mean? He says “How are you doing tonight?” and I answer “Fine.” Then rather than address him directly, I ask everyone at the square how they are doing tonight. What I do, is hold court. I become the cruise director of this section of bar.
I’d tended bar for close to five years by then. I’d grown up in a bar and besides that, I’m a natural in the environment. I’m adept and basically, I just take control. I grab the floor and start to tell jokes about my brother. I tap dance so this guy can’t get a foot in. I’m planning to do a little “Elsa show”, down my OJ, then hit the road before Blondie can make his move.
I start in about my brother since this is what’s on my mind anyway. I talk in monologue style, explaining how my baby brother had women chasing him down the street. How everyone wanted to screw him and how I just couldn’t figure it out why this was.
“What do they see in him?” I wonder out loud.
I explain that it’s my brother’s birthday, but I’m having trouble with the idea that he’s growing up. I tell them that he’d grown hair under his arms, for example. And how this just floored me, right there.
“When the hell did that happen?” I ask in Rodney Dangerfield style.
Everyone laughs. They can’t believe my audacity I guess. They can’t believe what’s coming out of my mouth but I do this for a living five days a week so it’s nothing to me.
“I don’t remember giving clearance for that shit!” I say.
“Well, it sounds like you brother is a man,” someone at the square shouts out.
“A man? What the hell are you talking about? That’s not possible.” I snort.
“How old is he?”
”How old are you?”
”Nineteen!” I snort again.
I keep it up like that. There’s a lot of banter and a lot of laughing. So far so good. I explain how I have all these balloons stashed on my motorcycle and how I don’t want to go in the party. I outline my plan. Ten minutes pass. Five to go and I’m clear, The Blond.
“Why don’t you just go to the party?” he asks.
”I am going to the party! I’m just not going inside.”
”Why don’t you go inside?”
”No, no, no, no. I don’t want to go in.”
”Uh… Because I’m shy!”
On that, everyone roars, even though it’s true.
The Blond offers to go with me. To help me with the balloons. See, he’s on me isn’t he? Like a fucking pit bull, he is. I can feel him.
Well hell. I need that like a hole in my head. I need him helping with balloons, NOT. I’m so stressed, you know. I don’t need company, so I thank him politely but refuse. He comes back with, “Then how about we go to dinner sometime?”
“No. No thank you. It’s very nice of you to ask, though. I’m flattered,” says my wee bit of Libra. “I really am But no. I don’t want to do that. I just want to get that damn truck done…”
I really don’t want to hurt this guy’s feelings. I trail off like that so save his face but he doesn’t take the out.
“Um… It doesn’t have to be tonight. You won’t be decorating your brother’s truck tomorrow, will you?”
He picks up my left hand.
“Fucker,” I think. I don’t want him to touch me. I make interest in a man abundantly clear when it exists. I don’t like being handled when it doesn’t.
He looks down at my ring finger. “Well you aren’t married. Come on. Just dinner. No strings. I just want to spend some time with you.”
The whole square waits for my response.
“Well, I’m sorry. I’m not interested.”
The crowd boos. Fuckers. Who do they think has been entertaining them the last few minutes? See how my life is? I can never win.
“How do you know? You don’t even know me.”
“So? I’m sorry. I just don’t want to go and that’s all there is to it.”
He looks hurt and I feel sorry about it but I still don’t want to go out with him. As soon as I think that, I glance over at him to make sure. You know. In case I missed something, seeing as I was rejecting him in public.
I stare and size him up. He’s 5’11, blond hair, well dressed, and nope. I don’t want to go.
I keep quiet and hope the crowd turns at least neutral for me. I don’t know how I’ve pissed them off, but I have.
There’s a huge guy in a Hawaiian shirt across the square. I like him, because he’s funny. He’d gotten off some good lines. He decides to jump in the fray.
”I don’t believe this,” he says. “Why won’t you go out with this guy?”
”What do you mean? Because I don’t want to go out with him. Why don’t you go out with him?”
He laughs. “I did! I do! We’re here together.”
Hmm. I didn’t know that. They weren’t sitting together.
“Well good. Then he’s got you to go out with, because I don’t want to go out with him, okay?”
“Why not?” asks the big guy.
“Why not?” asks the blond guy.
“Why not?” asks all the people at the square.
“Oh brother. Because I don’t want to.” I answer.
Hawaiian shirt says, “Well, I can’t believe this. This man offers to take you to dinner. He asks you politely and you turn him down. Do you know who you just turned down a date with?”
I cock my thumb to my left. “Him.”
I start to get a little hot. Not mad, but “hot” as in flushed and embarrassed. The situation has turned. I no longer have control and I’m not having a good night to begin with.
“Well do you know who he is?” he asks.
”A guy who wants to go out with me?” I don’t say it snottily. I say it hoping someone will step in to defend me. The square laughs.
“Right. A guy who wants to go out with you. A nice guy. Look around. Look at all the men here.”
I look around. There are a dozen men around the pole. I’m the only woman. “Yeah?” I say.
“Who stood up and offered you their chair?”
I point to the blond. “He did.”
”Right. So what does that tell you?”
”That he has decent manners. So what!” I can really feel the heat in my cheeks.
“Well that man who offered you his chair and then asked you to go out with him, also happens to be the most eligible bachelor in this city.”
I swing my head to look at him. “Really?” This starts to piss me off. What the fuck am I? Chopped liver?
“Then I guess he can get a date besides me.”
The big guy winces, but he smiles.
The blond looks kind of flabbergasted.
The people at the square are riveted.
“Lemme get this straight,” says the big guy. “The most eligible bachelor in the city asks you to dinner, no strings attached, and he also happens to be rich. Very rich. And you just dismiss him with a wave of your hand?”
”Uh… Yeah. I guess so. I just did that.”
“And you don’t want to change your mind, knowing what you do? Now that you know he’s rich?”
”No. No, I don’t want to change my mind.”
”Are you telling me that you really don’t want to go out with him?”
”Yes. I’m telling you that. Repeatedly, I think.”
”Even knowing what I just told you? It’s true by the way. He’s a very wealthy man. It’s a fact. Do you believe me? Do you believe the man standing next to you that wants to take you to dinner is a very rich man?”
I look over at The Blond. “Yeah, I believe it.”
“Why? Because he looks like a classy man?”
”Yes. Yes he does.”
”But you still don’t want to go out with him?”
”Right. I don’t. No.”
”Well aren’t you a kick in the ass.”
He laughs out loud and it helps. We all laugh. But it’s time to do the truck now. I want to leave.
“What’s the matter with you, that you don’t want to go out with a rich man who also just happens to be a perfect gentleman?”
”I don’t know. What’s wrong with him, that he wants to go out with someone who doesn’t want to go out with him?”
People laugh. Some of them are nervous.
“Well listen, Elsa.”
Yeah, I told them my name.
“I think this is a travesty.”
“My friend over there is a classy man. As classy as you could meet. He’s a nice man. He’s a good man, who also happens to be a millionaire many times over and he wants a date with you. I’ll tell you what. You don’t think that you like him so much, right?”
”But you like me?”
Actually, I did. Like I said, Hawaiian had made me laugh. And even if I was flushed at the moment this was still kind of interesting. I mean the guy was not a bore. That, and I trusted him. Sort of. He just seemed to have something on the ball and I was badly in need of an alliance.
“Yes. I do like you,” I answer.
“Well, guess what? I’m married, so you’re out of luck.”
Everyone roars. Me too. He’s funny, but I think he’s a fucker. I didn’t say I was interested in him. I’m not interested in him, but I let it go. And he does have my attention, I’ll admit. This is unusual now and I like that. Stories, man. I can always use a good story.
“But my friend isn’t married. He’s a single man. A rich, single, available man who’s interested in you.”
“Okay. Okay. I know it. So what?” I feel my face burn. I’m really heated up, “What do you want me to do about that? He can gets lots of dates.” I turn to The Blond. “Can’t you?”
Before he can answer, I have an idea. “Hey, I know. How about I stand up on this stool and tell everyone in this place that there’s a rich guy over here that wants a date? What do you think? I bet somebody will be interested and then you can all leave me alone about it.”
The Blond looks around. “But I want to have dinner with you.”
“Oh man. Well, I’m sorry. I’m sorry, but I’m sure you can get another date.”
A few people in the square tell me to cut the guy a break. “Go out with the guy. Give the guy a chance.”
Fuckers. See how this is? Man, I feel hot.
Hawaiian jumps back in. “Do you know who I am?”
”No, I don’t.”
”Well I own, blah, blah, blah and blah.”
One of the blahs is one of the premier restaurants in the city. I’ve never been there.
”So here’s my offer. I’d like you to have dinner with my friend, as my guest. I’ll pick up the tab, so you’ll owe him nothing. No obligation. You don’t have to do anything and he doesn’t have to do anything. You can take you own car. There’ll be no obligation at all. I just want you to give my friend a chance.”
”I drive a motorcycle.”
“You don’t have a car?
People laugh and I don’t understand.
“Okay, whatever. We can send a car if you want. Never mind the details. Don’t sweat the small stuff. All you have to do is show up at my restaurant and share a first rate dinner with my friend. No strings. No strings at all.”
“If you don’t like him, you can leave the restaurant, go home, and he’ll never bother you again. You have my guarantee on that. Unless you want him too, I mean. So what do you say? You don’t even have to give him your phone number if you don’t want.”
I still don’t want to go but I don’t think it would be sporting to turn down this offer. I’m a good sport for the most part. The whole square stares at me.
“Okay, I’ll do it! Uh… But I have to go decorate the truck now.”
”She has to decorate a truck.” He shakes his head. “Okay, Elsa, but we have a deal, right? Friday night. Eight O’clock. I’ll hold the best table for you. And my best staff will serve you. Do you want us to send a car to pick you up?”
“No, I’ll drive.”
“You’ll get a car? Borrow one or something?”
“No. I’ll come on my bike.”
He laughs. “You’re coming to dinner on a motorcycle?”
“What kind of motorcycle do you have?”
”A red Kawasaki.”
The whole square laughs and I blush. I don’t think they believe me. Fuckers! Man, I feel hot.
“Well okay then. We’re on. See you Friday. Can’t wait.” He extends his hand across the square and we shake to seal the deal. He prompts and I shake the hand of The Blond as well.
“I have to go.” I say. I want to leave the bar, but I also feel a window open up around my brother’s truck. I think I can slip in and out, but I’ve got to get.
“But you’ll be at dinner, Friday?” Hawaiian asks.
“Yeah. Yeah, I will. Thanks. I gotta go. Bye.”
I leave the bar thinking “Jeez Louise. What the fuck was that? What have I gotten myself into?”
Outside, I unlock my helmet and climb on my bike. Looks like I had myself a date. I’m not so sure it’s good news but the main thing is this birthday truck.
I take off to go decorate hoping it goes better than this did.
To be continued.
I’d never been to my brother’s house but I spotted the party a block away by the cars parked on the street. I killed the lights on my bike and pulled between a couple of trucks, or a car and a truck or something. I didn’t see any people. So far so good.
I flipped up the seat of the bike to retrieve the tools of my trade and went creeping down the street, in the street so I couldn’t be seen from the house. Sure enough, I spotted his truck.
I sat on the pavement in the street behind the front tire of the truck and started blowing up balloons. I worked as fast as I could. It was harder than I expected though. The balloons wanted to roll down the street but I managed to hold them tucked under my arms, with my legs crossed Indian style. Five balloons later, a couple comes upon me.
“Uh… What are you doing?”
“Oh! I’m “XXXX” sister. I’m going to decorate his truck. It’s a surprise. Um… I have some streamers and stuff.”
The girl squealed. Yeah. She actually squealed. Maybe these two aren’t a couple after all because it seemed she was squealing about my brother. I sensed she was interested in him. See what I mean? He had a bunch of girls like this. He was like a rock star or something.
The girl gushed about how much she liked my brother and man, had I heard this before. “I know, I know. He’s great. He’s the greatest,” I thought.
She was cloying and she was annoying but the two of them blew up a couple balloons for me which I stored between my stomach and my shirt. They promised not to say anything when they got inside. I asked them to keep my brother back from the front window. I’d have to stand to tape the stuff on the truck and I was worried about being caught in the act.
They agreed and I thanked them, explaining I should be done within twenty minutes or so. They asked if I was coming to the party. I told them I wasn’t.
”Oh. Well I guess I’m just shy.”
I felt ridiculous saying this but they both nodded so I guess it sounded reasonable. “I’d rather just do this because I’m just so shy. Tell him I said to have a great birthday though, okay? After I’m gone, I mean.”
They promised. And they agreed to bring him out in twenty minutes to see the truck. See how well this is going? Fifteen more minutes and I’ll be done. It was almost guaranteed my brother wouldn’t discover me, so what more do I want? I told you this was a great idea.
I finished the truck and it looked properly disastrous. Total overkill spectacle but it worked. Satisfied, I packed up my stuff, my tape, my string and my trash, and took off into the night on my bike, free until next year.
Now about this date.
Well, I gave The Blond my phone number and he used it. He wanted to know if I was going to show up. Well of course I was going to show up. I’d agreed!
He said he wanted to see if my number worked but I’m not a putz. I’m real and would never give anyone a fake anything. I don’t understand his lack of faith and I don’t like it either. I wish he wouldn’t have called because I was trying to get a little mystique going, you know? I was trying to dream him up.
“Okay. I’ll see you Friday,” he says.
“I’ll be there!”
“Would you like me to pick you up?”
“Uh, no. No thank you. Thanks for asking though.”
See how polite I am? That Libra is something else.
To be continued.