I sat down at the kitchen table with my little white pouch ready to give myself a manicure. Just as I had finished filing my nails, my iPhone lit up, revealing an incoming text from my best friend Cynthia Bermudez. She wanted to know what I was up to that Saturday evening. To be honest, my docket was pretty full. I still had to paint my nails, take a shower, eat milk and cookies, and then watch hours of Degrassi in bed on my laptop, until I inevitably passed out for the evening. I summed that up in my response text with, “nothing. What’s up?”
“I think Miguel and I just broke up!!” She told me. Oh no. “Do you want to come to The Patterson’s with me? I’ll drive!”
The Pattersons was a really cool bar downtown Leafton. The entire building was themed like a family home, complete with photos on the wall and dishes in the glass cupboards. There was an entrance, staircase, kitchen, sitting room, and games room. The gimmick was that the Patterson parents were out of town for the weekend and their teenage son was throwing a classic house party. There were chips on the bar counters, and they even had pizza delivered at midnight. Free pizza! That alone was enough to get me downtown on a chilly May night.
“Sure!” I replied without hesitation. Even without the free pizza, I would go anywhere with Cynthia. She needed my help, and I needed to help her. It was that simple. I knew for a fact that she’d do the same for me at the drop of a hat. We’d both had our fill of boy drama, and we always got through it together.
I looked at the glittery baby pink nail polish I had previously chosen to paint my nails with for the week skeptically. I opted for a deep red instead, Lorelai Gilmore’s sage advice echoing in my head, “bad girls always wear red nail polish.”
I ran to my room to get dressed, flailing my hands around dramatically to dry my nails. I considered wearing my fuzzy blue pajama pants, but couldn’t think of any way to justify it. So I threw on my go-to date outfit; black booties, fire truck red jeans and a low cut black t-shirt. I twisted a few curls into my hair and applied minimal face makeup, but lots of red lipstick. I didn’t really care what I looked like tonight, this was about moral support for Cynthia.
Within an hour of her initial text, we were in Cynthia’s car on our way to downtown Leafton. We parked down the street from the discreet building and joined the massive line up. It was so cold and rainy. Within a few minutes of us joining the line, a guy wearing a tan sports jacket, dark blue jeans and pointy brown dress shoes appeared behind us. He had slicked back, thick black hair and way too much cologne. He greeted us, “so where are you beautiful ladies from? Wait, let me guess.”
Typical Leafton pick up line. He examined my face for a second, as if it wasn’t racist, then guessed, “South America.”
“Well, yeah..” I replied.
“I knew it!” He smiled triumphantly. Then he turned to Cynthia. “I think you are Greek.. and.. something Asian.”
“I’m from Argentina,” Cynthia replied politely.
“I used to date a girl from Argentina.” He told us. No he didn’t. “I’m from Lebanon.”
“Cool.” We nodded, craning our necks to see if the line-up to get into the bar would move soon.
“I think the bouncer’s Lebanese too. I can get us in.” We rolled our eyes as he disappeared to the front of the line. No way was this going to work, we thought. To our surprise, just a few seconds later he was waving us over and we were bypassing the line! I didn’t know you could do that. I certainly couldn’t do that on my own.
Inside, as bad as we felt, we tried to ditch our Lebanese friend. We didn’t want to give him the wrong idea. Neither of us were interested in him. We headed straight for the bar Doritos, and then we got drinks. Luckily, the Lebanese guy didn’t drink, so he wandered away after a little while of waiting for us. We could have eaten Doritos for days, if we had had to.
We decided to wait for the dome hockey table to open up. As soon as it did, we began playing, and we effortlessly acquired a partner each, from a group of guys that had surrounded the table. Cynthia’s partner was a dark haired guy wearing a black vest and dress pants. My partner was quite tall with strawberry blond hair a ridiculously long scraggly beard. I dug that he was just wearing a white t-shirt and blue jeans.
“Hi, I’m Brad,” he said quickly, before we engaged in the most cut-throat game of bubble hockey anyone has ever seen. We scored the first goal and double high-fived excitedly, accidentally knocking his beer off of the ledge of the table. Whoops.
Unfortunately, Brad and I proved to be no match for Cynthia and her partner. We lost our game and were replaced by two other guys from their group. Brad suggested that we go to the bar to replace the beer we had spilled. As we waited for our next round, he asked, “so, are you girls from around here?”
“Yeah, we’re from Bridgewood.” I said. I could tell from the look on his face, he’d never heard of it. I reasoned that he must be an out-of-towner. “How about you?”
“We’re all from Braunington,” he explained motioning to the guys Cynthia was still playing bubble hockey with across the room. Braunington was a city about an hour outside of Leafton. “We’re here for our buddy’s birthday, he moved to Leafton, just around the corner, for a job like two months ago.”
We returned to the game to watch Cynthia and her partner lose. Braunington Brad suggested we go play something else, so the three of us started a game of Connect 4 in the kitchen. Winner had the buy the loser a drink. Naturally, Cynthia and I cheated and won, but Brad didn’t appreciate that. He gave us the win, but didn’t buy us the drink. He waved goodbye and disappeared into the crowd. I didn’t want him to go.
Cynthia and I played a few more games, had some more chips, took some adorable selfies, and then started to dance a bit before the Lebanese guy found us again. Great. We danced with him courteously, but it got weird, quick. I was looking around for Brad the whole time. The Lebanese guy told us, trying to hold Cynthia’s hand, “Mi amores, I have a pullout couch in my apartment, if you guys need somewhere to stay tonight.”
Oh wow. I panicked. “Cynthia, I really need to go to the bathroom!”
The night winded down and the Pattersons started to empty out. I was excited to run into Braunington Brad and his friends again by the fireplace in the sitting room. He smiled when he saw us walk in. “I see you girls are still up to no good.”
We danced together as a group for a bit, before Brad steered me out of the sitting room and into the kitchen with his hands on my shoulders. As we were walking, a girl walked by and elbowed my glass of wine right into my chest. I started drying my cleavage off with my t-shirt and Brad joked, “I wish I could help, but I might do more harm than good.”
That was hot. He was attracted, but not intrusive. Complimentary, but not grabby. I was even more smitten with Braunington Brad when he told me, “I don’t really know how to dance.”
“Me neither,” I admitted. I hated dancing. Cynthia and I had tried to take belly dancing classes earlier that year, and I had just been a complete disaster. I had no coordination whatsoever.
“What kind of music do you listen to?” He asked.
“A little bit of everything. I really love 90s rock.”
“Oasis?” He guessed. My eyes lit up. He knew me. In high school, I always joked that I would only marry a guy if he could propose to me using solely Oasis lyrics. To my delight, Brad started singing Don’t Look Back in Anger to me right there, over the rap music the DJ was playing. I couldn’t resist joining in. It was great. He was perfect. I was wooed. But I snapped back to reality.
“I should go back to Cynthia.” I said as we wrapped up the chorus. I didn’t like that we weren’t in the same room as her. I lead us back, and he followed me, his hands on my hips this time, guiding me through the crowd. It was so sexy. He was close enough for me to feel his presence, but not so close that I was grossed out.
“You guys want to go to McDonalds?” Brad asked when we rejoined the group. “We gotta try the McGangBang!”
“Excuse me?” I asked, cocking my head.
“I didn’t name it, I swear.” He explained. “I saw it online. You buy a McDouble and a Junior Chicken, and you put the Junior Chicken inside of the McDouble. The McGangBang.”
“It sounds like a McHeartAttack!” I joked.
We all left the bar together and told the guys we’d meet them at McDonalds. They were walking and we were taking Cynthia’s car. When we got inside the car, Brad knocked on the window and asked if he could get a ride with us. We let him in. At McDonald’s, we talked and ate and got to know each other. They were pretty cool guys. They were all about 31 years old and worked in software. They ate the McGangBangs, and we shared some fries. Brad convinced all of his friends that Cynthia was really a neurosurgeon,and we played along. When we finished eating, Brad invited us back to his friend’s apartment. We agreed politely, but then excused ourselves to use the bathroom. Inside the bathroom Cynthia asked uncertainly, “Umm, is it okay if we don’t go back to their apartment?”
She’d taken the words right out of my mouth. I agreed. “Yes! There’s like 6 guys and just 2 of us. No way. That’s how people get taken.”
“Yeah, maybe they’re expecting a McGangBang,” Cynthia giggled.
We offered to give them a ride home, but explained that we couldn’t join them. After all, it was past 3am at this point. Brad was cool with that, not overly pushy or weird about it at all. On the car ride home, he suggested, “if you’re just dropping us off, why don’t you give me your phone number, and the next time you’re in Braunington, you can give me a call?”
My heart soared. It was like a movie. I met a cute guy at the bar, flirted a bit, and he asked for my number! My confidence skyrocketed. This had never happened to me before. Not with a guy that I was actually into. I didn’t go out much, especially not to bars as a single girl. It was everything I had left my old suburban life to experience. I gave him my number, my real number, and then we dropped them off. While we drove home, he texted me, “Hey, its Brad Addison… give me a call next time you’re in Braunington.”
I tried to play it cool, and waited until the next evening to reply. I agonized over the right words to use to sound interested, but not overly interested. I finally went with, “Will do! Will you give me a tour of the town?”
And I never heard from him again.