Gilmore Girls was paused on my parents’ television screen as I excitedly recounted my Saturday night to Cynthia. She’d already read the text-by-text synopsis, but now she was hearing the fully detailed narrative, complete with retrospective analysis and demonstrations of the risque hand placement.
I was absolutely beaming. We called it my Troy High Horse because my confidence was high. This guy named Troy had hit on me at a bonfire two nights prior. But Troy wasn’t just any guy. Troy was a guy I’d harboured a major teenage crush on since high school. It was amplified when I went to a massive party at his cottage between my freshman and sophomore years in university. I must have watched him make out with at least 3 different girls that weekend. But I was virtually nonexistent back then. Quiet, shy, drunk, crying in the bathroom. I was certain he had no idea who I even was.
But on Saturday, 7 years after the fact, Troy revealed that he remembered me being there! He did! In fact, he remembered me being in lots of places that I assumed I just faded into the background. It was such a cool feeling. And not only that, it became pretty clear that night that he thought I was cute too! Lots of flirting and heavy petting that night. A massive ego boost. My Troy High Horse.
Before playing the next episode, I checked my phone. I had a text from my friend, Drew Nodar, who had thrown the epic bonfire. He was inviting me to our local bar, Fudge and Elkin, for their Monday karaoke night. It was a Bridgewood ritual. Cynthia and I had been regulars there for years, until we got full time jobs. I was skeptical about going there at first, until Drew mentioned that Troy was going too. Then my heart started to race.
I asked Cynthia if she wanted to come. I don’t think she actually wanted to considering the short notice and the fact that she was fighting with her new boyfriend. But she took one look at my face, elated with excitement, and she agreed. She rushed home to shower and within an hour we were at the bar. That’s what best friends do.
At the Elkin, we joined Drew and Troy at a central table. Between the four of us, I would confidently estimate that we knew about 90 percent of the people in the bar that night. Given Troy’s minor celebrity status, Drew’s endless roster of friends, and the fact that we’d attended three different high schools, there were virtually no strangers here. The Elkin was the kind of place you’d go to run into Bridgewood people you’d completely forgotten existed. They were all there singing karaoke on a Monday night, for some reason.
I was nervous. Extremely, overwhelmingly nervous. I was sitting there with Troy and Drew, and the truth was I didn’t really know either of them that well. Up until a few weeks ago, it’d been years since I’d seen either of them. And I’m a naturally extremely shy and anxious person. I didn’t know how to act that night. I didn’t know what to say.
We ordered a round of drinks, and the boys ordered a huge order of greasy Irish fries. They offered some to us to eat, but Cynthia and I refused. We were on week two of our newest diets. We couldn’t afford the carbs, especially since we’d skipped the gym this week.
Not long after we arrived, a friend of Troy’s approached our table. She was an Elkin regular. Annie threw her arms around Troy affectionately, giving a slight wave to Drew and giving her back to Cynthia and I completely. She hated us. We knew. She created a solid wall between me and Troy.
“You know what?” Annie spoke, already clearly intoxicated, “my boobs have gotten bigger.”
Cynthia and I exchanged incredulous looks as Troy let out an uncomfortable chuckle. Her and Troy were obviously really close. She was in his Facebook profile picture close. But this girl was clearly insane. She continued, “it’s not like I’m getting fat or anything. They’re just bigger! Look!”
“That’s great, Ann,” Troy commented, not looking at the cleavage coming out of her white tank top. They weren’t that big.
“Okay, let’s have Annie. Annie, you’re up to sing,” Ernie, the karaoke guy called out. Thank God. Annie skipped away to the stage, and Troy scooted in closer to me. None of us listened to her song.
“You know, I actually am getting fat,” he laughed softly. He pointed to the bulge over his jean waistline. I sucked in my own fat and smiled politely. This was weird. Awkward. Beside me, Cynthia was texting her boyfriend angrily, and across from her Drew was talking to some other people. That’s when it hit me that Drew probably had some very important information I was after. I’d have to find a way to get it from him.
As I was working that out in my head, I felt Troy slip his hand onto my thigh. It was a continuation of last Saturday night. But this time it was weird. There’d been no flirting. No build up. I wasn’t even drunk. Troy flashed me a goofy smile, and all I could do was look away.
“Let’s do a shot,” Troy suggested, sensing something was amiss.
“I can’t,” I shook my head, finishing off the last of my cider. “I have to work in the morning.”
Troy looked at me suspiciously for a moment, then he got up and wandered over to the bar. There, Annie intercepted him, and they started to do shots. Some of our own Elkin friends had arrived by then, and they took Troy and Drew’s seats at our table. We caught up for a bit, before Troy returned.
“Come sing a song with me,” Troy suggested, grabbing my arm. Something was different about him now. His voice was different. His eyes were different. He was drunk. I refused to sing a song with him. I would have to be super plastered to work up the nerve to do that.
Troy looked upset for a second, then declared, “you now, you’re actually really boring tonight!”
Then he went up and sang a song with Annie and her friend.
Thump. That’s when I fell hard from my Troy High Horse and watched it gallop away. At least I’d been on it for almost two days. That had been fun.
Troy was absolutely right though. I was boring. Especially on a Monday night. But I was a professional. I was a teacher! Calling in hung over just wasn’t acceptable behaviour on a Tuesday morning. Whatever. I figured I could never have the levels of fun Troy was rumoured to have, anyway. I could never be an Annie.
Eventually Cynthia and I had to leave. It was almost 10 o’clock. Troy wasn’t around, and I didn’t care. Honest. Not really. We walked through the patio littered with smokers and waved goodbye to all of our Elkin friends. As I was giving one guy a goodbye hug, I noticed Troy stumbling my way.
“You guys didn’t say goodbye,” he murmured. He slurred his words as he told Cynthia she was always in his way. We giggled. He pulled me aside and asked, “listen, could I get your number?”
I frowned. “I thought I was too boring for you?”
“Yeah! You are! You were so boring tonight!” Troy exclaimed. “But I still want your number.”
And I was still overwhelmingly attracted to him. Just not on this particular night. So I gave him my number.
But he never used it.