Don't go overboard.


Part of a series on dating.


<< Don't go away mad ||



I was home for a short rest between deployments, and had just spent a very unproductive afternoon trying to convince the shirt to push some paperwork through two weeks early for me, so that I could put my stuff in storage and collect the housing allowance during my upcoming deployment as pure cash.

It was about six, still three hours too early for the locals to show up on a Friday night, and five hours too early for the hipster crowd to descend on the ironically shitty dive bar that I had plunked down in. A shitty bar just off base, not too far from the barracks I was trying to move out of. Walking distance, in fact, since nobody I knew enough to bum a ride from was in the area. They were all either gone to the war, or gone visiting family, having just got home like me.

I was two or three gin and tonics into my planned sublimation when the bartender, a very rough-looking, 60-something woman poked me with a fresh drink and said, "You queer or somethin', son?"

I was struggling for something to say other than the slowly escaping hiss of breath coming from my open mouth when she saved me the trouble by continuing, "'cause that girl's been looking at you for at least forty five minutes, pretendin' to play with her phone."

I swiveled my stool and realized that I was not, in fact, alone at the bar. A girl, who I would later learn was named Julia, was about six stools down, in the shadows under the broken TV. She immediately smiled at me, picked up her drink, and moved to sit next to me.

"Hi," she said. And I almost missed the part where she told me her name, because I was too busy thinking about how very few clothes she was wearing, and how very tight what little there was was stretched.

We talked about her, mostly, because I was more interested in her life anyway. I didn't have much to say about work, was not on good terms with my family, and lived in a concrete matchbox. So, really, the less I said about my own situation, the better.

She was a part time student, full time dispatcher with a private ambulance company. Going to school for nursing, had a guaranteed job with another tentacle of the company as a staff nurse at an invalid home. Volunteered at the VA on weekends, and had recently moved to the podunk surrounding the base after moving away from the city to get away from a bad neighborhood and a creepy ex who kept following her around.

"But don't worry, he's not dangerous or anything, more pathetic than anything. If he doesn't mind his own business soon, I'll just get the cops involved. My uncle is a Sherrif's deputy."

I was a little skeezed, but the full Spidey-sense wasn't tingling. Yet. So, we had a few more drinks, I stumbled home on crazy stilts made of transmuted gin, barely making it past the gate guards with my breath mints and insane grin. She had promised to call the next day.

Sure enough, she called and we had a quick lunch. I was in the middle of packing my stuff so that in the off chance I could score the paperwork, I'd be ready to hustle, and she said she had to study, so we met at a local mom and pop place, chatted a bit, and she suggested that if I could get Wednesday off, I should join her and some friends at the beach (a local lake) for a cookout and a trip out on the pontoon boat.

I happened to have a couple of "free days" left to cash in with my office chief, so I turned in the chits and bought a bathing suit, something I didn't actually own at the time, because I hate swimming and I don't like the beach. I figured it'd be worth it, and I wasn't about to fuck up a (second? third?) date because of something as silly as not enjoying a single thing about the proposed venue.

So, fast forward to Wednesday, I've managed to find the lake, navigate the arcane system of local/county/state recreation department permitting requirements, find a parking spot, and find Julia and her friends.

Or rather, friend. Just the one, some guy who introduced himself as "Chad". And given that the enormous pickup truck pulling the boat had his name stenciled on it, I gathered that it was Chad's boat we'd be tooling around in.

So, I helped him back it in, having spotted many a boat trailer in my youth, and we lit out as fast as the aging motor, low displacement motor would take us. We chatted a bit. He was a semipro football player for one of the local arena teams and a part-time used car salesman. I knew very little about either, so we mostly talked about the weather, good fishing spots on the lake, and televised sports while Julia ran her hands up his thighs, nibbled his neck, and whispered undoubtedly erotic things in his ear while running the tip of her tongue along its edges.

It was a decent time. I mean, it could have been worse. Or that's what I told myself the whole time. I figured I'd just horribly mis-read the flirtation from Julia, sucked down the embarrassment, and excused myself as quickly as I could once we'd hit the shore and the boat was back up in the trailer.

Thankfully, it was back roads almost the whole way back, and with nobody in sight I could roll the windows down to avoid deafening myself with the animal screams I couldn't help but puke out as a monument to my own idiocy.

I felt like a complete tool all day, so I didn't know whether to be relieved or horrified when Julia called later that night and asked if I wanted to "come over for drinks. And I was figuring I would, you know, invite you to stay over..."

So, I hadn't misread the flirtation. But on the other hand, I'd obviously missed something. When I asked her about all of the manhandling she'd been doing to Chad, she said, "Oh, no no, I'm sorry, I should have said something earlier. Chad is my ex, the one I told you about. I was just doing that stuff so he would take us on a boat ride."

I still wonder sometimes what she made of the belly laughs I couldn't quite keep choked down right before I hung up and blocked her number.



<< Don't go away mad ||


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