Nothing is Free

Composed on the 4th of February in the year 2011, at 10:14 AM. It was Friday.

The second time I went to craigslist for a date went much better than the first, in the sense that the girl wasn't brain damaged, and much worse, in that no sex ever happened, but ended better, in the sense that we're still friends.

She was a cute, red-headed teacher who rolled her own cigarettes, was much healthier than I was, and great conversation. First date goes swimmingly.

Second date seems off, and I can't quite put my finger on it. The important bit is I missed the kiss. There is always one perfect moment for the first kiss, usually on the first or second date. If you miss it, you shouldn't try. For a good cinematic example of this, see Sideways. Anyway, I tried too late, with zero response, so I figure, fail, move on.

Still, we like each other enough to go on a third date, though it doesn't feel like a date anymore. Third date goes swimmingly, so we set up a fourth.

Fourth date also off, and I don't even try for a kiss. Not sure what's up, but figure might as well hang around this weird friend vs. date area.

Fifth date is awesome. We start strong with a few beers, then hit another bar that has a free mini pizza with every beer. I eat a pizza and a half. We're getting pretty drunk, and an hour into the second bar, I know I'm in.

Some important things about our prior dates: for some reason, I had to use the bathroom a lot. In retrospect, I think this was a dietary issue, since I was dirt poor and barely scraping rent, and still drinking a lot of whiskey. When drinking beer, I could average twice an hour or more. Also, I was thin. I'm always thin, but I was almost hipster thin at that point. Also, it was winter, and my nose tends to itch a lot in the winter. Also, and perhaps most damning, I like to regale people with stories about my long gone speed freak days, and I should know by now that virtually nobody believes they're over when they first meet me.

This didn't seem to matter that night. We get a little tipsy, then we go back to her place to "watch a movie." We throw in a DVD for plausible deniability, then start picking at each other's clothes on the couch.

About ten minutes into this, my stomach feels a little off. I think it must just be a fluke, since I'm not very drunk, so I pop a Rolaid and try to ignore it.

Ten minutes later, I realize I can't ignore this, so I excuse myself to the bathroom, and immediately throw up.

Damn. The pizza.

I throw up two more times, and when I'm done, I feel great. In fact, it was one of the most pleasant vomiting sessions I've ever had. Awesome, I think, I can totally salvage this. I steal some of her roommate's mouthwash, splash a little water on my face, blow my nose, and head back out.

Occasionally, when I throw up, something horrible happens to my sinuses. They just snap and decide that the problem with my face is there isn't enough mucus in it. So the blowing my nose bit takes about half an hour. I'm a wreck. My eyes are watering, I can't breath, and I go through an entire roll of toilet paper. The thirteenth time I flushed her toilet, I break the chain, so, still believing I can win this one, I fix it with my key ring, then flush it fourteen more times.

Once I can finally breath again, I go back to the living room and try to explain myself.

Now, from her perspective, a super thin kid who makes frequent bathroom trips, rubs his nose excessively, and claims to have quit speed, has just spent thirty minutes in her bathroom making snorting noises and flushing the toilet.

She later described the conversation with her roommate while this was going on:

"Someone in the bathroom?"

"Yup. My date."

"That kid you thought was a coke head?"

"That's the one."

"And now he's doing blow in our bathroom."

"Looks like it. I sure can pick 'em."

By the time I got out, my story didn't fly and she showed me the door. I eventually convinced her I wasn't a coke head, but that was many weeks later, after we'd both moved on.

A year after this, the same girl blew another potential date for me.

For a few months, a very nice couple had been frequenting my local bar. They were exes but still friends, and I got to know them decently, but not so well I couldn't flirt with the girl.

One night my friend, the girl from the first part (henceforth, "Red"), is having a traumatizing night, so she's crying on my shoulder and cheering herself up with jokes in what I've always thought of as a slightly crazy but effective method of dealing with grief. The couple ("Dude" and "Blonde") is also there, and between getting drinks for me and Red, I'm flirting with Blonde. Red is also egging me on in this. What I didn't know was that Red had actually slept with Dude a week prior, when the emotional trauma began.

At some point, maybe eight beers in, while we're sitting in the backyard of the bar, Red is almost sobbing and decides she needs to make out with me immediately, and we suck drunken face for about twenty minutes.

I had no thought that this would turn into a long coming relationship. Red and I were well past that. This was just a rare triumph of the theory that if you patiently hang around a girl who has friend-zoned you and provide a sexless, sympathetic ear, she'll eventually jump you. Before any high school boys get excited, this doesn't really happen; we were just very close at the time, and she shares my predilection for solving confusing emotional problems with sex. All I was thinking was hey, free make out session, and I didn't even have to do anything.

When we finally look up, Dude and Blonde are standing four feet away smoking cigarettes.

"Hey," says Dude, with a little half wave.

"Hello," I reply.

"Oh I'm so sorry!" says Red, and immediately throws herself on Dude.

"Why?" asks dude.

"Because I like you and he likes her!"

Blonde and I look at each other, at a total loss for words, Dude looks like he's trying to get Red off of him, and the rest of the backyard is openly laughing at us. I shrug and get another drink.

Dude and Blonde never came back to the bar after that, and Red still pretends she's doesn't remember.

Lesson 1: Free pizza can be expensive.

Lesson 2: Don't make out with your friends in bars containing other people you want to sleep with. Unless it's that kind of night.

This is actually a picture of an old boss.

Hi there! You should totally go buy my new book for the low low price of 6.66! It's like buying me a beer at an out-of-the-way dive bar in Brooklyn! Not in Manhattan. Manhattan prices are ridiculous, though there are a couple of decent Irish dives where you can snag a drink for five bucks. Otherwise, you're looking at a two or three book beer.