Saturday, October 29, 2005

Getting in my own way

"Don't you think she's one of the prettiest girls you've ever seen?" he prompted the bouncer, squeezing me to his side. I smiled like the child he treated me as, and inhaled for my sanity. This bouncer, well-versed in lust and drugs, avoided collusion. He recognized the undertone and was respectful enough to remain silent. I threw him a glance of appreciation.

The monologue preceding the declaration set a tone worth considering. The man, clearly on amphetamines had insisted on supplying my friend with cigarettes and both of us with drinks. He was a near stranger; familiar with other acquaintances. Her budget led her to accept, and I considered mine irrelevant after a stressful day at the office. I'd arrived at the bar in a suit and heels, readied for a cold beer by hours of mental struggle in my new workplace. He insisted on purchasing my beer as he'd done for my casually-dressed friend, but not wanting to feel obligated to him, I made my way to the bar and thanked him anyway. Diluted metaphysics meandered into the conversation, and I meandered out of it, occasionally drawn back in by conversational cycles and shifts in seating.

I stayed on at the bar as others came and went, feeling my stress beginning to return through a flush in my cheeks, a slight fever and heavy head. My companion cozied in with a new acquaintance, and I harnessed the opportunity to exit. I needed to adorn my feet with flat shoes, and my legs with softer fabric. I needed fresh air and hot tea; relief from social pressures. I gathered my things, said good-bye to a chosen few, and headed for the exit.

Thinking I was in the clear, I stepped form the smoky establishment, and found myself in the arms of the synthetically enthusiastic drug user.

"You aren't leaving already are you?" he asked, looking sincerely bothered.

"Yes, I have a bit of a cold and it's time to go home," I shrugged. "But, it was nice meeting you," I ventured, not wanting to cause this man any undue stress in his compromised state.

"Well, before you go..." he started, and then directed his attention the bouncer. "This girl has the prettiest," drawing out the word 'prettiest' as long as his breath could hold, and finished abruptly with, "friend."

The cringe I'd maintained since he first squeezed me to his size escaped my lips in a huff.

Stumbling through the fog of his high, he realized what he'd done. Directing his next comment to the bouncer once again and hoping for collaboration, he added, "Don't you think she's one of the prettiest girls you've ever seen?"

And, thinking I couldn't be more offended by his tactlessness, he grandly finished with, "She doesn't know it, but she's pretty, too."

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