We left Fanueil Hall for the dim flicker of State Street, at the urging of one female. There's something about that area of Boston that makes the streets seem like alleyways. Not in the filthy, sketchy sense, where one expects muggers, drug dealers, and real estate agents. But something about the light and the way the wind moves through them belies the truth that they are, in fact, thoroughfare, lined with pubs and restaurants, and even, yes, the occasional agency. A round of Cuervo having been consumed, we were in search of comestibles. Our timing was suspect. We left during the time during which bar kitchens begin to close.
I was with the same group I'd met the previous Thursday for Shakespeare in the Park, with the exception of one of the girls with whom I'd gotten along well and the addition of one of my friend's oldest mates.
It was a different sort of night this time.
The suggestion had been made to seek out an all night diner about two miles away, but a complaint was made as to the distance and we found ourselves walking in to just about every pub along the way to ask if the kitchen was still open and to find out that it wasn't.
The complainer also took issue with the fact that the tequila at one such pub wasn't Jose Cuervo.
Good fucking god. I've been known to enjoy the stuff but I recognize it for what it is and its certainly nothing to be a label snob about. Name recognition is the main reason it's not on the rail. Of all the things to bitch at a bartender for...
I drowned the acrid drama with a tequila chaser, eschewing the proffered salt and lime. The burn distracted me from the bitch.
There were a lot of "why don't we stop in heres" as we passed the yuppie dens with lonely middle aged men drinking overpriced booze whose ears pricked up at the prospect of females entering the bar. My wallet screamed in agony at the suggestion.
And all throughout my friend was engaged in some sort of preternatural Taming of the Shrew-meets-Booty Call courtship with said girl. Dane Cook, whose addition of the ring finger to everyone's favorite obscene gesture is no doubt the crowning achievement in modern comedy, might have called it a courtshit.
It was painful to watch. Oddly, enough, it reminded me of a story.
It was June 2005, in fact, it took place within this story.
I was exiting the Starbucks at O Hare airport in Chicago. The last time I'd gone there the latte I ordered was more or less steamed milk that invited one to imagine the presence of espresso, despite the fact that I ordered the highest caffeine concentration that they would serve. This time I went for some cold red tea that was equally undrinkable. I haven't been in a Starbucks since.
I turned to see a woman clad in a nearly identical black trench coat, which in the summer heat one may question, but it was the only damned way of getting it on the plane as my baggage was overstuffed. She seemed to be a fringe goth, a pentacle hung round her neck but otherwise understated. Strikingly beautiful.
"Nice hat," I replied
a black something that was almost a fedora but not quite. Identical to the one atop my head.
"Anyways, I figured I just had to come and say hi. I've got to get to my plane."
I did too, in fact. And as it happened, when I found my seat, she was settling in to the one next to it.
We were engrossed in conversation the entire flight. She was twenty-five, from Salem. Former Wiccan, former Buddhist. Retained some philosophy from both, but rejected much of the doctrine. Once engaged to a man now dead. Apparently accomplished in the arts. I don't remember much more of the conversation because I was exhausted and also it was over two years ago, but at some point she uttered the phrase, "you must be taken," which I think is the first time I'd ever heard it directed at me. I replied, perhaps hastily, that I wasn't. When we landed in Boston we exchanged numbers and resolved to hang out some time.
When I did get home I was busied with preparing the downstairs apartment for rental, so my contact with her was over the phone. There were some good conversations, but it started to get weird. Songs and poetry in my voicemail. Comparisons between me and her dead fiancee. Her asking if I wanted to hang out in a graveyard some time.
Listening to these voicemails, and the air of desperation behind them, a vivid scene unfolded itself in my head. Her on top of me, swaying in a hypnotizing rhythm, her eyes fixed upon something behind me and she begins to chant in glossolalia. I look back to see the headstone of her lost lover, and back to her. She reaches into the pocket of her trench coat, the only thing covering either of us, and pulls out a strangely crafted knife...
That particular scenario was unlikely, sure. But I was fairly convinced that this all was a Bad Idea. I didn't return her calls, and she stopped calling. I did feel sort of guilty about it but saw no other way.
As I thought of this, we were seated (finally) at the diner we'd set out to find. It had been a long way due to everyone we asked giving us wrong directions. She was complaining the whole time, insisting that violence was due towards the males of the group (why we were singled out I'm not sure). Also insisting that she be carried, and then refusing when such help was offered in an attempt to get her to shut up. The painful-to-witness flirtation persisted throughout the night. As I emerged from my thoughts it was reaching a fever pitch.
"You wouldn't last two minutes in my bed"
"What makes you think you can get this?"
I started to laugh.
"What's so funny?"
I try to give normal explanations as little as possible in these situations
"Ok. Imagine that you're walking down the side of the road, and there's a bus driving passed you. The bus is filled with almost sickeningly cute children. Also kittens and puppies and rabbits."
"Now imagine that it's on fire, and driving full tilt off the edge of a cliff"
"Well, why aren't you laughing?"
My friend burst out in laughter, almost falling off of his chair. His friend cracked a devilish grin. The girls were confused.
"I'll tell you when you're older," he said.
It's so great when people get you.