“If they were going to make fun of me at least they could be on time.” I thought glumly.
Here I was sitting at the Red Horse Saloon next to a couple of guys that must have gone to school together. Even though I was trying not to eavesdrop I couldn’t help but hear words like “archmage” and “warlock” and “paladins”. They must be gamers of some sort. Shoot the one guy was drinking a Pabst, he was probably a hipster and drinking it ironically. I may be a geeky IT guy but I will be damned if they would call me a hipster.
Okay enough of that. I looked at the mirror across the bar and wondered for millionth time what was wrong with me. I read every magazine on men’s fashion I could get my hands on and I know I was dressed appropriately. I spent 75 bucks every 6 weeks on a hair stylist so that they could cut my hair and mess it up. I worked out 4 days a week. I read about body shapes and found out I have an endomorph physique which meant that I tailored my workouts to give me definition and and try to increase size. My teeth were straight, I didn’t smell, I was gainfully employed with a 90k a year job. I was smart. No debt. So why the hell was I 27 years old and practically a virgin?
Yeah go ahead and laugh. I could kind of answer my own question. In high school I was too nerdy, in the Army I was too busy, and in college I was too focused. I fell into the “friend zone” with almost any girl I could get up the nerve to talk to. I was told many times now “nice” and “safe” I was. I had figured that moving to Detroit where no one knew me would be a great spot to have my own renaissance along with the city. HA! Brent put a stop to that.
Which leads me to tonight. I knew Brent was up to something when he started being nice to me. He was the perfect salesman and it showed in his numbers. Fortunately (or unfortunately as the case may be) I had been the victim of many “Brent’s” over the years. I knew he was up to something and sure enough the conversation I heard in the bathroom earlier today confirmed it.
They had no idea I was dropping a deuce when Brent and his buddy Logan walked in. I heard in detail how they were going to get one of Brent’s skanky business associates to start hitting on me then embarrass me in front of his lackeys. I wasn’t sure what I did to piss Brent off but it was like I was back in high school again with the jock picking on the geek. I had enough and tonight was going to be the night I stood up for myself.
And they didn’t even show.
Casting my gaze around the bar I noticed a beautiful raven haired woman sitting alone and drinking a glass of white wine. She was at a bar table with her legs crossed and a high heel casually dangling from her foot. Her skirt was long enough to be modest yet short enough to be sexy. Her white nylons encased what looked like a marvelous set of legs and her white blouse both covered and accentuated her apparently ample chest. She appeared to have on very little makeup but her red lips looked delectable and her blue eyes looked down at her drink and then over to the door.
She looked at me and I of course blushed but for once I didn’t look away. I looked into her eyes and held her gaze until she looked at the door again. I quickly looked down at my scotch and got angry. Angry at Brent and what he represented through the years. Angry at myself for allowing it. I was even angry at that beautiful woman for being so pretty. I know that last one made no sense but what can I say? I was having a snit. And to top it all off the gang that was supposed to humiliate me was taking their sweet ass time getting around to it. Fuck them. When they walked in I was going to be talking to the prettiest girl in the bar. I grabbed my drink and started making my way to her table.
She shot me down before I could get closer than three steps.
“Not interested. Thank you.” She told me crisply.
I should have tucked my tail between my legs and turned around. I would have done that any other day. Hell any other day I wouldn’t have even started walking her way. Did I mention I was angry?
“Wow, heaven forbid I try to strike up a conversation with a beautiful woman in bar. I didn’t realize that this was a social setting that called for no human interaction. If you are waiting on someone or just want to be left alone that is fine but being beautiful doesn’t give you the right to be rude.” I snapped.
I turned away and headed back to the bar. I wasn’t going to let her run me off nor was I going to let the asshats from work ruin my night. I was done being a victim. As I was drinking another scotch and mentally psyching myself up I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder. I turned around to find that black haired beauty looking at me intently.
“Sorry. You were right. I was waiting for a date that seems to have stood me up and I could have been more polite to you. I am April.” She said as she stuck out her hand.
What. The. Hell.
I shook her hand.
“Bill Thompson. Apology accepted and I offer one of my own. I am currently having a rough day and I could have been more polite myself.” I replied.
“So does the offer of a conversation come with a drink?” She asked as she smiled at me.
Oh great, now I am gonna be her sucker and buy her a bunch of drinks while she talks to me about her great boyfriend that stood her up for the upteenth time and why can she just find a nice guy. Not happening tonight.
“If you are drinking scotch I am buying.” I replied “At your table you would have had your choice.”
No woman was going to drink scotch all night so I was sure I was safe.
“Johnny Walker Blue, rocks.” She told the bartender.
Damn she had good taste. Expensive, but good.
“So where is this conversation I am supposed to be having?” She asked.
“Sorry, I am losing my anger and retreating back into my normal state of fear and cowering in the presence of a good looking woman.” I replied.
“NO! You were doing so well! Don’t lose it now stud.” She laughed.
I laughed along with her. She seemed easy to get along with.
“Okay, I promise to fake confidence until tomorrow morning. That should get us through any sexual escapades that might happen tonight.” I grinned.
She snorted into her drink. Looking at me with a gleam in her eye, she put her glass down and kissed me. I tasted the whiskey on her tongue as she shoved it into my mouth. Going for broke I kissed her back as hard as I dared and slipped my own tongue past her teeth. We came up for breath and looked into each other’s eyes. I said the first thing that popped into my head.
“This is going to be good isn’t it?”
She looked thoughtful.
“I really think it is.” She replied.
“So since I am faking all this confidence, how many dances and drinks are we going to have before I suggest we move to somewhere more private?” I asked.
“There we go. Actually we are going to have to wait since I called for backup when my date didn’t show. My friend Beth is going to be here in about a half hour. All kidding aside would you mind waiting for her?” She asked.
“Not at all. This means I have a half hour to convince you to hang out with me instead of leaving with your friend? Challenge accepted.”
So we talked. Once the ice is broken I am a good conversationalist. It helped that April was so easy to get along with. Someone as pretty as she was shouldn’t be so down to earth.
“So tell me your worst relationship story.” She said.
“Well when I was fourteen I fell off my dirt bike and broke my right wrist.” I replied. “That was probably my worst “break” up.”
That got me a laugh and a groan. Success!
“Your turn.” I said.
“When I was nineteen and in college I was experimenting with a lot of different things. I was convinced I was in love with this girl in my art class. She was pretty, sexy, and willing to teach me all the wonderful ways that women could love each other.” She took a sip from her drink. “We dated for a month and the day before I left to tell my parents I was gay l cut class to be with Jennifer one more time. Her dorm room door was open and I saw her getting DP’d by two guys from the basketball team. I was crushed. Not only was my girlfriend cheating on me but it made me question my own sexuality again.”
“Wow, your story beats mine.” I said trying to adjust myself surreptitiously. “What did you ultimately find out about yourself?”
“That if you find a connection with a person it doesn’t matter if they are guy or girl or hot or not. Although the guy I have a connection with currently is pretty hot so that helps.” She said with a grin.
Now my doubts started to resurface. Was she telling me she had someone else? Or was she talking about me? We were making a connection I think. But she called me hot and I wouldn’t classify myself that way. But I did put a lot of time and effort into myself to look good. Did I succeed? I would need a woman to let me know. Maybe she was telling me I did. Or maybe this beautiful woman had someone she really liked and was just having a nice chat with a guy who would buy her scotch at 25 bucks a shot. But we kissed. ARGHH!!!!! Keep cool and fake confidence.
“Tell me more about this guy is so I know my competition.” I joked.
“Well he has excellent taste in booze. I think he has some self-esteem issues but at least for right now he is hiding them pretty well. And he is interested enough in me personally to ask about my emotional travels as opposed to fishing around for stories about my girl on girl times.”
She took another sip. I wasn’t sure where to go with that.
The band had been setting up while we talked and the lights dimmed as the lead singer stepped up to the mike and announced the first song. I grabbed her hand and my drink and led her to the front of the stage. The band started up with “Been Caught Stealing’” by Jane’s Addiction, a decent up tempo song to get people moving. We were facing the stage with her right in front of me. I wrapped my arms around her and we sang along with the words we knew. We half danced half rocked each other and it was great. The band was good, not great but it gave us an excuse to hold each other. And I really liked holding her. As she was dancing in place she backed into me and I could tell she felt my erection. She looked over her shoulder and smiled at me. This was another time I would have probably fled but I just looked at her and grinned. The band seemed to be heavily influenced by the early nineties grunge movement which was a bit before my time but they mixed in enough newer stuff along with older classics that we pretty much knew everything they played. After 3 songs we headed back to the bar and ordered another drink. I switched over to my standard Miller Lite in a bottle. I looked at her expectantly.
“You said I could only get scotch.” She teased.
“April, if you haven’t figured out by now that you could ask me for anything and I would do my damndest to get it for you then you aren’t as smart as I thought.” I replied seriously.
“I am completely smitten with you.” I continued, “I am full of smit.” I grinned at her.
She gave me a huge smile and another one of those searing kisses. She turned around and ordered a Long Island Iced Tea.
“I will pay my own tab.” She said. “I know I like expensive drinks.”
Why would she do that? Did she think I couldn’t afford to buy her drinks? I had 7 thousand dollars in my bank account right now and I was a month ahead on all my bills. Maybe I should let her know that. Maybe that isn’t enough? It has to be enough. Or maybe she didn’t want to feel like she owed me anything. She probably didn’t want to feel guilty about leaving me with a huge bar tab. But I am having a great time. She is too isn’t she? GAH! Keep cool and fake confidence.
“April if you so much as look at your purse trying to pay a single dime tonight, I am going to bend you over my knee and spank you right here in the bar.” I said, smiling.
“Now that makes me want to try to pay for my own drinks.” She replied with a twinkle in her eye.
“I am going to text Beth and tell her to stand down or at least to come expecting to have fun.” She continued.
I looked at her questioningly.
“We have a pact to save each other from bad dates. I called her in because I thought you might be a weirdo but I felt I should apologize for being rude. I am sorry.” She said.
Actually that made a lot of sense. I rather appreciated the forethought. I had a bunch of worries beginning to pile up but I didn’t even listen to them. This confidence thing was starting to grow on me.
“Smart move actually” I replied with a smile, “I could still try to bore you with my obsession of making macrame penguins.” I took a sip of beer.
“As long as it is not porcelain figurines of unicorns I think I can manage.” She quipped.
We laughed and turned to listen to the band as they started an acoustic version of Third Eye Blind’s “How is it Going to Be”. Now that they were in their groove they turned out to be not bad. A little better than your average bar band actually. She started texting furiously.
I felt some concern that maybe despite what she said she was really telling her friend to come rescue her from me. Nope. Not going to go there. I pushed that feeling away and figured even if she was, so what? I was having fun here and now.
I realized that this was pretty much one of the best nights of my life. Somehow I was able to talk to a beautiful woman who seemed interested in me and for whatever reason I was keeping all my normal fears in check. If nothing else I know I was going to feel better the next time I went out. But hopefully there was some place to go with April. Like bed. How is that for confident thinking?
Just like that my good feelings took a nosedive as Brent and his buddies walked in. Then it all clicked.
“So how long have you worked with Brent Cole?” I asked April casually.
The look on her face confirmed it.
“There was no Beth. You were the one supposed to work me up and humiliate me. What was the plan?” I asked.
“Take you into the bathroom and make you think I was going to give you a blow job. Then handcuff you to the handicap bar. Take a couple pictures and send them to Brent. How did you know?”
“Simple, a woman like you would never go for a guy like me.” I said. “Tell Brent better luck next time.” I went and paid the tab and started to move out the back door. I had no need to run into asswipe and company.
She caught up to me. “Where are you going? You aren’t going to rub it in that I failed? Your friends will get a kick out of it.”
“Those motherfuckers aren’t my friends lady. Those motherfuckers are the bane of my work existence.” I snarled.
“Whoa hold on there. Brent told me you guys had a running joke about April Fools. He said you got him really bad last year and he just wanted payback. Something about a mohawk and a goat.”
“Nope, I have only been in the Detroit area for 6 months. One of the first things I did as IT manager was a firewall check and I found that Brent had disabled his so he could look at porn. I fixed the hole and sent a memo that didn’t mention any names but apparently that was enough to get on his shit list. He has been making my life a living hell ever since.” I replied.
“I am so sorry. I am the new project coordinator at Livingston Steel. I also just came in about six months ago and Brent always seemed so nice. When he asked me to get involved in a prank I thought it was nice to be making some friends. And you seemed so cool. I am so sorry.” She said.
It looked like her eyes were filling up with tears. This had to be another joke. I wasn’t going to stick around to find out.
“Hey if you want Brent as a friend be my guest. But for all you knew I was his friend and look how he was going to treat me.” I told her coldly.
“Anyhow you are welcome for the drinks and I want to thank you for the confidence boost you gave me for an hour and a half. This was actually one of the better nights I have had. How fucking pathetic is that? Go tell Brent that and you guys can have your laugh at my expense.”
She put her hand out but I brushed by her and left the building.
The next day at work was rough as I had gotten very little sleep. I spent the whole night thinking about why people would always push me around and what I vibe I was putting out that made them think I was a doormat. Basically every negative feeling and kernel self doubt I ever had came crashing back twice as hard. I was to depressed to even cry. I decided I needed some help.
As I was looking online for mental health experts, I noticed an email come through from and Aprilissorry@gmail.com. I thought about deleting it but figured what the hell. I opened it up.
I want you to know how sorry I am about my part in trying to embarrass you. I really did think you would be in on the joke. Even if you guys were friends that would have been a shitty trick to pull. I want you to know that I had a really good time with you and would like a second chance with the confident, manly stud I hung out with for an hour and a half. I know you might have a tough time trusting me but I hope this picture will help prove my sincerity. I really do have a friend named Beth who Brent had never met before last night. If you are up for it I will be at The Red Horse Saloon tonight at 6:00. I hope to see you there.
The attached picture was one of Brent with his shorts down handcuffed to a handrail in a bathroom stall.
As I sat there laughing and pondering my next move, Brent stormed into my office.
“You son of a bitch!” He screamed. “I am going to HR and charge you with harassment. Then I am going to get that bitch at Livingstone fired also.”
“Easy there killer” I responded, “Right now no one knows who broke the firewall and downloaded a bunch of porn. But if an investigation were to be launched by the head of the IT department it could easily be tracked to a single computer. And are you sure that all those girls on the websites you browse are eighteen or over? Would you risk child pornography charges on it?” I asked him quietly.
Also would you like to explain how you feel it is ok to curse and defame a department head when you are only a salesman?” I asked in the same tone of voice.
“I will gladly walk up to HR with you Brent. In fact I have an open hour right now. We can get everything out in the open and let the chips fall where they may.”
“Or we can say that a prank got a little out of hand and bygones are bygones. Your choice.” I said as I stuck out my hand.
He thought for a while then reluctantly shook my hand and turned to walk out.
“Hey Brent!” I called out as he was just about to exit.
He turned to me.
He threw me a dark look and stalked out.
Now it was time to psych myself up for my date.