Taverns and Parking Lots

It’s not that it was, really, a huge surprise that he showed up.  I mean, he’d said he was going to.  I’d believed him… if only because I needed to believe him… though, as it was late, and as I didn’t know when he was going to be finished at the bikini contest, I wouldn’t have blamed him for skiving off for the evening if he’d been too tired.  But if he was, he didn’t say so.  And when he showed up that evening at the bar Mary and I had finally settled on, I was glad to see him.

I’d been drinking… though not as much as she had.  I’d gone up to Louisville thinking that I was going to be drinking a lot… after all, once Botboy had come home from this deployment, I’d have to stop if he and I were going to get together.  I didn’t think it was fair for me to drink when he couldn’t.  And really, I was okay with that, if it meant settling into something more permanent.  Some things are worth the trade-off.  But drinking is funny for me… sometimes, I can do shot after shot and not think twice about it.  My stomach doesn’t react, it just accepts it the way that it accepts water or anything non-alcoholic.  I’ll feel it… eventually… after the fifth or sixth, a slight buzz that, if I keep going, will turn into a ridiculously good time.  But other times?  It rejects it.  Just flat out rejects it.  I’ll try to do a shot, my stomach will lurch, it’s like I’m trying to drink straight peroxide or something.  At least, it does that until I force it over the hump – the hump in which it no longer cares whether it’s being obliged to digest the poison or not.

And that’s where I was – or at least, had been – since the beginning of that night.  The first one had gone down okay, but the shot I did afterward just hadn’t sat well at all.  Mary, on the other hand, was doing fine… she’d had a try at the Cupid Shuffle and I’d watched, laughing, as I took sips off of the shot I’d gotten and forced it down with water.  I’d sat there, digesting, waiting for the nausea to pass and, like magic, once it had, I looked over and saw him standing in the door to the patio.

I was glad to see him… the music in the club was loud.  Having gotten over the hump, I ordered a couple of drinks after the first… enough to stay a little buzzed, but not so much that I’d be drunk.  Ormsby, Mary, and I ended up in front of one of the bars, in the first bar room off of the club’s entrance, watching a band play.  The singer wasn’t terrible… she reminded me a little of Stevie Nicks, and, of course, we all tried to talk to each other, but I don’t know that any of us could really hear what we were saying.  It was fun, anyway, and it was nice to be back, away from Florida, having drinks with Mary and with Ormsby – who drank very little – while watching the show.

We explored the club a little as well.  That’s the cool thing about this club, called the Phoenix Hill Tavern.  It’s very eclectic on the inside.  Signage everywhere, strange statues, plenty of comfortable sofas to lounge on, well away from the musical areas.  I was buzzed enough to be able to let my guard down and enjoy myself… buzzed enough to pose with an Indian statue in the corner.  Buzzed enough to take it in stride, and even fall into it, when Ormsby put his arm around me on the sofa.  It’s not that I wouldn’t have been okay with that were I sober… in fact, I would have been VERY okay with it.  It’s just that… buzzed… it seemed to make more sense than it would have.  It needed less thought.  And sometimes, being able to stop overthinking is a VERY good thing.

At about three or four in the morning (this is the first time I’ve been out this late since… oh god… I was twenty-six), Mary and I started talking about getting back to my hotel.  She’d stay in the second bed in the room I’d gotten so that she’d be sober enough to drive back home the next day.  I wasn’t really sober enough to drive, either, though I may have been able to once she and I had walked back to her car.  Ormsby, however, offered to drive us, and so the three of us walked back to his studio, where he’d parked his car and dropped off his stuff before meeting us at the Tavern.

His studio was nice.  Nicer than the ones I’d worked in since I’d come to Tampa.  Nicer, if I remembered, than many of the ones I’d been in when I’d been working in Louisville, too, and I said so.  Mary and I waited as he got the keys and he drove us back to my hotel.

Shit really didn’t happen, honestly, once we got back there.  At least not right away.  The three of us chatted in the room awhile, and I offered to walk him back out to his car.  We needed to make arrangements for the Kentucky Kingdom trip on Sunday, anyway, and part of me really wanted to see him after my sister’s wedding the following night.  It would give me something to look forward to… something pleasant to suffer for… and he was fun to be with.

I am fairly certain he kissed me first.  It’s not that I was too drunk to remember it later… I wasn’t… it’s just not something I was really focused on at the time – not that that was a bad thing.  I think I’d wanted him too all along, and there’s something about getting what you want with very little effort that is incredibly satisfying (though one could argue that I’d waited a good nine years for it, and I suppose that is more than a little bit of effort, but again, let’s not overthink it).  I kissed him back because I WANTED to kiss him back, and we stayed that way, in front of the back of his car, until he put a wandering hand down the rear of my jeans and I pulled away.

And again, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t want it there.  A part of me really DID want it there.  A part of me did not want him to stop.  But I made him… for three reasons.  First, because his hand was kind of cold.  Second, because I could hear people coming in and out of their hotel rooms, and I didn’t want an audience.  And third, because I felt that he needed to know about Botboy.  Not, again, because Botboy and I were in a relationship… we certainly weren’t, and I had no guarantees, when I really thought about it, that we ever would be or that he’d even come back when his deployment was over.  But, I’m a straight shooter by nature.  I don’t break my promises, ever, and I don’t believe in hiding aces up my sleeve (not that I was wearing sleeves that night), and certainly, he deserved to know.  And so I told him that I was waiting until July.  That I was not in a relationship, but that I was waiting.  And that I did not have sex with people outside of a commitment.  But that that did not mean that I did not fool around… and it did not mean that I wanted to stop kissing him either, and I think he understood that, since we went back to it.  If it bothered him about Botboy, he didn’t say so.

I think it was maybe four or four-thirty when I went back inside.  Mary had gotten worried and had poked her nose out the window.

“You know,” she said as I was brushing my teeth.  “I don’t know Botboy.  I know I’ve never met him.  But I like Lord Ormsby.  Do you think anything will come of it?”

“No,” I laughed.  “Well, I’m having dinner with him tomorrow and then we’ll hang out on Sunday.  But after that, I’ll go back to Florida and keep waiting for Botboy.  I did promise.  And anyway, even if I wanted it to, Ormsby doesn’t want me that way.  He, as he puts it, is emotionally unavailable.”

“You never know,” she said slyly.

But I did know.  I know how hard it is to sway someone when they’ve got their mind made up.  I liked Ormsby.  He WAS nice.  She was right about that.  But one of the many things he’d told me was how he was, now and forever after, emotionally unavailable after being hurt.  I didn’t agree with his decision to shut himself off completely, after all, I’m not one to say “never,” but that was his decision to make. And I didn’t think I’d be able to change his mind, even if I wanted to try.   Anyway, I had dinner plans with him tomorrow.  Then we’d go to Kentucky Kingdom on Sunday.  Maybe we’d make out again.  Maybe we’d fool around a little.  I was open to that.  After all, wasn’t I on vacation?

So I went to sleep, setting my alarm for 8 the next morning, knowing I’d be a complete zombie at my sister’s wedding.  But a happy zombie.  And that’s what mattered.

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