Thursday, December 17, 2009

Frozen at a Green Light (edited "Do Not Enter")

Delia and I are driving to go see this classic movie she has to go to a screening of for this film studies class she’s taking. I think it’s that movie called The Grand Illusion, which I saw when I was taking the same class a couple years ago. When driving to the theater which is over on campus, I’m not really paying attention and I almost drive straight into this area of road that has these two big “Do Not Enter” signs and Delia calls me a moron. I make some comment that it’s probably better that we don’t have the person with the vagina in the car driving. While laughing, she tells me she hates me and I tell her the same, and I can’t help but smile at this.

We get to the theater about five minutes late, but it’s not a big deal because Delia’s professor, who’s also the head of some film restoration society here, is giving some introduction for the movie. After listening to him drone on for another five minutes, the lights go down and the film starts. As the film progresses, I get the sense that Delia is shooting me sideways glances, as if gauging my reaction to the scenes that are unfolding, but every time I get this sense, I quickly look over to her, but she’s just staring ahead at the screen. At one point after I rearrange myself in the uncomfortable seat, I feel my fingers slightly brush against hers, but nothing comes of this, even though I think I feel her tense up next to me, as if something about my touch has made her body temperature drop several degrees in mere moments.
After the film lets out Delia and I are walking together back to my car and she tells me about this party that’s happening on campus tonight at our friend Josh’s place. She asks, kind of tentatively, if I want to hang out until then, and I feel her staring at me as I find myself stalling, looking more than once for oncoming cars as we cross the street to my car. Finally I tell her I have some shit to do, but I reassure her I’ll pick her up before we go to the party later on tonight. She seems a little dejected by this, but soon enough we continue our playfully hateful banter and I drop her off at her house before heading home.

After I get home I get a call from my friend Mark. I tell him about the party tonight and he says he actually was already planning on going.
Dude, I tried to get a hold of you today to hang out, he says.
Sorry man I went to go see a movie with Delia for one of her classes.
Really? He asks this with a sort of tone of amusement.
What? I ask, bracing to defend myself.
Nah, nothing man, I just still find it kinda weird you guys still hang out.
It’s cool, man. She and I are cool.
Whatever, man. Long as you know what you’re doing.
I think I do.
Cool…well I’ll see ya at the party, man.
For sure. See ya.

I get a call from Delia about an hour before I leave. She tells me that I better be ready to have a fucking blast tonight, at which I can’t help but smile. I say to her that I am more than ready and she makes an idle threat that she’ll injure me in some way or another if I don’t. She reminds me that I never used to like going out for whatever reason and she asks me what’s changed. I’m silent for a while before I simply tell her that it’s probably me that’s changed, nothing else. She supposes that I’m right and says that if I hook up with anyone tonight that she’ll fucking kill me, but she laughs as she says it and says she’s kidding. I mention that I find this funny coming from her and she playfully tells me to go fuck myself. We chat back and forth for a little while longer before she tells me she has to finish getting ready and we say goodbye and hang up.
After I pick Delia up we quickly stop by the liquor store on campus to pick up a bottle of whiskey and as we are standing there deliberating on the brand to use, we make it a point to insult our tastes in brand, me laughing as she says that I may as well be one of those people that live under bridges when I pick up a bottle that costs less than ten bucks, her laughing as I tell her that just because I didn’t have parental assistance in every aspect of my life doesn’t mean that I drink like a homeless man. When we go up to the counter to pay for the bottle of middling quality that we selected, I notice this friend of mine named Laura working behind one of the registers so I say hi and we converse briefly as we make the purchase. As we leave, Delia asks, with what sounds less like curiosity and more like vested interest, who that was, and I tell her and she says cool and we head over to the party.
When we get there, it’s about eleven o’clock and the party has a good number of people there, mingling about on the main floor. A lot of people Delia and I know greet us at the entrance of the house with drunken enthusiasm, though I notice a few of them have an uncertainty floating behind their words. Delia sees a group of friends in the kitchen and tells me that she’ll come find me later and we’ll do a shot or something and she goes over to them and excitedly gives them hugs. None of my better friends are upstairs it appears, so I make my way down to the basement where a large amount of people are congregated around a table that has a heated game of beer pong being played. I spot my friend Mark talking to our friend Josh (who’s having the party) near the kegs and I quickly beeline over to them and give them an enthusiastic greeting to which they respond in kind.
How’s it going man? Josh asks, slapping my shoulder.
Oh you know, you know.
Well whatever the fuck that means, you are without beer, he replies and hands me a blue plastic cup and the nozzle from the keg, both of which I take and use.
Thanks man. The party seems to be going well.
Yeah, for sure. Pretty happy about the turnout; no douchebags, no fucking drama or anything. Lotta cute girls here too.
I look around and notice that he’s right, so I nod and say, Yeah definitely, man.
Mark finally says, noticeably already half in the bag, Yeah but it won’t matter since this pussy came with Delia.
Josh gives me a look and says, Dude, seriously? I mean, I knew she was coming, but…uh, why’d you come with her?
I shrug. I dunno, man. I mean, we were hanging out today so it made sense, I guess.
Mark and Josh exchange a quick look before Josh says, Look man, that’s cool, but to be honest she’s probably gonna be trying to get with, uh…what’s his face…?
That one guy Eli, Mark says.
Yeah, Josh replies. He’s this friend of my roommate’s that she’s been talking to and hanging out with a lot lately. Like she’s come over here and smoked up with us a couple times and is always talking to him.
I shrug again. I don’t care, man. I mean, seriously, she and I are cool. I mean, she can do whatever she wants; I can do whatever I want. We’re just friends hanging out these days.
Mark just rolls his eyes and takes a swig from his cup. Josh shakes his head and says, Okay man, whatever. Listen, let’s go play a game of beer pong and you can meet some of these cute girls okay? Won’t be an issue even if Delia’s macking on some guy.
We all do play a game of beer pong and despite Josh and I winning, I find myself pretty drunk, so I call it quits at that point. I talk to some people for a while but the conversation fails to interest me that much, plus I can tell that they are noticing me glancing at the basement stairs frequently, so I make a quick exit from the group when they get wrapped up in their own stories they’re telling each other and head back upstairs.
I go through the throng of partygoers in the living room, looking around, but not seeing Delia. I finally get into the kitchen and while I do see the bottle of whiskey we bought, half gone, sitting on the counter, I don’t see her. I ask one of her friends she was talking to if they saw her and, sounding somewhat confused that I was asking them, tell me she’s probably outside having a smoke or something. I go out onto the porch, but don’t see her, so I go up to the second floor of the house. There’s no one in line for the bathroom, but the door is shut and my stomach starts to tighten, my breath shorten and then the door opens and Delia comes out with this guy I vaguely recognize who must be Eli or whoever and I see her wipe her nose and sniff a couple times and while I have this sort of internal feeling of revulsion I smile and ask her if she wants to take that shot to which she excitedly says she totally would and I offer Eli a shot as well and he too smiles and says he would so we all go downstairs and do so.

Some time later I’m staring at another game of beer pong being played, not really paying attention to it when Mark comes up to me, quite fully drunk at this point, but he seems a bit more solemn.
Look man, he says. You probably don’t wanna hear this, but…I dunno. I guess I just don’t get it…
Don’t get what? I ask him.
Like what you’re doing with Delia still…like, she doesn’t seem like she even gives a shit about you.
Well she’s not using me or anything, I say.
I don’t get it, that’s all, how you guys actually think you’re, like, friends, always insulting each other like assholes, he mumbles and wanders off.
What? I call after him, still knowing what he said, but he doesn’t say anything and goes and passes out on the couch nearby.
I eventually go back upstairs, putting on my coat, ready to leave, looking for Delia. I find her in the kitchen with some of her friends from before, and this guy Eli standing close to her, and she’s in the middle of telling some story that has them laughing. I motion over to her and she tells me to hold on a second so I wait as she continues until finally the story is over and I tell her I want to talk to her and she gives me this look of incredulity and follows me into the living room, her friends and this guy staring for a moment before returning to their conversation. Delia tells me that I’m embarrassing her so I get pissed off and tell her that I just want to leave since I’m tired and I just figured I’d give her a ride and she tells me that she doesn’t need a ride, that Eli or whoever will give her a ride home and that I should just go. She asks me if I have a problem with that, more like a statement, but I just shrug, trying not to look at her, and say I’ll talk to her tomorrow or whenever and she says okay and hugs me goodbye and quickly goes back into the kitchen. I stare after her for a moment before walking quickly outside where I realize I’m probably too drunk to drive, so, despite it being about six or seven miles away and now snowing, I walk home.

I wake up the next day, my room feeling frigid since I kicked the blankets off at some point in the night. I look at my cell phone to see if I have any missed calls or text messages but I don’t so I lay my head back down on my pillow, hoping I can just go back to sleep, but I can’t, so I get up. I grab an apple from on top of my fridge in my kitchenette and as I’m eating it and watching TV I get a phone call and it’s Delia. She sounds really tired on the phone, like she just woke up, giggling at things and making little groans like she’s stretching. She tells me that she and her friends ended up staying at Josh’s the night before, making it a point not to say if Eli stayed or not. She asks me if I drove back last night, saying she was worried since I was drunk, but I tell her that I just took a cab home, so she says that I should come back to Josh’s and she and I can go drive and get breakfast somewhere. I don’t really want to at first but I don’t really have anything else to do and she whines that I shouldn’t be such a lame-ass, so I give in, kind of laughing.
I take the bus back over to campus and get to Josh’s place after about an hour. When I arrive, I notice that a good dozen people had passed out at his place the night before and despite it being almost two in the afternoon, there were still people sleeping in the living room. I find myself looking to see if Eli is among them but I don’t see him. I find Delia in the kitchen by herself, drinking a large glass of water, looking a little frazzled and when she sees me, she gives me a smile and a hug and tells me laughing that a little bit after I left, some friend of Eli’s came by and pretty much everyone who was still there bought some E from him and they stayed up till almost ten in the morning listening to music and dancing. I nod and smile and say that it’s awesome despite feeling full of resentment and frustration at myself for not staying, even though I know that I wouldn’t have had a good time if I had. Delia finishes her glass of water and gets her coat and we leave.
After we locate my car, we end up going to this little breakfast place on campus and as we’re waiting for our meals to arrive, Delia talks what seems like nonstop about how cool the night before was and I’m nodding, agreeing, and listening, but not really contributing to the conversation, sipping on a much-needed cup of coffee. At one point she looks at me and I look up, meeting her gaze, and she smiles at me in a sort of serene way and tells me that she’s glad we’re still friends. I nod, trying to smile, but she can tell that I’m not in the best of moods so we end up arguing about the night before. She drags it out of me that I didn’t really have a good time and I drag it out of her that she had been doing coke in the bathroom and making out with that Eli guy and she drags it out of me that I am just insecure about her moving on and I drag it out of her that she fucked Eli early this morning and she drags it out of me that I was just jealous and when try I drag it out of her that in some ways she sometimes enjoys seeing me jealous, she tells me I’m full of shit, but I can tell she doesn’t fully believe what she’s saying. We go silent for a while and eat our food that’s just arrived at our table, avoiding looking at each other. Eventually I tell her I’m sorry and she says the same, and I can tell she’s trying not to cry for a moment before she kind of smiles and calls me a pussy. I don’t really want to, but I sort of laugh, trying to forget that I’m screaming at her inside my head.
I drop her off at home about an hour later and I go home myself. I don’t really have anything to do since I don’t work until Monday and it’s Saturday so I just turn on the TV and flip through channels for a while. Nothing good is on, so I switch it off and drift off to sleep on my couch. When I awaken to the sound of my cell phone on the coffee table ringing, I realize for a moment that not only did I not dream but that I haven’t dreamt in what feels like an incredibly long time. I shake off this notion, waking myself up, and answering my phone. It’s Delia and she asks me if I want to go to a dance night at one of the clubs downtown tonight with her, just me and her, no weirdness like last night. The entrance fee is cheap and I have nothing else do so I agree and she comments on how we haven’t danced together in so long as if it’s some sort of miracle, according to her. I agree to pick her up about an hour beforehand and when we hang up all I want to do is go back to sleep and actually have a dream for once.

After I pick her up, I can tell that Delia is trying to be nice to me, a little more than usual, and has made it a point to look nice tonight. She’s changed her hair a little and when notices me glance at it, she touches it, smiling, and asks me if I like it to which I say it looks like fucking shit with a smile on my face and we both laugh and I nod in confirmation to it looking nice. The ride downtown isn’t as silent as I expected it to be and the conversations we have are actually quite pleasant. As we park the car, Delia makes a comment that I never used to dance at all and that it’s cool that I’m coming out of my shell or something like that and that she’s really looking forward to seeing me on the dance floor, making a complete ass of myself, she adds, laughing. I tell her to fuck herself and claim that I’ve danced before and she just doesn’t remember. She mentions that Josh said he was coming out here tonight with some people, but quickly adds with reassurance by grabbing my arm that Eli won’t be there and she kisses my cheek giggling and I can’t help but kind of smile, rolling my eyes.
There’s already a large amount of people at the club and we have to stand outside in line in the freezing wind for a few minutes but when we get in, it warms up considerably. The music from the impressive sound system is pumping against the inside of my head within moments of our entrance and both of us have to shout every time we want to say something. We eventually make our way to coat check where we find Josh standing there with a couple girls and some guy from the party last night that I had played beer pong with. We all give boisterous greetings to one another and Josh tells us that they’ll meet us upstairs at the main bar after we check our coats.
After we go upstairs to the main bar and get some drinks, Delia sees some friends of hers, a few of which that were at the party last night including a couple guys, so I just roll my eyes and nod when she says she’ll come find us later. Josh notices this and leans in closer to me so I can hear him over the music.
Yeah, sorry about last night man, he says. I mean I know it was weird.
It’s no big deal, man, seriously.
Yeah well I mean, I let her stay and she fucked that guy Eli, so I dunno…I just feel bad. Didn’t want to step on your toes or anything, man.
It’s really no big deal. She and I talked about it and we’re cool.
He nods and then he introduces me to his friends that he came with, this guy Remy from the night before and these two girls, Tamara, who smiles at me when I shake her hand, and Katie, who’s apparently dating Remy. After the introductions are exchanged and the conversations continue for a while, Remy, Josh, and Katie all go downstairs to dance and it turns into just me and Tamara talking and I can tell that she has at least some interest in me, so when she finishes her drink I buy her another and myself one. The conversation continues to go well with her laughing at the jokes I make, seeming interested in my opinions, but I don’t really find myself finding what she has to say all that interesting. I occasionally glance around the room, looking for Delia but I don’t see her, though I get the sense that she’s watching from somewhere and this makes me feel all the more satisfied when Tamara and I finish our drinks and she suggests we go downstairs and dance before I can, I go without hesitation.
We weave through the crowd, the music pumping against our chests and I feel Tamara take my hand in hers and she’s leading me over to an area that’s not so clusterfucked with a large throng of people we begin to dance together. At one point, the DJ throws on a remix of a song that I absolutely love that apparently she does too and we’re both jumping and cheering and laughing together and as the song peaks toward its climax I realize that she’s pressing her lips against mine, something that I am, while surprised, completely happy with. After a moment of kissing I look at her and I guess I have a look of surprise or something because she starts giggling and kisses me again and suggests that we go get another drink and that this time she’s buying. As we leave the dance floor, Tamara holding my hand again, I notice Delia standing by a table with a couple girls she’s friends with and she gives me a half-hearted smile at me and I smile back. I feel part of myself wanting to go talk to her, but I’m feeling too pleased with myself as Tamara and I go up to the bar, still holding hands, her kissing my cheek, and knowing that Delia is probably still watching.
The night continues on and we all end up hanging out as a group up by the main bar again, Delia now with a couple of her friends. While she seems to be civil enough, I notice she’s ignoring the things I say for the most part and merely giving one-word answers if I actually direct anything at her while if anyone else says something to her, she responds normally. When Josh and I suggest that we all go back downstairs and dance more, we all concur with excitement, but Delia says she’s going to go to the bathroom. I ignore this for now and return to the dance floor with everybody else for a while.
Eventually, I realize that I have to go to the bathroom myself and I return upstairs and find Delia coming down. I try to stop her and talk to her but she tries to brush past me before I grab her arm and she tells me that she doesn’t want to talk to me right now. Somewhat drunk, belligerent, and persistent, I ask why and she gives me a look of incredulity and tells me that if I’m really asking that then I really am stupid. I pause for a moment before I call her a complete hypocrite and say that if she actually meant what she said about being glad that we’re friends then she shouldn’t even care that I’m talking to or flirting with or making out with another girl. She responds by forcing a theatrical laugh, rolling her eyes, shaking her head, saying that I’m full of shit and that I’m the hypocrite for being pissed off earlier today and that I can fuck whoever I want and she doesn’t even care and she storms off and without even thinking, anger pumping through my body now, I tell her departing back to fuck herself but I don’t know if she can hear me before I turn and go upstairs.
I don’t see her again for the rest of the night. I try to have a good time, despite my bad mood, but I quickly forget it whenever Tamara kisses me or even just touches my face. When 2 AM rolls around and the lights come up, blinding all of us, a very drunk Josh suggests that we all go back to his place and party some more. I agree and tell them I’ll drive us since I brought my car and since I’m not really drunk. As we’re leaving, Josh nudges me.
Where’s Delia, man?
I shrug and say, I dunno. Not with me.
I leave it at that and Josh shrugs and we all walk back to my car and I drive us back to his place. There, we all drink some more and I end up sleeping with Tamara at about 4 AM in Josh’s room since he mumbled something about us being allowed to do that and to not fuck up his sheets before he passed out on his couch. Tamara falls asleep almost right afterward, her hand on my neck feeling warm and nice, and I stare at the crack in the ceiling for a while before I too pass out.

The next day, Tamara is gone, but she’s sent me a text saying that she had to go to work early and that she’d call me later this coming week. I get up and get dressed and go downstairs to where I find Josh still passed out on the couch but that guy Remy watching TV on the other couch. I plop down next to him as I put my shoes on and say what’s up.
Hey man, he says.
How long’ve you been up?
Eh, about a half hour. Fuck, there’s nothing good on TV on Sunday…
Heh, you’re right about that one.
He’s silent for a while, flipping through the channels on Josh’s TV before finally settling on some dumb movie that’s playing on Comedy Central.
So, he says, what happened with that girl you came to the club with?
What do you mean?
Where’d she go?
I dunno. Home? Left with some guy? I dunno.
Oh, okay. He pauses and then says, I thought you guys were dating or something.
I let out a slight laugh and say, No, man, no we’re not together. I mean we used to be, but not anymore.
He nods and says, Good thing that you guys can still be friends or whatever. I sure as fuck couldn’t do that. Not many people can.
I shrug and say, Well I guess she and I can make it work.

As I drive away from Josh’s place, I give Delia a call. She doesn’t pick up the first time, so I call her again and she picks up, sounding tired. The first thing I tell her is that I’m sorry for fighting with her the night before and that I’m sorry I left with some girl but she just says whatever and that she really didn’t care. I ask her how she got home and she just says that she cabbed home because she didn’t want to see me make out with some chick all night just to piss her off. We end up arguing for a while and it gets kind of heated until a silence passes between us and we both end up apologizing and I agree to come pick her up so she and I can go get breakfast again and talk about it, if she wants. I suggest that we go see a movie together. She says that that would be a good idea and there’s another long pause before I break the silence saying that I really do want to be friends and she says she does too and says that it’s just hard sometimes. I agree and there’s another pause before I say I’ll be over at her place within 15 minutes or so and I hang up. As I pull up and stop at a red light at the next intersection and look to my right I see the theater Delia and I saw the movie at the other day is there. I notice that there’s a guy up on a ladder taking down the sign for The Grand Illusion, throwing the letters into a pile below the marquee, and I realize that I’ve been sitting at this green light, trying to remember the movie, but I can’t.