The day begins slowly, the way it should on important days. The sole sound in the apartment is from the distant kitchen, where the coffeemaker you set not six hours earlier, has begun brewing your fresh-ground beans from Sumatra. Dark roast has become your go-to choice, especially on Fridays and Sundays. Fridays because you want to kickstart the weekend early in a caffeine-infused good mood, and Sundays because you want to get some stuff actually done before kickoff at Jeremy’s.
This is a Sunday. And while all of the cars you hear from your open bedroom window may be headed to church or the early matinees the local theater has begun, you’re going to stay in your old white tee shirt and shorts and rub your eyes and read through your newsfeed for at least twenty minutes. The coffee is done and still quite fresh by the time you play “myopia” on WordFeud.
Your feet do not touch carpet this morning. They find the tops of your leather shoes. Yes. The ones you wore out last night. Jeremy and the guys, remember, had called around ten and were all of a sudden going to the college bar to catch up. It would have been uncouth to question everyone’s decision. If Rog was in town, he was going to buy drinks for all of them. Maybe there’d even be some intelligent-looking girls around. You were in the drifting zone, you like to call it, and were well into an old episode of SVU, but you quick-showered, threw on something reasonable, dabbled cologne, and six hours later found yourself standing at your coffeepot trying to remember how to program for the following morning.
The shoes bear a stain you don’t remember, but you also can’t quite think of where the polish is at the moment. No matter, really, because you’ll probably not need to wear those out for another few weeks. Rog doesn’t come back home that often, and none of the other guys ever initiate a night out any more. Forget the shoes; get the coffee. When you open the bedroom door, you come amazingly close to hitting yourself in the face–a domestic violence victim’s excuse–but yours is that you’re just now realizing how hungover you are. Danny Glover’s catchphrase from those cop movies comes to mind. As you stagger through the long hallway, the desire to piss immediately arrests your attention. It’s like your bladder didn’t realize you were upright a few seconds ago, but when it did, you got your warning.
Piss, fill-up, repeat. This is not a lifestyle you are dying to return to. It’s becoming so different now because the girls at those bars seem like pre-teens. The music is noisier than you remember. The bartenders–male and female–have a keener eye for age than before and “don’t see you” as often as they did. Guys nowadays wear tee shirts with enormous wings on the back. Or ones with raised letterings. When Rog told you that shirts like that sometimes cost over a hundred bucks, you asked a question in a way that reminded you of your own mother.
It’s Sunday, and the corner Gas Up America! has good donuts. Or is it doughnuts? Both, you decide. It’s warm enough to walk there and maybe doing so will speed up the recovery stage. Take a bottled water and let your coffee hang out until you return. You rub your stubble and decide sunglasses, though they may or may not be needed, will be worn. No hat, because they remind you of the idiotic flat-billed hats today that are the rage among the wing-backed shirt generation. You are twenty steps from closing your door behind you when you realize you’ve left your phone on your bed. No sweat. Gonna rough it, you muse.
The GUA is not busy. The clerks are not young. The stench of hot dogs that have been rolling on those grills for probably six hours minimum is not appealing. You beeline for the donuts and examine the options. You realize you’re no longer carrying that water bottle. You’re thirsty. What did you do with it? Right. Trash can outside. Ten seconds earlier. Held the door for a guy. Who does that anymore? Shit. Now you really want another water. But coffee sounded so good earlier! You grab one of those obscenely tall water bottles for just under two bucks and come back to get a second donut for your baggie. Then, you realize you’re going to be walking with water and donuts and that for some reason fucks with your self-image. Tryin’ to be all cool with shades and scruff. But you’ll be carrying calories and anti-calories.
It all sounds so fucking stupid all of a sudden.
You’re still so drunk it’s taken you fifteen full minutes to realize it.
Someone says pardon me and you step left without looking. Now you’ve pushed over a display of beef jerkey and now there are dozens of those shrink-wrapped cylanders at your feet. You need to be back in bed but you’re an unpaid employee, on your knees and resetting a cardboard casing of off-brand processed meat.
You hear giggles and you assume it’s because of you. Humiliated, you’re still considering how you can play this off and boogie out of the store. As you rise—the beef sticks are not at all placed in their proper containers (which explains why that’s always the case)—you scroll through your internal Rolodex (registered trademark) for possible clever-ish things to say as you leave, as if you about to unleash to the world this summer’s catch phrase. Nothing is quite right, so you just leave and make a point not to hold the door for anyone.
Returning home, the Sumatra is like a childhood blanket you want to wrap up in. It’s after ten and Jeremy said anytime after eleven was fine. Only two of the S’s necessary for game day. Things will look up after a hot shower. Shoulda been the first fucking thing you did, asshole.
It’s important, you think in the shower, not to ever think about that beef jerky again. You’re not fifteen and not everything you do is analyzed by the masses. To them, you were some hungover dumbass who actually picked up his own mess (sorta). Nothing more. It’s at that moment that you remember throwing the donuts and unopened bottled water in the trash can outside the door for reasons you cannot fathom now.
You think, Jesus did I really just go to the gas station for absolutely no reason?
You drink the hot water from the shower because you’ve seen actors in movies do that and you’ve always wondered if shower water somehow tastes better than it’s supposed to. It doesn’t. It’s hot fucking water shot into your throat. This makes you think of some of the fucking college girl shots you did last night. Your stomach turns a bit, but you know you won’t throw up in your own shower. On your feet and ankles. It’s bound to spatter, so don’t do it. You won’t. But those shots were shitty and way overpriced. Rog gave you a look once like what the hell, man. What are you drinking on my dime, he was thinking. Not happy that I’m paying for those, you think he said.
The hot water beats on your back and you lean forward, sorta like just fall into the tiled wall opposite the jetstream. Fall, but not hard. No blood or anything like that. You think about some more of the details from the bar. The narrative is forming slowly and you remember Rog got over it. He was, he explained many times over, just screwing with you. You smile and think about the burgers that Jeremy cooks on gameday.
We ate at the bar last night, you remember. Like, you took a table and ate. Like…what the old people at those bars do. You shake your head. Like, literally shake your head at that idea. Did we think that was all right? We ate? Who sits in a college bar after midnight and orders fucking food? Pizza. Was it pizza? Sure it was. You had it delivered all through undergrad. Back then the student discount price for a sixteen inch was only five bones. They wanted almost twenty dollars last night. You actually say aloud some joke about the senior upcharge. No one’s in the shower, idiot. It’s not funny either way. Was that bartender’s name Sherry or Sarah? Why did she come up? Did she…oh, right! She sat down with you and Jeremy. Rog was working a girl at the bar. But this one, it was Sarah for sure. She was nice. She was tired and Jeremy had called her over.
The water’s getting colder.
The game’s on soon.
You’ll joke about last night, watch seven or ten hours of football, depending on your fantasy team’s success in the afternoon.
Rog said he’d swing by but couldn’t stay the whole day.