Early in my second year at FAU, I had lost half of the freshmen fifteen, I was attempting to go to class, and I had fully broken up with Jon. And clearly by “breaking up with”, I mean changing my phone number and deleting him off of Myspace.
Remember those days before Facebook was the powerhouse it is today and Myspace was well, stupid? The days when we still had both accounts open, friended the same people, posted the same pictures, and left the same comments on our friends walls. Boy, were we all idiots.
Anyways, I had realized that the last thing I wanted was a relationship. I was in my prime, in a new city, and I was tired of being tied down. Well, relationship speaking. I was definitely not opposed to a little S&M bondage (just don’t tell my life insurance carrier).
I wanted to go out and have as much fun as I possibly could. I was a nineteen year old college student with a fake I.D living in South Florida.
My fake I.D. was actually a driver’s license I stole out of somebody’s wallet at a dorm party and replaced with a Coldstone Card. While I was eligible to gain access to all of Miami’s hottest clubs, they were eligible for a free ice cream cone. Even Steven.
One November evening, I went out for my 20th birthday with some friends to a bar in “Downtown” Boca Raton. I say downtown in quotes, because anyone who has ever been to Boca knows there is no downtown area. It’s just the place in town without a bagel shop or Synagogue.
I was accompanied by my closest friends, Cory, Marissa, Katie, Jamie, and Josh and I was already a little drunk from my two glasses of wine from the Cheesecake Factory.
“I am so happy that you all came out to celebrate my birthday” I exclaimed after the each bought me a birthday shot. In another world, I would have preferred five totally different people, but I made due.
“Let’s do Lemon drop shots next” Cory shouted over the 80’s cover band.
“Let’s kill ourselves” I shot back as I readjusted the birthday crown I bought for myself earlier that day at Party City.
In addition to the crown, I was donning a shirt Marissa had bought me to wear for the night. It was neon green that had “Made in the Eighties” written on it.
“You know, because we are going to see an 80’s cover band tonight, and well, you were made in the eighties. Get it? It’s like…a double meaning!”
Man, I need new friends I thought as I graciously accepted the shirt and wished that people would have stuck to the list I handed out weeks prior. Aside from the fun 80’s shirt, I got a “Friends” desk calendar from Josh, an empty picture frame from Cory, and a bottle of champagne from Katie and Jamie. I was most excited about the champagne until they drank it before we went out to dinner. So, my real gift from them was an Andre sticker with a matching cork.
We spent the rest of the evening dancing to the hits of Billy Idol and Hughie Lewis and the news, all while drinking overpriced beers.
During, the bands rendition of “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”, I realized that I, too, wanted to dance with somebody, anybody but my friends. I turned to my left and saw two overweight forty year old women in matching Madonna costumes. “Eh” I thought. I then turned to my right and saw a group of fun people, my age, dancing and having the time of their lives. Since I was drunk, and when I’m drunk, I feel invincible enough to do anything, I jumped in the middle of their dance party.
Usually, they would have pushed me aside, or walked away, but seeing as I had on my “Birthday Crown”, they all embraced me as if I were one of their own.
After fifteen minutes of non-stop dancing, the one boy in the group turned to me and said “Sweet shirt man. I totally get it.” I faked a laugh because he was cute. “I’m Tim”.
“James. Nice to meet you.”
“So, is this how Boca is every night?” he asked while wiping the sweat from his forehead.
“Not really. Boca kind of sucks. Do you live in West Palm or something?”
“Are you that big of a fan of The Breakfast Klub that you traveled all the way down here to watch them play Whitney Houston to death?” (I know, too soon).
“No, I am actually here visiting the FAU campus. I’m thinking about coming here next year, so I wanted to check it out” he responded.
“Oh, awesome!” I shouted over the music. “You will love it, it’s a great school.”
We spent the remainder of the evening drinking, and dancing, and getting to know one another. You know, like you do at an 80’s cover band party. When the end of the night came, we exchanged phone numbers and added one another to our Facebook pages, as one does nowadays. I headed home and couldn’t wait to turn on my laptop and browse through his 453 pictures.
The next few months, Tim and I had a pretty sporadic relationship. One week we would talk every day, and one week I wouldn’t hear from him. It isn’t uncommon behavior with someone who lives 1,500 miles away. I still went on dates, and I am sure he sat at home crying that he wasn’t with me. Everything was still normal.
After having a really good month – meaning we sent over a 30 text messages to each other a day and talked on the phone every night – I decided that I didn’t want to wait until fall to see him, so I finished up my glass of vodka and called up Tim.
“Hey Jimmy-Jam, what it do in the Florida South?”
“Hey, Tim. I am just sitting here on my porch, smoking a cigarette, and I decided that we should plan to see each other. I mean, I know you are moving down here in the fall, but it would be nice to see you beforehand. Don’t you agree? I think we should arrange something. ” I couldn’t believe I was rambling on so much about wanting to see him. I also couldn’t believe I could finish an entire bottle of Smirnoff Vanilla vodka in one sitting.
“I feel ya, holmes. Well, I mean, I don’t have anything going on up here. Would you want to come to Pittsburgh and chill for a weekend?”
Would I?! Wait…Would I? I didn’t know anything about Pittsburgh. I didn’t even know what state Pittsburgh was in, but I knew I was in the state of complete determination and desperation to not have to care about that.
“I would love to come visit you in Pittsburgh! I’ll check out flights tomorrow and let you know!”
We hung up the phone and I logged in to my Delta account to search for flights. The next morning, I informed Cory and his boyfriend about my travel plans.
“Wait, wait, wait. You’re going to fly up to Pittsburgh? To see that guy you met on your birthday? Seriously?”
“Yes, Cory. Some of us have a spontaneous side. You should try it.”
“Spontaneous is about driving to the movie theater and then deciding what to go see, or trying something different at Denny’s. Not flying across the country for some guy. What you’re doing is crazy.”
“First of all, it is not crazy! And secondly, we go to Denny’s every week and every week you order Moons Over My Hammy, so zip it. What do you think Mauricio?”
“Yo no se.” (Mauricio is Peruvian and doesn’t speak much Enlgish.)
“Ugh, you are just jealous of my happiness. Both of you! I’m buying the plane ticket and I’m going up there. I’ve never been. Plus it would be nice to eat a cheese stake and see the Liberty Bell.”
“The Liberty bell is nowhere near Pittsburgh!”
“Whatever!” I stormed out of the living room and sat at my desk and bought my plane ticket for the weekend in two weeks. That should give him enough time to get everything ready and plan all of our fun activities and for me to get enough time to take off work. Perfect.
As soon as I received the e-mail confirmation of my flight, I texted Tim the details. His text was brief, but he definitely sounded excited.
Two weeks later, I was sitting in my living room watching When Harry Met Sally when Cory sat down beside me with a bowl of popcorn.
“You all packed?”
“Yeah, I think so. I hope it isn’t too cold up there this time of year, I don’t have any winter jackets.”
“It’s March, you’ll be fine.” We both took a scoop of popcorn.
When the movie finished, I headed off to bed. I wanted to have a good night sleep for my big day. I hate flying, and was trying to mentally prepare myself that the plane would not crash.
I set my alarm for 11:30am, so I would not over sleep. I hopped in the shower and got myself ready while I made Cory bring my bags to the car. I decided to text Tim once I got in the car: “Omw to the airport. See you in a few hours!”
His response was almost immediate: “I don’t think we should go through with this. I am sort of getting back with my ex. Well, we actually never broke up. I’m Sorry! Hope you can get that ticket refunded!”
I sat in the passenger seat of Cory’s Ford Taurus in complete shock. “Turn the car around. I’m not going. And please don’t tell me you were right.”
“Want to go to Denny’s?”
The following weeks were consumed with studying for finals, working at the restaurant to make extra money, and to forget about Tim. I hadn’t spoken to him since his text he sent me en route to the airport, and I didn’t plan to ever again. Well, until I ran into him at that very same bar on my birthday the following year.
“Thank God there is no cover band here tonight.”
“Si” said Mauricio.
I’m going to run to the bar and get some shots of tequila. Who’s in?”
Naturally, everyone rose their hands, so I headed over to the outside bar with Marissa. When the shots were laid out in front of us, the bartender said “That will be 28 dollars.” I looked over to Marissa.
“You heard him, pay the man.”
“I thought you were buying the shots?!”
“It’s my birthday, why the hell would I buy everyone shots? I said I wanted to get shots. Not buy them.”
A very disgruntled and aggravated Marissa helped me carry the eight shot glasses over to our table where everyone shouted “Thanks James!” over the music.
We all toasted to me and my youth and chugged down our shots. I slipped one of the lime wedges into my mouth and looked up, and that is when I saw Tim, standing two tables over with a bunch of girls.
“It’s him” I said.
“Who? Ryan Reynolds?”
“No. Him. Tim.”
I suddenly looked to Cory for advice. I was begging him to tell me what I should do in this situation. Should we all just leave and head to a different bar, or should we stay and act like we are having the time of our lives?”
“But I am having the time of my life!” he exclaimed.
“That’s cute, but I really don’t know what I should do. Screw it. I’m going over there and saying something.”
“Are you sure? What are you going to say?”
“I haven’t decided that yet. I’ll figure it out on the walk over.”
Four steps later, I was standing behind Tim holding a huge Nikkon camera taking pictures of three random girls. Once the shot had been taken, I gently tapped him on the shoulder.
“Hey-oh-my-God-What are you doing here, James?!”
“I live here, remember. I see you are living in Boca now.”
“Yeah, for about a few months. I love it. Hey! We met here exactly one year ago today! How cool!”
Why the hell was he being so nonchalant about everything? Does he not remember what he did? Is he even going to bring it up? Should I even bring it up?
“Awesome. Well, I just wanted to say hi. I’m going to go back to my friends. See ya around.”
“No, no, no. Let me at least buy you a birthday shot. Don’t think I don’t remember!”
Of course, I thought. This he remembers. Being raised right and taught to never say no to free alcohol, I agreed and we headed off to the bar. An hour later, I was hammered and completely forgave him for having a boyfriend and telling me not to come up to visit him the day of my trip. My friends came up to me and told me the bar was closing and that it was time to go, so I hugged Tim, gave him my new cell phone number, and told him to add me on Facebook.
In the parking lot, I was just getting into the back seat of Cory’s car when I heard Tim screaming my name. I looked over and saw him running towards us, waving with one hand, and holding his camera with the other.
“Shit, James. I have a huge favor to ask of you. My credit card got declined at the bar and I have no money to pay my tab. My friends already left and they aren’t answering their cell phones. Any way I can bum fifty bucks?”
Against all of my better judgment, I took off my seatbelt and headed back into the bar with him and paid for his tab on my credit card. Happy Birthday, James. As we walked back out into the parking lot, I said goodbye again and approached the car.
“Wait! I…well, I also don’t have a ride home. Can I just crash with you tonight?”
I looked over at Cory and Mauricio and felt suddenly so alone. It was my birthday and I’ll have sex with an asshole if I want to. I said yes, and we went back to my apartment.
The next morning, I drove him back to his apartment. He kissed me on the cheek and said, “I promise, I will mail you a check for the fifty bucks. You’re a life saver.”
“…But you don’t have my address!” I hollered, but it was too late. He was already in his complex. I drove back to my apartment to take a Benadryl and sleep the day away. I’ll never hear from him again.
Five years later, I was living in New York City trying to make it big as a writer, and barely scraping by as a waiter. I spent all day filling out job applications and sending my resume to every publishing house in the city, and all night serving $18 dollar cheeseburgers in Time Square.
One night after work, I opted out of going to a bar and instead returned to my bite-sized apartment to watch a bunch of YouTube clips and hangout on Facebook. When I logged on, I saw that I had a message. It was from Tim.
“Come on!” I screamed to my computer
I opened up the message and it read:
Hey James. Long time, huh? Well, anyways, I don’t know if you know this, but I work for a television production company as a PA, and I travel all over the country. Next week, I am going to be in New York City, and I saw that you now live there (way cool) and we are looking for a few extra hands to work with us for a week. If it’s something you would be interested in, let me know. Would be great to see ya!
p.s. I also need a place to crash.
I stared at my computer screen for a good fifteen minutes before even thinking about what to reply. Instead, I called Cory. He couldn’t believe that Tim had messaged me and said I should definitely fuck with him. “He told you not to come visit him while you were on the way to the airport because he had a boyfriend. He had you pay his bar tab on your birthday. James, it’s revenge time.”
Yes, it totally was revenge time. He was a dick. An asshole. And a horrible lay. This was my chance to get him back. So, I hit the reply button and said:
Hey Tom! It sure has been a long time! A production assistant? That sounds like a fun job. And I love T.V. So I would be very interested in helping out for the week. And don't worry. You are always welcome to come stay with me. Can't wait to see you!"
The next week, Tim was on his train from Boston to New York and said he would be in the city in about an hour. He texted me when his train got in and asked what address he should give the cab driver. I told him my address was 42 West 88th street, Manhattan, New York.
…I live in New Jersey.