Monday, October 11, 2004

Bad Company

Other than Paulie and a couple of others, I've never been very good at choosing friends.

In high school, I hung out with the popular crowd. Really!

I admit this, even though it is, apparently, now a matter of confession. None of the really fabulous characters you read about in People magazine will cop to being one of the cool kids. They always "didn't fit in" somehow.

Even Julia Roberts tried to say that she was only moderately popular in school. Yeah, right, Julia, I am sure you were a regular Bridget Jones. As mom used to say, "Bullshit! Next case!"

And Matt Lauer just takes the cake. This guy states very emphatically that he was "NOT one of the cool kids." Yes, quite.

We all knew Matt Lauer in high school. Matt Lauer was the captain of the debate team, or the tennis team, and strutted the hallways with penny loafers and no socks, and bright pink, alligator-logo'd shirts with the collars turned up, preppy-style. And he wore sweaters over his shoulders like a shawl, with the sleeves tied in front of his chest. "Not one of the cool kids," indeed.

Me, I was no Matt Lauer, but I somehow fell in with this crowd, and I believe it was for the entertainment value. I had no inhibitions at that time (and have few now). Put it in front of me, and I would eat it, or drink it. Dare me to take a shit on the principal's lawn? No problem. TP a cheating girlfriend's house? You got it.

I would go to parties and eat an entire large Sicilian-style pizza (the best kind, BTW), wash it down with a pitcher of beer, and then, to howls of disgust or amusement, puke up the entire semi-digested mess into a bathtub, and immediately start eating again. Think of me as a corpulent court jester.

But even within the popular crowd, there was a definite hierarchy. At 220 pounds, I had about as much chance of fucking a cheerleader as the geeks on the computer science team (yes, we had one, and yes, I was on it). Overall, being a "popular" kid was fun, but I didn't get anything out of it. Kind of like eating cotton candy, or listening to 7-foot tall motivational speakers with big teeth.

Perhaps my choice of friends betrays some deep-seated character flaw. Perhaps I hang out with people whom I know can ease my access to the nefarious substances or activities I crave. Perhaps that is why I went out drinking with Dom last weekend.

Yeah, guys, we are catching up - only a few days behind, now......

"I don't want you going out with Dom," Lila says.


"Dom is a player. Dom is always hitting on skanky fucking whores. I DON'T want you with him."

"Nice to know I'm trusted," I say.

"That's NOT what I am saying! Why would you want to go out with him? If you know what he's doing, and you aren't doing it, why would you go?"

Ummm, for the stimulating conversation?

"It's just beers, Lila, it's no big deal."

"I DON'T WANT YOU GOING WITH HIM!!" she screams.

"JESUS, Lila! Take it easy!"

"And I HATE how your phone is always off at night. I can never reach you! You know I try to call you every night, and you never have your phone on!"

"Yeah, well I tend to sleep at night....."

"Yeah, right, Steve, you go to bed at all hours. You just don't want to talk to me!"

"OK, Lila, you're a little upset now, so why don't you call me back when you're feeling better."


"OK, if you insist, DON'T call me back later."

"No, Steve, I am so tired of you just assuming I'm going to be there for you all the time. You fucking treat me like shit and I HATE it!"

"How do I treat you like shit?"

"You were all lovey-dovey, and 'I love you', and I really thought you meant it, and now you're back to what you were doing before! I waited so long for you and you made me think you changed but you didn't!" her voice is breaking.

"Lila, I DO love you, baby. I was clingy for a while because of everything that was going on, but you need to understand that's not me, usually. But it doesn't mean I don't care. Because I do care very, very much."

"Well if it's not you, then I don't know if I can do this anymore," she sniffles. "I NEED you with me, I NEED you around a lot. I don't want to be away from you - I love you too much."

"Can we please talk about this tomorrow?"

"No. Tonight."

"I'm going out tonight."

"Goodbye, Steve." Click.


Julian's is a place that I would never go on my own. It's one of these fantastic, popular, trendy places that is really just your run-of-the-mill bar, but because everyone is talking about it, it costs twice as much to drink there.

Dom took me to lunch on Friday and told me he admired me very much, and that he thought I was doing a good job. He offered to work on a few extra projects if I needed him to. He also asked me if I was interested in having a beer with him that night. I am sure he has got something up his sleeve, or is just kissing ass, but he does good work, and I'd rather be friendly with him than adversarial.

Besides, if you are looking to get laid, the best thing you can do is hang out with someone who is successful with the opposite sex. You automatically look more credible when you appear to be on equal footing with a studly guy, or a hot chick.

Dom and I have a beer, and I go to the back of the bar to return a phone call. When I come back, he is talking to a five-foot-ten, willowy blonde.

"Here he is now," Dom says, in his silky-smooth voice. He puts one hand around my bicep, another on my shoulder. "This guy is the youngest district manager in the history of the company," he says.

"I'm sorry, do I know you?" I say. We all laugh.

"Megan, this is Steve, Steve, Megan," Dom says. Megan shakes my hand. Her hand is limp and flaccid; it's like I'm shaking a silk tie.

I attempt to let go, and Megan pulls my hand closer, inspecting my fingertips. "OH my god. LOOK at your nails!" she says. "Do you get manicures?"

"No!" I say.

"Your nails are PERFECT! It looks like you get manicures!"

No, but I do give facials, if you're interested....

Dom goes back to Megan; I go back to my beer. I overhear bits and pieces of their conversation. He is asking her where she likes to travel, and telling her that he used to live in California.

I hear her mention her girlfriends a couple of times. Is she here with someone?

Dom taps my shoulder. "We're gonna get a booth with Megan's two girlfriends," he says, smiling. "You hungry?"

"I could eat."

Megan disappears for a minute and returns with two girls. One of them is a knockout: Short, blonde, perfect teeth, flawless complexion. She has beautiful hazel eyes. The other one is a troll. I'm pretty sure she could've played a hobbitt on Lord of the Rings and pulled it off without special effects.

I don't mean to be crude. I'm not Brad Pitt either. But if you saw her, you'd know what I was saying. She's about 4'10", with greasy-looking black hair and big, thick glasses. She has a big chest, and a decent body, and she might actually do in a pinch if you were really horny at closing time. But I'm guessing this girl does not get much action before 1:45am.

"Now," Megan says, "Stephanie is taken, but Heidi is currently playing the field." They giggle.

We get one of these corner booths that seat 6 or 7. Megan goes in first, then Dom. Heidi stands there looking at me, expecting me to go next. This is an NFW.

If I go in next, I'll be in between Dom and Heidi. I'll be forced to listen to Heidi yak it up all night, and Dom will be of no help whatsoever, since he is in full get-laid mode.

I hold my hand out toward the booth, inviting Heidi to sit. She does. Then I sit, then Stephanie. Now I am in between Heidi and Stephanie, and there is no one on Stephanie's other side to compete for her time. Now, I can include her in our conversations and it will look like I am just being polite.

Heidi puts her hand on my thigh. And I don't mean a couple of inches above the knee, either: She's practically got a handful of balls! "So Steeeeee-eeeve!" she says loudly. "What do you do for a living?"

"I'm a district manager for an insurance company."

"I KNOW! They told me! That's very impressive!" she says.

OK, so why'd you ask, BITCH?

"So Steve, what's your last name?"

I tell her.

"Oooooooo! Is that Italian? That sounds VERY Italian!"


"Wow! I love Italian people. They're so passionate. Are you passionate, Steve?"

Excuse me, waitress? Could you do me a favor and put a bullet in the back of my head, please? Thanks.

"I don't know how to answer that question, Heidi."

"She gets nervous," Stephanie says.

"I get nervous!" Heidi says. "So, what do ya think of THESE two?" she asks, pointing a thumb at Dom and Megan. "They are SO gonna hook up tonight! They are inSEParable!"

She's talking really loudly. Dom turns and leers at her, clearly annoyed.

"There's that nervousness again," I say to Stephanie.

"Stephanie's boyfriend is a G-man," she says. She leans in close and lowers her voice to a whisper. "He's FBI," she says.

I look at Stephanie. She nods, smiling.

"I'm Jewish," Heidi says. "Do you have a problem dating a Jew? I used to only date Jewish guys, but they are SUCH assholes..."

"HEIDI!" Megan says.

"What?" Heidi says. She and Megan start arguing across the table.

Stephanie taps my shoulder. "Do you have a girlfriend," she asks.