(actual) nice guys (don’t) finish last

The doorbell chimed and woke Bea with a start. She slid from the couch to the floor, adjusting her blanket cocoon. (A blanket cape gave her more mobility.) She wiped sleep from her eyes and ambled to the front door. Not bothering to check the peep hole, she unlocked and opened it.

“Hey…?”

Bea couldn’t blame her confusion on her waning fever. A vaguely familiar gangly guy stood on her front porch. His name escaped her (or had never been committed to her memory).

“Hey Bea!” The disheveled hipster thrust a cup of melting ice cream into her hands. “I knew you were craving it, so I thought I’d stop by with some.”

Her eyes widened. “Are you psychic?”

“You tweeted about it this afternoon.”

“Do I know you?”

Ice cream dripped from the paper cup onto her hands. Her fingers stuck together as she gripped the cup tighter.

“I’m Miller. We met at The Cults show a couple weeks ago?”

Bea squinted and cocked her head.

“Your line was when you asked if I was named after the shitty beer –”

“Oh. You’re that guy. For future reference, that wasn’t a line.”

“Sure it was. You were negging me.”

That was your justification to stalk me on Twitter?”

“You wouldn’t give me your number, so you gave me your Twitter handle.”

“Being hammered makes me pity assholes like you.”

“Why am I an asshole? I brought you ice cream because you’re sick!”

“I mocked you at the bar because you were quizzing some poor girl wearing a Toro Y Moi shirt –”

“I just wanted to know if she was a real fan or –”

“–just a poser? How old are you, fourteen?”

“Twenty-seven.”

“Get out of my house. And take this with you.” Bea threw the Coldstone cup at his car and cheered when it splattered on his windshield.

“What the hell is wrong with you?! I was just trying to be nice –”

“That’s the problem with guys like you, Miller –”

“Guysplural — like me? I’m one of a kind! Women don’t appreciate men who treat them well –”

“– you say you’re nice, but are incensed when a woman won’t fuck you because of your niceness.”

“I never said I was –”

“Your creepiness says it for you.”

“So because you’re not interested that makes me a creep?”

Exactly!

The door slammed behind Bea. She locked and dead-bolted it. Disgusted, she shuffled to the kitchen and scrubbed her hands clean.

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What we got left is just me and you

“I’m the worst.” Gemma sighed, her shoulders stooped in defeat.

“Should I guess what you did while you wrestle with your guilt?” Adelaide locked the door behind them and sat on her couch.

“Isn’t that what best friends are for?” The taller girl flung herself to the floor.

“Are your theatrics warranted this time?”

“Yes.”

“Last time, you just shrank that cardigan you wore every day freshman year –”

“I lost my car key. Clicker too.”

“Don’t you have a spare?”

“Lost it last year. Instead of getting another made, I swore I’d never lose the original.”

“Where did you last have them?”

“…”

“Gem.”

“Ade, I had half a bottle of tequila –”

“– and lost your car keys in Chad’s pants.”

“Chad’s apartment. Or somewhere between the street and his apartment. I’m not really sure.”

“Call him so he can find them.”

“I dunno know where my phone is.”

“Use mine.”

“Don’t have his number memorized.”

“Y’all hook up whenever either of you need drunken ex comfort sex!”

“I took your advice and started using technology more — I had his number saved to my iPhone favorites.”

“Facebook message him.”

“He’s not on Facebook.”

“Being a Luddite is yet another reason that asshole should be denied your time and pussy.”

The doorbell chimed.

“You should get it, Gem.”

“Your house, Ade. I’m your guest who’s comfortably laying on the floor.”

“You’re closer to the door.”

Fine.”

Gemma didn’t bother checking the peephole before swinging the door open.

“Chad.”

“Gemma.”

“I’ll be in my room avoiding this awkwardness if you need me!” Adelaide left the non-couple in the doorway.

“You forgot your keys and phone when you bolted this morning.”

“How’d you know where I was?”

“You and Adelaide always go to each other for help. Or to talk shit about us terrible dudes.

“We don’t talk shit –”

“…”

Okay, we do — only when it’s well-deserved.”

“I know I messed up before, but I meant it when I said I was sorry.”

“You apologized for hurting me. Really, you just felt bad that you got caught fucking someone else.”

“But –”

“Don’t call me –”

“What about –”

“No drunk texts, no stoned smoke signals, or no sober letters sent by carrier pigeon. It’s over.”

Five minutes later, on Facebook:

Gemma Johnson: The greatest part about losing my keys & phone was witnessing a grown man(child) sprint away from my “menacing” best friend as she threatened to punch him with brass knuckles. 

44 likes, 1 comment

Adelaide Jacinto: #badgirlsdoitwell

For the sake of efficiency

“You stole the last jalapeño popper.”

Ed turned slowly to face his accuser. “Pardon?”

The petite woman frowned. “You snatched your sixth one before I could even try my first!”

“I couldn’t help it — they’re addictive!” He held his hand in front of his mouth to hide his enthusiastic chewing.

“Good.” She smiled. “‘I made them.”

“Ed.”

“Nisey.”

“Short for…?”

“Denise. My lil’ brother couldn’t pronounce his d’s, so he called me Nisey.”

“One of the many joys of being an only child — no siblings to give you nicknames.”

“In your case, I’m sure the bullies at boarding school did the honors.”

“How did you know I went to boarding school?”

“Just a hunch.” Nisey drained her solo cup and shook it, rattling the ice cubes.

“I owe you a drink.”

“Good thing drinks are free at potlucks. Kay’s goin’ on a liquor run soon –”

“Which is why we should walk to the pub down the street. She’ll buy the shitty stuff since the party’s winding down.”

“You’re real slick.”

Ed offered his arm. “Shall we?”

Nisey narrowed her eyes and looped her arm through his.

***

“I’m too old for this!”

“For what?”

“Neckin’ with my friend’s husband’s cute friend.”

“So you think I’m cute?”

“Wipe that smirk off your face! Would I be straddling you on your couch if I didn’t?”

“You could just be using me for sex.”

“Who said anybody’s gettin’ laid tonight?”

“I didn’t assume — just trying to lighten the mood!”

“Ed, I’m forty years old –“

“You’re smokin’ hot.”

“– thank you, but I’ve been divorced for a couple of decades. I’m good at being alone –“

“Nisey, I’m thirty years old. I’ve been divorced for a decade. I’ve dated a lot of women since –“

“A lot, eh?”

“– and I know right away whether I like someone or not. I like you.”

“I like you, too.”

“Since neither of us wants to waste our time –“

“Amen to that!”

“– what’s the harm in enjoying each other’s company, as the feeling is mutual?”

“Speakin’ of savin’ time…where’s your bedroom?”

****

“This was way better than either of our first weddings.”

“We should advise any youngins who wanna get hitched –“

“What’ll we tell them? If you meet someone at a friend’s party, marry the person a year later?”

“No, dumbass. We’ll tell them to save the money they’d use on a wedding and put it toward a downpayment on a house –“

“They don’t buy houses — they buy lofts or condos these days.”

“– get a friend to marry them, and go out for margaritas and nachos afterward.”

“The kids we know don’t have friends who are judges.”

“They’ve got friends who’ve bought marriage officiant licenses on the internet!”

“You can do that?”

“Yes, you old man.”

Your old man.”

“Your sappiness is embarrassing.”

“C’mon — gimme a kiss, missus.”

“Fine. But only ‘cuz I expect wedding night action when we get home.”

The cure for insomnia

“Move. You’re suffocating me.”

“Not what you said a few hours ago –”

Shut up.” Jade gasped for air dramatically as Cole rolled off of her.

“You demanded that I hold you all night.”

“Instead, you sprawled on top of me like a starfish.” She rolled her eyes and propped herself up on her elbows. “Get me a glass of water and two Advils.”

“I don’t know where anything is — ” He leapt off the bed as she glared. “Kitchen and medicine cabinet?”

“Your deductive skills never cease to amaze.” When Cole returned, Jade grabbed and downed the water and tablets. “The boy can follow directions! I knew guitar-playing wasn’t your only skill.”

He sat beside her, reaching to tuck an errant strand of hair behind her ear. She frowned and swatted his hand away. “Can we talk –”

“No.”

“It was awesome –”

Average.”

“– and I think we could be…”

“Be what?”

“Great.”

I’m great. You’re okay.”

We could be great together.”

Jade patted his hand. “The only reason we even happened was copious amounts of vodka.”

“An alcohol-induced lapse in judgment?”

“Precisely.” She burrowed into her blankets, closing her eyes. “Plus, what would the rest of the band say?”

“They would say, Finally!

“Your clothes are in the bathroom.”

After trudging there, Cole shrugged his shirt on. “You ripped the buttons off my favorite shirt.”

“I’ll get you a replacement.”

“My car’s still at the bar.”

“Sounds like you’re taking a bare-chested walk of shame.”

“Can you give me –”

“Too tired to operate a vehicle.”

“Maybe this is the cure to your insomnia…”

“Definitely not. Lock the door on your way out.”

“See you at rehearsal?”

Jade’s soft snores answered him. She slept better than she had in years.

Three speeches I would’ve made for closure (if it existed)

(Zero)
Closure doesn’t exist. I don’t believe in it. No one really gets closure when a friendship or relationship ends. People grow up and apart. There’s no particular catalyst that sets off the dissolution. Fondness fades into apathy. Relationships in which people become ambivalent tend to disintegrate slowly over time.

People purposely hurt each other and don’t take responsibility for doing so. They become passive or blatantly aggressive. They play emotional chicken, baiting (daring) each other to break it off first. Toxic relationships tend to fall apart as they began — abruptly. I don’t believe in closure, but if I did, there are three speeches I would’ve made to obtain it.

One
I wouldn’t have survived senior year of high school without you. Neither of us belonged in Alpharetta. We had aspirations beyond suburbia. You sketched and painted. I wrote. Our goal was to get the hell out. You were the smartest girl in our class and my closest friend. Instead of going to keggers with classmates, we spent weekends watching foreign films and listening to indie music.

Though you went to college up north, we would have long phone calls a few times each semester. We hung out during Thanksgiving and winter breaks. During one phone call, you nervously told me you were queer. I didn’t think of you any differently after that. But if I had to pinpoint it, that was when you stopped returning calls or texts as much.

You posted articles about gender being a social construct and the need for LGBTQ safe spaces without heteronormative influence on Facebook. When I called you by your name, you explained that you wanted to be called a male name and be referred to with male pronouns. I did so without a second thought.

The last time we had lunch was a few summers ago. We went to one of the few decent sushi places in Alpharetta. You had just started working for as an LGBTQ advocate, focusing on teens and young adults. Your work was inspiring. I realized that I’d never be able to empathize with you about the struggle you went through in discovering your gender identity. I’d always be part of your past, when you hadn’t figured it out yet.

Thank you for being a great friend when I needed one. I wish we still hung out. I hope you’ve found happiness and fulfillment (or at least closer to it now).

Two
I’m not sure why, but even though I hadn’t spoken to you in five years, you insisted that I was your best friend. You’re the antithesis of everything a woman should look for in a man. When a woman sees you, she should immediately run in the other direction. My friends referred to men like you by your name — you became a common noun synonymous with the worst kind of douchebag.

You knew me best when we rode the same school bus to high school. I was triumphant. After you teased me throughout elementary school, you recognized I was better than you — in academics, besides math and science, and as a person because I was sympathetic to a fault, while you were oblivious to a fault. Yet, every time you would date someone new, you would talk to and hang out with me more. Your mother would harass you when I wouldn’t stop by because you would inevitably fall to the wayside without my guidance.

The last straw was when you expected me to sleep with you when we weren’t together. As if that wasn’t insulting enough, you were still dating your jailbait girlfriend. It was a disgusting plan (even for you). Cutting you off was one of the wisest decisions I ever made. Talking to you just to hear your pathetic apologies was hilarious. It was equally hilarious to discover that you haven’t changed a bit.

Thank you for being the biggest asshole I’ve ever met. I kicked you out of my life for good and everything fell into place. You were the archetype for everything I didn’t need. In being that point of reference, I found the man who is everything that I could ever want and need. I hope you never change, for entertainment’s sake.

Three
You were a two-faced redneck bitch. I knew that when Ames and I met you, but I was naïve. I didn’t trust my gut as much in my younger years. As I’ve gotten older, I discovered that my first impressions of people are usually correct (for better or worse).

You were a fun party friend we met through a mutual acquaintance (your boyfriend at the time), but we ended up hanging out aside from partying. Then we found out that you talked a lot shit — about us. You blamed us for any time you cheated on him or got blackout drunk. You lied to him and said you were on the pill, in hopes of getting pregnant. You were the trailer trash cliché of a woman trying to entrap a man by having his baby.

Thank you for reminding me to always trust my instincts. You inadvertently introduced us to one of our other friends — his ex. I hope to see you on Maury one day.

“Bro, there is such a thing as too much information.”

Raf and I are two years apart, less four months. Since his birth, our mother forced us to cultivate a friendship instead of a sibling rivalry. While this is a positive thing most of the time, there are times when Raf crosses the boundary and shares too much. (He inherited that tendency from our mother.)

Text

I was preparing invoices at work, when an iMessage notification popped up on my phone. Raf randomly sends funny memes while I’m at work, so I didn’t think twice about opening it. I should’ve known better.

“I just got a burger and handmade salt and vinegar chips from O’Brian’s. It smells like white girl pussy. Lol!”

“OMGGG.”

“At least it tastes better. Lol.”

“Whyyyyy?! I don’t need to know this!!!”

“Just sayin’.”

“Bro, there is such a thing as too much information.”

Photo

“Hey sis, check this out!”

I narrowed my eyes in suspicion. “What is it?”

“A picture of a cute puppy.”

I exhaled in relief. “Okay, show me.”

Raf handed me his phone.

MY EYES!” I tossed the phone back at him in disgust. “Who is that and why is she sending you naked photos?!”

“This girl I met at a party last weekend –”

“You need to talk to Kevin and those guys about shit like this.”

“– who I went home with –”

“Can’t hear you.” I started walking away.

“– and we totally hooked up which was — ”

Hastily, I crammed my earbuds into my ears and drowned out the rest of the story with Outkast’s “Speakerboxxx/The Love Below” album.

Conversation

“Bro, why did Mom call to tell me that she found your ho’s panties in your room. And that y’all were sleeping in your room together.”

“Sis, first, Roxie is not a ho –”

“No, you’re both hos. Seriously, bro — shacking in Mom & Dad’s house?!”

“We weren’t even doing anything! At the time…”

“I don’t know why you and Mom feel the need to tell me these things.”

“Really, sis — Roxie and I were cuddling and accidentally fell asleep. I mean, we did have sex earlier –”

“NOPE.”