0 - Anerism

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"When in doubt, fuck it. When not in doubt, get in doubt." - Principia Discordia


Our relationship was like the smoke from her cigarette framed against neon light. It glowed and wavered and drew your attention for just the briefest moment before disappearing. Unable to be caught or contained we drifted through the night air, unpredictable.

I promised her I wouldn't describe it like that—she did her best to disabuse me of my pretentiousness—but I can't help it. That's how it felt to me. That's how it still feels to me.

Every guy, wherever he is and no matter his intentions, picks one anonymous girl from the crowd and keys on her. That might mean different things to different people; it could be that he finds her beautiful, or the way she catches his eye signals some mutual interest, or maybe he's just drunk and horny and thinks this particular girl gives him the best chance at getting laid. It doesn't matter. Most of the time it doesn't mean anything. And unfortunately, in those rare times when it does mean something, that something is dangerous. I've always been conscious of women's awareness of the latter so I do my best, whenever I'm out, to force that instinct into dormancy.

This night was always going to be different. Despite my best intentions, Amy became the girl in the bar that I keyed on. I found her shortly after my friends and I had entered, the four of us crowding around two empty stools, Jack the bridge between the furthest of us and the bartender. She was sitting at a high-top beneath a red and blue Labatt's sign, smoking a cigarette, surrounded by people but totally alone. She saw me seeing her and winked. In hindsight, that's what cemented my attention. I had never been winked at by a stranger. I thought that was something that only happened in movies. Perhaps it is, considering everything that happened that night.

"What kind of shots are we doing?" Pat asked, grabbing my shoulder to regain my attention. Pat was big, athletic and strong, so when he grabbed your shoulder you gave him your full attention. In his eyes, I was just checking out some random girl in the bar. Not silently communicating with a stranger.

"No shots," I said. "I'm done with shots."

"C'mon..." Jack began. It was obvious what he was going to say. It was my bachelor party. My last night as a single man. The first time we'd been together as a group in years. All the cliched excuses we used to get shitfaced. "For old times sake." I had to give him credit, he said exactly what I thought he would say, just more concise.

"I don't drink like that anymore. My body can't handle it," I said.

"That's because you're out of practice," Bill chimed in while passing me a tall beer. It looked darker than I liked. Probably an IPA. I hate IPAs.

"Not to worry. You're with three drinking experts. We'll get you back up to speed in no time. Cheers to the groom!" Pat toasted. We lifted our beers. I took a small sip from mine (the iron taste confirming my suspicion as to what type of beer it was), Pat and Bill chugged theirs until empty, and Jack drank a quarter of his. He was designated driver. While I waited I assessed the exits. An old habit, but an important one. Being in a loud bar with so many people spiked my anxiety.

Jack got serious. "What's up with you? Why aren't you having fun?"

I shrugged. This wasn't my idea of fun, anymore. Getting wasted and waking up with a hangover had lost its appeal. Of course, I couldn't expect them to know that. "Nothing. Is this all we've got planned for tonight?" I asked, hopeful.

My three groomsmen looked at one another. "We thought we'd just bounce around town. Hit up our old haunts. Reminisce a bit before you take the next step into full-blown adulthood," Pat said. "Keep it loose, ya know? Did you have something specific in mind?"

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