Friday, September 30, 2011

Just Tell Me. Why Not?

We’re in a tavern, the only one within walking distance from the college we graduated from last year. The Blue Bird.  The Bird to anyone who knows anything about Chestertown. Dean’s over there, with his buddies, drinking beer. A George Straight song, something that probably went gold before we were born, is lulling in the background. He’s upset. I know it, but he can’t really blame me. He just can’t.

I’m not sure why I’m even here. I’m allergic to alcohol, cigarette smoke, and bullshit. But Grace is here, Dean is here, and it’s The Bird.

 Dean’s apparently finished hustling the freshmen who think they know how to play pool. His head is rested on the bar, and his maroon and black baseball hat is tipped upward and to the side. He doesn’t drink often, and the closer I get, the more apparent it is that he’s definitely going to feel this in the morning.

I place my hand on his shoulder and he doesn’t sit up, but he turns his head to the left to look at me. His cheeks are flushed pink and I’m not sure if it’s from the beer or because he’s face planted on the bar.

“Want me to drive you home?”

“No. I hate that car.” He pulls a face.

 “You love driving my car.” We both know it’s true.

“You drive like my grandma,” He protests.

“You love your grandma,” I reason.

“Yeah,” Is all he says.

His eyes are sad and glazed over. “So, can I drive you home? Or what?”
            “I’m not done.” His face scrunches up again, and without sitting up, he waves his hand across the bar as if this grand gesture will explain everything.

“You look done.” I lean on the bar and straighten his hat, and he tilts his head into my palm. He’s not as mad as I’d thought.

“Nope.” Instead of sounding petulant, he sounds so tired. “I’m driving far away from this town.”  

I’m driving far away from you, is what I hear.

We both know it’s an idle threat, coming from the same boy who rejected MIT so he wouldn’t have to leave the Eastern Shore or me, his best friend.

I roll my eyes and pocket his truck keys from off the bar. “Oh?” I say anyway. “Where’re you going?”

“I’m just gonna get in my car and keep driving until I run out of road.” If I didn’t feel so guilty, I’d make some comment about how melodramatic he sounds.

His palm is cupped over something rested on the bar, and I eye the protective grip he has on whatever it is.

“It would’ve been good,” He says, sitting up now and his palm gestures toward his chest. “Ya know?” With his palm off the bar, I see what he’d been clutching. The same black, velvet box he’d given me this afternoon.

The same one I’d said I couldn’t accept.

And I really don’t want to have this conversation here, with everyone pretending they’re not listening to our every word. So I say, “What’re you going to do when you get to Florida?”

His face contorts in confusion for a moment and then a sad smile graces his lips, “I’ll trade my truck for a boat.”

 I feel my own lips twist into what can only be a sad smile. I know things won’t be this easy in the morning. When he’s sober and I’m still not ready to risk our friendship like this. But I help him to his feet anyway, and he waves goodbye to our friends. I’ll make sure he gets home safe, and worry about tomorrow when I have to.

            I’m pushing his tall frame onto the passenger seat of my extremely low-to-the-ground car and he looks up, doe eyes and all, “Just tell me; why not?”

            I hold my breath, focusing on anything but the boy in front of me.

            “Dean, name two people who have been together for any amount of time and haven’t hurt each other beyond repair,” I finally say.

 I’m only trying to protect our friendship. Besides, shouldn’t people date before they get engaged?

            “Us.” Comes his definitive answer.

 And really, what can I say?


  1. All personal and unprofessional (if the only reason not to marry him is to protect a friendship then you should totally just marry the guy) comments set aside, how did you guys end up at your college-town bar to hustle freshman after a proposal?? This is such a interesting little story, I just wonder how you guys got to this point, if you start earlier this could probably be a whole other paper to turn in.

    I like the subtle-ness in introducing the little box as well as the dialogue and internal monologue at the end where the full picture is revealed. The 'Us' is such a perfect little line.

    You certainly have a lot of fuel to write about.

  2. You tell the best stories and I want to hear more. I am rooting for you (and for Dean). About the WRITING, you are not opening up with your words and seem to be saving the good stuff for just you to know. You pick whatever topic you want, but give us the goods on what you pick. More vulnerability, less thinking. Waiting for the next blog - And these are the days of our lives...

  3. Thanks to both of you guys:)


    Haha I didn't realize it until I read your comment that the way I wrote the piece makes it seem as if he proposed, I said no, and then we said “Let’s go to a bar and hang out with freshmen who aren’t even old enough to be here.” Haha Actually, he left my house and ended up in our old college town and one of our mutual friends, Grace, called me to come get him. He’s not a drinker, so she knew something was wrong. It’s funny the things we leave out of our writing because we just assume everyone knows what we know. Also, that’s hilarious that your sister had the same reaction to the Hocus Pocus movie. It must have went right over my head as a kid. Haha Thanks for the comments!

  4. Well that makes much more sense =) sorry to be nosey! I was just curious and confused haha.

    love reading your posts.