Since meeting Pat, I had to admit I was a bit in awe of him. More importantly, I liked how he could make you feel like you were the only one in a room, when you were surrounded by 20. His charismatic smile and deep blue eyes could be mesmerizing. I thought to myself on more than one occasion “I could never be with someone like that, he’s way out of my league.”
The four of us went to lunch one day as we often did. We went to this quaint little restaurant called “Village Inn”. The four of us sat in the big round booth. I remember looking over at Pat and before I could stop the words from coming out of my mouth, I said “You look like you could be on a soap opera”. Everybody stopped talking and looked at me. I felt my face get red and hot. What the hell did I just say? Jen gave me the “What the hell is going on” look. Alphonso looked like he wanted to scream “You are so dumb” and then there was Pat. I think Pat knew he was a good looking guy and his ego proceeded him. He gave me a million dollar smile. I wanted to crawl underneath the table and run out of the place. I didn’t. The awkward silence diminished and every resumed the normal conversation about Alphonso’s latest make-up purchase, Jen’s take on the latest drama at work and the plans for the upcoming weekend.
After my ridiculous outburst at lunch, I wished I could take it back. Sometimes my naivety was undeniable. I had limited experience with the opposite sex and still felt so awkward even talking to guys. I was self-conscious and my lack of self-esteem was transparent. Especially with Pat. He saw right through me.
So, when he asked me to go out with him one evening. I said yes.
Jen and Alphonso were working swing shift that night. I worked day shift and Pat happened to be home when I walked in from work.
“You want to go to the bar and shoot some pool” he asked. I was hesitant. We had never been anywhere alone, other than the time we all four went to the mall and somehow he and I ended up in Zumiez. Just the two of us.
I told him I would go. I jumped in the shower and got some clean jeans on and my old navy hoodie. I threw my hair up and did a quick make-up job. Who was I going to impress? It was just Pat.
We jumped into my car and headed to the bar up the street. As were walking in the bartender waved and with a smile said “hey, it’s you guys again”. I couldn’t help but think, do we really come here that often? The truth is we did. And they knew us by name.
I had forgotten my debit card at home and Pat only had a few bucks in cash so he ordered to two pitchers of beer. I hate beer. I really wanted my long island iced tea but didn’t feel like going back home. So nasty, bitter beer it was. We racked up the pool balls and I was the one to break. Unfortunately, my pool playing skills were as about as good as my social skills. Basically, they both sucked. So Pat, being the self-proclaimed professional pool player, he thought he would teach me a thing or two. He came up behind me as to teach me how to aim the stick. “Hit it like this” he said. The closeness was uncomfortable yet exciting. I could feel my face growing hot. I’m not sure if it was embarrassment or the alcohol. I looked over and we had already drank both pitchers of beer.
We had some conversation while shooting pool. At one point I realized that the room was spinning. I knew I wouldn’t be able to drive. Pat offered and I threw him the keys.
The next thing I know we are walking up the stairs to the apartment. The room was spinning and I needed to lay down. I went into my room and sat on the floor. Pat followed me asking if I was ok. I just needed the room to stop spinning and I would be ok. He brought me a glass of water and sat down next to me. I leaned on him for support and he put his arm around me. For the first time since I had been with Freddie, I hadn’t had an arm around me. An arm that I had longed for, even if it wasn’t the one I wanted. The next thing I know his lips touched mine. I reciprocated the best I could, with a spinning room and a pounding head. I don’t know how much time went by but I suddenly felt sick. I sprang up and ran to the bathroom. It must’ve been the beer. Pat came in asked if I was ok. I clearly wasn’t. He helped me get up and get into the bath tub, fully clothed. He turned the shower on and said it would make feel better. I closed my eyes and let the water fall on my face, wishing that everything would stop spinning. I turned the water off and could hear him in the next room talking to someone on the phone. I vaguely heard “I love you, Val…I want to be with you….let me come home…” Bits and pieces of this conversation are echoing through the apartment. I felt used in that moment. Even it was just a kiss, it made me so angry. The anger was fueled by the alcohol and I jumped out of the tub and grabbed the first thing I saw. It was a ceramic toothbrush holder off the sink. Pat had gotten off the phone as I rounded the corner to the living room. The front door opened. Jen and Alphonso took one look at me and one look at Pat.
The next moments would be straight out of a Jerry Springer episode.
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