Little Switch

Sometimes I get sad for no reason. Well, not no reason. There’s always a reason. But sometimes there isn’t a particularly good one. It’s like a little switch. The kind of switch that people don’t realize exits and they lean on it by accident. Someone lent on my switch last night.

It was a Saturday night. I usually go out drinking with my friend Jordan on Saturday night. I don’t usually need any encouragement to go out. And last night was no different. We went to a place called Sam’s, a little funky bar that plays old records and smells damp. I like it there. The drinks are cheap and it’s usually empty when we go there. I like it when Jordan and I have a place to ourselves. We don’t have to worry about other people being there, do you know what I mean? Anyway, I like Sam’s because we can request the songs. Jordan likes modern music though, hip hop mostly. I like anything that’s stood the test of time. I requested “In Zaire” by Johnny Wakelin. We always start with that song. That’s one we both enjoy. We ate the little peanuts and drank our almost cold beer for an hour or so. We chatted back and forth about football, music, people we knew, but not women. Jordan and I don’t really speak about women in that way. We never have.

“Where should we go next?” he asked me, sliding the last of the peanuts into his hand and throwing them into his mouth. He washed them down with the last of his beer.

“I dunno man. It’s too early to dance and I don’t think I’m fucked enough to do it yet anyway. Shall we go to the park and have a couple?” I said, gently tugging at the label on the bottle. I like to peel it off perfectly without a trace.

“Sound. That’ll do” he replied as he slid his arms into his coat and went to pay the bill. We like to treat each other sometimes.

As we were walking to the park, I got a call from Scott. We chatted for a minute or so.

“Do you mind if I join you guys?” he asked.

“Sure man, it’d be great to see you” I replied.

We talked details and I told him where to go and where we would be. I liked Scott. He was more my friend than Jordan’s, but he liked him too. Scott was one of those guys who likes to talk about women. He’s good with women. But he’s better at talking about them. He’s not like a slime ball or anything, or even very misogynistic. He just likes to talk about women. Perhaps it’s an appreciation thing.

We had arranged to meet him in a busy bar we knew around the corner from the park. I sort of wanted to go there to look at women. Jordan didn’t really care so much. He just wanted to chat to people. I just wanted to look. I’m not like a pervert or anything, I just like to look. It is an appreciation thing. I think some women are beautiful. I hadn’t had sex in about six months, but I didn’t really talk about it much. I tried to convince myself that if I really wanted to end that long patch of involuntary celibacy, I could. There’s always someone out there who thinks you’re something. But it was like I didn’t want to sometimes. I wanted to keep going, torturing myself by making a big deal out of it in my own head. Sort waiting there in the rain for a single person. I would try to make women fall in love with my eyes and never hear my voice. I would try to make them come to me but I would defend myself with conversation not hers. I would feel like someone loved me for the night and in the morning I would think about it and get a little sad. Not too sad. I knew that the same thing would happen all over again somewhere else with someone else. I would get a little happy, and then a little sad. My life seemed to keep in that balance.

*

We arrived at the bar and Scott was waiting for us with a table. I didn’t know how he managed to get one. The bar was full of people. Young people. All having fun and drinking heavily. It was an Irish themed bar with lots of Irish themed people. We sat down and did the catch up chat. We hadn’t seen each other in a month or so. He had been working hard and dating a couple of girls. He said he was playing them off against each other. I smiled and called him a ‘bastard’. I did it in that way where he thought I was teasing him. Jordan laughed, but I couldn’t tell he didn’t really laugh. We got to chatting and it seemed like every conversation somehow got steered towards sex. I would try and wrestle his hands off the wheel and points us back to where I wanted to go, but he was stronger than me. He could talk really well.

“Dude, there is so much pussy in here tonight” he whispered to me. I smiled again and nodded. I hated that word. Just the way it sounds. I don’t mind it if you’re talking about a cat, or someone being weak. But I never say it. I don’t have a word for that.

“I’m gonna go to the bar and get us some shots. I might be gone a while” he said with a wink. He wandered up to a blonde haired girl who was on the verge of being really drunk, and started making her laugh.

I looked around the bar at all of the people. It was getting late and everyone was starting to loosen up. Sitting at the corner table was a girl. She was surrounded by friends, but none looked to be anything more than that to her. She was beautiful. Not like head turning or anything. But beautiful. You know sometimes when you can tell someone’s a beautiful person just by the way they dress and hold themselves and laugh and smile. She was like that. You knew that she was a beautiful person. I started to look over to her between sentences. Jordan and I were left to chatting, mostly about Scott and how we both felt he was becoming a bit of a dickhead. But I wasn’t really thinking about what we were talking about. I was thinking about what I would talk to her about. How would I start talking to her? Where would I start talking to her? What compliment would I give first? But all of this was pointless. I knew I wouldn’t say anything.

She caught me looking at her. She smiled at me. It was only for me. I smiled only for her. I think we both knew that we wouldn’t give that smile to anyone else that night. She started pretending to be interested in what her friends were talking about, but every now and again she would slide her long hair away from her big round eyes and look towards me. I wanted to look at her all night, in case I missed her glance.

“Jager Bombs boys! Let’s do it!” I heard from behind me. Scott sat down with the three glasses and slapped me on the back. He sat down opposite me. “That hot blonde chick at the bar, I got her fucking number man. I’m gonna go and chat to her later” he said with a big smile. He slid the glasses in front of us.

“Thanks man.” Jordan said, readying his shot glass. I picked mine up and wondered if it wouldn’t make me too drunk. We drank the Jager bombs and got back to our beers. I looked back to the girl. She looked over and subtly raised her glass. I did the same. Scott caught me. He turned around to see who I was looking at.

“Nice man! She’s fuckin’ hot! Why don’t you go over there and talk to her?”

And that was it. That was the flick of the switch. My color started to wash away. Nobody felt it but me. I think she knew though. When she looked over at me, the smile was gone. The eyes were still there, but that ambitious smile had gone. I knew that nothing in the world could make me talk to her. I went to the bathroom and cried. I did it quietly and washed my face before coming back out to the bar. I didn’t want anyone to know. When I came back, her table was empty.

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13 thoughts on “Little Switch

  1. Katja says:

    I’m blowin’ away!

  2. ryanne says:

    Ooooh, how I hate “switches”…
    You caught that kind of moment very well!

  3. Neylula says:

    I know..

  4. Lisa* says:

    This is my favourite story you’ve written so far. I live for those little glances. You’ve done a perfect job of making those moments feel so real.

  5. Robin says:

    I swear this is my favourite as well! Brilliant. So real.

  6. Gabe says:

    and it’s a beautiful little story.

  7. Gabe says:

    you don’t need to moderate that. in fact, just delete it.

    i had no idea you were here. would be nice to meet up.

    you can delete this one too. i’ll stop using your blog comments as some fb message system. drop me a line/phone number.

  8. DD says:

    brilliant! 🙂

  9. Cassandra D says:

    I love this story.
    Resonates with one, doesn’t it? Sad and beautiful.

  10. You have encapsulated the moment.That sinking feeling that drops inside your stomach and rushes to your head, you realise, the ‘smiles’ are what you leave with , not even a parting word/wave/or nod.
    Great work Ross , you set the seen well , a scene we can all relate to and enjoy reading it pan out.
    Just started to follow you , and shall carry doing so! Be well , keep well.

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