I had gotten dumped earlier during the day by Sal, my improv teacher boyfriend. I needed a drink or two or twelve so I decided to walk over to the Dresden, a trendy bar where my friend worked which wasn’t too far from my house. My friend, Betsy, was a cocktail waitress over there and would discreetly give me drinks that the bartender mistakenly made. The hangovers would be gnarly, but at least I was drinking for free. I was terrifyingly broke. I was 27 years old and had less than 20 dollars in my bank account. Now I was heartbroken and broke.
My tears surprised me, but I don’t think they were over Sal. I was grieving over the idea that hope for me was gone. Hope of a normal future. Hope of being loved. Hope of something… different. But now that feeling immediately disappeared like a pin to an inflatable balloon. Nothing to grasp or hold on to. It’s almost as if I imagined it all. How could I ever trust my feelings again? I felt like an empty rubber ballon covered in saliva of a man who did not want me. I wanted to be draped over a drink at least.
I showed the angry doorman who hated his life my driver’s license. I waved to Betsy across the bar. She looked surprised to see me. It was 8pm on a Saturday night. She probably thought I was hanging out with Sal. Deep down I don’t think she ever liked it when I showed up. She felt a responsibility to look after me. She would cock block and coke block me all night long. I’m sure it was tiresome, but she took that upon herself.
“Dixie. Where’s Sal?” she asked inquisitively as if she knew something wrong had happened.
“We broke up. He dumped me via telephone.”
Betsy didn’t seem shocked by the news at all. She was use to hearing about different boyfriends and dick sizes. She obligatory shook her head and gave an empathetic sigh for tradition’s sake.
“Come sit at the end of the bar. I’ll ask Roberto to get you a drink.”
I followed Betsy across the room. I felt men glancing at me. I sucked in my stomach as I passed by. I became conscious of my swaying hips. I checked to see if I had slept with anyone at the bar. Nope. I then examined if there was anyone who I didn’t want to see. Nope. My simple routinely checklist was completed. I was astonished. It was rare for me to be in a room where I hadn’t fucked at least one person. I hated how I made myself a prisoner by sleeping with everyone, not wanting to go to this place or that place. C’set la vie
“Roberto, Dixie just got dumped today. Can she just have a glass of red wine?”
The smug bartender, Roberto, poured me a glass.
“Thank you.” I forcefully smiled. I stared into the blood colored wine.
The break up really wasn’t that big of a deal. Sal and I dated for 2 months. I was a student in his improv class which he was letting me take for free. He offered me this on our first date. Paying for dinner AND improv classes? Have I died and gone to boyfriend heaven? I was smitten. I was so surprised he wanted to date me in the first place. Yes, he was overweight, balding, and 12 years older than me, but he was well respected and admired in the improv scene, a scene that I desperately wanted to be in. I had immersed myself in the improv community for 6 years now, but was struggling to fit in and find my voice. I was shy and felt out of place. Even 6 years in, it was hard for me to connect with people (mostly boys) straight out of college with heart beating parents and a seemingly normal life. That as we know, was not me. But if Sal was my boyfriend, then it was my automatic way in.
Sal was elusive and stoned all the time, but had a successful writing career. I had put so much hope or perhaps fantasy in our relationship. Finally. Finally someone wants me. A man who could date a lot of other women, but has chosen me. I felt special. But between his pot smoking and my fear of opening up, there was a big disconnection. I mean, I knew it wasn’t love or anything. But maybe it could have been? With time?
The night before he dumped me, I was actually on a date with my ex, Ben. I know. I know. If I really liked Sal, why would I go on a date with an ex-boyfriend? I told Ben that I still had a boyfriend to prevent him from pulling out his dick, and that worked. But ugh. I didn’t even like Ben. So, why would I cheat on someone who I was envisioning us being this famous power couple… with a guy I didn’t even like? Fuuuuuck me.
I took a gulp of the cheap wine and swallowed. I thought about where I came from. My dark childhood was attached to me like a shell. I grew up living life emergency to emergency. There needed to be something terrifying and fundamentally bad going on at all times in order for me to just live my life and have like regular bowel movements. Normally I wouldn’t have to be the culprit of something gone awry since my dad and my brother were masters at that. I’d go along for the ride and be their witness if they needed me to be. But I never knew how to say no to a bad idea. It was just more oxygen for me.
I looked up and saw Ben walk in with 5 of his friends. Fuck. My bad idea was now here about to ask me about another bad idea…
He was soon to ask me to be his girlfriend and would pay be cash money every week if I said yes.