“What are you doing after work?”
Oh no. You’ve been dreading this question for a week, ever since he began coming down to your desk to chat, ignoring your attempts to look busy, and the vague, one-word answers to his questions.
“Nothing. I’m pretty beat.” You say, hoping he’ll drop it.
“Great! So you’re free to grab a drink.” His face shows no indication that he’s picked up on your subtle hint that you have no desire to see him out of work.
“Oh…sure. I guess I could get one drink.” You’ve been raised to avoid impoliteness and awkward situations at all costs. If only you had the ability to flat out turn him down, to tell him to just leave you alone because it’s not going to happen. Oh well, a casual after work drink can’t be that bad, at least there’s alcohol involved.
At the end of the day he comes down to your desk.
“Ready?” he asks.
“Actually I’m taking care of my neighbor’s dog, so I have to run home first. I’ll just meet you there.” Thank God for that dog, even if she did shit on the carpet yesterday.
“I’ll just follow you to your house, and we can go from there.” He seems to be completely unaware of how murder-y that sounds.
Again, your impulse to avoid awkwardness trumps your desire to tell him to stay away from you.
Once at your house you tell him to stay in the car as you sprint to take the dog out. Please be sick, or the house vandalized so I can cancel, you think. No such luck. You mentally chastise yourself for wishing illness on a dog.
“All done.” You start to get back into your car.
“What are you doing? We’re driving together, silly!” he smiles at you as he lights a cigarette.
You reluctantly climb into his massive pick up truck.
The bar is completely empty, its usual flurry of people and peanut shells apparently only reserved for Tuesday nights when they have $3 schooners, a goblet of beer bigger than your face. You order a light beer, on tap. He orders the same, and, after looking at you awkwardly, offers to pay.
“So…” he begins. Here it comes, you think, the cheesy line, the personal questions.
“So…I really only work at that job to pay for my weed and cocaine. I run my own business from home and make like $60,000 a year.” You try not to choke on the tiny sip you’ve just taken. It’s hard not to laugh at him bragging about his drug habits, and the fact that he thinks $60,000 a year is that impressive of a number, even though you’re pretty sure he’s lying on that count.
“Umm that’s interesting,” you venture, hoping that’s the response he’s looking for. It is, and the next twenty minutes are spent nodding at him as he brags about himself. Not really that different from when he talks at you when you’re trying to work, you think. At least this time you have a beer to dull the edges of the sharp dislike you feel for him.
“Let’s play pool!” You blurt, suddenly unable to take one more second of his story about how he got fired from his last job because his boss was “a total douche, bro.”
You don’t know how to play pool, actually, but at least it means not having to stare at him anymore while he drones on about himself. You’ve realized during your staring that his face is strangely long and narrow, as if it was a piece of silly putty smushed down by a heavy book. The result is oddly unsettling once you realize what it is that always seemed off about his looks.
By this point he’s had three beers to your half of one. You face a difficult turn at the pool table, and ask him what he would do if he were in your shoes.
“I’d probably take off all my clothes first,” he says. You freeze, unaware of how to respond to this horrible attempt at what you think he thinks is flirting.
“Ha ha” you say. Not even a real laugh, just the words ha and ha strung together. You quickly take your shot in an attempt to brush over what now ranks in the top ten most cringe-worthy moments of your life.
In a moment of serendipity, your roommate texts you that she and her rec-league soccer team are across the street. You jump at the chance to be around more people, and drag this guy to the Irish pub where they are gathered.
He sits uncomfortably amongst your friends, as you linger at at the bar while you order, whispering to your roommate about how much you want to rip your own ears off at how awkward this night has been. Slowly, people start to drift away: to home, to other bars. A friend texts you asking if you’re okay, if this is a Tinder date gone bad.
He’s had ten beers to your two at this point. He turns toward you, first his head, then his glazed eyes.
“So do you want to come home with me?” he asks. It sounds like he’s trying to speak in a British accent, but you can’t tell if this is intentional or just the beers. You’ve had enough.
“Really, really not.” You respond. You figure he’s too far gone to pick up on how harshly you have responded, and will likely not remember in the morning anyways. “Actually, I should be getting home.”
He tries to offer you a ride, but he can no longer walk straight, so you tell him you’ll take the bus as you walk briskly towards the exit.
“Hey!” he yells after you, “Next time you’re paying for your own drinks.”