Monday, June 27, 2011

Something Post-Grad

A short story:

I was one of the lucky ones. It's a recession and I had the luck, or maybe just the connections to land a job as an assistant at a small advertising firm. I had the luck, or maybe just the attachment of a friend from college who moved in with me. And graduating wasn't so bad with all that in my future. But now I'm living the future. And it is summer in the city of Chicago. It's so hot, and the miles of roadways make for commutes that make me want to cut my fingers off one-by-one just to get there a bit earlier.

The advertising firm isn't bad. They mostly do ads for national companies that no one cares about. And my boss isn't too bad either. In fact she seems to really like me. She did spill coffee on me the first time we met though. That was two weeks ago. I'm starting to settle into the life. At least I hope I am. Who knows. The apartment is still basically empty. We have started taking the boxes from my friend's work—he works for a vegan meat substitute plant (so much for that psych degree)--and using them as pseudo furniture. It doesn't look bad. We found some spray paint and covered our boxes in a shiny red in the alley last week. They are now most of our surfaces.

The radio blasts as I sit in traffic. I am listening to Camera Obscura; French Navy has been stuck in my head since I first heard the song. I sing along a bit, missing the high notes—actually all of the notes. But that's ok, the car is like my own personal judgment free recording studio. And I don't care what anyone in the other cars thinks; I have seen them pick their nose like those window were tinted.

When I get home the place is a mess. But that's actually my word for clean these days. I'm going out tonight. My friend, John, is actually a native of the area and he knows of some places to go. I am excited to start meeting people again. I have the good fortune, or maybe it's just my connections, to not be lonely in a big city.

We all meet at a bar, some run-down place that smells a bit like mustard. But the beers are cheap and the darts set is free. I ask if anyone wants to play and a short-haired friend of John's, Lily, says she's up for a round or two. I'm not sure if she's flirting with me at first. Then when she awkwardly makes reference to the musculature of my arms, I pretty much get it. I'm no good at flirting. Instead I play darts with her for a half-hour thoroughly beating her in the process. Her competitive spirit kept her in the game but the fact that she was losing really shows on her face.

I offer to buy her a beer to cheer her up. Instead she runs over to John and starts complaining about how much of a downer I am. I look at him and shrug, “I guess my competitiveness got the best of me.”

He smiles and waves Lily off, “let him buy you a beer, he looks a bit forlorn.” Forlorn? Who uses that word? John can be a bit pretentious sometimes. It seems to work though and Lily and I sort of hit it off. She took a year off and is going to graduate in the fall semester.

That world seems so distant. The fall semester. College. Where is that? I drift into thought for a sec, and when I come to, Lily's eyes are staring wide at me and she has on a demure smile. I tilt my head forward the slightest, and then come to a little. “Do you want to get out of here?” I must be drunk, I'm never that forward.

She looks around, looks back at me and says, “interesting proposal. How about this, I have a big weekend with my family. Give me your phone and call me some other time.”

I took my phone back from her and raised my glass. “Cheers.”

“To what?” She asked.

“I dunno. Something.”