I knew he was trouble. I knew his reputation. He always bought the drinks. He always drank too much. I’d see him with one girl or another. Then he came to my bar during my shift. He asked me who I was and what I did for a living. His voice was soft and intimate. He stayed all night and asked if I was going anywhere after I closed up. I was, and he was there when I walked through the door. He asked me to sit with him and tried to give me his double vodka.
When I said it was time to leave, he followed me to my car, but I left him standing in the parking lot. I had a Facebook message from him before I got into bed. I knew he was trouble. So I had the advantage. I added him on Snapchat and waited for the fun to begin. I knew he sent dozens of girls the same cute pic of him laying in bed with his dogs. I could tease him and call him out on his bullshit. I could act like I needed him and then walk right out on him.
This went on for months. If he messaged me, I responded. If he bought me a drink when I ran into him, I drank it. If he wanted to come to see me during my bar shift, I flirted as best as I could. I knew he was trouble, but I was bored. Plus, he was good for business. I never met up with him when he asked. Until one Friday when I was feeling lonely and self-conscious, I decided to see how it would go.
When I got to the bar, he was, for a lack of a more appropriate word, cocked. He was drunk and obsessed with my body. He slapped my ass twice and spilled a drink down my shirt. Even drunk, he was seductive somehow. He stood so close. We were side by side at the bar, his arm pressed tightly against mine and his voice in my ear. He sang Kenny Chesney. He told me he wanted to have kids. He talked about how much he loved his grandpa. He asked if I would go see a movie with him. He bought drink after drink trying to get me drunk, but there was no way I could, or would, catch up to him.
Then this guy, who had been drunk messaging me for weeks and wouldn’t even ask me out to dinner, said he wanted to marry me. I just about walked out of the bar right then. I was both entertained and somewhat baffled. Here he was, in the flesh, Mr. F*ckboy. You can’t want a wife and want to sleep with strangers. You have to choose. He either really didn’t know what he wanted out of life or he knew exactly what he wanted and he was that manipulative.
Still, it made me feel powerful to tease him. Knowing what I did gave me a clear vantage point. I stayed until they kicked us out. Before that night, I wavered on what I would choose when he, inevitably, presented the opportunity to me. I had told myself I was in control, but when it came down to staying the night or going home, I wasn’t sure what I would do.
That night it appeared I was going to find out. He couldn’t drive home, and as I pulled into his driveway, he asked if I was coming inside. As I drove away, he yelled at me, “You’re beautiful! I hate you!”
Driving home I thought about how I could have been in his bed at that exact moment. I was proud of myself. If I had wanted a meaningless hookup, he’d be the guy to call, but I would be lying to myself if I said that’s what I wanted. I would get hurt because what I truly wanted was a best friend.
A lot of people have settled for less than they deserve because they can’t deal with the alternative: being alone. It’s so much easier to let an asshole tell you that you’re sexy than to think straight and realize he says that to every girl. I did it though. I made it through his trap.
He messaged me to tell me he was sorry. I kept it friendly. “Don’t be sorry… actually, you did try to kidnap me. Be sorry for that,” I responded, laughing. I wasn’t looking for an enemy. I just wasn’t going to sleep with him.
To my surprise, he came walking in on my afternoon shift the next day. Drinking double Rum and Cokes all day will get you pretty messed up by 7 pm, and he never slowed down. Again, after my shift, we went for more drinks. Then he got a call asking him where he was. “I’m not with anyone,” he responded.
I got up to leave. He asked for a hug, and I walked out. I deleted him on Snapchat. I ended that temptation. I’m not one of his Snapchat girls, and I decided I should stop pretending to be. In retaliation, he deleted me on Facebook and Instagram.
“We aren’t friends anymore?" I messaged him.
“No you deleted me on Snap.”
That was the end of that. A few weeks went by without hearing from him. I expected it. He was bruised from me taking away his favorite line of communication. I saw him around and was pleasant. He always looked like a puppy in solitary confinement. I did miss the thrill. I missed the game. I can go days without getting a call or a message from someone. That stings a little. It’s where I am in my life. I work a lot and rarely see friends. One day, while walking through the park in the dark with my dog, I messaged him.
“are you being good?" I asked.
"trying to be. y?”
“are u okay?” he said. I was caught off guard.
"yeah. just wondered how you were. will you be at the club tomorrow?”
“I’ll be there.”
Just like that, there he was again. This time he wasn’t drinking doubles, he was slowly sipping on a cheap draft beer. He brought up the movie he still hadn’t seen yet. We talked about taking vacations and traveling. He spoke quietly and laughed and smiled. He was the second to last guy to leave when I closed. I debated going out after because I knew he would be there. I decided against it, but, sure enough, he messaged me, “You coming out?”
I explained that I had to get up for work the next day. He responded that it was all good, and we said good night. I thought the conversation was over, but another message appeared. He said he still wanted to see that movie and that if I was interested, we should go. I knew he was trouble, but I’m not one to turn down a movie so I agreed, picked a date, and said I’d meet him there.
"do you want me to like pick you up and open the door and be all cute and shit?"
"is that how you want to do it?" I asked.
I mentally gave him an “A+” for acting the part of a gentleman. My friends seemed genuinely shocked that he had made a move beyond drinks. They figured he didn’t ask a lot of girls out to anything other than the bar. I told them that my expectations were lower than low.
Two days later, the day we planned to go out, I hadn’t heard from him. I wondered if I should let him forget about it – and then call him out for flaking – or if I should remind him, and listen to the inevitable excuse. I opted for the latter.
"are we still on for tonight?"
"oh I'm out-of-town helping my sister. what time is the movie again?"
I didn’t respond.
"Hello?" He demanded.
"what time is the movie?"
I repeated the time, and he asked why I had an attitude. I told him if he was out-of-town he probably should have thought about telling the girl he asked to a movie. He apologized, but the apology was back-handed. Instead of owning up to the fact that he forgot, he made it seem like I was out of line.
I was actually kind of relieved. I had gone back and forth between thinking it was a social experiment and thinking I didn’t want to cross this line. I knew he was trouble. Out of sheer boredom, I continued this odd relationship. I’m not sure if he just always gets what he wants or is there is something seriously wrong with his mental state. Maybe he is an alcoholic.
Knowing what I know, and being treated the way I have, makes it hard for me to imagine developing feelings for him, but sometimes, I can’t play this game because my heart is tired of hiding. I need to let it be sad and protect it from misguided attention. Most of the time, I still find this game fun. This might be a dangerous game to play, but as far as I’m concerned, I’m still ahead.