Foolproof Antidote to Boredom
New guy blows into my neighborhood drink-tank, his sights set on the beer taps. I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor, solo, like him. In that iridescent leather jacket, he looks like a bubble that someone could pop with a good poke.
He’s ready to freddy—I can tell by how he yanks at the groin of his jeans and vets the chicks making the scene. A couple of barely-drinking-age buffys exit the Ladies’ and breeze to the bar. New guy multitasks, mentally stripping the cuter one while guzzling beer.
Not that his cad antics get me hot. Waiting to chat up my friend who works here is all I’m up to. Laying low, killing time. Some giggly career gals on the stools don’t notice new guy leering as they order mixed drinks and toast whatever the occasion is. At the end of the bar, a babe with mud-color legs pouring from her tight purple whoredrobe coolly dances her head and shoulders, catching new guy’s attention.
All I catch is bartender Tiny’s glower. More than once he’s tongue-lashed me for being a tripping hazard. Breathing room is why the floor’s my fave-o seat.
Gita, the waitress, crouches to visit on-the-fly. “Tell me, oh wise one,” she says. “Where can people get abortions?”
She nods and pulls a clownish frown.
I could be all over raising my own little baby the right way, if I was in Gita’s shoes.
“Near the university on Durant?” I say. “Is a clinic I get free AIDS tests at. Technically it’s run by a church and anti-choice. What I hear, though, is that some clients get referred for D&Cs. You sure that’s how you wanna solve this?”
“Thanks, Poop,” Gita jokes.
A butch rock climber babe swaggers in and says, “What’s up?” to me. If I was licky-sticky lusty, the grail I’d be crusading for, the person making me gotta, would be new guy, not this shorts-wearing babe. Her girlfriend shows up, and Gita hustles to take their order.
Jimmy the Gardener, the other regular, keeps his own tabs on the crowd. The working gal with Brandy Alexander residue above her lip treats new guy to a drunken smile. Jimmy picks his nose, resenting the competition.
If I was one of the boys, I’d lick the creamy foam off that gal’s little mustache. New guy slides his swill the other direction, next to the Mai Tai of the buffy with the looks-like-natural-sun-streaked hair.
With their cup lips nearly touching, his cootie spit molecules could be transferring to the buffy’s drink. She shoves her glass away and squinches her sorority ass to the far edge of her stool, next to her friend. New guy leans toward them and runs his mouth about “custom sport truck…amateur boxer…you girls live nearby?” When he’s fresh out of buzz-kill pick-up lines, the co-eds zip their peach and sea-green hoodies and quit the premises in a pastel minute.
March chill steals in as the young-uns streak out. Tiny blends Margarita slush he tips into salted glasses—suit crew’s third round, if anyone’s counting.
"Hey, Boop," Jimmy calls. The few weeks I drummed in a band my stage name was Boop. I still go by the single name. Like Flea. Beck. Bjork. Jimmy’s randomness makes me wanna get crocked past comprehension. Agave tequila’s expensive, true dat, and not my only vice, but nothing spins my spokes faster.
New guy glances at Gita’s mini-dress that fits like baby clothes on a bulldog. He gets back in the face of the girl with green gills. “I know from experience,” I say to no one in particular, “Long Island tea, Brandy Alexanders and Margaritas are a lousy mix.”
Why be here, when lechers notice everyone but me? When Tiny plays gaggy disco like The Nitro Glitterings? Being home alone is shittier. That’s why.
Gita's not used to me ordering a third drink. I can’t afford such indulgence, plus the cops made it clear they’d rather not bust me and end up dealing with my step-dad again. He was frothing at the mouth the time he posted my bail for public drunkenness.
This time I’m more than one round away from passing out. My last swallow burns like rocket fuel. "Gita!” I gesture with my glass. “Hit me again!"
New guy looks at me as if at furniture, his skull bobble-heading to the music. I'm about to yell, “Quit that, bro,” when, flouting the law, he pulls smokes from his shirt pocket. There’s writing on his neon yellow lighter that I can’t read from down here. He drags deep off his cigarette, like it’s freeing him from pain.
Gita exchanges a fresh glass for my smudged empty. The gold tequila’s as still as mercury in mild weather. "Someone’s gonna have a good time," she says.
“Surely you can’t mean me,” I say.
She tucks my money down her bodice and crouches. “My name’s not Shirley.”
I taste my six-buck ounce of drinky-poo. "Yo, Tiny! Are Gita’s ta-tas implants?" Another dumb joke.
Gita punches my shoulder. “I’m knocked-up, remember?”
The mustache girl buries her head under her arms. New guy stubs out his smoke and stares into space like he’s chillin' or hangin' when I’m certain he wants to be scorin’, not chillin’. Humpin’, not hangin’. His beer is clamped to his paw like a neck to a choke chain. Poor boy’s tense. He heard me refer to Gita's titties. He scores a point for not staring at them.
"Tiny!” I say. “Play Bad Religion or Rancid. Music with something to say."
Tiny is washing the blender. “Huh?”
I turn to Gita. “No one makes requests?”
“We're only gonna die for our arrogance,” I quote Bad Religion. The flesh donut around new guy’s middle overflows his Lee Jeans. Not that love handles offend me. “What do you think of that leather jacket guy?”
“Bad news,” Gita says.
“Beer Four’s clouding his vision. Guy’s got a remarkable bladder.” I sip my poison. When I look up, Jimmy’s laughing. He knows his rival, new guy, is a joke. “I could use a good joke,” I say. “World needs more plain old fun.”
A newer guy appears and quickly hits on purple dress chick, muttering baloney about “actuarial…Reno…nachos.” No one leaves. We keep imbibing and pretending we're not casing each other like houses to burglarize. Purple dress dances, rolling her ass.
“Some babes know how to come off all that,” I say. “Though who wears braces, unless she's eleven?” I'm twenty-six, a hundred and fifty-three pounds of Single White Passion.
“I should stand up and show off my goods.”
“I don’t advise it,” Gita says.
The rockclimbers get up after one drink. Gita clears their table, her hips so square they could be graphed. New guy stares at the bag of chalk dust hanging from one departing gay girl’s belt like external genitals. He has no shame, but the way my third dose of fire water’s fixing me up, no shame seems a foolproof antidote to boredom.
Outside a car alarm bleeps like a broken toy. Being ignored used to send me home from bars in tears. Lot of good that did. All new guy needs to do is pull me to my feet. I could go to his place and dance. Once I two-stepped buck naked for my buddy Spaceman Steve, but he was too stoned on Quaaludes to appreciate the hoofing.
My tailbone hurts. New guy’s mug is almost empty. Why dawdle?
I check my fake leopard jacket pockets for smokes and come up empty. My thrift shop Swatch says 1:30, but that’s New York time. The Eastern zone’s a dumb joke I have going with the drummer of Up the Wazoo, the girl band I manage. We’ve been trying to book a gig in Brooklyn through someone I met from Yonkers.
I jockey my knees under me and pray for the strength to stand. When I’m up, new guy eyeballs me. Took him long enough, but patience is one of my few virtues. I button my ratty faux fur. Gita waves good-bye.
New guy floats to me like a bubble of hot air. “Leaving?”
“So soon?” He slides his box of Camels from his shirt, opens and offers it.
Grateful, I take a cigarette. His beard, close up, gleams. He lights my smoke; the red print on the lighter says, “Vote For Me.”
“You got my vote.” I exhale a thin oblong of smoke.
He pockets the lighter. “Why do they call you Boop?”
“Bravo for paying attention.” I picture us having a laugh at my legal name before making grunty music of our own. He ought to hear my TSOL record. True Sounds Of Liberty. Their music’s ten shades better than the electronica ticking like a bomb in here.
“Wanna go somewhere else?” I say. Prowling wasn’t my intent for stopping in, but with new guy fixating on my tits and grabbing his groin, lust calls the shots. “Go take a leak, and we’re outta here.”
In his truck, we make up for time lost in the bar. Our order of business is lawlessness: reckless driving, lewd acts, open container. New guy’s manhood salutes through his unzipped fly. He says, “I’m Gordon” and floors the accelerator before the light turns green.
Feeling in my element, I sing Black Flag’s “Gimmie, Gimmie, Gimmie” lyrics over the mariachi music sputting from the car radio.
“You’re not a punker are you?” he says.
“Don’t you like punkers?”
“Me neither!” I pat down my spiked, gelled hair, turn up the radio’s fiesta horns and grin at the whole enchilada of him. “Vayamos, Senor Gordo,” I say, for some screwball reason picturing Hernando’s Hideaway from Pajama Game, a movie me and Ma watched on TV when I was yay high.
“Gordon. Not Gordo. I’m no immigrant.”
“I’m not your Daddy either.”
We hang a left, my mind going blank on the thought of “Daddy.” Whatever’s in this bottle that rolled out from under the seat converts taste buds into scorching sparks. Car lights skitter like ray-guns across the intersection. Another look at Gordo and that Mighty Dog yen for some down ‘n’ dirty blindsides me.
“Full steam ahead, Gordito,” I whoop, bouncing on my seat. “It’s show time.”
Two A.M. (California time) I crawl off the mattress he’s asleep on and rummage for my teeshirt through dust bunnies on the floor. A sucked-dry Wild Turkey bottle lies on my velveteen skirt. Wherever my bra landed, a Playtex 40D with the hooks torn out, he can keep it.
My butt stings. I hadn't noticed his unclipped fingernails beforehand. Usually women claw men during nooky, not the opposite. I personally detest pussycat sex games.
Another memento of our spree is what might be a broken nose. The middle of my face throbs. I must’ve passed out on my stomach, ‘til he rolled me over and knuckled my nose as a prelude to the main event.
Funny, how getting hit sometimes makes me feel alive. Damn more than celibacy does. Even funnier is that, for a minute at the bar, I felt sorry for that bruiser. Big mistake. I should feel sorry for myself, right? But I don’t wanna go there.
I locate my boots and jacket. Leaving my lost tights and ruined bra, I close the door on the crude dumpling’s snores and farts.
The street is deserted and cold. Dark bushes in front yards creak, as if concealing trouble. Walking the graveyard shift spooks me. “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” runs through my head. I wish I could shut it off.
My real name—did I tell him? I’m hazy on the he-said-she-said. Maybe he’ll look me up. I'm listed. Do I want that?
“One thing I know,” I say out loud. “Gordo’s game.”
Still, after this cruncher, I don’t plan to hit my watering hole for at least the week it takes to heal.
Four damn blocks to go. The sky's unloading a steady dirty drizzle. Wet electric wires snap above my head.
That swinish mutant knew how to burst a bubble, but at least we had a couple rowdy minutes leading up to that. Life’s gotta be more than managing a struggling band. Don't eat animals, I like to say. Fuck ‘em. Big dumb joke.
Mindela Ruby is a former punk rock deejay and current community
college professor. Her fiction has appeared in The Binnacle,
Emprise Review and Literary Mama. She lives in