The night of the LB gig, though, I texted her it was probably better for my pursestrings if I didn't go. She wrote back, "nevermind. Best 2 u." Not the most supportive message, I thought.
Four days later, though, she called me, and we met up for wine and happy hour. A few minutes in, she started telling me about her making out with some guy from a band on the beach, and how upset she was that he didn't call back. All she was about, she said, was the makeouts; why did people have to complicate things? She also reveals, indirectly, that she never went to the Lyrics Born show. So why did she text me about going that night? Was she looking for me to foot the bill?
So, yeah, at that point I start having second thoughts about continuing the evening. Just to be sure, after dinner I move in for a kiss. She backs away, but still wants me to go to another bar with her. "Eh, I'm not sure that's a good idea," I say. "I kinda like you, you're not really vibing here ..." But she insists, says, "Let's go, have fun, enjoy life." We make plans to meet 90 minutes later, split a cab and do karaoke. Before we part ways, though, I give her the mixtape she'd suggested during our prior outing.
She ends up being 45 minutes late, after calling me every few minutes assuring me she's on her way. We grab a cab -- on my dime, and get to the bar.
Not quite. Before we go in, she insists on having something to drink beforehand. She buys a $4 bottle of vodka and cheap orange juice and, as we're standing in the alley behind the bar like truant high-schoolers, mixing and trading off swigs of our little cheap-ass cocktail, she hands me a hastily-made mixtape, sitting in a cd sleeve. The artists are listed, by hand, but not the tracks. Still, I appreciate the gesture.
We're halfway down the bottle when we finally walk in. My buzz is negligible. We find a spot near the KJ booth before I head out to buy our first round. Me paying for stuff is starting to not surprise me in a non-pleasant way. I get a more welcome surprise when I see @Soulcamp at the bar. The next few minutes seem to speed by: as we watch people go up on stage, she tells me she's looking forward to hearing me sing; I step away from her to go to the restroom between drinks. Back at the bar, @Soulcamp informs he she's called him "a dick." Now, my friends are many things, but, as we mentioned yesterday, they're not liars.
I'm still processing this info as I go up to
I go back to the bar and grab another drink. @Soulcamp hasn't seen her, either. I feel a chill in my gut as I know where this is going. Still, I need confirmation.
I inhale and walk outside, making my way back toward the alley ... and there she is, making out with this hipster buffoon, glasses in her hand, heavy breathing audible from almost 10 feet away. I close my eyes again and inhale. Strike Three.
What happens next, I'm proud of: I walk up to them and say, calmly, "Excuse me." She's got the balls to be surprised to see me. I hand her back her mixtape, and the cheap-ass vodka, and say, "Goodbye." And I walk away - first to settle our tab and say goodbye to @Soulcamp at the bar, and then up the 25+ blocks to my brothers Jason and Kev-Fu's apartment, where I'd have two Whiskey & Cokes to settle me down. As I'm leaving the parking lot, she texts me: "meant no harm." I take 10 seconds for my reply: Sure you didn't.
Later that week find out that after I left, she complained to @Soulcamp that I was taking things too personally, that she didn't "feel the chemistry." In the days since, the odd times she's tried to start a text conversation with me, she's attempted to reproach me, and to appeal to the ease of our prior conversations, and just saying hi. But she hasn't apologized at all. Chemistry is one thing; courtesy is another. It's reasonable to expect, of course, that she feels she's done nothing wrong. But even if that were the case, I can't be that guy anymore, the noble back-up option hoping to "earn my shot." Because if she were willing, that quickly, to hurt my feelings for the first skinny jerk to cross her path in front of me, then it was only gonna get worse from there. And for once, I think I deserve a bit better.