put my last quarter on.


i didn't have any friends, so she brought hers along instead, even though it was my 21st birthday, and i thought maybe the two of us would just get drinks somewhere. i sat in the backseat, squished together with a girl and guy i had never met. the guy was really tall, and he had to slump a little in his seat, so his head wouldn't bump against the ceiling. my friend rode shotgun, and her friend, another girl, drove us. "happy birthday," my friend said. "thanks," i said. the girl sitting next to me said, "it's your birthday?"

they asked me how old i was. i said i was 21. i asked how old the girl and guy sitting next to me were. they told me they were not 21, and then they showed me their fake i.d.'s. i felt then that their mere presence was undermining my act of 21 and going out on the town. we drove to some bar on 15th avenue, a place i had never been to, a place i actually didn't care to go to. the place had a dungeon theme, or maybe it was supposed to resemble a castle. we went in, and we sat down. we decided to go somewhere else.

we went to chop suey on madison street. i sometimes went there to see some indie band play, but that night, there were no bands. there was just a loud jukebox and a couple of kids drinking. i never liked alcohol, so i didn't know what to order. i just ordered what the girls ordered: rum and cokes. i drank it up, saving the cherry for last. we all sat down in a corner booth, talking about this and that. the three girls got up and started dancing. i remained at the booth with the guy, thinking that i might finally make a friend in seattle.

we didn't get to talk much. my friend's friend took me by the hand, and despite my protesting, pulled me up and told me to dance with her. the last time a girl did this, it was six and a half years ago, at our eighth grade graduation party. that time, too, i protested. i tried to move as best i could, conscious of the lack of rhythm in my feet, the immobility of my arms, my bad posture, etc. i felt ridiculous and out of place.

chop suey was emptying out, so we went to linda's. i didn't quite get the appeal of linda's. it was the kind of bar one would expect to find in random cities like lynnwood or kent, and not smack dab on pine street, in the middle of capitol hill. maybe that was the appeal: people needed to be in seattle, but feel like they weren't. i put it out of my head that we were there, and i ordered some nachos. the nachos upset my stomach. i used the semi-private bathroom, and of course, there was no toilet paper. i used paper towels instead. back then, people were allowed to smoke in bars, too, and i hated that all my clothes were going to reek once i managed to get the hell out of there.

around 2 or 3 in the morning, they dropped me off at the murphy apartments. i complained to my girlfriend about the bars, the smoke, the outrageous prices for drinks, and worst of all, the awful bathroom experience. she listened, and didn't say much in return.

looking back, i guess it makes a good deal of sense why i didn't have any friends then.

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