i'm a soldier!


two beers in, and i said i would stop so i could be d.d. i didn't want to have to spend another night on the floor. i told the two boys to keep at it, to pound them down, and that we'd go some place else, some place that wouldn't be quite the sausage-fest that r15 was that night. my cousin was in a sour mood, and i didn't know what the problem was. i told him to drink up, and he reluctantly did so.

"let's go to empire," i said. an hour earlier, there was a long line of young women outside this club called empire. there was a $10 cover, and i said i would pay my cousin's way. i don't know why it was so important for me to see him meet someone. maybe it was because i needed him to be at the level i was, to go through all the ups and downs of a typical relationship, and then have his heart shredded to bits. i guess that misery really loves company.

we went to empire, and after we paid for admission, my cousin let out a sarcastic laugh. "ha. ha." the place was dead, and i wondered what the hell had happened to that line of women. "let's get out of here," he said. "no," i said. "we paid the cover, so you're gonna have a good time." he and his friend reluctantly got more drinks. i got comfortable on a white couch, and i watched as the two of them moved from one group of girls to the next.

i sat on that couch and it was a pretty good time, despite me sitting all alone at a club. for one, there were these cages, and on stage, there were these two scantily-clad girls dancing. my cousin's friend came up to me. "how's it going?" i asked. "alright. we went for that girl because she looked the most alone." i saw my cousin leaning over and talking to some girl with long dark hair. i wanted her to get off that couch and give him a chance, but she didn't.

earlier that evening, i had convinced my cousin to dress up a little more. his usual getup was a loose-fitting t-shirt, sweatshirt, jeans, and sneakers. i bought him a button-down shirt and i convinced him to buy a nice corduroy jacket. "it's just like socom," he told me in the store. the story of socom is that i once convinced him to buy said pc game at target once, and then, as he left the store, i told him i couldn't believe he spent $80 on a stupid video game. he returned it. "it's not like socom," i said. "you should dress up a little."

the fact was, he wanted to dress up a little. he'd been watching many episodes of how i met your mother, and he was feeling rather emo, ted mosbey-like. he simply wanted what every other twenty-one year old boy who had never been in love wanted. and it sucked a lot when that girl wouldn't get up off the couch. i mean, really? was one dance really gonna kill her? give the poor kid a break.

as i watched him strike out again and again, i knew it was time to leave. but, i had one thing i had to do before we left. at that point, i was hanging out with his friend near the stage. "i've gotta tell this woman i love her," i said. "tell her you love her," my cousin's friend said. "hey!" i said to the dancer. she was wearing neon pink and green undergarments. "what?" she said. "i love you," i said. she pointed at me. "i love you, too." they were just words, after all. i was twenty-six, and she was a dancer. it was well-understood they were just meaningless words.

on the ride home, my cousin was going on and on about what his friend should do about his ex-girlfriend situation. he kept giving advice, and his friend wasn't hearing any of it. my cousin could not, for the life of him, seem to shut up. i remember him talking nonsense. he'd say things like, "your beginning premise is false," and "i don't know what i want! you don't even know what you want!" it was a lot of drunk whining, but i was okay with it. sometimes, you just have to let family whine when they're drunk.

it reminded me of a time from high school. i didn't go to this one party, so i only heard about the time our friend, eduardo, had made a fool of himself. the kid drank way too much and then he started telling everyone how girls didn't like him. he wasn't a bad looking kid or anything. he was just kind of nerdy. but there he was, at an asian sausage-fest, and jose cuervo was making him spill out everything. "i drank ten shots! i'm a soldier. i'm a soldier!" then he cried a lot and threw up in the bathroom. guys couldn't ever look at him the same again.

and that was kind of what happened with my cousin. when it was just me and him in the car, he told me he didn't want to do anything. he said he didn't want to go to school, he didn't want to get a job, he didn't want to do anything. he just wanted to sit in his room and forget the world existed. it was the there will be blood ("i hate most people") speech, and it wasn't very original, but i knew there was some truth to it. i offered him the best advice i could. "i know you probably don't think so," i said, "but you're doing alright."

every now and then, i think, we all need someone to tell us that.

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