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Birthdays and Pick Ups
by Stefi Sparer
“So, whose birthday is it today?” a boy who didn’t look unlike Brandon Davis asks the table but looks directly at my gorgeous friend Michelle beside me. She and Katie giggle and point to me. My two friends told me that I was beginning to prematurely age into a forty-year-old woman, so they took me out to celebrate my birthday about three weeks early at a small Chinese bistro. Davis looks disappointed but keeps up the charade. “And how old are you?” He is still looking at Michelle.
Katie answers for me, “She’s twenty-one! We are all twenty-one!” she lies.
I shoot her a glance and she gives a small shrug that goes unnoticed since the kid, barely twenty-one himself, hasn’t even realized we are sitting at the same table as Michelle.
“I think then that a round of drinks is in order? Let me buy you all a drink.” Greasy Bear turns his direction towards me then back to my friend, “What do you want?”
I turn to Katie. I don’t drink. The only thing I can think of is wine since I spent all of last summer categorizing it for a private collector. I wonder how weird I’ll look ordering a 2005 Bordeaux -a “very good year” according to sources- with a Merlot base that pairs well with Asian cuisine because the richness of the wine balances the bold Asian flavor that I won’t even drink since I hate liquor. “Uh…”
Katie pipes up, “I think a round of Long Island Iced teas.”
I whisper in her ear, “Katie, there isn’t any tea in a Long Island iced tea.”
She whispers back through clenched teeth, “I. Know.”
Greasy Troll scampered off to the bar for us as one of his friends sat down.
“I’m Steve,” he says as he takes a swig of Bud Light. “Who’s having the birthday?” he taps the Superman birthday balloon tied to the open chair next to him.
“Me,” I say and he winks at me.
Grease Ball comes back and pulls up a chair, “Uh, girls, we have a small problem here. You are not twenty-one. You are twenty. Frank, the bartender, told me.”
Katie rolls her eyes. It was her fault. She told the whole restaurant she was here to celebrate my twentieth birthday.
“But,” he leans in close to Michelle, “I can still get you the drinks if you want.”
“Do it!” Katie spurts out and he makes his way back to the bar.
I wasn’t sure if she said it because she wanted the liquor or because she wanted the guy to leave our table. I decide not to tell her that she should always get her own drink just in case the guy slips a roofie into the glass, but I figure she doesn’t need me to turn tonight into a ‘very special episode’ of anything.
“So, what do you do?” Katie asks Steve. This is a girl’s way of asking, “So, exactly how much money do you make?”
“I’m in real estate,” Steve says. “So’s Matt,” he points to the slick boy at the bar finagling drinks for us. “We deal up north a lot? Like, in development?”
I nod and pretend I care.
“And like, we work a lot in uh, like Mormon Lake? But, enough about me. What do you ladies do?”
“Mormon Lake?” I ask, “What’s up at Mormon Lake?”
“Um,” Steve blanks, “Mormons?”
Matt comes back to the table carrying our drinks and a beer for himself, “What’s going on ladies?”
“I’m just trying to figure out what they do for a living,” Steve answers. Matt cocks his head and nods to Katie.
“You work in the nursing field,” he says, hitting it dead on, but Katie shakes her head ‘no’.
‘I’m a business major,” she lies, “At NYU.”
“She goes to school with the Olsen twins,” I help her out.
“You’re from New York?” Steve asks her.
“No, well, like, yeah. I’m from New York, but I’m here to visit Stefi.”
“She is here to visit me,” I offer.
“But I’m from New York, but I lived here,” she nods.
Steve nods back, “OK… Where in New York?”
“Hmmm?” Katie asks, then, pretends to stretch and whispers in my ear, “I don’t know places in New York.”
“If you go to NYU, say Manhattan,” I offer.
“Where in New York?” Steve asks again.
“Oh, Manhattan. I love Manhattan!” She answers.
“I know you do!” I joke in a Cuban accent. Nobody laughs.
“How funny was that tonight?” Katie asks later back at her house, still slightly “buzzed” as she said, after drinking the three Long Island iced teas that Matt bought for us since Michelle and I were both driving that night.
“Katie,” I laugh, “You are the worst fucking liar, I swear.”
She looks kind of hurt, and I wonder if she’ll remember this in the morning. “God, really? I thought they believed me.”
“They thought you were drunk,” Michelle pipes up and we turn to look at her. “What?” she shrugs, “It’s true!”
“Hmmm,” Matt looks towards me. I notice his large body is sweating profusely and that his cotton maroon button down shirt wasn’t the best choice in clothing with his apparently anxiety or drug problem. It looks like someone dumped a bucket of water on either side of his body. “You’re just a student.” He nods towards my pink fake Chanel bag. “And you’re Italian.”
“Oh,” I say, “OK.”
He turns again to Michelle, “I can’t tell what you do, but you’re beautiful.”
She just laughs uncomfortably. She doesn’t tell him she’s actually a Budweiser girl. Matt toasts his beer to Steve. “Here’s to taking the week off of work. I work in real estate with Steve,” he says to us, “It’s grueling let me tell ya.” I try to make eye contact with Katie to let her know via ESP that neither of them could possibly work in real estate because they dress like they should be selling us a family share plan from Verizon Wireless. She gives me a small nod to let me know she reads my mind.
“Can I have your business card?” she asks, “My parents are looking to buy up north.”
“Hey, what’d I just say?” Matt winks at her and wipes away sweat from his forehead. “I’m not working this week.”
“Just a card,” Katie pleads. Steve glances at Matt the way I glance at Katie whenever she get herself into some I Love Lucy trouble I don’t think she’ll get out of. Like the time she told the hot guy who worked at Barnes and Noble that she was a lesbian and dating me. I had to have a talk with her after that one.
Matt opens his fake Louie Vuitton wallet and pretends to search for a card. “I guess I am all out,” he says. “But our new cards? Are metal. They are awesome. I did this test, and like, I put the metal business cards on a table and the paper ones on another table? And, like, the metal ones were gone,” he snaps his fingers. “It just sucks ‘cause they tear up your wallet, you know?”
Steve nods, “Yeah, they tear up your wallet.”
“I’m gonna smoke,” Matt announces, standing up from the table. “Anyone else want a cig?”
“Ugh, me,” Steve grabs one from the box and stands up.
The girls and I shake our heads ‘no’.
“Hey, yo, what’s up?” It is quite obvious that he is under the influence of just about everything. “I’m Jared.” He twitches slightly as he extends his hand and we each in turn shake it.
“Whoa,” he says as he shakes Michelle’s hand, “You’re, like, beautiful.”
I get out my hand sanitizer and slather it on.
“I see you are talking to Matt and Steve?” Jared says and takes out a pill box like your grandmother might have for her blood pressure pills and dumps a few pills into his hand.
“Is that PEZ?” I ask and he laughs.
“No, it’s uh, Oxycodone. Why? You want one?”
I shake my head, “No thanks.”
“How do you know Matt and Steve?” Katie asks Jared.
“Oh,” he knocks back a few pills and swallows sans water, “I’ve been working with them at T-Mobile for about, like, two years now.”
He leans back and pulls out his phone, “So, who wants to give me their number?”
We sit silent for a moment and I answer, “Yeah…” I turn to Katie, “Go ahead, Katie. Give him your number.”
Katie looks Jared straight in the eye, “Jared, I’m gonna be honest with you,” she slurs. “I live in New York.”
Stefi would rather be a Merlot Girl than a Budweiser girl