I can think of three definitive moments in my life where I legitimately thought that I was going to die. The first was when I was 9 and hanging off of a cliff in Wisconsin and had to be pulled to safety by my then-friend Chris (shout out to Chris for being absurdly strong at age 9). The second was last year when I lost control of my car on an icy bridge in the middle of the night. The third is the events that unfolded after entering Nicole’s apartment.
The place was a mess. Not in the way that comes with having a child, there were no toys on the ground or anything. No, there were clothes and empty food wrappers strewn across the living space. Half full laundry baskets in the middle of the room, cleaning products lining the kitchen table, shoes that were clearly kicked off.
Nicole led me over to the refrigerator where she offered me a beer. I accepted, because at this point, all I could do was be polite and hopefully get drunk enough to forget that this even happened. Then, she reached back into the fridge and pulled out a plate of brownies.
“Oh, so I made some dope brownies. Do you want any?” she asked.
Not to get preachy, but the English language is fascinating to me. Two people could hear the exact same phrase, and it can be interpreted in completely different ways based on their experiences and mentality.
So for example, let’s look at me: a 24-year-old man child who works with a bunch of other twenty-somethings. When I hear the phrase, “I made some dope brownies,” I think, ‘Okay, cool. This nice lady made some really tasty brownies that might have double fudge or sprinkles.’
But when you’re on the flip-side of that, a 45-year-old Australian woman trying to keep in touch with her young side, the meaning changes. “Dope,” no longer means “awesome.” “Dope,” now means “weed.”
“Yeah, sure! That brownies sound good right now.” I took two.
I was halfway through the second one when a small man walked in the front door. He strode right through the living room and got to the top of a staircase leading to the basement. Before he descended, he looked at me, gave me a “sup” nod, and went on his way.
“Was that Mike?” I asked.
“Oh, no. That’s James. He’s my baby-daddy. He comes and goes sometimes.” She looked over at the state of my brownie, as I took the final bite of the second one. “Holy shit! Slow down! These are really strong!”
“Wh…what do you mean they’re really strong?” I could feel myself turning ghost white. “Also, do you live here with your baby daddy and your boyfriend?” I couldn’t decide which issue I wanted to address first, so I just dropped them both at the same time.
“Oh, they’re pot brownies. I put a lot of weed in them.” Well that answers the first question.
Just then, James came back upstairs carrying a cooler. He gave me another “sup” nod and left without saying anything.
“And James, well, he lives in the area and I let him come here and see his son whenever,” she looked around. “I wonder where Mike is…”
Almost on cue, the back door opened and in walked a giant, burly, construction-worker looking guy. He was wearing workers boots with jeans and a Carhartt jacket and looked like he had definitely been kicked out of a bar for fighting and/or slapping a server’s ass before. He looked at Nicole, and then at me, and then back at Nicole. He pointed at me and turned to Nicole.
“Who the fuck is that, and why is he in our apartment?” he asked, in the most (understandably) threatening voice I could imagine.
“He’s Charlie! From the bar!” she responded. “We met at the bar and started talking about Australia stuff, and then he kept buying me shots so I invited him back here so that I could pay him back by getting him fucked up!”
Mike looked at me.
“Is that true?”
I don’t think I need to explain why this is a horrible look for me. I stood there for a minute, trying to think of the best way to phrase, “I wanted to have sex with your girlfriend but there was a huge miscommunication and now I kind of want to cry.” I landed on this:
“I mean, pretty much. I thought she was really interesting, and I get paid on Friday so I didn’t have any problem with buying drinks. When she invited me back here, I just thought we’d have a night cap and I’d leave because I live in the area.”
Confirm Nicole’s story, while explaining my actions? Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe it was all the whiskey shots, maybe it was the THC that was infiltrating my blood stream, but I’d say that I nailed that one.
As pleased as I was with myself, Mike shook his head. He didn’t look satisfied. He slowly walked over to a drawer in the kitchen. As he searched through the drawer, I heard metal clanging around. My heart started racing. What was he looking for? Should I be worried? Was it a gun?
He pulled something out of the drawer and walked toward me. My heart was racing. As he got closer, I realized how much taller than me he was. We’re talking 6’2”, 240 pounds. This dude could break my neck with one hand. He gets within arm’s reach of me, smiles, and holds up a bag of weed.
“You want to party with us?” he asked.
I laughed out loud. I know I tend to overthink things, but this time I took it too far. I’m sure he was frustrated with the situation, but he was trying to make the best of it.
“Sorry, man. I actually ate two of those brownies and I don’t really do this kind of stuff anyway, so I’m going to pass, probably head out.”
“All good, man,” Mike said. He walked over to the drawer and pulled out a pipe.
“Hey—it’s Mike, right?” I asked. “Is it cool if I use the bathroom before I leave?”
“For sure, brother!” he replied.
I walked to the bathroom, did my thing, and texted my friends to tell them that the weirdest thing had just happened. As I opened the door, I realized that something had changed since two minutes before. The mood of the room was different. Nicole was nowhere to be seen. I shrugged and started walking towards the door when Mike stood up from the couch.
He planted his feet in front of me, no longer smiling. I was ten feet away from the exit, and this guy was the only thing standing in my way. I looked up at him, wondering where this was coming from. He looked down to me, and in an ominous voice, he said something that I’ll never forget.
“We need to talk. I know you were trying to fuck my girlfriend.”.