======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ==== ======= ======= ====== ====== ====== ===== ==== ====== ====== ===== ====
Ok, heads I’ll Irish Goodbye, tails I’ll stop office by office to chat.
He sat with a quarter resting on the top of his thumb, ready to let fate make his office escape decision for him. What had turned into dropping by in the morning to do a bit of paperwork then jet for some afternoon hacks at the driving range had turned into six hours of unexpected grinding after putting out some fires for a client.
As he flicked the quarter into the air, watching it spin with the weight of a fifteen-minute office exit due to cliche co-worker conversations hanging in the balance, his phone lit up. Catching the quarter but not unfurling his fist, he peered at the screen to see that he was getting a call from “The Juice.”
He swiped then answered, “Hey man, can’t really talk to much, I’m busy working on something at the office.” Refreshing his Twitter feed and beginning to scroll, he continued “What’s up?”
“You never responded to my text, please tell me you got that babysitter for tonight,” said James, who went by his middle name, as the name given to him by his rabid Bills-fan father of “Orenthal” had fallen out of favor shortly after his birth.
He closed his browser and leaned back in his chair. “Yeah, I did. That same high school girl that lives down the street who babysat for me when we went out for Jeff’s birthday, Carly. Or Katie. Idk, same thing.”
“Is that the one who drives a nicer car than you?”
“That’s the one.”
“Perfect,” said James. He could practically hear him grinning with excitement over the phone as he blurted, “You ready to get a little shitty tonight old man?!”
Sensing the supersonic hearing of Suzanne in the office across from his he replied, “Oh yeah, dinner should be nice,” then dropped down to a less audible whisper with “and dinner is probably all it’s gonna be man, I’ll have a few beers but I’m not trying to stay out late as shit. Grant will still be up at the asscrack of dawn.”
James let out an exasperated gasp and said “Dude, don’t even think about leaving after dinner. You said yourself all you have to do is drop him off at preschool in the morning and then you can just work from home!”
He tried to interject but James plowed right along, “This night lined up perfectly dude. Between neither of us having Friday morning work commitments, Mark being in town for his cousin’s wedding, and Frank having to see his probation officer tomorrow morning so he can’t come, it’s perfect. We’re at least going to the bar for a bit, we aren’t that old.”
“I mean…we will see. I’ll call you when I’m headed out to dinner.”
Seeing that his Uber was two minutes away, he called Grant away from his tablet, “Alright buddy I’m going to go eat with Uncle James and Uncle Mark. I’ll be back after bedtime so give me a big hug.” Grant obliged then went right back to whatever shit YouTube video he was watching. Looking at the sitter he said “Alright well if you need anything absolutely call, you know the drill. I shouldn’t be out too late, thanks Courtney.”
She smiled and replied, “Oh don’t worry about it. We don’t have school tomorrow and I just love hanging out with my favorite little man. My mom says you’re turning into a hermit anyways and you need to get out of the house more, so I hope you have a good time!”
He awkwardly smiled, assuming her mother hadn’t planned on that information being relayed. “Welp, Uber is here. Bye buddy!” Grant looked up briefly, then back down at his tablet as his father walked out the door.
“Alright, drain your beers, I’m getting an Uber and we’re making moves, dinner is on me,” quipped Mark before tipping back his fifth Miller Lite of their barely hour-long meal. Quelling a burp he looked across the table, “Come on and drink up daddy, we’re not calling it a night at 9.”
He chased his last bite of steak fajita with the remainder of his Moscow mule and took a peek at his phone and opened up the two messages from the sitter:
8:41PM: “Hey, just updating you, we watched some Toy Story, had a bedtime snack, and are going to read a bedtime story now. I know it’s a little late but he behaved soooooo good tonight so I let him stay up a bit later.”
8:54PM: “Alright he’s in bed, seemed suuuuuper sleepy!”
As he texted her back “Thanks for the update!” he looked at James and Mark, eagerly staring back at him hoping to hear the magic words. “Alright guys, I’ll go out for a beer or two. Where to?”
“Boom!” yelled James, slapping the table and drawing the ire of the patrons around them, and exclaimed “Get that Uber for Conroy’s!”
Ah shit. He texted the sitter again, “Making one stop, I should be back home by 1030” then slightly grimaced. Conroy’s was the local trash Irish pub that was a guarantee for two things: that you’d certainly see at least one person from high school, and that they’d start drinking like they were 21-year-old trash.
As they walked out the door he offered, “Why don’t we head to the beer gard-” before being cut off quickly by Mark interjecting “I’m going to be stuck doing wedding shit for the rest of the weekend, and I’m not leaving a hometown visit without drinking more than I should at our favorite shithole!”
They both looked at James, who just shrugged and muttered “down for whatever,” then they climbed into the lime green Kia Soul that had just pulled up in front of them.
“Why does it always smell like piss in here?” James yelled over the Camila Cabello song blaring. He then shouted, “And this has gotta be the only bar around that you can still smoke in. They really do everything in their power to make it smell like a strip club.”
The trio was standing at a table just right of the bar observing their surroundings like one would observe a train wreck. By the door, three obvious high schoolers were engaging in fist bumps after succeeding with giving fake IDs to the indifferent bouncer who likely hadn’t read a birth date all night. He checked his phone and saw a message from the sitter (“he woke up for a bit, said he misses you, but went back to sleep!”) and finished his bourbon ginger with a pang of parental guilt.
Something about the way the bourbon hit him gave him a moment of alcoholic inspiration.
You know what, I’ve got a sitter and I need nights like this. I deserve to get drunk at this shithole bar with my idiot friends. I can manage a massive hangover on the drive to preschool tomorrow, my parenting work is done for the night anyways.
“Alright guys, I’m getting another round. Any winners yet Mark?” Mark had been scouring the bar after drunkenly deciding that he was going to find a last minute wedding date despite James’ misgivings (“your cousin already doesn’t like you that much dude”). Regardless, he was undeterred.
“Not yet, but I think that’s Lauren Snelling from high school. She was a year older than us and looks pretty good,” he responded, gazing creepily at the female in question across the bar. “Didn’t she move to Gaza or something like that?”
James retorted “Actually it was Gainesville, and her name is Lauren Jackson now. Same last name as the big dude sitting directly across her.”
Mark’s face fell slightly, then he rebounded. “Oh well, the one that got away. Shots guys? Shots. I’ll get Fireball.”
He and James let out simultaneous sounds that sounded like a wounded animal, and he cried “Absolutely fucking not. I’m Ubering home if you get Fireball, we’re not in college anymore.”
“Yeah I could go for tequila.”
The tequila shot went down far smoother than it should’ve for a guy who hadn’t drank passed the legal limit in awhile. So did the next few shots over the course of their darts games. Checking his phone every now and then with no new updates from the sitter, he continued to imbibe like a man in far better drinking shape than he was.
The Ford Fusion hugged a right turn and he smashed up against backseat passenger door, looking down with triple-vison at his phone showing a time of 11:47 p.m.
Jesus Christ, it’s not even midnight and you’re this washed up. Don’t you dare throw up in an Uber. You’re someone’s father.
His Uber driver, Jessica, lowered the Nick Jonas song on the radio and spoke up, “Your buddy seemed to be having some fun tonight.”
He closed his eyes, wincing at both the tequila sloshing in his stomach and recent memory of James screaming at Mark that he couldn’t piss in the middle of the parking lot as they climbed in their Uber to head back to James’ apartment. As the spins started to set in, it took all he could to simply utter “Oh yeah.”
Two minutes until you’re home. Just pay the sitter, puke in the bathroom, sleep on the couch. You can do this you sad sack of shit, pull it together, you’ve lived through worse than this.
The Uber pulled up to his house and he wordlessly rolled out of the car with maximum effort, withdrawing his keys with an increasingly shaky hand, ready to unleash fajitas and liquor as soon as he got the babysitter out of the house.
Just going to tell her I’ll Venmo her, fuck I can’t wait to pass out in my bed.
He turned the key and pushed through the door, ready to hit the sitter with his prepared speech of “Thanks so much, I’ll Venmo you, get home safe” and sprint to the restroom. Instead he was hit with something else.
“DADDY!!!” Grant leaped off the couch and ran towards him, arms open.
Courtney stood up. “Sorry he woke up about thirty minutes ago with a nightmare and wanted to stay up and wait for you. Hope that’s okay?”
He looked from a sprinting Grant to a nervous Courtney, turned left into the downstairs bathroom, and loudly puked. .
Image via Unsplash