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Friday, 10:38 a.m.
Eric’s hands shook slightly as his thumbs moved over the screen of his cracked iPhone 6. While shaky hands on a Friday morning was nothing new for him, this week the reason wasn’t just the Thursday happy hour that had gone off the rails and ended with him closing down a karaoke bar mere hours before his alarm went off. The real reason was the text message he had just received from his girlfriend, Rachel.
Hey babes we just got to the lake for #SpringBreak2K17! Haha sorry I know I’m rubbing it in. Enjoy being a grownup! Don’t watch my snaps unless you wanna get serious fomo. You can still pick me up from the airport in three days when I’m a hungover mess, right?. *kissy emoji*
Eric paused his typing to reread the text message for the 11th time before putting his phone on his desk and running both hands down his face, and then back up through his hair while exhaling slowly.
“I picked the wrong day to be hungover at work,” he thought to himself, realizing he was going to need every ounce of his faculties to fully analyze this text and craft the perfect response. His message needed to exude nonchalance as if he didn’t care that he was stuck in a cubicle while his still-in-college girlfriend was going to be raging at Lake Havasu all weekend. This was not an easy task because he was anything but nonchalant about it. His thoughts were a whirlpool of emotion. Anger that he had chosen to graduate on time, instead of sticking out for a victory lap. Betrayal that his girlfriend, who claimed to love and support him, would go on a Spring Break, knowing full well he couldn’t come. Wariness about said girlfriend partying in a bikini on a beach full of college guys all weekend. The situation was not ideal.
He knew what he had to do. He grabbed his phone back off his desk, leaned back in his chair, and fired off the perfect text. Not to Rachel, of course, but to the group chat.
Yo, I need something to take my mind off the fact that my gf is on her way to the grimiest place on earth for spring break right now and the only thing I’m looking forward to is getting Panda Express for lunch. What are we doing tonight? Let’s get after it.
Immediately, the responses started rolling in, although not necessarily the ones he was looking for.
“Relax, ya fucking animal. I literally just threw up those bombs from last call in the handicap stall at work. Don’t talk to me about drinking for at least another three hours.”
“Dude, just accept she’s going to dump your fat ass after she sees how ripped up and tan everyone is at the beach. Maybe instead of Panda you should do some shirtless wind sprints in the parking lot. Two birds one stone.”
“Whatever,” muttered Eric to himself, “I’ll just do some actual work for the next few hours while these guys find their balls.”
Friday, 9:18 p.m.
The weekend had arrived. Eric had endured what seemed like an eternity of viewing Snapchats of his girlfriend taking jello shots, dancing with her sorority sisters to a remixed Chainsmokers song, and apparently smoking a blunt on the beach (which was promptly deleted eight minutes later). He was jealous, he was anxious, and most importantly, he was ready to drink. After several hours of half-assed playing with excel documents, he had finally responded to Rachel’s text.
“Haha, I’m having major fomo right now. Have fun and be safe, babe. Text me when you can, and for the love of god take that snap of you smoking a blunt off your snap story. I can hear your Standards Chair’s head exploding from here. I’ll be there at the arrivals gate for ya, you shitshow.”
He wasn’t expecting to get a response anytime soon and, therefore, had his phone on “Do Not Disturb” while he and his friends finished up their pregame and decided on which bars to hit that night. After several scintillating rounds of an argument comparing the benefits of a sports bar versus a dive bar, Eric decided to step in with his two cents.
“Guys. Right now, as we speak, thousands of college kids are raging their face off on a beach while some asshole DJ butchers a Tiesto song. We can sit here and pretend that we don’t miss it and be adults, go sit in a booth at a dive bar, and have polite conversation like we’re starring on a sitcom, or…”
He attempted a sly grin which, due to the amount of shots he had taken, came off as more of the look of a recent stroke victim.
“We can hit the clubs. I know, I know. Clubs are the worst. But you’re all single, and the weather is warm, and I think if we shotgun a beer right now we can trick our bodies into thinking we’re back in college for a night. You guys down or what?”
After a few moments of silence, his friend Jack piped up.
“We know you’re just mad because Rachel’s probably getting grinded on by a dude who curls your body weight right now, but fuck it, that dumbass speech got me fired up. I’m changing into shoes that I don’t mind ruining. Let’s hit the clubs.”
The group turned into a flurry of activity, buoyed by the sudden change of plans. After several more unnecessary shots, they all piled into an Uber XL, with Eric in the front seat. As he listened to his friends talk shit in the seats behind him, he began to get a little excited for the night. “Just because I’m not in college, doesn’t mean I can’t still have fun,” he thought. “Hell, I might even put a few snaps of my night on the story to let Rachel know I’m not worried about what she’s doing.” But he was worried, and that thought only reminded him he hadn’t checked her snap story for a while. He fired up the app, saw a new one had been added, and clicked play.
The blood rushed to his face and it seemed like the boisterous activity in the backseats faded as he watched an 11-second clip of his girlfriend on the dance floor, with a male torso positioned directly behind her. As he clicked on the story again to replay it, Jack poked his head over his shoulder.
“Holy shit dude, I was kidding earlier, but is she seriously grinding with some asshole in her story?”
The car went quiet as Eric typed out a text to his girlfriend.
“Hey. Nice snap of you breaking it off for some random guy. I guess we’ll both have fun this weekend. Enjoy your spring break.”
Tense with anger, he broke the silence in the car.
“It doesn’t matter. Two can play that game. Let’s get after it.” .