Saturday, 11:46 a.m.
“How much of a pussy will I look like if I ask the bartender to lower the volume on this game?” Eric asked, half joking, as he looked around at the equally hungover faces of his friends. “A huge pussy,” groaned Andrew, while he turned the brightness on his iPhone down to the lowest possible setting in an effort to quell the headache he had built up behind his eyes.
The group of six was situated at a table at their local sports bar, half-assedly watching two unranked college basketball teams compete in a meaningless game. Each of them had some form of a light beer or cider in front of them in an attempt to catch a buzz without having to throw up in the bar bathroom. A pitcher of water rested on the table, which their waiter had left after having to refill their glasses three times in 20 minutes. Two-thirds of the party was wearing sunglasses indoors.
“Guys, fuck clubs. I’m just going to admit it – we’re washed up. In college, I would already be three shots deep, and today I chugged a Pedialyte and a Gatorade in bed and still feel like I’m on my deathbed,” Andrew continued. The group grumbled their agreement, except for Jack, who was still drunk from last night.
“I don’t know what y’all are talking about, I feel great. In fact, I may just order a nice little bloody for myself. Anyone else trying to get bloodied up?”
Eric whimpered. “The phrase ‘bloodied up’ just made me gag, dude. Just because you got laid last night doesn’t mean you need to rub in your cheeriness, you fuck.”
“You want me to order you a cranberry juice or something to help with your bitching?” Jack retorted, seemingly taking delight in kicking Eric when he was down. “Plus, I figured you’d be in a great mood after making out with that hot blonde all last night.”
Eric sat straight up as his eyes shot fully open for the first time all morning.
“The fuck are you talking about? I didn’t make out with anyone. I wouldn’t cheat on Rachel. I don’t believe your lyin’ ass. Did anyone else see this?”
To his horror, Eric watched as the rest of the table confirmed that he had, in fact, made out with a random girl at the club.
“Fuck. Fuuuuuuuck. I didn’t go home with her, right? Right?!”
“Nah, dude,” Kyle rasped, as he spoke for the first time in that day. “We might be assholes, but we’re not that big of assholes. We separated you two at the end of the night and made sure you got in an Uber heading home. That’s also why I took your phone, so you wouldn’t do anything stupid like tell your girlfriend about it. You were pretty pissed at her.”
Eric’s face went through an array of emotions. Shame, fear, anger, and finally back to hungover acceptance.
“Well, shit. Speaking of my phone, let me get that back. I should text Rach and see if she’s sober enough to have a conversation. Oh, wait she texted me… FUCK! I posted a pic on my snap story with another girl?! Oh, God. It’s bad. I’m 100% cupping this girl’s ass in this pic. Who even took this? Where were you guys to stop this from happening? Is it bad that I’m a little proud of how hot this girl is? Fuck, I have so many questions. Christ, this isn’t going to end well.”
All the faces around the table had now perked up. Their expressions ranged from amusement, to shock, to pity. Eric tossed his phone on the table and swiveled it to show the group the text he had received and the Snapchat he had posted. Everyone sat, stunned, for a moment, until Jack stepped up to offer advice.
“Okay, this is a bad situation, but not the end of your relationship. First things first, you need to take that snap down right now. Then you need to text Rachel, since there’s no chance she’s answering a call from you, and tell her that it’s not as bad as it looks. Take responsibility for grabbing another girl’s ass, since you pretty much fucked yourself on that one, but deny that anything more happened. Apologize with both barrels, and ask her not to do anything stupid until she comes home and y’all have a chance to talk. I’m ordering a round of Margs for the table, and you’re having one.”
It was hard to admit, but Jack, in all his alcoholic wisdom, was right. Moving to an adjacent empty table to get a clear head, Eric slowly typed out a message.
“Babe, I just saw your text and the picture. I am so sorry that I posted that. I know it’s not an excuse, but I was completely blacked out. I promise nothing happened with that girl, though. All the guys can vouch for me that I literally just met her for that photo, took it, and wandered off. I know you’re mad at me and on spring break, but please don’t do anything dumb that could hurt our relationship. I’ll see you tomorrow night and we’ll talk about all this.”
Returning to his table, Eric drank the Marg that had been placed in front of him in silence. He continued to be pensive through the beer that followed, and even through the mimosa bomb that came after that. Finally, after several hours of absent-mindedly listening to the conversation while repeatedly checking his phone, he decided to fire off another text. Alcohol had numbed his feelings, but unfortunately, his fingers still worked just fine.
“Honestly, it’s immature of you to not respond. I’m here trying to work things out and you’re having fun doing god knows what. If you’re not going to put any effort into us, then I won’t either. It’s not like you can even really be mad at me, anyways. You were grinding up on a guy, and I grabbed a girl’s ass for one second. At best, we’re even. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Hundreds of miles away, Rachel’s phone vibrated on the table in her hotel room. She looked down at it momentarily, distracted from the game of flip cup her and her sisters had been playing against some guys from a rival state school. She read Eric’s text several times, squinting one eye to keep her focus, and then slowly put it in a dresser drawer.
“Who was that?” asked one of the guys, noticing her sudden change in mood.
She smiled at him and refilled her cup. “Oh, no one. You should focus on the game…you’re going down this round.” .