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It was girls’ night.
Todd debated staying in. The thought of spending a night alone in their apartment drinking scotch his father had given him for his last birthday sounded better than taking advantage of his temporary-singledom out on the town. It wasn’t until 3:45 at work that he received a text from John that simply said, “Sup?” Both Todd and John knew exactly what that meant, and it wasn’t just checking it to see what actually was up.
Reluctantly, Todd responded again and again. Before 4 o’clock even hit, Todd knew that his plans for a quiet night had been foiled. He set out a defined set of circumstances in which he’d actually “go out” with John, with the phrase “go out” taken very lightly — no steakhouse, no bars filled with coeds aged 19 to 22, and no one else invited.
“That’s fine,” John told him in closing. “Let’s just meet at Callahan’s at 8 — been craving one of their burgers.”
“8 it is.”
Immediately upon walking in, Todd felt the familiar crunch of the peanut shells that littered the ground. He felt somewhat guilty for not inviting anyone else, but Finn was out of town and Trip was allergic to peanuts which rendered Callahan’s useless to him.
He looked down the long narrow space that was the bar and saw John sitting at a two-top underneath one of the two small box-style TVs that was mounted to the wall.
“I figured we’d just sit here,” John said as Todd sat down. “There’s not really anything on and it’s not like these TVs are good for watching anything anyway.”
Todd looked down at his phone to see if he had missed any texts only to remember that service in Callahan’s wasn’t only subpar but non-existent. He knew it would probably come back to bite him later in the night because “girl’s nights” always seem to devolve into drunken disasters but he committed to crossing that bridge when it came.
“You order us anything?” he asked.
John put his menu facedown and responded, “Yep, got us a domestic pitcher and I already ordered my burger because I’m fucking starving.”
Callahan’s was different in that they didn’t offer an entire beer list — they simply had “domestic” and “import,” never actually explaining what they were. From what they could tell by doing a taste test, “domestic” simply meant “Busch Light” and “import” meant “Busch.” It seemed to change weekly, but the tap tubes were probably cleaned so rarely that everything just tasted the same. The operation had to be illegal for numerous reasons.
Once the waitress set their pitcher down and Todd ordered his cheeseburger — medium rare, pickles, onion, mayo, American cheese — they began talking about what the girls’ plans were for the night.
“I think they’re doing sushi at Raw before hitting that wine bar they always end up at,” Todd relayed. “All I know is that she’ll probably end up hungover tomorrow if you want to try to play golf or something.”
“Eh,” John shrugged off. “No way we get a good tee time if we call in the morning.”
“Yeah,” Todd affirmed. “You’re right.”
The conversation was intentionally absent as they took the first few sips of their domestics. No phones, no games on, no pressure to socialize — it wasn’t a night in, but it was the next best thing in Todd’s eyes.
“Alright,” John finally chirped up. “Let’s get down to brass tacks.”
“What the fuck are we doing for your bachelor party?”
And then Todd smiled.
“I’ve got a few options in my head but obviously you’re the decision-maker here,” John continued.
Todd could tell that John had already put a lot of thought into this. It was more likely than not that John sat idly at his desk dreaming up the perfect scenarios. It was at this very moment that Todd felt as though he was being pitched in a board meeting. And upon further review, John was actually the perfect person for this pitch.
“I’ve got three tiers thought out,” he began. “The first tier is simple — golf, Kiawah, springtime.”
Todd nodded. This wasn’t an off-the-wall idea as it was something they’d done before. They had a place to stay, they knew the course, and all the guys would know the exact itinerary without having to spell it out.
“Okay, tier two,” John said knowing that Kiawah didn’t need a larger discussion. “Derby.”
Todd’s eyes lit up with both fear and excitement. In Todd’s mind, he was almost over The Kentucky Derby. He didn’t want to sound pretentious, but the infield felt juvenile and he was hesitant about making everyone chip in for the grandstand.
“Hear me out,” John quickly followed up upon seeing Todd’s reaction. “The last hurrah. We go Thursday to Sunday and we make sure everyone’s down with spending a little extra coin with the understanding that we retire from Louisville from there on out.”
Todd smiled but also had his reservations. “I mean, this sounds dangerous.” And he meant “dangerous” in both the good way and the bad way.
“And worst case scenario is that we somehow run into Claire again, you get second thoughts, and elope never to be seen again.”
Todd wanted to laugh but also didn’t exactly find it funny.
“Okay, I kid, I kid,” John assured him. “Either way, I’m just putting it out there.”
“Tier three,” John said with a mouthful of burger. “Vegas.”
“Nope,” Todd cut him off. “Too played out, fuck that.”
John set his burger down and nodded, “Okay, okay, I figured you’d say that but I thought it would be worth a shot.”
It was then that John sat back in his chair and cleared his throat as if he was about to make a major, life-changing announcement.
“Alright, tier four,” he said grinning ear to ear. “Ready?”
“I mean,” Todd hesitated, “No, but go on.”
“As in, the country?”
“No, Todd, the fucking city in Missouri. Of course, I’m talking about the fucking country. Jesus.”
Todd immediately started shaking his head side-to-side. In his eyes, it was an absurd suggestion, outlandish even.
“Just hear me out,” John pleaded. “So my brother-in-law is total scum but he’s also pretty baller. He and his buddies recently went there for a guy’s trip and he said it was pretty inexpensive outside of the flights. Apparently, it’s pretty safe and easy to get to, and it’s becoming more acceptable as a travel destination for people our age.”
Todd rolled his eyes. While John was making a decent case, he was also omitting and ignoring the stigma of going to Colombia.
“Going there pretty much tells her dad that we’re about to do a bunch of blow and hang out with strippers the entire time,” Todd gave in response. “Like, we can say that’s not what we’re doing, but that’s legitimately what everyone will think we’re doing.”
“I mean,” John stammered, “Yeah, you’re not wrong. But we don’t have to do that kind of shit — I’m sure they’ve got golf courses and clubs and stuff.”
“Yeah,” Todd cut him off, “and you know where else they have golf courses and clubs? Cabo, but without the stigma.”
“True,” John smiled. “But Colombia.”
“How much are flights?” Todd asked.
“After my preliminary search, I think we could do it for $800 or less, which we’ll make up for in what we’d spend down there. Like I said, I think it’s cheap. At least that’s what Jeff told me but his definition of ‘cheap’ is a little different than ours.”
Todd looked down at his phone expecting to see a barrage of texts. The night had begun to get away from him once the bachelor party talk started and he found himself getting somewhat anxious about what texts he might receive immediately upon leaving the bar.
“Let me think on it,” Todd said, trying to direct the conversation in a different direction.
“Okay,” John confirmed, “Just give me the go-ahead and I’ll fire up the email thread when you’re ready.”
“And besides, we could always say we’re going to Kiawah and just go to Colombia instead. That’s pretty much what the girls did when they said they were going on their yoga retreat.”
Todd squinted and looked at John across the table.
“Wait, what?” .