“Where’s the old lady?” Tyler asked while shaking Todd’s hand for the first time since last year at this time.
Todd had walked into the crowded bar just minutes before only to be met by a swarm of faces he hadn’t seen in a while. Given that he was leaving town soon for an international destination, coming home for Thanksgiving break was a no-brainer. He had anticipated getting questions about proposing in Paris from his parents and relatives, but he didn’t anticipate seeing the likes of pretty much everyone he knew in high school spilling out of Town Bar, the local pub where beers ranged from $2.75 to a steep $4.00.
Taking his scarf off and hanging it on a hook along with his jacket, he shook some snow out of his hair before finally responding to Tyler.
“Went to her parents this week,” he said. “And I wanted to come home before heading out next week.”
“Where you going again?” Tyler asked.
“Uhhh,” Todd hesitated for no reason other than an attempt to not sound like a douche, “Paris.”
Tyler smiled in a way that someone smiles when they know something’s up. “I see you,” Tyler affirmed. “I see you.”
They headed to the bar that was spilling over with people they recognized from high school but were maybe three or four years too old to be hanging out with. With two seats open at the end of the bar, they pulled out the high-top chairs and sat down even though they knew a bunch of college kids would be trying to squeeze between them to order drinks all night.
After asking what was on tap, Tyler ordered two seasonal IPAs from the bartender. Covering his mouth, he turned to Todd and explained, “Fuck, I can’t remember her name.”
Todd positioned his hand in the same fashion so she couldn’t see what they were saying. “Didn’t we go to high school with her?” he asked. Tyler nodded.
She put two dark-colored beers in front of them before requesting a card to start a tab. Tyler obliged and told Todd, “I’ll just get this tonight and we can split it when it’s all said and done – deal?”
“Deal,” Todd told him before stopping the bartender from walking away. “Two shots of Wild Turkey.”
“101?” she asked.
Tyler’s brow raised in both nervousness and excitement before he heard Todd confirm with her, “Yep, 101.”
As she poured the shots, Todd had the same conversation you have with every friend you haven’t seen in a while. Between the “What have you been up to?” questions and the “I need to come back here more” statements, they got over the hump that all friends go through when it’s been a while. The third and fourth rounds of IPAs probably helped, but that’s neither here nor there.
It wasn’t until they decided to stand up and get away from the bar that they realized other people they knew had filtered into the bar.
“That Lindsey over there?” Tyler asked.
“Oh, Jesus,” Todd responded before turning his eyes away from her so to not stare. “Yep, that’s her.”
Lindsey was Todd’s on-again, off-again girlfriend from high school. They weren’t on bad terms necessarily but, at the same time, they definitely weren’t on good terms. Unfortunately for him, she saw him looking her way and waved directly at him.
Tyler threw an elbow into Todd’s stomach which all but said, “Here we go.”
With a hug and a kiss on Todd’s cheek, Lindsey smiled with starry eyes for the next five minutes while Todd explained what he was doing for work. Again, a tedious conversation Todd wanted to avoid at all costs. Noticing that she hadn’t gotten a drink yet (and seeing this as an opportunity as an out), Todd told her, “Here, don’t let me stop you from getting a drink!” while motioning toward the bar.
“Good call,” she responded before grabbing his hand and leading him toward the bar. Tyler shoved Todd directly in the back which caused him to turn his head back and mouth, “Whattt the fuckkkk.”
Lindsey, to put it lightly, was a little crazy. No one really knew what she did for a living, she deactivated and reactivated her Instagram account at least once a month, and she looked about five years older than she actually was. Largely single since things went down in flames with her college boyfriend, she struck fear into Todd.
“Two lemon drops,” she told the same bartender who’d helped them the hour before. “Actually, make it three.” Tyler nearly gagged just thinking about it.
As the next hour drew on, more shots were ordered and more conversations about the state of their lives were discussed. What changed, though, was the dynamic of the group. Rather than being fixated on Todd, Lindsey had turned her attention more toward Tyler. Tyler, who thought it was a terrible idea for Todd to talk to her in the first place, was now debating sending a text to Todd asking, “Uh, mind if I take a run?” Todd knew exactly what was going on and approved wholeheartedly. Anything to get her away from him.
Todd excused himself to go to the bathroom, something he hadn’t done all night. He had tunnel vision as he approached the urinal from everything he had to drink earlier. Drinking on an empty stomach wasn’t something Todd wanted to do, but Tyler was chomping at the bit to meet up. Swaying as he stood peeing, he zipped up and walked back out to meet back up with Tyler.
When he returned to the booth that they had commandeered, he saw something he did not want to see. No, Tyler wasn’t making out with Lindsey. He wouldn’t have cared about that in the first place. A line of Fireball shots was set up on the table and they were waiting for him to return.
Todd plopped down next to Tyler who separated him from Lindsey and Lindsey’s friend who must’ve joined while Todd was peeing. Immediately following the shots, things faded to black and went all over the map. Lindsey’s “boyfriend” showed up (to Tyler’s dismay) and dragged her to the complete opposite side of the bar. Lindsey’s friend disappeared for fear of having to pay for the shots. And Todd, well, Todd began falling asleep in the booth. Knowing that he needed to save him from the wrath of an angry bar manager, Tyler called an Uber and went to the coat rack where they had hung their jackets earlier in the night.
Upon walking outside, Todd asked Tyler for a cigarette. Tyler wasn’t a smoker and noted that “our Uber is like a block away.” Todd’s eyes spelled out that he didn’t need one in the first place and Tyler was drunk enough that he didn’t want to waste any more time standing in the cold.
After getting into the Uber, Tyler knew he had to make conversation with Todd to keep him awake. Not knowing what to talk about, his drunk brain defaulted to a question he avoided asking earlier.
“So you proposing to her in Paris or what?”
Todd slurred an unintelligible response only for Tyler to shake him and make sure he wasn’t falling asleep. Tyler, never one to hold back, became frustrated.
“I’ll be honest, Todd,” Tyler explained to him. “She doesn’t really seem all that good for you, man.” Todd’s eyes lit up slightly with his interest being somewhat piqued.
“Oh yeah?” he asked. “Why’s that?”
“I dunno, man,” Tyler continued. “I know I only met her that one time when I came into the city but she just, I mean, I don’t know.” Tyler didn’t want to offend but had no real choice after taking the conversation down a road he never should have. “She just kind of sucks.”
Todd wasn’t forming actual words as he looked out the Uber’s window, but Tyler thought he made out a response of, “Yeah, she kind of does.”
“You going to be able to make it to the door?” Tyler asked as Todd got out of the Kia Sorrento after it pulled up to his parents’ house. Todd extended his hand for a final handshake and said, “Love you, man,” before stumbling toward the door.
Todd had forgotten to turn off his work alarm that went off promptly at 6 a.m. every morning. With a splitting headache, he lifted his head off of his pillow and looked around his childhood bedroom.
“Fuck,” he muttered.
He checked his phone and saw a text from Tyler from 12:35 a.m.
“Had a blast last night,” it said. “Always fun getting together with you.”
Todd attempted to recollect what had happened after taking the Fireball shots with Lindsey and her friend, only to text Tyler back.
“Ugh, how’d we get home last night?” .