As I type this, my fingertips are a blur of red nail polish. I crossed a number of items off the list this weekend in one go, and I'll tell you why/how, and why it's got me slightly depressed.
I've been working more lately, since I got off newbie probation, 5 days a week I spend all evening on the phone. My life officially has no room for professional advancement until I return to the Inn. It's been wearing me out, a fact not lost on Raine and Sara, Tori's friends, and therefore mine by default. Raine recently came on MSN (which I tend to avoid, but I needed to talk to Tori for reasons I'll explain later) and accused me of avoiding her, which is true. It's not that I don't like Sara and Raine, of course, it's just that the more time I spend with them is more time I have to be "in character."
Around the house, nobody seems to notice or care how I behave. I don't have to deal with Tori's family in any really serious way so I'm comfortable doing whatever comes naturally, and confining myself to my room or the living room or the kitchen table. Nobody notices more than a moment if I say something Tori might not, because the conversational topics are limited to household chores, "how was your day" and things like that.
But in social situations, those few times over the last few months when I'm stuck with Sara and Raine, I have to figure out how to be Tori, not just Cliff in a Tori suit. It's agonizing because no matter how much I wear the clothes and look the part, there's a very large chunk of me that does not operate in the mindset of a girl like Tori. A girl who cares about fashion and celebrities and boys. You can't fake that stuff, so when the conversation drifts that way, I just glaze over, making the whole experience painful for everyone.
So I avoid. It's a more comfortable lifestyle, but not a very fulfilling one. So when Raine made her case to me, I was willing to listen. She claimed it was clear I was becoming hermit-like because of work dissatisfaction (not entirely unlikely) and that the cure was just to come out with the girls like "I" used to. Feeling stir-crazy (even in my romantic-loser years, I was never this much of a shut-in) I bit the bullet and decided that maybe it was worth a shot. but on one condition. I was going to give them Cliff.
As much as I expect to be unmasked as an impostor (an irrational fear I guess) nobody seems to notice when I just act like Cliff. So I resolved to just be myself, to not even try pretending. I mean, that's part of the curse, isn't it? At worst they'll think I'm just being weird. Sound reasoning, I thought.
So last Friday night after work, Thom gave me a lift over to the bar. Thom and Sara, you'll remember, I accidentally walked in on in the middle of some serious business. It was never revealed whether they knew what I'd seen, and it was several weeks before they actually admitted their relationship. I was happy for them when they did, which I guess is my first indication that I do care about these people like friends.
So Raine and I were the "single girls" out with the couple at a bar, kind of a dive sports bar where girls drink beer, nor cosmos. For the first while, I was quiet, chiming in when called upon but otherwise just observing. I didn't mind being the quiet one. Then Cyndi from work showed up with her boyfriend, whose name I didn't get, and it started to look more like a double-date as those two got acquainted with Thom and Sara and Raine and I were the fifth and sixth wheels. Eventually we broke away from the pack.
I find Raine kind of interesting. Maybe her figure isn't ideal, and her looks aren't picture-perfect, but she seems very sweet and funny and cool and frankly not unattractive. I can't remember exactly what we talked about, but I remember it not being all-out girliness. I think we started to relate once she realized I didn't really want to talk about hair and make-up (which must've seemed odd on some level since Tori is a former hairdresser.)
It's all very confusing to me as I'm trying to determine whether this means I like her, or have some kind of girl-crush, or if I just consider a friend. I just find myself drawn to her when I am around her, and yet not nervous, because she's not treating me like a guy who might want to sleep with her, and that, oddly gives me confidence. Also I was tipsy from two and a half beers by the time we got a pool table.
She took me by the shoulders and looked down toward me (she's slightly taller than Tori, which somewhat emphasizes her curviness) and grinned girlishly, "I know what your problem is. We need to get you laid."
"No!" I resisted, "No, no, no. I'm... celibate right now. Okay? I'm on a break. That is the last thing I want or need." I'm fairly confident that if I wanted sex I could probably get it. Any guy would want someone like Tori, and more to the point I'm sure that if I walked into a lesbian bar I'd be pretty popular too. So I got an idea, since I saw some of the guys looking over at the two of us, I wanted to help Raine get some of that attention. I had a plan, based on something that happened to me a few years ago.
We started to play pool, badly, as a result of my being pretty uncoordinated as a girl and also, as I said, tipsy. This guy came over and started giving me advice. He smelled like dissipated aftershave and I could tell he really thought he had it going on. Shaved head, half-beard, v-neck sweater, I didn't know what to think of the guy, but after chatting him up just a little bit, I happened to mention my "Boyfriend in Iraq"and tried to shift the guy's attention over to Raine. Eventually, she cast the guy away, or maybe he just moved on. The second guy didn't take any interest in her, and the third guy got her number but didn't seem overly enthused.
"You're a good friend, Tor," she said drunkenly at the end of the night, "Those guys were mostly losers, but it was fun." Then she invited me out the next night. I thought, "Hey, I had some fun tonight, too, let's give it a shot." I overcame the fairly major hurdle of enjoying a night out with Tori's friends, opening the door to limitless possibilities.
The next night shut at least one of them pretty hard.
On the Friday night, I didn't pay too much attention to my appearance. I was coming straight from work so I was dressed in plain clothes; good, presentable but not flashy. The next night, Raine was having me come out to a club, so I had to wear heels and a tight dress thing. A dress, I might add, with a neckline that made my boobs look absolutely phenomenal.
Anyone who knew I was a guy would probably get some mixed messages. I know I was.
I looked at myself in the mirror and wondered whether it was too much. Lipstick, a bit of mascara on the lashes. Earrings. Painted nails. This really was the whole nine yards. I thought to myself, how much of a shame someone didn't get this life who really wanted it. But I've long since accepted the fact that this is the hand I have been dealt, and for now, I must play it. If I wanted to get out of the house and have fun, I'd have to go along with this, at least for now.
I regretted my decision not to just stay home and watch Saturday Night Live early on when I paid $25 just to get in. I immediately saw a crowded dancefloor of guys grinding on girls, girls shaking their butts. I didn't fit in to any of this. I hung by the bar and ordered a Mojito, a drink just manly enough for me to handle.
It was dreadful. Between loud music, losing Raine early, and waving off repeated attempts to buy me drinks (I should've accepted, I dropped a lot of money by the end of the night, but I didn't wanna lead any guys on.) It was all very unpleasant. And then... it happened.
After several drinks, my constitution loosened, and goaded on by Raine and the two guys she had met, I... got on the dance floor. I thought, how harmless, everyone's doing it, why not just imitate what all the other girls are doing? These guys are just happy to see some jiggling. I have no idea what possessed me to do this. I guess I was just bored of leaning up against the bar not talking to anyone. I paid $25 for a reason, damnit!
After a few songs (it's hard to tell how many, or even if you can call them songs) I went to the ladies' room. It's interesting to me that after years of avoiding sitting on public toilets as much as I can, I now have no say in the matter, but hey, pee-talk should be limited on this blog.
So as I leaned my elbows on my knees to try to stay stable, I heard the "tak tak" of two sets of heels enter the washroom. And I couldn't help but hearing "Did you see that girl out there in the (description of outfit matching my own.) What a loser! If I was her friend I'd be sooo embarrassed. People like that should not be allowed in clubs."
I had to sit there taking this abuse until I finished, and stepped out. They looked at me -- clearly recognizing me -- and acted as if nothing had been said. The bathroom stall is not a cone of silence! Sheesh. They just continued to touch up their make-up.
Raine and I split a cab with the two guys; she with them in the back, me sulking in the front. I woke up the next morning feeling like a total ass (a hung over one at that) and wondering whether I should bother sharing this with the blog world. Obviously I decided yes, since it's all part of the experience, isn't it...
Well. Apart from all that, it's been settled that tomorrow night I will be taking the overnight Greyhound bus to Louisville and visiting the original Tori and Rob. I just figured it was something I had to do at least once, and they said this was a pretty good weekend, although given the travel arrangements I doubt I'll be doing it again. And before you ask, yes, I do plan to go back to Buffalo sometime too.