Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lefties by James Ryan Curtis

James Ryan Curtis's self-deprecating character bumps into two women he admires on his way out of the movies, and trouble brews.

They were there when I walked out of the movie theater, alone (again). I sighed and pretended not to notice them, but I knew I couldn't make it to my car without them seeing me, so I slid on my sunglasses and pretended to be focused on my cell phone as I not-so-subtly fast-walked towards the refuge of the parking lot jungle. A few more steps and I'd be home free...

"Pat!" one of them screamed.

Who me? I kept walking.

She called again.

Shit. I couldn't fake it anymore. I sighed again, turned towards the voice, and scraped myself over to them, phony smile blazing in hot summer sun.

The two girls, both brunettes with brown eyes, tortured me with their gazes. One was named Ivy and the other Iris (cute right?). They could've been sisters, but I knew better. Ivy giggled as I assumed my definitely-unintentional-but-still-go-to-awkward-conversation-stance in front of them (leaning heavily on one leg, hands over my stomach) and vomited rehearsed words:

"Hey guys!" I said, "What's up-UH?"

The "up" definitely had too many syllables. Good start, Pat. Very smooth.

"Oh nothing really," replied Ivy, "We're just out to catch a movie with some friends!"

She was particularly animated, moving her body as she spoke. I couldn't help but laugh to myself. I had been out with her before, and the same held true in every other aspect of her life. I mean she was beautiful and all, but WAY too manic. Frenetic movement truly was her specialty. She had a habit of quickly moving from boy to boy, and moving quickly with each them. She would put out for any guy that gave her the time of day. Including me.

But she also was not the one of the two who made me nervous. I got all hot and bothered even thinking about Iris, and she was especially striking today. She wore skinny jeans, a ripped Sum 41 shirt and a baseball hat that was turned backward. And, as much as I hate to say it: her ass looked phenomenal. She looked so holy that I honestly don't know how an unrepentant heathen like me didn't instantly burst into hellfire in the presence of her divine visage.

I had known her most of my life, but we had only spoken a few times. We were always in the same advanced level English classes, which had been the only time of the day she and Ivy were not joined at the hip. Ivy, who was in the remedial class, wasn't exactly someone I would define as an "intellectual".

Sometimes I wondered how they had ended up friends in the first place.

I also noticed that Iris' left hand was covered in ink, a problem I myself understood all too well. I knew she was left handed, like me, and that she was incredibly well versed in her English classes, but I didn't know she was a writer. Just another thing for me to adore about her. As if I needed another one.

"EARTH TO PAT!" screamed Ivy, "YOU ARE STARING."

Shit.

"Sorry... I just..."

"It's okay, Patty, relax! It's just Iris..."

Silence.

If Iris was as embarrassed as I was, she was doing a great job of compartmentalizing it. She stood, breathing easy, with no signs of strain or feigned calmness. She was like a dove, remaining relaxed and quiet; something her hummingbird counterpart couldn't do in even the most mundane of encounters.

Iris didn't do much talking, but everything she did say was very profound and piercing. She had always been like that, even in unpleasant, Pat-related situations. At one party, after several shots of the confidence inducer known as "gin", I mustered up the courage to ask her out. Her response was vicious and graceful:

"You fucked my best friend."

That was all she said. She wouldn't even look me in the eyes; much less consider me a prospective boyfriend, because I had been with Ivy for one cheap, meaningless, hormonal, booze-fueled evening.

I hated myself for that. In that instant, the self-loathing that I had only been briefly acquainted with before suddenly became the best friend I knew everything about, and spent every fucking minute of every fucking day with.

I wished I had just had the stones to ask Iris out in the first place. But I didn't. I was so caught up in my rogue love gun that I couldn't make the distinction between what was fun and what was right. Or at least what I thought was right. That's always been a typical me problem. Totally hopeless.

"So were you in the movie theater alone? Or were you on a date?" asked Ivy, attempting (and failing) to break the tension.

"Yeah," I stuttered, "I don't like to be distracted by other people."

I really wished she had asked me anything else. I wasn't doing well at the moment. My obvious and ever-present self-disdain were burning so bright in my brain that I was sure they could see it in my eyes even behind my mirrored sunglasses. My breathing shallowed.

"It's not as fun when you're distracted by a date."

Fucking liar.

"Well if you want, you could come watch another with us," she offered insincerely.

Yeah that's just what I need. An awkward date with a girl I had already slept with and her best friend that I actually wanted to sleep with as our third wheel. Peachy.

"I don't think that's..."

But I was interrupted. A tall, bearded (and presumably well hung, judging by his size) painter I recognized from my art class at school appeared and put his arm around Iris' waist, and she kissed him for a century. I was suddenly flooded with made up memories of things that had never actually happened: holding hands with her, kissing her at some stupid dance, going to concerts with her and screaming songs at the top of our lungs. And sex too, definitely, but not cheap Ivy-sex. The real kind. All the things that had seemed so real in my head, but had never ACTUALLY happened, and probably never would. A million memories swelling in my brain with such ferocity and deadly determination that even the slightest prick would make my head explode in a gory mess of so-called good intentions.

"Actually," I hemorrhaged, "That sounds great. What are you seeing?"

She gushed some more about some cookie-cutter chick flick and tossed her hand into mine. It was cold. But at least it was something.

4 comments:

  1. A good reminder that if you don't like yourself, you really can't like anyone else; ditto respect. Plus the narrator sees the world in a polarised way that was deeply uncomfortable,(Ivy, dim and boring and Iris, a beautiful goddess). I was reminded of the Groucho Marx comment that he wouldn't wan tto belong to a club that would have him as a member, (I paraphrase). Thanks,
    Ceinwen

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  2. Love Hurts & When Will I Be Loved / Everly Brothers

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  3. Needy, awkward, conflicted - a good narrator, giving us insight into strange thoughts. Thank you.

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  4. I guess we've all been there - being uncomfortable in the presence of a potential partner. Well told!

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