Chapter 4- Lost

      1. 10 Bartender

Have you ever had everything you’d ever wanted

A good life, good friends and a loving companion

Take a hard look and pay real close attention

I threw it all away with reckless abandon…

Don’t judge me ’til you’ve walked a mile in my shoes

(Bartender, Keri Noble)

January 25, 1998


It’s noon when I finally open my eyes. Even though I know I’m alone, and I will be for another couple of days, I totally expect to get caught. So, I lay silent and still for as long as I can. After an hour passes and I know the coast is clear, plus I have to pee, I roll onto my side and slowly scan my body. I’m still wearing my jeans and lime green cashmere sweater set. It appears that I had some sense about me to kick off my boots, because there they are on the floor. My eyelashes are stuck together, and as I rub my hands over them, I’m horrified that I still have mascara on. I went to bed with make up on? That’s a first. I got home a little after 6am, so I guess I can forgive myself for the dirty face, but certainly not all the other dirty stuff.

What exactly happened again? Think, think, think. Omigod! The bits and pieces are coming back to me and at once, desire is waging war against shame. Why the hell was I even there? Why did he have to be talking about that? Why did I leave with him? Disgraced, I cup my hands over my face, and right away I’m hit hard with the intoxicating smell of him. It’s sexy and smart and it’s clinging to my sweater set like a scarlet letter. It makes me want to do last night one more time. I want to see those eyes and feel his hands on the back of my neck and in my hair. His amazing hands…they were so strong and soft, perfect. And that voice, it was so serious and hypnotic. My body is trembling with exhilaration as I frantically dig for the phone number that’s hidden in my pocket. I want to see his handwriting, touch the paper he touched. I’m like a frenzied drug addict hunting for leftovers. Pleeeeeease let there be something on the other side of the paper that’ll give me more information about him…a grocery list, a store receipt, something.

The instant I find the scribbled-on piece of paper, I feel heavy with remorse. I go from feeling seventeen and silly to seventy and sucker punched. Don’t even look at it Chrissy, you CAN’T call him! I look. 925-397-08…D’oh! Flip it over. Nothing on the back. I’m such a fool. I wad up the tiny piece of paper and throw it in the garbage like it’s a piece of contaminated hospital waste.

I can’t understand why he wanted me to call him so badly anyway. I mean, I’m so much older than he is. I was shocked when we revealed our ages, twenty-eight and twenty-two. Oddly, he didn’t flinch at the huge gap. Shaking my head as if to magically purge the insanity of all of this, I stumble over to the closet, all the while making sure I don’t look at my cheating ass in the bathroom mirror. After delicately removing my sweater set, I sniff it one more time and then shove it as far back in my closet as possible. I’ll take it to the dry cleaners to destroy all evidence. But not yet, I want a few more days to inhale it.

I have to do something to take my mind off of last night or else I’m gonna go crazy. I’ll clean. I scrub my floors, my toilets, refrigerator, anything and everything. I do it all except empty the garbage can, which I casually pass by every few minutes. I want a cocktail real bad but it’s only two in the afternoon and I’ve been conditioned not to drink before 5pm. I can’t think of a better time to change that retarded way of thinking, so I slam a beer. Just as I’m about to crack open another one, I impulsively leave the house and head straight for the walking trail at the end of my street.

I look like a crazy person…on a trail…in pouring down, freezing rain. But I don’t want to go home. What if he’s out here? Wouldn’t that make us meant to be? Wait, he was there last night, so why can’t that make us meant to be? Jesus, cheater, stop thinking so much!

My heart races whenever someone appears in the distance. It stops when I realize it’s not him. I point my face up towards the sky and let the rain pound onto it, hoping it will wash away the improper thoughts racing through my mind. I stand motionless for what seems like an eternity.

Friendly people who have already walked past me are now walking past again to return to wherever they came from. Soaking wet, staring up at nothing, they now rush past me and keep their heads down like I might leap at them and stab ‘em or something. I can’t blame them; I look like a lunatic. I’m wearing nothing but jeans and a t-shirt, and even though I’m totally drenched, I’m not cold. I’m numb. I look like I should be begging for food and, in a way, it feels like I am. But as hungry as I am for him, he’ll never find me. He has no idea where I live and even if he knew the city, he would never guess this neighborhood. Only married people live here.

After the fifth “Lady, are you okay?” I make my way home. I kill another hour by taking a bath. I’ve never been a time waster before. I’ve always been a super busy girl with super important stuff to do, and a minute wasted is like burning money to me. There have never been enough hours in a day for me to get all of my stuff done, and there’s certainly never been enough time for me to lounge around in a bath tub. The last bath I took was the night before my wedding, and that’s only because it was on a Modern Bride magazine list of ten things you’re supposed to pamper yourself with the night before you get married. I basically got in, shaved my legs, got out, and promptly crossed it off the list. It felt like a waste of time, but the crossing it off the list part was a very satisfying moment for me.

But at this very moment, all I want to do is waste time. Candles are lit, the bath is extra bubbly, and Crash Into Me is repeating on my Discman. When it was on my car radio last night, I told him how much I looooove this song. He told me he hated it because everyone loooooves it so damn much. “How is a song that ends with the words ‘I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal’ even remotely remarkable?” He said it sounded like a five-year-old wrote it. Ignoring his stubbornness, I explained that the song’s about a voyeuristic young guy and an older woman who enjoys giving him the pleasure he craves. He cocked his head and said given the situation at hand, I definitely made the song more likable and he’d give it a chance.

While I’m soaking in the tub, I do two things for the first time in my life: relax and examine my body. I’m a sexually active (or at least I used to be) attractive and physically fit twenty-eight-year-old woman.

You’d think I would’ve done plenty of exploring by now. I haven’t. My body has never been as interesting to me as it has been to other people. Boobs are just boobs and all the other stuff down below is so hard to make sense out of. Seriously, how can so many nooks and crannies be crammed into such a small area? Anyway, nothing downtown has ever been sexy to me, and I’ve certainly never wanted to poke around it… until now.

On my way down, I wonder…If I had ever been single, would I have done more exploring? I mean, I bet single girls are more inclined to explore their bodies and digitally please themselves because they’re not sure if or when the next fling will come along. Or maybe pure boredom drives their curiosity? Both make sense to me. But if you start a long-term relationship with someone when you’re still a kid, like I did, the desire to explore just isn’t there yet. And for some
reason, it never surfaced. Maybe I never got bored enough, or maybe it was because I was an idiot who thought my seventeen year old boyfriend knew everything about everything and he could take care of my girl parts wayyyyyyyyyy better than I could. And twelve years later… I’m still giving him jurisdiction over the area! I’m starting to think I was a dumb girl who handed over the keys to the most precious machine ever created. I had absolutely no idea I wanted them back, until last night.

What happened twenty hours ago, woke something up in me. Something I never even knew existed. The dizziness that fills my head when I smell my sweater set, the stirring in my stomach when I imagine his eyes, and the throbbing I feel down below when I think about what we did last night, makes my body impossible to ignore any longer. I’ve got to reclaim my keys and take myself on some test drives, so that maybe I can do something to change my pathetic sex life.

But, hold on! Once I figure out what feels good to me, how do I get motivated to try it with my husband? How do I ignite a spark that’s been gone for…wait, when was the last time I felt a spark like the one I felt last night? Crap, now I’m sad.

I warm up the tub with hot water and rewind the song. Happy again. I think about last night and how he was seductive enough to tease my senses and even though I begged him to, he was respectful enough not to cross the line. With my new curiosity and thoughts of him, I go on a long, long, long…long…long, long, long test drive. I come precariously close to crossing my own line, but strangely I pull back.

The line eludes me, it always has. The water turns cold again and the bubbles disappear. There’s nothing to hide under anymore, and I’m back to feeling ashamed and confused. My pruned up hands reach over to grab a towel, and with an exasperated sigh, I yank myself up.

When I bend down to dry off my legs, I see the crumpled up phone number in the garbage can. “Son of a bitch, I don’t want to do this. I can’t do this.” But it’ll feel so good, and it’s what my body wants! Is this what an addict feels like? I once read that when you try cocaine for the first time, you’re most likely to do it again within the next eight hours. It’s been exactly ten hours since I left him, and I’m wondering if I would’ve been better off doing drugs last night instead of meeting him. Seriously, what’s worse, breaking the law or breaking an oath? The law is looking less overwhelming right now.

What to do, what to do. I sit on the toilet and consider all of my options. It takes only two seconds to strike a deal with myself. One phone call and then first thing tomorrow, I’ll find the best therapist money can buy and get myself fixed. Deal!

Excited, on my way to my bedroom, I trip and fall flat on my face.