January 08, 2012 |
the men in the black suits and the black shirts and the black shoes with the white lights. they shoot their high-velocity fingertip flashlights at me to order me not to stand here, or there, and to make sure the inside of my wrist says 31 TEN LOUNGE SANTA MONICA. my anxiety is that if i go outside to use the restroom, there's no way these guys are going to let me back in, because look at that line, and this place is already a fire hazard. "you'll let me back in, right?" "as long as you got a stamp, you're fine." if he says so. maybe he didn't notice that i am the weakest and least impressive person here. the pulsating speaker above my head, attached to and emanating from the one of at least three separate bars here. the music is not bad. i was always a dance music fan. the hot bartender, who i am not attracted to, is interesting to me. how did she end up here? does she like her job? she seems to be enjoying herself. what would it be like, to have to be here, every weekend, under the deafening wavelengths? all of the things i'm not and could never be, here i am. the problem is that it's too dark. it's too dark in here. i can't see. i have to be able to see her. the expenditure of energy required to get ready, drive here, find a place to park, get in, stand here. i am exhausted. i can't even see.

near the dance floor, where i should not be. okay, there is one. she is with her friends. i stand and talk to my friend, waiting for her to come to the bar. she does, with her friends. my friend picks up on my intentions, but their group is too closed. just for now. it's not an excuse. he does not understand, that i would not let her go, i just don't want to shoot myself in the foot. so, he is obnoxious. "barry, go, right now." not yet, just wait. "right there, barry, go." shut the fuck up. "BARRY, RIGHT NOW, SHE'S RIGHT THERE, DO IT RIGHT NOW." DUDE, SHUT THE FUCK UP. the girl's friend, another girl, her back is to me. i'll approach her instead. do the friend first, that's better. she's pretty, too. "RIGHT NOW BARRY, RIGHT THERE, DO IT." god damn it. i tap the friend on the shoulder. she ignores me. i tap harder, much harder. she turns around. my friend is still yelling at me. what is the first thing that comes to mind. okay, go, middle school drama vocal projection.

"MY FRIEND SAYS I SHOULD TALK TO YOU."

"OH YEAH? WHY IS THAT?"

what is the next thing that comes to mind.

"BECAUSE I HAVE FIVE METAL BARS IN MY CHEST."

her eyes light up.

"WHERE ARE THESE BARS? WHAT DO YOU MEAN, IN YOUR CHEST?"

"LIKE, LITERALLY, INSIDE OF MY CHEST."

"SHOW ME, RIGHT NOW. LIFT UP. I WANT TO SEE THE SCAR—"

wut.

"—I'M A SECOND-YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT."

huh.

i take her hand, and put it on my shirt.

"how long have you been wearing this?"

"three years. i can't leave the house without it."

"yeah, well i can totally see it through your shirt."

flabbergasted, "really?"

"no."

oh.

"what did you have?"

"pectus excavatum."

she lifts up her hands in front of me and forms a concave with her fingers.

"so you went inwards."

"yes."

i face her at an angle, looking away, with my hands on my head, stunned. remembering back at this, i barely even looked at her. i should have looked at her more. she stayed with me. we talked for fifteen minutes.

"what medical school do you go to?"

"USC."

"i was afraid you were going to say UCLA."

earlier, she asked me what my name was and told me hers, and that she is made fun of because her name is the same as a popular "app." what is an app?

"you know, apple?"

"oh, like a piece of software, okay."

i don't have any apps or even a phone. when she excuses herself to find her friends, i don't want to talk to anyone else. i sit down, and just watch. what is this feeling? to be understood, even a tiny bit, here. why didn't she stay with me, forever? hordes of people walk by me. i had trouble looking at her. a girl drops her drink right above me and the glass shatters on the floor, spilling it, right next to my shoes. i have trouble looking at everybody. a man in black comes to examine the mess, with his white light.

© barry reinschreiber