The Return of the Interested Young Caller
Anyone who watches The WB's late night syndicated lineup knows the scene by heart: a flustered bachelor, elbows crossed like a stoic warrior and brows furrowed, eyeing his date with a mix of malevolence and sympathy.
Such was the case with my Friday night "date" with Interested Young Caller.
Regular blog readers recall I.Y.C. as the guy who grumpily severed my chances with an affable East Nashville stoner, and then after establishing that I wasn't going to get some stoner tail, hitchhiked his way back to Murfreesboro with a sap-of-a-Dunkin'-Donuts-worker.
Like any flustered bachelor, I carefully placed boundaries around my crotch area, which I have aptly named 'the hot zone.'
"We're just friends," I told I.Y.C., "homo-acquaintances, you know, like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, only less gay."
Sadly, those words fell on deaf ears.
Friday night began with I.Y.C. nervously pacing around my pebbled driveway like an expectant father.
"Would you mind driving my car?" I.Y.C. goes, shuffling his hands in his front pocket. "I'm kinda drunk."
"Kinda drunk?" I go. "And you drove your ass all the way from Murfreesboro? You are a stupid motherfucker, you know that?"
Well, at least he didn't kill anybody, I thought to myself. And even though I detest driving (I pray for the day when I move to a city with centralized transportation), I figured a crappy driver was better than a drunk driver.
Soon after we settled ourselves into I.Y.C.'s dented, forest-green Camaro, I caught something lunging at me out of the corner of my eye. At first, I thought it was a rabid bat, teeth jutting out of its mouth and wings tautly pulled together in mid-flap. Then I felt something sopping wet on my neck, like tossed-aside old sponge. But this wasn't the case, either. It was I.Y.C.'s tongue, making long, wet circles up-and-down the side of my neck.
It just didn't feel right. I felt like a human popsicle.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" I asked suddenly.
"Um," I.Y.C goes, shuffling his hands together. "Nothing. Would you chill out?"
"I will not chill out," I tell him.
We drove to the restaurant in radio silence except for I.Y.C.'s occasional critique of my driving, at which I snarkily replied, "I can drive better than your drunk ass."
The next, mind-numbing task involved I.Y.C. protesting my restaurant choice.
"I don't want to go in there," he goes after I cut off his sputtering engine. "I need to get sober, man. Sober."
"I've got coupons," I tell I.Y.C., ignoring his sober comment. I then reach into the backseat, brandishing a stack of coupons like a middle-class Martha Stewart. "One of us will eat free," I tell I.Y.C. My line of reasoning is such: I usually eat by myself; so I figure if the opportunity arises for one to use coupons, I better make my move.
As for I.Y.C., he didn't quite like the coupon idea.
"I have enough money. What, do you not think I have enough money?"
"I didn't say that," I told I.Y.C. while waving my hands in resignation. I felt like a domestic abuse victim in one of those Lifetime Movies of the Week. ("No, honey. You can sleep with another woman. I'll just stay at home, making cookies.")
"Well, where do you want to eat?" I ask I.Y.C.
"Wherever you want to eat," I.Y.C. goes.
"I want to eat here."
"I don't want to eat here."
So we sat in the car staring at each other for 10 minutes. Finally, I browsed through the coupon book and settled on The Blue Cactus, an out-of-the-way, new-agey Mexican restaurant where all the suburbanites flock to stuff their Styrofoam plates with heapings of indistinguishable chicken meat.
At the Blue Catcus, a brown, tight-shirted heterosexual server named Josh waited on I.Y.C. and me. This, of course, presented a conflict on interest to both parties: the server's muscles peeking out of his blue tee-shirt like tanned scallops.
"Oh, I thought you were too good to check guys out," I chided I.Y.C.
"I never said that," I.Y.C goes rather snippily. He takes a sip of his sweet tea, and then fingers through the margarita list.
"What do you think you're doing?" I ask.
"Will you buy me something to drink? Please," I.Y.C. goes like a disgruntled 4-year-old. "Please."
"Trust me. You've had plenty to drink," I tell I.Y.C.
When our meals arrived, I made the fatal mistake of complaining to I.Y.C that my dinner was greasy; plus the toppings had specks of meat in it.
"Well, send it back," I.Y.C. goes.
"I can pick around the meat. It's not a problem."
"Waiter," I.Y.C chirps, tracking down Josh with his well-tuned horniness. "Waiter, he doesn't like his food. Can we send it back?"
"You don't like it?" Josh asks.
"Well, not really, but I can eat it. I mean it's edible."
"I can bring you some fish tacos," Josh goes. "They're really good. They're like my favorites."
I give I.Y.C an evil look, one of those looks that burn the human skin on contact. You remember Stephen King's Carrie character? It was kinda like when Carrie intently grazed her fellow students with an empty glare, only more vicious.
"I really think you should take me back to my car after we finish," I.Y.C. goes.
It was the smartest comment that I.Y.C. had made all night, and yet, I knew my civic responsibility. I had to let I.Y.C. sober up before I sent him trekking off to Murfreesboro.
"Oh no, we're going to open-mic poetry," I said.
"Okay. That sounds fun."
"Yes, it does sound fun," I told I.Y.C. "We are going to have a damn good time."
This wasn't the case either.
Upon arrival at the open-mic session, I.Y.C. plopped down at a back table, where he proceeded to snore loudly over the other poets' performances.
"(I.Y.C.)," I go, tapping him gently on the head. "Wake your ass up. Stop being rude."
"Wha," I.Y.C. goes groggily. "What's going on?"
"You're acting like an asshole. That's what's going on," I tell him.
I.Y.C. shrugged and fell back asleep.
When it was my turn to read "Nashville," I made sure to distance myself from I.Y.C. (That snoring guy in the back? I don't know him. Shoot, I didn't bring him.)
It's sad to think that my small reputation on the local poetry scene could have single-handedly been destroyed in the course of one night.
Visit "TV on the Fritz"