She was wined enough and ready for bed as soon as I came to what I wanted to do. They always do. She drank wine and the glass never ended. An endless box of pink zinfandel, and an endless glass. And she wants to watch Jenna Marbles. She wants to play the drinking game. She wants to tell me how she almost joined the navy (it’s a very interesting story). But then I want to watch Moonshine Bonanza, a slightly sad, absolutely in-need-of-attention book store worker turned stripper. I want to watch *her* videos (the book store is now defunct-Borders) and she has, like 7 Aerosmith tattoos. Including Steven Tyler’s famed and ribboned mic stand. I think, in a sad way, that she is cool.
But, she goes to bed. Eventually. First, we peed together. She said she noticed piss in the toilet earlier and realized I must have been there last because I never flush. I was embarrassed but also slightly amused, proud even.
“Did you know that it takes 7 gallons just to flush?” I said, “If it’s yellow let it mellow man…” It was something I was secretly proud of and I spoke aimlessly. I was in comfortable company.
But, she still went to bed. It happened after I hugged her. This doesn’t make for great fiction but it sure as hell might be the truth. I hugged her-threw my arms around her- and she was ready for bed. About two hours ago, and four glasses of wine ago (if you were keeping track) we were going to go to our pre-paid yoga class at a local brewery with no-sleep and however much Franzia it took us to get there. It’s an hour and a half session, and when she first posed the idea (“You’re NOT going to sleep, c’mon, we’re doing this!”) I thought that there was no way I would ever survive the late drunken night and the assuredly drunken-er morning in which we would attempt that marathon which would be an hour and a half of some of the most uncomfortable poses your body could ever be put into. Most liken yoga to a pretzel. But pretzels can be soft and warm. Yoga hungover (and possibly a bit still-drunk) can be cold and ruthless, like a great steel device squeezing your body into a multitude of halves. Yoga can feel frigid and mechanical. In this state, it tests the limits of your spine in three-hundred-and-sixty-degrees and you (physically but also in your mind) are forced to deal with the obtuse and uncomfortable feeling that your muscles are shredding, and your mind is tearing to bits, like a homework paper you should have been able to turn in. But your dog ate it, and by ate it, I mean: your dog had a shit-load-of wine and then ate your homework and then tried to do fucking yoga in the morning.
Her boyfriend told me tonight that when I was going to drive drunk after that fight, well, he was just letting me know, he had taken my license plate number and was going to call the cops had I left. This is bullshit. She is actually not his girlfriend. She is his wife. And we are friends. And I was looking forward to yoga with my only friend, his wife.
She began to tell me about the army and as she spoke about this frequently spoken and not understood (by me) “MEPS” process. I have never heard of such and would not google at a time like this, because while she was speaking she never stopped moving.
“When I went to MEPS I just, I just, was on a good track you know, I had four years of stable employment and income and EVERYTHING and I was really going to do it.”
She was twitching. She was sitting on a barstool in our kitchen and it had no back to keep her spine straight. Her shoulders hunched:
“My family and everyone think, they just think it was asthma or something and I wouldn’t have ever said anything…”
“What do you regret?” I asked. It was obvious there was something. Her body was upset. She had not stopped wringing her hands since her nearly-stuttering story began. I couldn’t help but notice and couldn’t help but want to know what exactly was making this story so cringe-y.
“Nothing, I mean, really I don’t regret anything..”
I interrupted: “Well then, what are you afraid that people think?”
She had given me an entire novel of words on the decision she made to join the Navy, a light profile of her recruitment officer, an entertaining physical re-enaction of the MEPS exercises, absurd crab walks and squats. And she had insisted all the while that she had signed a contract with the US government.
“I’m not, I mean, I’m not,” she shifted near constantly, “I just want, it’s just that Jeff thinks, that it was the concussions.”
She was shifting like her ass was on fire, like she had to piss. Her hands were wringing and flailing as if we were in South America in a rainforest and the mosquitoes with their poisons would catch her. Her face contoured endlessly as if to seek sympathy, and at the same time, trying to prove itself a singular concrete figure. Unmovable and brave against weather.
“Jeff thinks it was concussions, ‘cause I had so many in high school? And when he brought it up the other night? I just didn’t know, he thought that? You know? I just thought that, he knew, but he didn’t, so it surprised me? I told my parents it was the concussions from cheerleading and asthma, but no one asked any questions. My uncle, you know my uncle and my brother’s friend had called me and asked me, ‘what THE HELL are you doing?!’ and then I knew. But I MEAN, I don’t want them to know that it was my choice. I just, I had to do it for him.”
She meant her husband. Not Jeff, HER husband. Jeff was a very good friend and long-term roommate. Her husband was the only one who knew the whole story. Her husband she married about a month before she had the Navy tear up her contract. About 3 years before we were sharing this moment, albeit, a drunken moment.
“I didn’t tell anybody, but after a month, I knew it just wasn’t right. I made him ask permission. I said, you HAVE to ask my Dad, you just HAVE to. And at first he was opposed, he didn’t want to get married that way, but he asked and we got married and a month later. I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t do it. I blamed it on my Dad’s cancer. They wanted to call my parents but I wouldn’t let them. So my recruiter told me to take two weeks to think about it. I texted her two weeks later and said I JUST FUCKING CAN’T. I had signed the contract and everything…”
“Love is what it’s all about,” I said, “There’s no stable income, no stable job, nothing worth being able to come home to love.”
“That’s right,” she said, “You know, that’s exactly why I did it.”
We pissed together after this story. I giddily asked her to come with me (I don’t get this sort of girlish intimacy very often). After, she stopped talking about all that. She told me about how she knew when I pissed. We went to the living room and I hugged her. I felt that she had shared with me something, even thought I couldn’t get to the root of the clammy and squirming vulnerability. Still, I wrapped my arms around her. Then, I went to play the next video. The moon-shine stripper video. She was interested; she took a big sip and said, “We should go to bed.” Then she said that we have to go to bed. She got up, with her wine, and she went to bed.