He was also my best friend.
To call him a womanizer isn't really fair. It's true, but sometimes even the truth doesn't paint someone in a fair light.
He wasn't your typical womanizer. I think he went through so many women, simply because he was a connoisseur of living in the moment. There wasn't anything ugly or demeaning in his behavior, and womanizer, though he was, through and through, he had the kind of charm that you couldn't deny.
Sometimes, when he'd look at you just right, that open and honest look in his eyes, like he was an eight year old, wanting to show you something he'd drawn, you couldn't help but fall into his charm. Even I wasn't immune to that.
We both came together at a time when we were mourning the end of our collective relationships.
Mine was uglier, more bitter. My ex and I kept resuscitating a relationship that I should've given up the ghost on a long time ago.
I don't remember when we decided it, but when J and I joined forces, it was a mutual decision that we could be drunker, sadder, and more pathetic together.
Normally, when girls talk about being a wing man, a good wing man, they really aren't. There are some points about being a wing man that girls tend to fuck up.
Now, I knew J needed to get laid. So, when we went to our regular bar, he'd case it. I usually tried to get him laid every time we went out, because girls and guys have different mourning styles.
Mine involved being curled up in a ball, listening to Dido songs and eating ice cream while naming nonexistant children me and my ex would never have.
His was more...hands on.
I'd stay around until I knew he'd sealed the deal, then I got the fuck out, like a good wingman should.
He'd always call me after. Usually, wanting me to come over and hang out.
I remember once he slept with a girl named Mika. He couldn't wait to tell me all about that one, and insisted that I come right over.
He met me at the door, in his boxers. "Dude! You won't believe what she wanted to do. It was the first time we had sex and she wanted me to do anal."
I was interested. "Well, did you?"
He wrinkled his nose in disgust, "No way, that's just...no."
We met at work, but after that initial meeting, neither one of us really worked much. Sure, we'd show up, exchange emails, talk shit about our co-workers, then we'd leave to pursue more important things--beer, mostly.
One of the rare days when I actually worked, I ended up with my first work crush. His name was James, and he was really cute. Dark, tousled hair, dark eyes, and shy. I have a thing about shy guys.
After hearing me talk about his not-so-slack slacks for a few days, J and my friend Ari decided to help me with my James crush. They both talked to him, so I could figure out what kind of shit we had in common.
The next day, I came to work early. I was pretending to work, all the while keeping an eye out for James.
I heard Ari let out a strangled caw of laughter, and when I looked at him, trying to see what the hell was so funny, he had his face in his arms, body convulsing with supressed laughter.
I stood up in time to see exactly what got him laughing.
James had just got in, and he was wearing a full leather trench coat. I could hear it creaking when he walked. Trenchcoat, black wrap around shades, combat boots, and I swear he was walking like there was a techno song playing in his head. He looked like he'd stepped straight out of the Matrix.
I wanted to die.
My crush evaporated, like it never was.
I had to listen to jokes about the Matrix for the better part of a week, and J, thinking he was hilarious, would send all of his emails twice. "I think your email is fucked," I told him at break, "I keep getting two copies."
"Is it exactly the same email?" "Is it giving you de ja vu? Because de ja vu means there's a glitch in the Matrix."
We carried on that way for the next couple of months. He'd leave me voicemails, singing Pussy Control; I'd buy him candy, and then we'd share the last couple of bites. It just seemed to taste better when we shared.
Of course, this whole being around each other every day made it seem like we were a couple. All of our friends thought we had this secret relationship going on, that we were sleeping together (we weren't) or that we were in love and just afraid to admit it.
We weren't in love, but there was this intense current of sexual tension underlying everything we did. We liked the same movies, we drank the same beer, and it got to the point where we could finish each other's sentences.
So, we did the only thing you can do in a situation like that. We ignored the attraction in the hopes it would go away.
Things came to a head on New Year's. The things you try the hardest to ignore usually find a way of shouting their presence, I've found.
He had a date with this gorgeous dark haired girl. I was taking my other best friend, Shayna along with me. We ended up going to a party where I knew no one. So, Shayna and I went into the kitchen and did shots with some of the boys there.
J's date hated the party. She looked at everyone toasting and having a good time and just sat there and glared. For some reason, this amused me to no end. I kept trying to get her to loosen up and do a shot, but she refused. Finally, she made J take her home. "Do you get to keep your sense of humor, or is she taking that with her when she leaves?" I asked him on his way out the door, snickering as he shot me a 'shut the fuck up' look.
I did enough shots that I lost track of time. In another hour, the ball was going to drop. I didn't want to spend another minute at this party. Somehow, it was too much. Too many faces I didn't recognize, too many people I didn't give a shit about.
I just wanted to be back at my house with J and Shayna, drinking a few more shots with the two people I loved the most.
I tried calling J, but his phone went straight to voicemail.
Twenty minutes until midnight, and I made a command decision. As much as I didn't want to, I called my ex. He made it in time to pick us up, and wouldn't you know it? J got there just in time to see me drive off with the ex. I gritted my teeth, knowing this wasn't going to end well.
I got to my house, and predictably, the phone was ringing as soon as I got there. Three guesses who, and the first two don't count.
It was the first fight I ever had with J. Every time I said something he didn't like, he hung up on me. After the third time, I unplugged the house phone, and turned my cell off.
Shayna spent the rest of the night drinking with me, and when I woke up the next morning, she'd already left.
I felt disconnected from my body, a little hungover, and a lot sorry that I'd fought with J.
About nine in the morning, someone was knocking. "It's open," I yelled from the kitchen. The knocking continued, so I put down my sandwich and opened the door.
It was J. Standing there, looking shy, with an aw-shucks expression on his face, a case of beer next to him, and a bottle of tequila in his arms. In J-speak, that was 'sorry' and 'let's put our beer goggles on' all rolled into one. So we did.
For my pre-birthday celebration, he gave me the movie High Fidelity. He was pretty sure I'd love it, and I did.
Later that day, about the time we usually went to work, he took me out for dinner. We ended up drinking margaritas and calling in. I remember how great I felt. The sun was shining, the drinks were delicious, and I was with my best friend. All was right with the world.
J told me he wanted me to experience something wonderful, something that not many people had experienced. Being drunk in the daytime. It wasn't just for alcoholics.
We ended up shooting, and on top of all that beer, bad decisions were natural to follow. He ended up smashing the webbing between his thumb and forefinger somehow. Instead of the emergency room, we went straight back to his house so we could take a picture and commemorate this moment the right way. By watching his bachelor party tape, and seeing who could outdrink the other.
I thought I heard him today, while I was getting fuel. I could've sworn it. There are some voices you never forget. But, like the Temptations sang, it was just my imagination, running away with me.
He doesn't live here anymore, and we're not even friends anymore. Too much water under the bridge, and too much history. It was my fault, like a lot of things in my life, just pure stupidity and the inability to say two words that go a long way towards fixing things. Sometimes pride is the only coin I carry.
Do I miss him? All the time. Especially when the beer is cold and there are shenanigans to be had. Were we good for each other? No fucking way.
Still, through everything, when I think of him, I want to chug some beers and blow stuff up. Whatever he's doing now, I bet he's as irreverent and hilarious as ever, just the way I will always remember him.
Admission = free
Beer = cheap
Memories = not too clear. But, probably priceless.