The last thing I can remember before waking up this morning was taking one last shot of Allen's mystery concoction before we headed out the door to meet up with some of his friends at the bar. The next thing I remember was waking up with my face stuck to a strange leather couch. I couldn't see that well because my contacts were missing, but after a few minutes spent trying to figure out where I was, I noticed once again the sophisticated and uncluttered decor of the condo, and my memory was instantly triggered. I laid resting in Allen's living room for about twenty minutes or so waiting to hear movement from him before I got out of bed, err, couch. I couldn't go back to sleep, but when you're a guest in somebody's house, it's always uncomfortable waking up before them. Plus I was pretty sure that if I moved I would vomit all over his leather sofa.
After another few minutes I could hear a rustling from Allen's room, then shortly after there were footsteps coming toward the door. He walked down the short hallway and looked at me surprised.
"Hey buddy," he started, then he stopped, "Oh shit, shouldn't you be at the airport?" He apologized for not getting up sooner and started helping me get my stuff together. I still couldn't move but I didn't want him to think I was a lightweight so I did my best to hide it. He took notice of my lack of motion fairly quickly though.
"Dude, do you have your phone, you may want to check to see when the next flight leaves." he said, genuinely concerned with getting me to the airport. I glanced toward my phone, but it was a few feet away from me on the end table and out of reach. I could see the same nonchalance I had about missing my flight last night was not going to work here, I had intended to come up with a better explanation last night so I could avoid this conversation for a few more days, but since I only remembered the first 45 minutes of my evening... Come to think of it, I probably did come up with a better explanation, one that would surely get me out of having to tell a guy I hardly know all about my freshly nixed relationship. I was tempted to ask him if this was the case, but stopped myself once I realized how asinine that question would be.
"Hey, don't worry about it," I said in a raspy voice, pausing to swallow another bout of vomit, "I'm actually not going back to Chicago this weekend."
I was trying to keep things short, but I could tell by the his facial expression that he wasn't fully satisfied with this explanation.
"Oh ok." He said with a look of perplexity, "But I thought last night you said... Are you going back next weekend?" He probed further, his forehead crinkled with curiosity and confusion, yet a certainty that I wasn't telling him the whole story. I knew he wasn't going to leave this one alone, very much like his infectious social personality, it became clear it was also impossible to deny his methods of interrogation.
"I'm not going back to Chicago any weekend." I told him bluntly, "Elle and I broke up last night... At least I'm pretty sure we did." I said with a half chuckle as I looked up to make eye contact with him.
He stopped what he was doing and put his hands on his hips, he was doing the forehead crinkle thing again, I hoped this time there wasn't anymore information he wanted from me since I had already overdone it with the talking. I hadn't noticed that in the couple of minutes he was out of his room, Allen had already cleared all the beer bottles and shot glasses off the coffee and end tables, and was in the process of spraying them down with wood cleaner. In fact, he had been in a perpetual state of motion since getting out of bed. pausing only when I told him about Elle and me. In contrast, I could barely shift from lying down to sitting up, I couldn't understand how he was moving around like that. It was as though all that alcohol we drank last night didn't even phase him, I on the other hand was exhibiting the alcoholic tolerance of a 9 year old boy; at that moment I wished I could have his.
He walked over and patted me on the shoulder, in my frail state his firm hand jolted me forward a bit. His gesture certainly didn't do anything to help my rotten stomach, or the paralyzing headache which had me bound to my current position on the couch. It did, however, help me feel a little less alone with the sadness and confusion I was going through with Elle, if only for that moment.
"Let's go get some breakfast." He said looking toward the door. Fuck me, I thought, this guy has got to be kidding, how in the hell could anyone possibly eat right now, and seriously how is he moving like that? The thought of food turned my stomach another revolution closer to my impending demise, my resistance to which was clearly futile, yet I was determined to hold it back for as long as possible.
"Dude you were really drunk last night." Allen said through a devious smile as he began putting on his shoes, "How are you feeling?" He added with a less than subtle hint of sarcasm.
I did my best to insure him I was feeling fine and that I couldn't wait to get some breakfast, but I was fairly certain he saw right through my guise. He did remind me of the twelve hours prior to this moment which, at this point, were unaccounted for in my memory. I was pretty sure I was going to hear all about them in vivid detail from Allen over the next few days. I dug deep to find the strength to resurrect myself from the couch, and with as much composure as I could muster, made my way out the door my host was holding open for me.
"Ladies first." He said smiling and holding back laughter as I passed through the doorway, "You didn't think I was going to let you off the hook that easily did you." he said his efforts to suppress his amusement with my plight gave way, "Just let me know if you need to puke and I'll pull over." he added, snapping into a half serious tone.
I suppose my efforts to appear unaffected by last night's shit show proved less convincing than I had originally hoped. I was, however, glad he felt comfortable enough with me to treat like one of the guys, and grateful for his gestures of support for my very recent relationship woes.
"You were fucking useless!" Allen's voice bellowed throughout the local diner with uncontrollable laughter, prompting parents to scramble to cover the ears of their children's impressionable young minds.
"We got you into a cab and I was trying to get you to tell me where you live, but when I asked you your address you just kept telling how much you loved your cat." Allen continue his recap of the night, apparently, we had just left a strip club.
"But how did I end up at your place?" I asked as I forked a potato and dipped it in some ketchup, I had already made a couple of trips to the bathroom and was surprised at how fast I starting to feel better. My question prompted even more uncontrollable laughter from Allen, as well as a few more choice obscenities which drew renewed glares from the parents trying to enjoy an afternoon out with their families. I was glad he got such a kick out of it.
"I'm outside my place talking to some of my neighbors and smoking cigarette, and here you come, stumbling down the street with a tray of nachos in your hand. You see me, throw the nachos against the building, and start telling me about how you forgot how to get home so you told the cabby to take you to my place." Allen explained, pausing every few words to catch his breath from the laughter. That certainly explained the first round of vomit.
"I felt bad for you so I brought you upstairs, but you kept asking me for another beer, which I was sure would kill you, so I go into the kitchen and come back and you're face planted into the couch, out like a light." He concluded his recap with one more hearty laugh and a few deep breaths before tearing into the egg, potato, and meat dish he had been neglecting.
I took a moment to sum it up and had to admit I too found the whole situation amusing. There was a certain freedom in hearing about the events of my evening without the recollection of actually having experienced them. Perhaps it was the lack of accountability, or the fact that I knew at the end of the story, I wake up alive and unharmed, more or less. Whatever it was, it felt good. It felt good to make Allen laugh, it felt good to have other people enjoy my company (I had already gotten a few texts from people I met last night, inviting me out again). I think it was the fact that I was out of my head long enough to just be myself, to let the dark side take over for a while, without being confined and diluted by my own conscience.
I looked up from my introspective state and saw Allen waiting politely for me to finish my breakfast. I glanced down at the plate I had been picking at for the last half hour and decided that was the best I could do for now. We got up to pay the bill, Allen offered to pay since my hangover, what he described as me being a "little baby bitch," impaired my appetite and wasn't worth it. I told him I owed him lunch some time. He left a rather sizable tip for the waitress, I assumed it was in recognition of his boisterous behavior, or maybe that was just how he rolled, either way judging from the expression on her face, I was sure he'd be welcomed back with open arms.
We got into his car and he asked me to remind him where I lived. I jokingly started telling him about how much I loved my cat Lemon. My attempt at humor fell short at first, he was confused because apparently last night I told him my cat's name was Bay-Bay. Although I've never owned a cat named Bay-Bay, it made sense to me because I don't even really like my cat Lemon.
When I got home, I realized we didn't even get a chance to talk about Elle and me. When I thought about it, I suspected this was by design, because I also didn't think about Elle and me the entire time we were hanging out. I felt guilty for feeling so lighthearted and happy so soon after experiencing a rather traumatic end to a long-term relationship. That guilt was only temporary, however; I could feel it subsiding back into depression as I laid down on my bed wishing I could be with her again. Fortunately my wary body needed rest, and within a few moments my thoughts were subdued by the tranquility of sleep.