Home Poetry On Yesterday…

On Yesterday…

by Stephanie Alfaia

Monday nights bring with it a fog of dread, as it’s the sad beginning of a working week. Perhaps even a need for liquid evil that was not satisfied over the weekend. Rebels come together, drink together, to pretend, even if for a mere second, that they don’t belong to the invisible, yet strict societal law: Thou shall not drink on Mondays. That night was no different. The waitress served gin and tonic and whiskey on the rocks. The first business day of the week almost begs for something stronger than alcohol hidden behind sugared blends. The girl sat solemnly listening to her guest, who went on and on, verbally drawing moments of his past week. She moved lightly in her seat, trying to remain inconspicuous after noticing someone she did not want to greet. Or perhaps it was because he reminded her of someone she was trying hard to forget. Inevitably, as all moments of failure seem to happen in this young girl’s life – he appeared. Some people are lucky enough to be ignorant, and I mean this with the utmost respect, even with a hint of jealousy. To completely disregard others, and even life itself, and drown in ignorance and live safely and never think outside the box. Unfortunately, she was not blessed with ignorance. No, she felt from the moment the first sip of golden drink touched her lips, that she would be confronted by the past.

His walk – careless. His posture – slouched. The tone of his voice – dragging. His eyes – wandering. His smile – nonexistent. “Hey, how are you? How have you been?” – impersonal. The response matched the cold, irrelevant tone. There isn’t much you can say to a person who once meant everything and now is nothing. The atmosphere was filled with extras. Surrounded by nobodies, who are somebodies to someone, but they were all meaningless to that annoying moment. Yes, annoying – annoyed. He looked annoyed. Each word was forced out between his rolling eyes. Looking up, around, sideways, avoiding the pair they faced. Others looked away, pretending not to watch. The girl’s company stared, wondering idly what would happen next. He certainly didn’t want to speak, he was merely fulfilling the casual role he thought was expected of him. His initial reaction emitted a mantra along the lines of: Oh great, there she is. Be friendly, say hi, then walk away. Pain flashed across his face when he described his past weekend. He confessed that he slowed down on his drinking – accomplishment. He didn’t realize that she didn’t need to know. Small talk, but was any of it necessary? His presence was, for the first time, bland. Her expression – numb. Her words – empty. Her thoughts – elsewhere. The encounter was painful for both parties. Not in an emotional way, they simply knew it was a fake yet important moment of becoming acquaintances. His eyes gave nothing away, per usual. His hands moved to the fully lined pockets on his gray sweat pants. He didn’t only look physically disheveled, but there was something about his choice of words, or lack of… he was disheveled. She could see through the act, into a realm where reality proved his aura was confused, not towards her but towards life.

The moment was soon pleasantly interrupted by his friend’s greeting. Finally, a smile. Suddenly real conversation, about a novel. A brief to and fro of words, opinions on Paulo Coelho, and he stood there, untouched by any of it. Impartial to the three speaking parties. He did not care for any of it, any of them. Any one. Others, opinions, thoughts, words, gestures, all irrelevant in his world. Her eyes began to see beyond the glitter that her mind once decorated him with. His impartial sway, his carelessness, his lack of interest… all looked dull to her now. He was dull. Days fluttered through her memories, when she felt dull, unimportant, unworthy, and vague in his eyes. Now she pushed those fallacious memories and allowed reality to flood her judgment. It isn’t a matter of proving who is the lesser subject, but of releasing one from feelings of belittlement. The small talk was again severed by interruption, yet reader, please keep in mind that interruption here is a positive entity. It allowed room for recollection of thoughts, of words, of a reason for even continuing that fake, forced, excruciating encounter. Frankly, everyone involved in the five minutes depicted (if that) did not want to be a part of our narrative at all. The third friend erupted a bright “hello” with an even brighter smile. His eyes were honest, much like our first “interruptee.” His greeting was a bit warmer than the girl expected, at least in front of him. The latter’s presence seems to emit a certain fear in his immediate surroundings, and this is usually common when dealing with an alpha male. Again, reader, bare with me as we are describing him as an alpha male for the sake of how he views himself, and how the others seem to comply with this view. Nevertheless, his right-hand smiled at his girl, in a sly way that had a hint of treachery or a dash of revenge. But these are plain words with no backing, as the girl never quite understood the sort of friendship those two had.

The trio walked away and the attention was automatically diverted to the drink in her hand. A large gulp, her guest laughed and gulped twice. She was ordering her second drink by the time he returned and leaned over to kiss her cheek goodbye. “Bye, babe.” Her stomach curled, it fought the urge to spring up the newly received liquid. That word once held meaning, or she gave it meaning in her head. Now it was spilled, it was thrown at her, with the utmost casualness – meaninglessness. All was gray. All was clear. What she thought was a gray area, now dissipated into obvious oblivion, or even ruthless honesty. He was never truthfully into her. He was never into anyone. He will never feel sufficed with anyone, until he feels sufficed by himself.

Three drinks were effortlessly devoured by the girl and her cheerful guest, who soon urged her to move onto the next bar. Her thoughts naturally diverted to a warning that four drinks on a Monday were clear signs of trouble, but rebellious as she was, she pushed these away and trotted onto the next liquid den. The new environment was filled with football junkies, who leaned over the bar growling for another pitcher of beer. Rows of televisions filled the place, different angles of the game she did not care for. It must have been an important one, otherwise those fat fools could have been primates, screaming at the screens, with their hands in the air, or drooling over the short-shorts and low cut shirts that pranced around serving poorly poured beer. The girl was there with a single purpose: to drown the recent encounter and continue with her detox of “yet another asshole.” She decided on a beer, and asked the bartender (again, for the sake of what this figure would call herself), to carefully avoid foam by tilting the glass 45 degrees. She selfishly wanted to ensue in the innocent bartender the same irritability she experienced ten minutes prior. They drank, they recapped, they laughed, and her life was back to normal. Her phone suddenly vibrated, and splattered across the dim screen was the name of her new beau. A text message, inquiring: “Where is the most beautiful woman in the world?” A joke, if he were American – yet all seriousness coming from a European new to western culture, who is yet to grasp the concept of the dating “game.”

The rules of the game are as follows: never give too much away, always remain mysterious, never be fully truthful, especially with feelings and emotions. Date, fondle, cuddle, but never, and I emphasize never, admit the feelings first. As a matter of fact, refrain from showing feelings at all, for the person who admits these first, loses the game. In any case, the man in question had long lost the game, for he was, in essence, everything a girl deserves. Everything this girl wanted. His physical attributes were that of a typical Hollywood film’s protagonist, or hero if you must. Tall, light skin and dark features. His eyes were a deep brown, hidden underneath thick groomed brows. His nose was in perfect proportion to his face, an observation the girl uses to quickly determine her attractiveness to men. His thick short beard outlined his large pink lips, and when he smiled, he flashed a beautiful straight, white, Colgate approved delight. His form wasn’t that of a young adult who spent far too long “lifting” as folks of his age may say, but it also wasn’t too slim. His arms were perfect to hug, hold and even smother.

The girl smiled at the text but it didn’t move her the way his name did when it surprised her iPhone screen. It must have been related to the fact that the latter’s messages were sporadic, spontaneous, and inconsistent. She had grown used to settling for mediocre “whatsup?” “lol” and “ok babe.” Here we are confronted by full sentences, although grammatically incorrect, but she kept reminding herself of her new found’s background. She replied to the text with a robotic, “Here I am!” A playful attempt at remaining mysterious, following the rules life strictly taught her. The man insisted, instantly replying, “and where is here?” To which, she, once again, neutrally replied, this time with details of her location. Tired of replaying the earlier momentary nuisance, she decided on whim, to send a “and where’s my man?” secondary text. After pressing send, she held her breath for a few seconds. The girl was fully aware that despite the liquid evil courage, she had forfeit the game. To her dismay, there was no response. No reply, no short termed abbreviation of laughter, nothing. The football game went on, the bar patrons yelled, and she stirred. Ten minutes had gone by before she glanced at her phone again. Nothing. Regret crowded the room and self-consciousness hogged her drink. She was back where she started, thinking lightly who would be the next game opponent. The girl turned to her guest and filled him with her depiction of the most embarrassing text she had ever sent – one with no reply. He laughed, rather loudly for her taste, and told her not to worry, that there would be others. A typical line repeated to her year after year. She was suddenly okay with the idea as a whole. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with accepting rejection, with accepting failure. Nothing at all, until proven wrong. She glanced towards the bar entrance, a gesture of imaginary hope. Pondering on a typical movie climax, when the male protagonist appears, in the last instant – perfect timing before all is lost. She unscrewed her eyes, as her imagination was getting the best of her. She had created a perfect replica of her beau. She saw, vivid as ever the tall, handsome figure, waltzing towards her, looking up from a slightly lowered glance. She imagined the smile that covered his face when he looked at her, into her. And in a spur of a second, the figure materialized from her heart’s want, from her mind’s imaginary perfect moment. And there he was. In the flesh, walking towards her…

His walk – confident, of someone who knows what they want. His posture – upheld in complete calm, yet his eyes gave away a slight wave of nervousness. His eyes – fixed on a goal. His tone – deep, wanting. He whispered, “Here I am.” His smile, lost between his first words of greeting, the reciprocating smile, and the kiss that sealed the physical response to her text. She was in awe, at the mere idea that a man like this could be materialized from pure imagination. The girl introduced him to her guest, who too swooned at his attractiveness. But what is beauty when personality is tainted? She cared not for his physical attributions, she focused solely on his eyes. Honest brown, black truthful pupil. Untainted by the western world of games. She gushed under his stare, and realized it was more than acceptable to lose. In fact, she was glad she lost. She happily allowed herself to say goodbye to the babe who kept her up all night wondering, trying to figure out answers to questions that were unanswerable. She replaced the sad feeling of belittlement – because that’s what he did, whether it was intentional or not, he allowed her to feel small; with a shower of admiration. The person in front of her radiated happiness, stability, kindness, selflessness, creativity, interest, and above all – respect. The man in front of her was just that…

© 2013 Stephanie Alfaia Gomes All Rights Reserved

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