“Life At 22”

Sitting there at the bar, Mandy wondered why she had even gone out in the first place. She wasn’t even remotely in the mood to deal with people, she was tired and had to get up to go to work in the morning. Her impetuous roommate, however, wasn’t really worried about all that and probably wasn’t listening to her when she distinctly said she had no desire to go out and “feign interest in any pseudo-intellectuals conversations.” In fact, she never really listened to anything Mandy had to say unless it had to do with her somehow. The bar they were at, The Short Stack, was a place that Mandy frequented often. But over the last few months it had become overly trendy and filled to the brim every night with typical hipsters. Mandy liked it originally because it was a bit of a dive: the ceilings were low, the lights were barely on, the bar was long and made of dark oak wood, the jukebox was full of great old, depressing country songs, and the bartender was this old lady who always smoked inside, but never let anyone else join. Mandy would come in and sit at the bar, over in the corner, drink a few beers and read sometimes. It was sort of a hideout for her. Now, it had become the latest hotspot find and she absolutely hated it.

“Can you at least pretend to be having a good time Mandy?” Mandy snapped back into reality and turned her head to see Beth, the roommate, looking angrily at her with two drinks in her hand.

“Why?”, she asked, “to please you? You dragged me out here. You can’t make me have fun, too.”

Beth rolled her eyes and took a sip from the drink in her left hand.

“Why do you have two drinks in your hand?” Mandy asked, trying to change the subject. Beth perked up.

“Oh! I’m holding it for this guy I met. He’s in the bathroom. Absolutely gorgeous and he’s a doctor!

He’s like a foot doctor…or a brain doctor or something. Whatever, it doesn’t matter.”

Mandy raised her eyebrow in suspicion. “You manage to find new ways to shock me everyday, Beth.”

“What does that mean? Well, it doesn’t matter. He’s coming back. Lighten up Mandy. You are never gonna meet a man if you keep up this ‘depressed indie chick’ charade.” Beth said with both contempt and concern. But before Mandy could snap back with something witty, she had disappeared into the crowd. But then like clockwork, almost as if Beth had set it up herself, a voice whispered into Mandy’s ear.

“Can I buy you a drink?”

Mandy closed her eyes as she turned slowly to her left.

“Excuse me?” she said, pretending as if she hadn’t heard the guy.

“May I buy you a drink?” he said again.

Mandy took a good look at the guy. He was definitely attractive, but not in a conventional way. Brown, shoulder-length, messy hair; A full, scratchy looking beard that suited him well; A nice smile and safe-looking brown eyes. He had on a tweed jacket with a white t-shirt underneath. He was probably a musician or maybe a wannabe filmmaker. Mandy was about just about to open her mouth to say something when she thought to herself…

“Where is this going to go? What is the whole point of buying me a drink anyhow? Does he think that I would be interested in him? While he is attractive, he isn’t so devastatingly handsome that women would just fall to their knees in ecstasy simply by looking at him. Maybe I should just shut up and give him a chance. But realistically, where would it go? I would let him continue to buy me drinks while I endure him telling me about his thesis film he made while he was at U.S.C. Film School and that David Lynch was one of the greatest film makers of this century. In fact, he still cries every time he watches “Mulholland Dr.” I would probably make up some ridiculous lie about where I’m from in some stupid attempt to make myself appear more interesting, because I still don’t think being from Orange County is interesting in the slightest. He’d eventually ask for my number and I’d give it to him because I don’t have any other offers on the table and he isn’t a complete idiot. He would call me two to three days later while I waited around thinking to myself that I wasn’t pretty enough or that he had no real interest in me in the first place or any other excuses women come up with for the reasons why a guy hasn’t called. I would try and sound uncaring on the phone when in reality I would be jumping around like a fool in excitement that this guy, who I didn’t even care about to begin with, was calling me and asking me out again. We’d continue to go on random dates together: a movie every now and again, dinner, drinks, coffee. We would realize we have the same favorite David Bowie song, we both hate Quentin Tarentino and that we both could spend countless hours just sitting outside reading. I would fall for him harder and harder every time I saw him but he would conveniently keep at a safe distance while I conveniently continued to be blind to all of it. We would have really great sex and it would be the first great sex I will have had in a long time. But it would be so great on account of the feelings I have for him. We would start to see each other every other day up until around the three-month mark when things would shift. We would have a talk and he would say to me that he isn’t ready for a relationship right now for whatever reason. Either he was too busy or he wasn’t really over his ex-girlfriend yet; whatever the reason was, I would be the one heartbroken. We might still hang out after that; maybe even continue to sleep with each other every once in a while. But none the less, it will still be three months I kind of wasted on another unsuccessful relationship.”

Mandy took a deep breath and looked at the boy with a smirk.

“Sure”, she said with confidence, “why not?”

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