Taking it Out on Friends
The fact is there is always a need for a rebound guy. I guess Mitch could stay in that category. I liked to be seen with him because he had a good stature and was attractive. He worked out for hours every day so of course he was physically appealing. The problem was his intelligence. He was less than bright. Unfortunately his facial expression sometimes indicated the reasons I couldn’t bring myself to like him more.
He had a bit of a twitch around his eyes. Twitch doesn’t seem exactly right. It was more of a winking thing he did with both eyes so frequently that it seemed twitch like. The winking brought out the aged wrinkle lines revealing the fact that he was in his thirties.
I was in my early twenties and felt like I should have more dating options before me. How was it that my rebound guy was so old and not dumb? Mitch really wasn’t that intelligent. I felt badly thinking it. Knowing someone isn’t bright and thinking about it as a reason you’re not attracted to that person seems ignorant and rude. But the truth was that his slow nature turned me off. He was a stupid handsome man. The stereotypical cheerleader, but the male version. A male bimbo. Why is it that guys are proud to be with female bimbos, but it’s degrading for a woman to be with a male bimbo?
Mitch had a great smile though. Like I said, he was a handsome man. Tall, muscular, bright blue eyes, and he dressed nicely. Public appearance was great. I was just terrified he’d speak and humiliate me when people were around. Not that I was any genius, but he was obviously far from it. He laughed quietly a lot to hide the fact that he didn’t understand much. That’s probably how he managed to get my number at a party I attended a month earlier. Without holding much of a conversation with him he had seemed intriguing, attractive, and quiet.
I noticed his strange breathing later. Did he have asthma? One of my little sisters has asthma and her breathing sounds weird when she isn’t on top of her medication. But, Mitch seemed to breathe oddly all the time now that I noticed. In in out… In in out. It was a heavy choking breathing that made me want to breathe deeper so I wouldn’t have to yawn. For some reason his breathing made me look at him with a sideways disgusted manner. It wasn’t exactly gross, yet I thought grossly of him for it.
Mitch could never be more than a self esteem booster. Rebound guy only.
I needed to break out of my rut and find ways to meet new guys. It seemed like I only knew a handful of people anymore, in addition to my roommates. Being a student you’d think I would meet new people everyday. My problem was that I tended to keep my head down- in the books. I wanted the grade. I think learning is great, but my motivation was getting the A. There was something very reinforcing in being graded. As a matter of fact I remember very little from any of the classes I’ve attended over the years.
Effort. That’s what pulling my head out of a book felt like. I had to look around the food court at the college. It was a small community college and had an intimate food court. There were no franchise eateries in the cramped room. You could order a hamburger from one window, a deli sandwich from another, and pizza from a third. There were ready made salads and other grab and go packaged foods you could overpay for. Those items always struck me as being a little too old to gamble on. Partly because I never really saw the stock rotate. I didn’t check the expiration dates to make sure, but it seemed like the same sandwiches and salads never moved. Hopefully I could get into the University next year. The University food court would be bigger. I wasn’t seeing any new faces.
My roommate came to sit next to me. It wasn’t hard to spot me in the crowd. I had stark brown hair, dark rimmed glasses that made my bulbous brown eyes pop. I bought those glasses to conceal my oversized eyes, but it didn’t work. Nothing worked. I was on the tall side of average with long legs sticking outside the booth. I hated having to fold my legs up to accommodate public places. My legs went numb when they were folded or squished under a table or desk. I liked to sprawl. My complexion was a dark shade of tan. I had worked outside during the summer. I wasn’t afraid of hard work and needed something that earned good money. My family wasn’t paying for my education like a lot my friends families. I grew up poor, but proud. I don’t know exactly what I was so proud of, but I sure behaved like a privileged brat sometimes.
Mariella was a Latin beauty. She went by Mari among friends. I loved being friends with Mari. A Latin beauty with full pouting lips and a figure to match. Most men wanted to console her pouting frame as soon as they saw her. She was easy to spend time around because my social awkwardness around guys could be delayed while everyone’s visual attention was so deeply distracted. As soon as she sat down I straightened up a little and allowed my head to lift and scan the room more efficiently. Sure that no one would notice if I was staring at them with Mari at my side.
“Whatcha studying?” Mari jutted her chin toward my open book as she nudged herself further in the booth.
I had forgotten I was supposedly studying. That was new. I was usually too invested in studies to notice anything else. “I don’t know…” Closing my textbook I looked at the title. Geology. I’d have to reread whatever chapter I was supposed to be studying. “I need to meet new guys.” I said it out loud intentionally but wasn’t looking at Mari when I spoke.
“Yeah, me too.” There was the slightest staccato edge to her speech. I loved hearing her talk, though she never seemed to say a lot at any one time. I turned to look directly at Mari as I listened to her sentence in a brain echo.
“I thought you and Sam were a pretty sturdy couple.” My eyebrows came together. Sam was a recent recruit in the friend circle. Mari had brought him in, of course, but we all took to him right away. He was smart and funny with a tall almost gangly build balanced by strong shoulders and messy hair. He sometimes wore glasses that accentuated his sturdy jaw line and ocean green eyes. Most of the other guys in the group were average to short height and a bit on the crude side where their sense of humor was concerned. Sam seemed more refined. Mari gave me a pursed sidelong irritated look.
“You still seeing Jasper?” She said it in a pressing way. Knowing she was trying to stop me from delving further on the Sam subject, I rolled my eyes and returned my gaze toward the rest of the food court. If we weren’t going to talk about Sam I didn’t need to read her expression.
I restretched my legs out into the walkway. Mari directly across from me pulled out her packed lunch. Most of us packed lunches to save money. Glancing over I saw some unknown fruit. Mari always had appealing food. Her section of shelf in the shared fridge of our apartment required permanent marker to identify food because otherwise the rest of us might try to pass it off as ours. I saw Rob across the food court and quickly pulled my legs back into the booth hoping he didn’t see me. Now seemed a good time to reread that Geology chapter.”
Why was I even taking geology? I had no interest in rocks. I never had a rock collection as a child. I did have a pet rock named Bruin at one time. Whatever happened to pet rocks?
“Hey, Mari, Siggy.” He addressed me as more of an afterthought. Everyone called me Siggy after Sigmund Freud. It had something to do with being overly analytical. It didn’t bother me. No one ever called me Myrtle, my given name, except for professors and other professional types. It was an awful name for anyone younger than eighty-two. That was the age of my great grandmother I was named after. Rob sat down next to Mari. She gave him a smirk and smiled out of the corner of her eyes at him. No wonder the guys had a crush on her.
“Any weekend tales?” He was looking at Mari. For some reason I felt like he knew about the Mitch date, but how could he? Mitch wasn’t in our friend circle. I was feeling pressure to go to my next class early or maybe find an empty table in the library so I could really read this boring chapter. Rob was roommates with Jasper, dangit. For that reason alone I felt uncomfortable with him sitting across from me.
I was getting irritated with Rob, mostly because he had told me about Jasper having a girl over a few nights ago, which had spurred me on when I went out with lame Mitch. Mari was beginning to say something in response to Rob’s question, but I couldn’t pay attention. I leaned over a little toward Rob. Mari was engrossed in her tale and Rob was listening intently. “Don’t tell me about Jasper’s… well, don’t tell me about anything anymore, okay.” My tone was quiet but biting. Mari stopped relating some weekend romance and looked at me surprised.
“What’s that about, Sig?”
I rolled my eyes. Of course I was making myself look mental by bursting out in quiet frustration. “Mari, you know.” Her expression didn’t agree with my statement. Rob looked offended. “Look, we broke up because I abide by abstinence before marriage and he doesn’t. I really don’t need to know about his conquests since then.” I wasn’t looking at either of them.
“What are you talking about, Sig?” Mari was still looking at me like I was crazy.
Rob was definitely offended now. His strong dark features pulled tightly toward his eyes. Not a good sign.
I wasn’t really upset with Rob. I was upset and embarrassed with myself. I was upset for ever having dated the hormone driven Jasper and embarrassed that hunched heavy breathing Mitch was the best I managed to attract since then. “Just keep your information to yourself!” In my head my voice was ringing all over, but I had actually gotten quieter. We were all close friends and we all gossiped about what was going on in each others lives. Without realizing it I was packing my textbook into my already stuffed bag.
Glancing up I saw Mari was looking at me with disapproval. I deserved it. I knew Rob wasn’t to blame, but right then I didn’t care. “I’m late for a study group. I should’ve left over fifteen minutes ago.” Mari was my best friend in addition to being my roommate and I was pretty sure she knew my Monday schedule didn’t include a one o’clock study group. I would have to apologize to Rob. Looking over at the two of them, Mari looking slightly disgusted with me either for my escape or my mad behavior or both and Rob looking wrongfully accused and angry. Now I had to figure out where I was going for the next hour before class.