Today I flew to Nashville. In the morning I had an Everything Bagel with lox spread on it from Johnny’s Bagels. I was disappointed. They didn’t get it right.
Eric Santana was going to drive me to the airport. I predicted that he would run late so I told him to come a half an hour earlier than he needed to. He still ran late and I had to call him. His alarm hadn’t gone off. When he finally arrived, I wasn’t angry with him, because he was one of the guys with whom you can’t get angry. Someone once remarked that Eric might be one of the happiest people. I normally didn’t like happy people, at least those meriting a superlative like that, but Eric wasn’t self-satisfied, which made all the difference. Happiness and self-satisfaction, that’s when it becomes contemptible.
The car ride went smoothly. I would be on time for my flight. Eric and I discussed the difficulties of going without sex. We said some unromantic things. I said that, in a sense, it was a spiritual question. How so? Eric said. In so much as one’s life force, the basic drive, is frustrated, I said. That’s funny, Eric said.
The first part of my flight passed uneventfully. On the second flight I found myself seated next to a young girl, approximately my age. While I struggled to take off my coat without infringing on her space, she remarked: it is hot in here. So I made polite conversation with her and told her I was moving to Nashville, etc. She had moved there four years ago from California, etc. Eventually she nodded off and I put on my headphones. I schemed about getting her phone number when I had the opportunity to talk to her again. That’s Dan all over.
I never did get her number. By the time we’d landed, I felt uninspired.
Lewis drove me to his apartment, the top floor of a small house on a suburban-looking street near Vanderbilt’s campus. It was as I’d imagined it, which was strange because I didn’t expect it to be as I’d imagined it.
After running errands and eating (Pork BBQ), we walked towards a strip of shops and restaurants that Vanderbilt and Belmont students frequent. We discussed our literary ambitions. Lewis pointed out a place called the Villager he’d never been to, so we stopped in for a beer. There was a narrow space next to the bar, made even narrower by the jukebox and an old Ms. Pacman arcade game, and past the bar an area for darts. I found it a little incongruous to see attractive, well-dressed girls playing darts, holding cheap beer in their hands. That made me feel like I was in the south. We sat at a table on the other end of the dart area and watched. I noticed a beautiful girl with dark complexion and brunette hair playing with a group of slovenly dudes. Lewis knew some of them from work. They were college students—they had that air about them.
The girl, whom I really couldn’t stop looking at, was hanging on one of these dudes—her boyfriend, I inferred. He was the slovenliest of the bunch. Slovenliness, I supposed, had a certain charm. But nonetheless, she was way too good-looking for him. I felt superficial (spiritually impoverished) having this thought, but I couldn’t stop it.
I caught her eye once or twice, while she hung on the guy’s arm, and it was if she was saying, forget about it, I’m unavailable. To be unavailable.
They offered us beer from their pitcher, but we declined. I thought about boozing it up with them and seeing where the night could take us, but it seemed more prudent just to go home and go to bed.
On the way back, I hesitated to mention my observation about the couple to Lewis. But when I finally brought it up, I barely had to finish the thought before he told me that the same thing had already occurred to him.