Part Two/Chapter Eight: Sofia

My twenty-first birthday had already come and gone but Ralph insisted we go out to yet another bar on another Saturday night to celebrate. It didn’t bother me, mostly because I hadn’t been able to spend time with him the way we did before I had left for the internship.

I came home five months ago, my birthday was the month following my return- Ralph has been making up for lost time ever since. He drags me from bar to club and back to a bar some nights (there have been occasions where we would end the night at our fifth location) in what I now gather is his new obsession: getting me laid, so to speak.

I should mention that Ralph has three months to go until he is officially of legal age to drink. Apparently he knows a guy who knows a guy who “has the hook up” on fake ID’s. Upon hearing this I immediately felt like I had been transported into a cliche teen movie. But the claim had been real, and the ID was as legitimate looking as could be.

Since that first night we’ve only been tossed from three clubs and one bar. The number should be a little higher but I somehow managed to convince the bouncers and owners that his age was the real deal.

Before entering or leaving the establishments I overheard these men shout “your friend looks like he’s got a stick up his ass. Get some liquor in him and him into some pussy” to Ralph.

I had no idea what they were talking about. I gave no impression that I was a bore, which is more or less what the expression “stick up his ass” means. In fact, I had no problem procuring a sexual partner during the internship. So I’ve had practice since Wendy should the opportunity strike. Not that I care much for procreating. It’s a skill a man seems to need. I read its similar to riding a bike. I don’t know how to ride a bike so the metaphor is of no use to me.

The bar Ralph and I ventured into on this particular night was the second and after persistence on my end, our last bar of the night which was actually a sort of club. I say “sort of” because there was no clear definition of its category from its description.

Located a few blocks away from the Delancey street/Essex street F train station, it was an up and coming bar according Zagat. The line outside the door was moderate. The price at the door reasonable.

It was a calm summer night. The air not too balmy but not much of a relief considering how close to water the bar had been built.

The line mostly consisted of men and women in their mid to late twenties. A few older couples lingered between groups of what the kids might call “trendy” couples and hipsters smoking Pall Malls.

Ralph knew the bouncer to this establishment, surprisingly, so we walked right in not before he tipped his friend a generous wage.

From the outside the place seemed like it would be small but actually had been moderately spacious. The bar took up the entire length of the wall to the left of the entrance. The middle was filled with people huddled in a tight circle. Music was playing but not everyone in said circle was swaying with the rhythm. Some were standing within subgroups holding glasses and bottles filled with various drinks. Others were lightly swaying but I wouldn’t call it that because it bordered public sex but they were trying really hard to make it appear as though they were dancing.

Ralph and I made our way to the bar where he ordered two jack and cokes on the rocks, both for him. Of late I developed a taste for Captain Morgan and James Jameson. I ordered one of each after finishing the other. My alcohol tolerance was growing. Upon my first few nights with Ralph I felt the effects seemingly right away. Now, three shots of each later, it felt more like I was drinking water. This is not healthy but according to Ralph, and by social observation, its something to be proud of.

I was ready for my twelfth round when one of the bartenders nudged my shoulder in an attempt to grab my attention. No need since my plan was to wave him over anyway.

“The lady back there would like to buy you a round.”

Ralph and I spun in the opposite direction where the bartender hoisted his arm in the air and pointed across the bar counter. Sitting in the corner was a woman whose age could not be determined considering the lighting of the area, distance of her face to mine, and the amount of alcohol I had already consumed. She was then joined by another woman- same rules applied.
“Which one?” I asked the bartender.
“The one on the left.” It was the first woman from whom he pointed out.

I waved with a smile. She offered one in return and began making her way to me. As she drew closer her features became more prominent. She was short, around five foot three, with long wavy hair (color yet to be determined), fair skin, and a very shapely but flattering figure.

We were now face to face and I could see she was much older than I am. Her hair was dark red, and she had intoxicating blue eyes. Her clothes were chic. The slight grin on her face gave me the impression that she has done this sort of thing before, whether the men be my age or not did not matter. She is a rather attractive woman and ever since the internship concluded I, shocking for me, have missed the company of a woman.

“What are you drinking?” She asked with a sober tongue which led me to believe that she either just arrived, or has been staking the bar for a potential bed mate.

“Whiskey on the rocks.”
“Does the gentleman have a preference of brand?”
“Surprise me.”

With a smirk she ordered a Brain-Duster. I later learned it was not just a whiskey drink but it had Italian vermouth and abstinthe. Had I known it at the time I wouldn’t have had a handful of them. But to her surprise I was able to “keep up” as she later confessed as we approached the door of the establishment.

In the blur of meeting my new lady friend I had completely neglected Ralph but soon learned that he, too, was being attended to by a lady. A rather attractive one at that.

The combination of liquors in my system caused me to sway to and fro but not enough to require the aide of my own lady’s assistance, not that she minded to begin with. Judging by her up tempo in laughter she rather enjoyed herself.

We trotted outside. The balmy summers night swam across my cheeks flushing them with added feverish heat. I turned to my new lady friend who still had a bright smile planted on her extrordinary features. I doubt that is a thought brought on by the liquor but I felt a chemistry between us strong enough to warrant a kiss. But with what brain cells remained functioning it had decided against such actions. Instead, I went for a less bold move:

“Can I call you sometime?”
“Do you live around here?”
“I live within city limits, but not Manhattan.”
“Brooklyn, perhaps?”
“Do I look like a Brooklynite?”
“Yes, actually, you do.”
“Well, then, your suspicions were dead on. I live in the Sheepshead Bay section.”
“That’s pretty far from here. How are you going to make it home?”
“I’ll manage.”
“Would you like to spend the night at my place? I live in NoHo.”
“So you walked here?”
She laughed. “No, I took a cab.”
“Why? You could have used that money for the ride home.”
“I’m not drunk nor did I have any intention on getting drunk tonight.”
“I’m not drunk either.”

My words were slurred. Even I knew I was at least borderline drunk. My brain held on to the surrounding images. I knew who I was, where I was, where Ralph presently stood, and most important, where I lived. I did not, however, know who this woman was. But my brain wanted to find out.

“I’m not going home with you. If I do, we’re going to have sex. I don’t want to have sex. I mean, yes, I do. But not like this. Being coherent during intercourse makes it more enjoyable.”

She went hysterical. I saw nothing humorous. When she calmed down she walked into the street and began waving her hand. Within minutes a yellow taxi stopped in front of her. I then felt her take me by the arm and drag me into the back passenger seat.

Before I could protest Ralph soon took the seat next to me. “What happened?” He said in a slurred tone similar to my own.

“Take these two to Sheepshead Bay. When this one gets his head together he’ll give you an actual destination.” My eyes danced until they were lined up and staring at her.

“You never gave me your number.” I said.
“I’m sure we’ll see each other soon enough.”

With that, she slammed the car door shut, tapped on the trunk signaling the driver that it was okay to depart, and we were off.

She was right, too. We saw each other again very soon- the following Monday to be exact.

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