Alright, Still: Away With The Newsie

Saturday night and it's kind of a hipster clusterfuck downtown as some emo/punk/electro/disco/ska/clogging band is having its EP launch party and all their Facebook friends are out and our Gretchen "Leggings" Otto is in the thick of the crowd of emaciated guys with their smudged guyliner and Robert Smith aspirations. She's sipping a vodka cranberry in one hand and puffing a clove cigarette in other, and she runs into this guy she used to know, a guy we'll call "Tyler Troubadour."

She knew him a few years back when she was a sophomore and he was this guy who used to be THAT guy with the guitar case covered in political stickers even though he never voted, and who busted out a medley of John Mayer/Gavin DeGraw/insert name of other generic singer-songwriter tunes at keg parties much to people's chagrins, and who always penned songs about girls he couldn't get, girls who were always so beautiful with hazel eyes and did crazy things like run around in the rain. Gretchen, for her part, always gave him a friendly wave when she saw him on campus and didn't yell at him to shut up at keg parties even when they always turned the radio down during a song she loved, and she always kept her questions about if all these girls are out being crazy in the rain, why weren't the streets just littered with coughing young women in the grips of pneumonia, to herself.

And they keep running into each other because the pool table he's positioned at is near the women's toilets and Gretchen's friend, let's call her Hannah Headband shall we, broke the seal two bars ago and probably has a bladder infection but she's waiting to see the doctor until after the weekend so the anti-biotics don't get in the way of her drinking. So she's always scurrying off to the bathroom and Gretchen is always with her and he's there drinking lager and futzing around with that plaid newsboy cap.

It was on one of these many trips to and from the bathroom, one of the times Gretchen decided to just stand out in front of the bathrooms and hold onto Hannah's faux Gucci purse and her Cosmopolitan, that she remembered how she used to really think Tyler Troubadour was cute and amazing and how secretly she wished he'd write a song about her, a song about girl who was pretty but with green eyes not hazel eyes and who stayed inside out of the rain.

She wanted to go over to him, between rounds, and shake his hand and blush and say that he probably doesn't even remember her but she went to his sparsely attended concert a few years back at the coffeehouse that's now a Mexican restaurant. And he'd say he remembered her and how she wore her red leggings and how she was the only person that didn't text during the performance and how she was one of two people who applauded because they liked his songs instead of just out of duty. And the game would break up and she'd sit on the edge of the pool table and mock his newsboy cap and he'd make some allusions to how it worked for Christian Bale and she'd laugh and offer him a cigarette. He'd turn it down because he's quit smoking, 120 days strong!, and she'd offer her congratulations. And he'd ask where her friend, the one with the apparently tiny bladder, was and she'd laugh and point to the bathrooms. They'd mock the people, the band, the guys wearing the same jeans as her but two sizes smaller and she'd say how emo boys are just hell for a girl's self-esteem. And Tyler would say how she was very fetching in her jeans and Gretchen would laugh at him saying fetching.

And he'd ask her if she had a boyfriend and she said she was seeing somebody and he'd frown a bit and it'd be awkward for a bit. She'd say it wasn't serious, they weren't getting married or living together or even listed in a relationship on Facebook. He'd laugh and she could tell he really wanted to kiss her and they both would sit there, desperately wanting for her Hannah Headband to come out of the bathroom, to stop either one of them for being idiots. For being two people at an EP launch who made out because he was cute in a newsboy cap and she looked fetching years ago in her red leggings.

"Who are we eye-fucking?" Gretchen heard a voice say from out of thin air.

"Nobody Hannah," she sighed.

"God, you're like so boring," Hannah said, taking her stuff back. "Some girl told me about better drink specials. Oh my god, crazy story for you. So I'm like in on stall and this couple comes into the stall and I can't tell if it's a guy and girl or two girls or two guys. Anyway they are like making out or something . . . "

Hannah's voice trails off in Gretchen's head as they turn and start walking away back up front to the bar. And she looks back and there he is on the edge of the pool and he's smiling and looking directly at her and waving with his free hand. And the further away they get, the crowds of boys with smudged eyeliner and Robert Smith aspirations start filling in until he can't be seen. Not his smile or his casual way with his friends or all of the things Gretchen had wanted to say. They all had been crowded out by the rest of world. All except for the top of his little plaid newsboy cap.

No comments: