Love Bites: Chapter 1 Toast
Love Bites: Chapter 2 Bushwhacked
I remember Star's ex. He was actually a lot of fun. But I knew him for only a very short time. And in that brief period of meeting him, I thought he seemed nice. And despite what Star was telling everyone, I had no part in Star's breakup with the guy. In fact, I am pretty sure I treated him well.
It was the beginning of summer, and the weekend plans we made were extra special. A few of our friends who lived out of state were visiting us. It was sort of a mini reunion, so we wanted to make the best of it. So we decided to party all week--eating at our fave restaurants, clubbing, house parties, picnics, backyard BBQs. Basically, it was a week of eating, drinking, dancing, and having lots of fun.
Friday after work, we were at Sunny's place for a cookout. It was mostly hot dogs, burgers, shrimp, and oysters. And some veggies. Basically, it was food we could grill and eat quickly. We had a big BBQ planned that next day, and the stuff we planned to BBQ were safely marinating or sitting in the fridge with dry rubs overnight.
I brought crab potato salad. Usually, I prefer and make simple potato salad with just potatoes, eggs, salt and pepper, and mayo. But some of my visiting, out of town friends love my crab potato salad. So I added seasoned, butter stir fry crab meat to the potato salad while the potato salad was still hot and warm. That's how you get the potatoes to absorb the delicious seasonings and crab flavor. And by using the microwave to cook the potatoes, it takes me about half an hour to get the crab potato salad ready. And I like to eat potato salad while it's still warm right after it's made.
At the cookout, we were introduced to Star's new boyfriend. He worked at a large corporation doing network security. Firewall was polite, though he seemed a bit out of place with his suit and tie. The rest of us were all ready in casual cookout clothes. I guessed he came straight from work, picked up Star, and came right to the party.
When Sunny took Firewall to the coolers to get him and Star some drinks, Star addressed me specifically to say, "Be nice to Firewall, and show him a good time."
Not a problem. I'm usually very nice and courteous when meeting new people. So I complied with Star's request easily. I introduced Firewall to the rest of the crew. I encouraged him to talk and take part in the games and activities we held.
I should point out that most of the activities involved drinking games. I am quite familiar with drinking games. But Firewall wasn't. In fact, he confessed that he wasn't much of a drinker. He was impressed by my ability to down multiple shots and a variety of alcoholic spirits so freely and still be coherent and standing.
So I briefed Firewall about my long, sordid history of drinking--the highlights, lowlights, and my resulting high tolerance for alcohol. Some of the guys revealed a few of the more embarrassing/impressive details of some of my infamous escapades. I was very lucky to survive those shenanigans, more or less, intact. No arrests; no serious injuries. And I learned very important lessons from my experiences. The first being: There's a difference between getting a buzz and being wasted. A buzz is an enjoyable sensation, a sort of high, happy feeling. Wasted means passing out or worse, throwing up and doing something you're going to regret the next day.
I told Firewall that the secret to drinking is to drink just enough alcohol to get a buzz, then keep that buzz going by adjusting how much alcohol you imbue--less if you start to feel slow, more if you start to lose that buzz. And soon enough, I made sure Firewall had a good buzz. He might've seemed stiff and quiet at the beginning. But a few hours (and a few drinks) later, he was much more relaxed and joked around with the rest of us. I had a good feeling that he would fit well into the group. And he seemed to enjoy our company.
That evening, we put the brisket and pork shoulders in the big grill. By ten the next morning, the meat would be ready. Then it just needed to rest in the big coolers for thirty minutes. It was the perfect amount of time to get to the boat we were renting to get out to the bay. We planned to have a beach picnic on a sandbar.
The sandbar was only visible during low tide. We'd have at least three hours to play on the sandbar before the tide came in; the sandbar would be covered by the sea at high tide. We planned to be on the sand island by eleven the next morning when it would be visible. We'd have three hours to play on the sandbar before the island started sinking at two in the afternoon. Then we'd head back to the marina to return the boat; and we'd spend the rest of the day at a neighboring beach; it had great surf.
That morning we met up again at Sunny's for brunch. Another friend of ours had spent the night to help Sunny keep the grill fire going all night. This friend was a tinker of sorts. He liked to take things apart and build new contraptions. He loved experimenting and testing things out.
Most of Tinker's experiments were pretty awesome. But some of his failures were spectacular and, a few times, explosive! Thank goodness he was a fireman, because otherwise, we wouldn't trust him with matches. He was a pyromaniac. He was a performer, having worked through college as a fire blower and fire dancer. Seriously! And he still put on a fantastic show, blowing out flames and twirling fire staffs in the backyard during the cookout the night before.
We had leftovers for breakfast. And we also started drinking. We all ready had our designated drivers picked out--I had my turn earlier in the week. So I was starting the day with a buzz. And since I was asked to play nice, I made sure Firewall had a buzz, too, before we all headed out to the marina.
On the way there, Firewall confessed to being nervous, as he didn't know how to swim or surf. We told him not to worry. At low tide, the water only came up to your waist near the sandbar. And we'd show him how to surf using the paddle board. Big boards make surfing easy and fun.
As we loaded the boat with our gear, I noticed Firewall was a little unsteady as the boat bobbed gently. I was worried he might be seasick, as he'd never been on a boat before. But he said he was fine. And he sat down by the helm at the back. It was only a ten minute boat ride to the sandbar, and the bay was absolutely calm with clear, sunny skies. I figured, he'd be okay with the short boat ride.
As we neared the sandbar, Sunny cut off the engine. We slowed to a stop, and most of the crew were starting to jump off the boat and make their way to the sandbar. At this distance from the sandbar, the water was about nine feet deep. I got ready to jump in the water and tie our boat to the buoy. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, Firewall stands up, leaned back, and dove into the water.
My first thought, 'I guess he was ready to dive in and have some fun.'
My second immediate thought after that, 'Wait! He can't swim!'
Sunny had the same thought and panicked look in his eyes. So I dove right in to try to find Firewall who had yet to surface! I found him just a few feet under the surface, grabbed him, and brought him up. He began sputtering and coughing, and he panicked a little. But I got him to calm down as Sunny handed us a life preserver. I got Firewall to hold on the life preserver tied to the boat.
I told Firewall to hang on while I would swim ahead and tow the boat closer to the buoy. Near the the buoy, the depth was only five feet; that would make it easier for Firewall to walk towards the sandbar, instead of trying to hoist him back up into the boat. Soon enough, we were moored safely, and Firewall was able to walk to the front of the boat.
It turns out that he didn't dive in on purpose. He stood up too fast, and he was unsteady from the buzz, so he actually fell back into the water. He wasn't seasick as I had feared; he was drunk! Luckily, he was all right, and he laughed! So did Sunny and I.
Soon, we started unloading the gear and coolers from the boat. I advised Firewall to drink just water or a sports drink for now. And I had him go with Tinker on the sandbar while Sunny and I unloaded the supplies off the boat with the others' help. I thought Firewall could help Tinker get the two small charcoal grills going. Surely, he'd be much safer off on solid--well, sandy--ground.
But I was wrong. I should've known better than to have Firewall go with Tinker. Because ten minutes later, I see a huge fiery explosion that knocked Tinker and Firewall back as the flames shot upward. It was massive! Like a phoenix being born with flames radiating out bright and burning on all sides.
Before we could say anything or yell out in concern, the flames shrunk and burned bright on the grills. A victory yell from Tinker meant his experiment was a success. That damned pyromaniac! But seeing Firewall getting up next to Tinker alleviated any concern I had for the both of them, especially as they high fived each other over successfully lighting up the grills fast and hot.
I have to admit, as dangerous and reckless Tinker was, he did get the grills going fast. And within minutes of unloading the supplies, we started to cook all the food we had brought. The teriyaki marinated, deboned chicken legs I brought would only need eight minutes a side to grill. The fajitas would cook even faster. And soon enough, we started our picnic with brisket, pork, and various meats and veggies. And when we were done eating, we had enough time to enjoy the sandbar, playing games on the sand and water.
There was enough time for me to help Firewall learn how to paddleboard. I figured, if he can get his balance on a paddleboard, it'd be much easier to teach him to surf at the surf beach later.
An hour after we set up and played, a few other boaters joined us on the sandbar. And our picnic turned into a beach party with music blasting and drinks flowing. People laughed and danced and ate and drank and played til the tide came in a few hours later.
The sandbar started to sink, so we packed up the boat and made our way back to the marina. Our new boating friends were joining us at the nearby beach surf park to continue our festive celebration. And when we got to the surf park, there weren't a lot of people there, so we had most of the place to ourselves.
We gave Firewall some pointers and helped him catch some waves. And after a few tries, he caught on. It's always a lot easier learning to surf on a big board. He was having fun. And to celebrate his success, we started giving him drinks again when he came back to shore.
The rest of the afternoon, we played in and out of the surf, ate and drank, and listened to music. Everyone was relaxed, laughing, and having a good time. And when we split up before evening, a few of us were heading back to Sunny's to continue our party. But Star asked for our help to get Firewall back to his place. He had enough drinking--dude was starting to pass out. So we put Firewall in Star's car and followed her back to Firewall's apt. After Sunny and I helped him into his place, we took off while Star stayed.
And that was the last time that I saw Firewall. A month later, I heard he was promoted and relocated out of state to a bigger city. Good for him. I assumed the long distance was reason why he broke up with Star. But I was wrong, as Star blamed me for her break up.
"How is your break up my fault?", I demanded.
Star said, "The following weekend, Firewall and I sat down for a talk. He told me about his new promotion and being relocated out of state. Then he told me that as much as he liked me, he couldn't be with me, because we were too different. As fun as it was to be with me, one Saturday with me put him in more danger and more pain than he had ever experienced in his entire life."
Huh? I didn't get it. So Star explained, "He almost drowned."
"That was an accident!", I protested.
"He was too drunk!," Star argued, "You gave him too much to drink!"
"He could've said 'No'," I defended.
"As if anyone could say 'No' when you turn on the charm!", she accused, "And his judgement was impaired. He caught fire and burned off his eyebrows!"
"That is Tinker's doing!", I corrected.
"He only got them singed!", argued Tinker, "I'm sure they'll grow back," he reasoned, "Mine always do."
We chuckled at that, but Star continued, "He felt awful and sick."
"He was fine when we took him home," I said.
"He woke up feeling terrible and sick!", said Star.
"A hangover?", I asked.
"He said he felt awful and he looked awful", said Star.
"He looked fine when we dropped him off", I repeated.
"Well his missing eyebrows and black eyes said otherwise," said Star.
"Black eyes?", I was confused. He didn't have black eyes. He had blue eyes.
Star explained, "He was beat up and bruised from the day's activities. He got hurt and he was hit by a boat."
I challenged, "He wasn't hit by a boat!" At least I didn't think he was. Did it happen when I left him floating at the back of the boat while I went to tie the boat to the buoy? Why didn't he say anything? Now I was feeling guilty. I should've just towed him to the front of the boat, but I was trying to help him feel calm. And I didn't want him to feel embarrassed by towing him with his life preserver to the sandbar.
Star went on, "After you two dropped him off in bed and took off, I went out to unload the car. And while I was getting our stuff, he woke up feeling terrible and confused. He came looking for me. Unfortunately, he was stumbling about, and when I opened the door, I accidently hit him in the face..."
"Ouch!", we gasped!
"...and he fell back on the floor," Star continued.
"Oh!", we sympathized. Poor Firewall!
Star went on, "I checked if he was okay. He said he felt sick. And when I went to fetch a bucket, I stepped on something wet and slipped and landed on my back!"
"Oh!," we gasped again! Poor Star. We felt sympathy pains for her.
Her face looked disgusted as she described what happened next, "I wasn't sure what had happened. One second I was heading into the kitchen, the next, I was looking at the ceiling. Then I felt something wet under me."
She paused as if to gather strength, then continued, "It was mostly liquid. To my horror, it dawned on me what it was."
We were in suspense, waiting for her to continue, "When Firewall woke up feeling sick, he actually threw up. I had stepped in his vomit, slipped, and landed on it!"
"Gross!," and "Ugh!", we groaned. She slipped and landed on vomit! Now we were laughing, imaging Star flailing in vomit!
"It was awful," she said, "I crawled up, stripped off my clothes, and hopped in the shower!"
We laughed at the image of Star furiously scrubbing off the vomit in the shower. But I had to ask, "So you just left poor Firewall on the floor while you hopped in the shower?"
Star had a guilty look on her face when she replied, "When I got out of the shower, he was gone."
Seeing the confused looked on our faces, she continued, "While I was showering, Firewall got up, and still confused, left the apt to go looking for me."
"What!?!", we exclaimed.
"And that's when he got hit by a boat," said Star.
Oh, man! My mind was reeling. Did Firewall go back to the marina or end up in the water somehow, looking for Star? Now I felt bad that he was so drunk. And it was mostly my fault for giving him so much to drink! I was a horrible person!
Star said, "I ran out of the apt and saw it all happen."
Now I imagined Firewall in the canal getting hit by a boat!
Star said, "He was stumbling towards the parking lot when suddenly, two people carrying a kayak came around the corner, and Firewall walked smacked right into the kayak, hit his face, and fell back on the sidewalk."
"Oh!", we all groaned, picturing Firewall walking smack right into a kayak and falling down on the sidewalk. Ouch!
"Thankfully, those two kayakers helped me get Firewall back in the apt," said Star.
At this point we all started laughing. Poor Firewall. Star said, "The next day, he woke up in pain. His face was swollen, and he just felt sick. Luckily, he wasn't throwing up anymore, and the face swelling went down by the end of the day. The next day, the bruises around his eyes got darker, but at least they were slightly puffy instead of swollen."
Poor Firewall. Star continued,"His coworkers and boss were concerned, but he told him that he went surfing, and he was involved in a small boating accident."
"Technically true," I laughed. He did go surfing, and he was hit by a small boat later in the parking lot.
Star said, "Anyway, he said, spending one day partying with me got him in more trouble and pain than he had ever experienced in his whole life. In one Saturday, he got drunk; fell off a boat and nearly drowned; burned off his eyebrows in a fiery explosion; needed two people to help him on his feet and carry him back to his apt; vomited in his kitchen; got hit by a door and fell down hard; got hit by a kayak in the parking lot and fell down hard, again!"
"And then he needed two strangers to help him back to his apt! The next day, he woke up the feeling sick and nauseous, with pain all over and a headache, face beat up, with eyes nearly swollen shut. Then he had to go to work looking like a raccoon all week, with the bruises on his eyes and face, and everyone was staring and wincing at him every time he took off his shades."
"Dude has a legendary party story!", I exclaimed.
"Well, he didn't think so," said Star, "In fact, he took the whole experience as a warning that we weren't compatible, like I was hazardous to his health and well being!"
"So he dumped you like a bad habit," said Tinker.
"Or like filthy garbage," I added helpfully.
But my help wasn't much appreciated, given the glare Star gave me, "It's your damned fault he got so drunk!"
"You told me to show him a good time!", I defended.
"I didn't mean for you to get him wasted!", she said.
"Well, you should've been more specific," I argued. "If you tell me to show someone a good time at a party, I'm going to take it as a request to either get them drunk or sleep with them. And frankly, he wasn't my type!"
The moral of the story: If you want me to act and behave a specific way, then tell me. I'm not psychic.
And if you want your honeymoon phase to last a little bit longer, then don't bring your new lover around me. Because I will break the magic by unintentionally pointing out the flaws in your relationship. I can be terribly honest, especially when I'm drunk and have lost all inhibitions. So either tell me to shut up or keep me sober.
And if you've got a plan or goal in mind, and you want me to play on your team, then tell me your game plan and what plays you need me to make. I'm a team player; just tell me what game we're playing, and I'll be sure to score the right goals.
Just don't blame me for your poor relationship choices, and don't hold it against me when I'm being honest. As your friend, I'm going to tell you the truth, eventually. And it may suck and piss you off, but I expect the same honesty from you. Friends look out for each other. And I don't do it to hurt you. I tell the truth because I care, and because I just want the best for you. Love is blind. Love bites. And sometimes, I bite back. But only because I care.
It's the Most Stressful Time of the Year
Love Bites: Chapter 1 Toast
Love Bites: Chapter 2 Bushwhacked