Social Chaos

I saw a rabbit as I pulled into work yesterday morning. He was just sitting in the grass, not moving.

All morning I sat at my desk, trying to absorb a million things and feeling like I'm at the bottom of a mountain getting ready to start an enormous climb. I met my youngest sister for lunch. I don't have a clue what we talked about. The day before, I had had lunch with my oldest sister. I don't know what we talked about, either. Lately, I've been doing a lot of that, having conversations and not remembering a single word afterwards.

After work, when I was home changing clothes, my niece called me. "A friend of mine needs to drop something off for me, but I can't be there. So I told her to drop it off with you instead. Is that OK? She'll be there in about 10 minutes." The instant I hung up the phone a car pulled into the driveway.

A woman got out of the car. I had to look at her twice to be sure. I knew her. I knew her from college. I knew her from high school. What the hell is she doing here? I went outside to greet her, still in my bare feet because I had never finished changing.

I stepped out the front door and walked out onto the driveway. When she saw me, most likely with my usual stupid grin on my face, she stopped and looked twice at me with her mouth open. "What are you doing here?" she asked. "You're .... uh ... John, right? Or no, Steve."

"Yeah, close enough," I replied. "I saw you get out and I knew immediately who you were - Judy S****."

Of course I did. I had once had a big crush on her. I couldn't even get close to her in high school, but I'd had a brief chance in college. I blew it, of course. She never had any interest in me in the slightest. And I could see in her eyes even as we stood there that nothing had changed. She looked at me as if I were a rock or a tree, utterly devoid of feelings beyond mild curiosity. I remember those eyes. She never looks away once she turns her attention to you, never blinks, never flinches. She is a laser beam.

She had been a model in high school. She was our version of Kate Moss, hanging out with bikers and being a bad girl, all the while looking like the cover of a Playboy magazine with her incredible genetics. She dropped the guys to their knees with her looks. And sometimes she beat the shit out of them, but that is a whole different story. She was tough and it was no act.

In college she had changed. Whatever she did, she did 100 percent to the very end. In high school she was a biker babe, a model, a drug dealer, and a bad ass motherfucker. In college she was a Christian and a health fanatic. She went around telling groups about her conversion. It was a dramatic story and when I heard it I realized that I had known only half as much about her as I thought I did. I knew about the drugs, but not how deeply into the hard stuff she had gone or about the addiction. But like I said, whatever she did, she did 100 percent. To say that she's intense would be an understatement.

We talked for about 45 minutes as we stood there in the driveway. I was barefooted. She had a baby in the car and looked back every now and then to check on it. She had had a daughter who died at 11 months and it had torn her marriage apart. I knew about the child. But now she is getting a divorce, or so it appears at this point. He's got a girlfriend and he's living with her, so the odds of a reconciliation seem remote. I told her about my situation, as much as there was to tell. Who knows what we're doing? I'm tired of worrying over it. Whatever will be will be. I know that she thought I was hitting on her, leaping on the fact that she is soon to be single as my second chance. But I wasn't. I was looking in her eyes and I could see nothing. She has beautiful eyes, but they tell you everything you need to know. If she wants you, she will have you. She feels nothing for me.

Perhaps that's best.

Two of my oldest friends had appeared across the street while I talked to the beautiful girl from the past. They were waiting on me. We hadn't spoken, but I could see from the way that they were standing that they were waiting on me to come over. So when the beautiful girl finally said she had to go and drove away, I walked over, still barefoot, and said 'hey'.

They wanted to go to Hooters. I told them that a bunch of our old friends may be meeting at a Mexican place in the opposite direction. They said "you can go if you want. We're going to Hooters." Since the plans for the gathering at the Mexican place had never been finalized, I decided to go with them to Hooters. But they were driving separate cars because one of them had to go somewhere afterwards.

I rode with the friend I hadn't seen in the longest amount of time. We talked about an old friend from high school and how his brother had just died unexpectedly. A thousand people showed up and he had stood there wondering how many of them really knew the guy and how many were just there for other reasons. I found myself thinking that he seemed depressed. Or maybe he wasn't depressed. Maybe he was just tired. Then I remembered that I feel the same way. I wonder if people think I'm depressed? I wonder if I am? I don't even know anymore. I guess it doesn't really matter.

At Hooters we found the parking lot full. We ended up parking at a hotel which just happens to be owned by the family of the guy who had recently died. When we walked inside of Hooters it was packed. So we sat way in the back. Our waitress was a beautiful, long-haired brunette named Andrea. My friends already knew her. And she knew them.

I know we're all expected to check out all the girls at Hooters. That's what the uniforms are all about. But I didn't really feel like it. It took me a long time to realize that Andrea was really beautiful. And there was some blonde haired, blue-eyed girl who kept coming around, too. She had 'Pink' written across her ass and wasn't wearing the standard Hooters uniform, but she worked there. She was gorgeous, too, and looked at me with those same emotionless eyes that Judy had. After that, my mind wandered off. There was some fat old man standing out in the parking lot almost the entire time we were eating, talking on his stupid cell phone. Before that, some kid had pulled up on a purple crotch rocket and sat out there smoking and posing. I didn't see the point. Why come to Hooters and stand out in the parking lot? There are no girls out there and they don't have time to look outside and see if any guys are standing around out there striking impressive poses. It's just dumb.

After Hooters, while I was riding home with my other friend, my cell phone rang. "Hey, we're all here at the Mexican place. Sam isn't here yet, but she's coming. Are you coming?"

"OK" I yelled into my phone, which wasn't working right, "I'll be there." My friend, who knows all of the people who were waiting at the Mexican place, said he didn't want to go, so he dropped me at home and I took my truck. I got there late. Sam had just arrived. She stood up and threw her arms around me. She gave me a big hug and kissed me on the face. Somehow I felt awkward for not kissing her back, although I never had before. I was very happy to see her.

The whole group of us talked for hours. Sam is in town for a family crisis. There is nothing she can do, but she wanted to at least be here. It was a long way to fly, all the way from Germany, but she made it. We all had fun. We always have fun. Then the waiter came over to throw us out.
"Wee air closed now," he said in a thick Mexican accent.

"Do you have the time?" Sam asked him as she checked her watch.

"Eet ees after nine and wee air closed," he said.

"That doesn't really answer my question, does it," she replied. "So basically you're not answering my question and you're throwing us out, too, is that it?"

He didn't answer, but seemed a bit put off by her straightforward approach. Apparently he had never met Sam before. He never came back to try to throw us out again. I think we left at 10, one full hour after they had closed.

Everyone was going to the Voodoo Lounge, way downtown. My old guitar teacher was performing there and it was a hopping place to hang out. I couldn't go. I have to work tomorrow. I can't come into work tired and drunk tomorrow. I just can't afford to do that. So we all hugged our goodbyes as we began to go our separate ways. I hugged Sam again and this time we kissed on the lips. That felt much more normal, like that is how good friends are supposed to say goodbye. I hadn't really thought about it. I just did it and it felt right. As I was heading to my truck to drive home, I noticed a card lying on the asphalt next to my door. I picked it up.

It said, "Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." I smiled and climbed into my truck. I wasn't really looking foward to going home. I just didn't feel that I had any choice.

This morning, as I pulled into work, I saw that rabbit again. He was just sitting there, silently watching me from the green grass.

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