“What!?” I coughed theatrically, almost like a rim shot, in response to Sonia’s proposal. After my mind cleared the initial shock, I remembered my mother, and that she was most likely waiting for my call. “Oh I almost forgot, I have to call my mom.”
Sonia’s face drooped and her eyes sunk. “Oh o-okay um, you can use the kitchen.” She pointed to the room with white walls.
Immediately I realized how disappointing my response to her proposition must have been, and I felt really bad about it for both of us. Sex was right in front of me, all I needed to do was step forward and take this opportunity to have it. Instead I stalked to the kitchen.
I was kicking myself, for I knew the only thing for me to do would be to walk back over to Sonia and kiss her. As the kitchen door closed behind me and I heard it latch shut, I slid the phone from my pocket and called my mom.
After a few rings, she answered. “What!?” Mom was drunk, she probably had hidden liquor in the house and tricked me into leaving so that she could drink it alone. This wasn’t a new trick for her.
I could hear her anger in response to my call, and it made me far angrier than she had been. I was calling for her, because she wanted cereal, so what right did she have getting pissed? I indicated my frustration with my tone. “What!? What, you wanted cereal right? I didn’t come back yet, it’s been like two hours, aren’t you worried?”
I waited for her to say something, but the next thing I heard was a long, faint groan. She followed the groan with a pause that drew on. “I-I-I, um. . ..”
I hung up the phone. I felt a rush of anger flow down my arm and into my right fist, and I drove it as hard as I could into my left thigh, bending over slightly as I did. This was a habit I’d gained in childhood, and it was a good way to release frustration.
The pain in my leg allowed me to focus myself and calm down. I considered where I was and what was going on. I settled my mind and my body. I realized that I could hear laughter coming from the other room. Sonia’s laugh was distinctive and percussive.
The kitchen door opened into a living room with a dining table that flowed directly into a small breakfast nook. The breakfast nook consisted of a large couch opposite a flat-screen TV, where we had just been talking. The couch was now occupied by Jason and Jacob, Sonia’s young tenants, as well as a large blue bong.
Okay, fine. It’s Sunday, Mom’s already drunk, I can spare a couple hours. So, using this reasoning to draw me, I decided to get high with Sonia and her tenants.
So we got high, and it was great. It was the most fun I’d had in a long time, and I don’t regret it a bit. That said, I was kicking myself for hours, having whiffed on the opportunity for sex. She had actually said, ‘I kind of wanted to have sex with you,’ and I whiffed. It was privately humiliating. I told her that I had to call my mom “real quick.” I suppose I did have an excuse that would have made my behavior less perplexing had I given it: “I’m sorry, my mom’s an alcoholic and I’m co-dependent.” I’ve sometimes thought that a line like this might actually be alluring to certain types of females, but I’ve never had the balls to test this hypothesis.
It is best for all relationships to begin as honestly as is comfortable, and legal. This means no questions that denote how far you’ve “Come” in your life. Questions like “What do you do?” or “How many children do you have?” are absolutely banned. Sonia made this very clear, however I was able to gather some information.
A few things I learned about Sonia Esposa when I got high with her and her tenants: First: She is a stand-up comedian. This could mean a lot of things, some of them good, some of them bad. As she put it to me, “[she’s] kinda new but [she’s] starting to get a little known by some.”
Second: She is divorced, and she does have a child she doesn’t know or live with, but gave it up for adoption when she was an unwed teen mother. The divorce came several decades later, and their were no children involved.
Third: She is intensely focused on truth. Focused, not necessarily on honesty, but on truth. She said she hated the way there is a set of standard social behaviors that everyone is expected to participate in, and a set of behaviors that put people off and make them uncomfortable. Sonia hated any and all “social contracts,” and thought them wastes of time.
Fourth: She is extremely sexy. To see her bright teeth flash under her smooth upper lip as it expands up and out is incredibly alluring. Her body is a delicious collection of circles; neither too many nor too few.
I was most interested in her stand-up comedy.
What I found out from Sonia about it is that though it sometimes is a nightmare, stand up comedy is one of the most exhilarating things a person can do. She claimed to love stand up, and that she was hosting an open mic that night. The open mic was to take place at Lincoln Square Lanes, the same bar/bowling alley where we’d met the night before.
“Isn’t that place a bowling alley?” I asked, before instantly regretting the directness of my question, as though she would be embarrassed.
Instead, she slapped her left thigh with her right hand, laughing. “You should come by, mic starts as 9:00 but I’m usually there by 7:30 to set up.
Immediately I said “Yeah, I’ll see you there.” It was almost magical, the way nothing will happen for a long long time, until you start to wonder whether anything romantic will ever happen in your life again. And I didn’t dwell on the grand opportunity for sex that I’d squandered, because I knew I was nervous, and for the first time in a long while, it appeared there would be more opportunities.
Anyway that was what I assumed, leaving Sonia’s house for home around 4:30, having laughed and rejoiced with these new people I now considered my friends. The exhilaration of new friends, as well as the sexual proposition I’d nonsensically turned down each had me bouncing my way home.
I felt like I was riding on top of a huge rubber ball, skipping along the ground as it went. Suddenly it dawned on me, I hadn’t spoken to my mom since I’d hung up on her, and what if our conversation had driven her to drink beyond her limit? I didn’t know what her limit was, but I hoped my rudeness had not caused her to push past it.
The closer I got to my house the greater my dread became. Imagining that my mother was at that moment either succumbing to alcohol poisoning or hanging herself in a closet, I sprinted the final half-block leading up to the door. Before I even got there, I was kicking myself for being so selfish as to leave my mother alone for so long in the middle of the day.
“Mom! Mom?” I slammed the door open, driving the doorknob into the wall. Seeing nothing in the entranceway, I rushed into the living room. The TV was on, showing the end of Judge Judy as it led into the local news, and my mother was lifeless on the couch. Lifeless, except for the fact that she was snoring loudly.
Anger shot through me with instantaneous pain, and I almost lashed out at my mother, as I wanted to scream at her for ruining my opportunity with Sonia. Of course she hadn’t ruined anything. Clearly I’d screwed up my own opportunity for sex, and I couldn’t blame anyone.
Anyway that wouldn’t have been a good way to start a relationship, or so I’ve been told, so I told myself I was fine with it. As I plopped into the recliner next to the couch, my mother’s pleasant, droning snore caused a faint smile to break across my lips. For the next several hours, I watched TV while my mother lay passed out on the couch.
This was something that had happened many times before, me watching TV with my mom passed out on the couch, almost like it was some kind of sick tradition. But this time, my mind was alive and excited. I ran through all the possibilities for the future that I could think of.
I thought about the fact that me and Sonia had been hitting it off, and every conversation that we had left me wanting more. When she’d told me not to apologize for something that wasn’t my fault, I’d felt blood rush up into my penis. I don’t intend to be vulgar, but facts are facts. Blood rushed into my penis and it became erect.
The fact is that I sat for a solid hour and a half with a raging boner, thinking of the way she’d cut through the bullshit and made that magical Sunday afternoon happen. It wasn’t magical, really, and I might have really screwed up when I reacted to Sonia’s proposition the way that I did.
I hoped I hadn’t screwed up, and I didn’t think I had screwed it up, but I knew that just considering the outcome implies its potentiality, so I might have screwed it up. But then I remembered that for the last three hours or more, me and Sonia had been hanging out as friends, and from friend to lover was an easy jump to make, in some cases at least.
I think me and Sonia’s was a case in which shifting from friend to intimate lover happens quickly and easily, or could. And I’d missed my opportunity. I raised my fist and crumpled it again painfully into my left thigh. An involuntary groan slipped out of my mouth, and in that moment my mom began to stir.
She inhaled sharply and repeatedly, snorting and honking in between. This was a pattern of behavior she repeated every time she woke up, and though I had once found it funny, it bored me now. I rolled my eyes. “Hey Mom,” I paused waiting to see if she’d opened her eyes. She opened her eyes and smiled, “How’a you doin’?”
I tried to make my words slip out syrupy and sickeningly sweet, emphasizing their sarcasm with every overemphasized syllable. Of course, my mom just groaned and gurgled, belching just for good measure before speaking. “Sylvester,” she stood before me, blocking my view of the TV from the recliner. “Whatta you want to eat tonight? I’ve got some macaroni.”
“Yeah macaroni’ed be great, I’m goin’ out tonight.” I was proud of myself, as I had cool news my mom was sure to enjoy. My mother was very interested in my romantic life, and I was sure she would be delighted to hear about Sonia, but I didn’t feel like she’d earned details.
“Oh-you goin out?” As she asked me about my plans in her own way, she kept busy heating up the macaroni. “Who’re ya going out with?”
“This girl Sonia I met today at Dominick’s. We talked a little then I spent a few hours at her house. She lives over on Gunnison, I think.”
I tensed, forcing myself not to laugh thinking about the hurricane that must have been going on in my mother’s head, trying to remember if she’d ever met a Sonia. I glanced up at my mother as she put shredded taco cheese on cold macaroni and heated it up in the skillet for me.
I knew, once I’d glanced at her, that she wasn’t going to ask me any questions. I thought about it, and I realized that she’d spent the whole day drunk, basically, and she couldn’t really hear me at all. She was either smashed and only barely noticing what was going on around her, or she was sober and pissed.
As selfish as I know the sentiment is, I sometimes think I’d prefer if she just got drunk every night. If she did that I could feel free to stop worrying about her because there’d be no point.
Instead the two of us sat and stared at the TV for a couple hours. Sitting right next to each other as I flipped from channel to channel, I had no idea whether she was awake or asleep. I became part of the couch until 7:45, when I put on my shoes and left for the bowling alley.
Just before I left I glanced back at my mother, slumbering peacefully as the light from the TV made shapes on her face.