Templates - Story #8

"Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy." - Leo Buscaglia

Friday 11 p.m. June 17

*Exit Florence + The Machine*

Wednesday 1 pm June 15

It's my lunch break. I'm in a small Japanese restaurant on Bloor with Patrick. Both of us are standing in a short line waiting to be seated. We have yet to utter a word outside our mandatory greeting acknowledging each other's presence. We are, at the moment, preoccupied with our Blackberries. Not necessarily for business purposes, but I guess in some circles you could say “it was business as usual” – to put it delicately.

I don't claim that it's hard work, the upkeep of various women, incessantly responding to their text messages on a minute-to-minute basis. In fact, together we've established a system consisting of various templates which spit out text messages with the touch of a few keys, making the rate of response to females exceedingly efficient. It’s a simple system – the less complicated, the easier to manage. Already my memo pad has over thirty templates suited for different responses. I guess you can say it's a tad impersonal but it’s a small price to pay for meaningful efficiency.

My phone beeps as the hostess informs us that our table is ready. A message from Raquel reads, “Hey you, haven't heard from you in awhile. Are you avoiding me? lol Anyways, you free this weekend?”

I think for a moment. Raquel: met her a couple of times, she seemed pretty down to earth then – out of nowhere – she turned paparazzi-crazy… Text message ratio is easily 13:1 in her favour. Catch and release.

Raquel: Looks 6, Personality 5, Clinger Factor 10.

Copy + Paste: “Hey stranger. Been meaning to get at you. Sorry, I can't this weekend or for awhile. Work is insane. Ill be out of town for the next little while. Take care.”

We follow the hostess as she motions us to two seats at the Sushi bar. Patrick pulls out the seat beside me and passes me one of the two menus handed to him by the Japanese waitress. He looks over the menu for a minute, turns to me and asks, “How are things with Jessica?”

Eyes still glued to the menu I answer indifferently, “Good I guess.”

Continuing his probing, “How long have the two of you been dating anyways?”

A couple of months. Who really knows?” I passively answer.

He refocuses his attention on his menu and with a hint of condescension proceeds, “I wouldn't have thought she'd be the kind of girl you'd date. I still can't believe you went over there in the rain like that. Does she still wear flip flops everywhere?”

His remarks and questions aggravate me, but instead of defending my sort-of-girlfriend, I say, “Well its not like we're officially together. No commitment has really been made. Besides I'm still sort of talking to Megan.”

Patrick nods in approval to both of the latter statements. Megan is a hot bartender that Patrick and I met one night. We had been innocently texting each other back and forth over the last couple of weeks, but had never met up. She recently broke up with her boyfriend and has since been texting me more frequently – each text becoming exponentially more flirtatious. Although I told Patrick that Jessica and I weren't officially together, I know deep down that to do anything with any other female would be betraying Jessica's trust. You don't need official titles to break someone's heart.

Later that day I get a text from Jess. The message reads: “Hi you! I miss you! Guess what? I got two tickets to that band you really like, Florence and the Machine. The concert is Friday night. Please say you'll come? :)”

If I had one word to describe Jess it would be amiable. This isn't the first time she's surprised me with something thoughtful. She's the kind of person that selflessly does things for other people. She regularly manages to make me smile, effortlessly.

Jessica: Looks 7, Personality 10, Cling Factor 5.

Copy + Paste: “Hey stranger. Been meaning to get at you. Sounds good I'll get at you then.”

A couple of hours after, right on cue, I get a tempting text from Megan. Her message reads: “My place. 9 p.m. Saturday. Bring wine and take out. Don't be late”. I think for a moment. I guess a little dinner and drinks couldn't hurt.

Megan: Looks 9.5, Personality 2, Cling Factor 0.

Copy + Paste: “Hey stranger. Been meaning to get at you. Sounds good I'll get at you then.”

Like I said, impersonal but efficient. I'm a utilitarian at heart.

Friday 9 p.m. June 17

I step out of the cab and make my way to the entrance of Kool Haus. I see Jess waiting by the door. She's got her huge perma-smile on. I've got my disinterested snob face going, as usual. She greets me with an affectionate and sincere hug – no one gives those in the city anymore. I give her the ass out, one arm, body tilted to the side hug back – the typical apathetic Toronto greeting. I don't know why I'm in a bad mood. She's been amazing to me. I think it’s partly due to the fact that I feel that I had to give up my other life to be with her. By other life I mean 'entertaining' different women on a nightly basis. In the last few weeks I've sent this about 10 times:

Copy + Paste: “Hey stranger. How are you? Good, I hope. Listen, I've been meaning to get at you. My life is just really busy right now. I don't think I can give you the attention you deserve. I hope we can still be friends...”

I have yet to actually inform anyone that I have a girlfriend and am, therefore, unavailable. Sometimes I think that I can't come to terms with it myself. I tell myself that I'm just taking baby steps and easing myself into the transition of being in a relationship; in all reality even I know it's complete commitment phobia. How cliché.

Jess and I step into the venue and grab a couple drinks. We talk and share the events of our respective weeks; not failing to disappoint, our conversation is effortless. She somehow manages to hold my interest with her routine stories of her daily subway experiences and her dog Juggles (she rescued Juggles from the pound – of course. I know, right). A couple minutes later the band gets on stage. They open by performing their less popular songs. While Jess's attention is held by the band, I'm nonchalantly and flirtatiously text messaging Megan. I'm an asshole (I know, right).

Waiting on Megan's next text, I hear Florence Welch chanting, “Happiness hit her like a train on a track. Coming towards her stuck still no turning back. She hid around corners and she hid under beds...”

I love this song. Admittedly, it's extremely moving. Excited, I look up from my text messaging transient state. Let down, I find no one in the crowd is really vibing with the band. The entire place is filled with hipster zombies, too cool to even sing along to the music that they all came here to supposedly pay tribute to. Instead, everyone seems to be too self-aware to let themselves feel any form of liberation, unemotionally sipping their alcoholic drinks, exemplifying a non-committal fear of true expression. Have I become one of these people? Not only at this show, but with life in general? Have I been copy and pasting myself into an passionless oblivion?

I look at Jess in hopes of finding answers; surprisingly I do. She's swaying back and forth without a care in the world, singing and dancing to the song. She turns to me and smiles. She looks cute and silly. I adoringly laugh at her. She playfully sticks her tongue out at me and continues to sing along. There is certainly something undeniably disarming about a girl who can just act silly and live free in public. I have never met anyone like her – at least not since grade school. Too many people, myself included, are so wrapped up with how we look to the outside world that we've lost the ability to truly have fun and enjoy life. This life moves pretty fast and if you can't let loose and just live, you'll never be able to truly enjoy every fleeting moment that it has to offer.

Unintentionally being myself – and thereby committing myself to some form of vulnerability – I ask her, “Do you believe in happy endings?”

Without missing a beat, she answers, “I think they get a bad rap but hey, anything's possible right?”

She giggles, kisses me on the cheek and continues to sing, “The dog days are over. The dog days are done...”

She killed me softly with her song. She's breaking down every wall I've ever put up. She's buying me tickets to my favourite band (of the moment) and making me happy in the simplest of ways. And what does she get from me in return? Text message templates to every slut in the city. I decide then and there that I would send my two very last text message templates. Ironically enough, both template messages were the only ones of many in my Blackberry memo pad that had yet an occasion to be used. They were my “use-in-the-event-of-pigs-flying-and/or-hell-freezing-over” templates.

To Megan: Copy + Paste: “Listen. I think you're really hot but I'm actually seeing someone and I think it would be unfair to her if we were to hang out. Sorry.”

To Jess: Copy + Paste: “You make me happy. I think I'm in trouble. I think I'm in love...with you.”

The Benefits of being a DoucheBag - Story #2

Hate-filled Disclaimer/Rant:

*Call me a self-loathing hypocrite, but living in the city, I've really begun to detest suburbanites and city-dwelling suburban wannabes. Which is worse, I don’t know. Both spend most of their time hibernating, living vicariously through their television sets. I guess when you live in the suburbs, you have an excuse, but what’s with the suburban-wannabe downtowners? Why spend your nights watching reality TV when you could quite literally walk out your door into some real action? I’ll never get these people. If you’re single, born before 1986, and your Saturday-night “parties” involve place settings and charades, downtown really isn’t the place for you. Some sound advice: move back west of the Gardiner, buy some cats, and get yourself a Lava Life account; it’s a waste of time hitting a club to pretend like you’re the “fun, adventurous” type. It’s a waste of your time, and it’s a waste of mine – hell, there could be an actual fun/adventurous girl/guy out in that lineup, waiting to get in because you had nothing better to do than show up at 10pm to beat the line. You might as well have just gone to Blockbuster and rented Twilight, because that’s the closest you’re going to get to romance.

1:40 a.m. Saturday 20**

Fuck it. A boy's gotta do what a boy's gotta do.

1:05 a.m. Saturday 20**

Do you know this power-starved jerk-off?” Patrick asks me, clearly frustrated.

No and this isn't really my scene. I sort of know the owner but not well enough to call him. I don't think we're gonna get in,” I say to Patrick as I scan the hour-long line up.

Let me see what I can do,” he replies.

He walks over to the bouncer and begins talking to him a way reminiscent of one of his nightly conquests – duplicitously attempting to get his way. I know that, one way or another, he will manage to get us in. Patrick always gets his way. I'm not quite sure how. Physically, he resembles a human being just like the rest of us (only shorter). In fact he frequently plays one (again, only shorter). But he's a secretive, diabolical sociopath who always wears lifts in his shoes. You wouldn’t characterize him as egocentric… At first. But beneath his innocent-disguised charm he has an unseen, silicone-embellished ego which makes him seemingly harmless and in turn that much craftier.

I'm not quite sure if Patrick and I are friends. I guess if I had one word to describe my relationship with him, it would be 'accomplice'. That label might not be justified, but it's the first that comes to mind. Half of me envies him, but I'm pretty sure the other half genuinely despises him.

I met Patrick a couple of years ago during my first stint with corporate America. He represented what I imagined at the time was a better version of myself. He worked on the 30th floor, I worked on the 29th. He dealt with clients, I wrote up documents. He went out on weeknights, I played World of Warcraft. He banged models, I lusted after them.

I was new to the city then, not yet privy to back door entrances and 6 a.m. last calls. My days were filled with spreadsheets and my nights were fueled by TV dinners. Some might say my life was boring, but I prefer the term 'uncomplicated', at least in comparison to how it is now. This life, really, is all a result of my deciding to hit a work party in lieu of my usual Wednesday night Lost-and-takeout tradition (it was a rerun); Patrick and I spent the night bonding over strangely similar stories of past conquests and our love of the opposite sex. That night was like the fork in the road that caused my life to take a complete one hundred eighty degree Hunter S. Thompson-like turn. Although my nights are far more exciting than I had ever imagined, I have yet to conclude if my current adventures will yield anything sustainable and/or anything positive. But I do have to admit that being associated with Patrick does have its benefits. Well, benefits might not be the right word, but it's the first that comes to mind.

Okay this guy says he'll let us in for a twenty each,” Patrick says to me as he reaches his hand out expecting my share.

Why don't we just go elsewhere? I hate these posh clubs anyways” I ask him, being that I am fully biased against places that stipulate what I can and cannot wear (give me regulations and my style completely falters; dress codes are nothing but fashion tyranny).

Because it's past 1 a.m. Plus, we're already here,” he answers decisively, hand still outstretched.

Dude, this place is like a screenshot from an episode of Miami Vice-meets- Jersey Shore. It’s filled with a mix of over-dressed 905ers and city-dwelling suburban wannabes.” I'm not impressed. Everyone in line seems to have acquired their wardrobe (and lifestyle) advice exclusively from MTV reality shows.

Are you serious? Get over yourself. Didn't you grow up in Mississauga? I think you're just worried about what you're wearing. I swear you're worse than a girl,” he says to me, half mocking, half aggravated.

He's right. Not only did I grow up in the suburbs, I do spend way too much time putting together my outfits; over an hour more than the socially-acceptable norm for a straight guy… Hence his “worse than a girl” comment. But can you really blame me? Goddamn King West clubs and their lame dress codes. There might as well be a sign in the front of the club that reads, “no admittance without uniformed pointy, shiny shoes – the pointier the better”. I look like a leprechaun business man.

I hand Patrick a twenty and in mere minutes, we're in – fully bypassing the hour-long line up and I'm quickly being reminded of why I loathe the blazer-jeans combo outfit. *Reference: Hate-filled rant above

As soon as we get in, Patrick immediately makes his way to the bar and I follow. He doesn’t waste time, and I don't blame him – last call is fast approaching, and this is the only reason I'm wearing my shiny Leprechaun-like shoes. Realistically, no guy comes here “to dance”; if you did, you're on the wrong street – the street you're searching for is a lot holier in name. I'm here, just like every single (straight) guy in this place, in search for my pot of gold, only it's not gold. It's pink. Patrick orders four gin and tonics – one for him, one for me, and presumably one for each of the two girls standing together, just to our left.

We make our advance. Patrick turns to both of them and cunningly says, “I like your style.”

Ironic. He’s obviously lying. Even for this place's standards, they are tackily dressed - I didn't even think that was possible, but these two are single-handedly keeping Ed Hardy in business.

The slimmer one, who almost looked classy (if only she hadn't decided to accessorize √†-la Lil John) says to Patrick, “Thanks. I like your blazer.”

Of course she does! I don't know how or why she would assume that compliment was directed towards her but she did. Honestly, someone should have told her not to spend her entire Claire's gift certificate all at once.

My name is Patrick and this is Lorenzo”, Patrick says as he hands them each a drink.

Patrick's lie and free beverages appear to have worked. She smiles and flirtatiously says, “My name is Jen and this is...”

But before she could finish, the heftier one, wearing a red leopard-print dress that showed way too much skin for a girl her size interrupts, “My name is Shaniqua”.

Of course it is! She's a white girl that has that very name spelled out on her gold-plated necklace. How nineties-rap-video of her. While the two of them are distracted by their free drinks, Patrick – the little shit, my accomplice/friend in question – leans over to me and whispers, “Dude which one do you want?”

In fear of my life and with a shred of self-respect, I respond, “Honestly, neither. I see two girls by the bar who look much more interesting.”

In typical Patrick fashion, he persuasively says to me, “Interesting? Are you kidding me? It's almost last call. We don't have time for interesting!”

I don't know why I listen to him, nor do I know why I continuously put myself through these nightly escapades. Right about now I'm pretty sure I genuinely despise him. Patrick, who I used to believe represented everything I wanted out of life, is currently in the midst of coercing me – like he does everyone – into getting his way. Knowing Patrick, I'm about to dive into a sweaty jungle with this cheetah-costume-wearing-rhino, who I'm pretty sure skipped a couple of meals to – and I use this term extremely loosely – “fit” into that dress.

Shaniqua” flashes me a look of hunger. Patrick takes note of her hungry hungry hippo behavior and continuous to whisper in my ear, “Okay. I'm pretty sure Rosie O over here is feeling you. She's all yours. Man up.”

Begrudgingly, I do. Fat girls need loving too; at least that's what I tell myself. Romance is definitely not in the cards for me tonight, but they might be at the bottom of a couple more drinks. I'd like to say that this is the first time I've done anything like this. I'd like to say that the only problem with this girl is her style and her dress size, but it’s so much more than that. I'd like to say that my nightly adventures with Patrick have gotten me closer to finding my future Mrs. I'd like to say all of these things, but I'd be lying. This life seemed a lot better from a distance. When I first met Patrick, I was certain he was a better me. Now, after all these years, I'm really not sure. Tonight, I'd rather be watching teenage vampire angst, eating out of a greasy take out container. I definitely should have just made it a Blockbuster night. I don't know if “taking one for the team” is the optimal terminology but it's the first that comes to mind.