Relationships are bullshit. If you think you want one, just know you’ll regret it later. I’m trying to tell this to my friend, Jimmy, and save his life. “I really want a relationship,” Jimmy says. “No you don’t. My advice: save yourself while you still can. I wish I could, but it’s too late for me.” We’re in a bar in Muskegon, or the Skee. It’s a lakeside town by Lake Michigan. I literally live within a five minute drive of two of the best beaches in the world. Mibar. That’s the name of this place. It’s trying to be clever, but failing. But when people get drunk they really don’t care. And people do get drunk here.Back to what I was telling Jimmy: It’s harder to break up with someone than everyone says it is. Sure, you could call the person and say, “Listen, this whole relationship thing just isn’t quite making the cut. This is me telling you that it’s over. This will be the last time we speak. I’ll drop off all your stuff on Thursday, but let’s pretend it’s like sex and not talk while doing it. After that we’ll never have to see each other.” The problem here is if you actually have a heart and don’t want to hurt the other person. It’s even more difficult if you consider the fact that you’re not even 85% sure you want to break up with her in the first place. I mean sometimes with my girl, Sage, it’s not too bad. We have our good nights, and sometimes she doesn’t talk about the latest rumor at her job, how mean her mom is to her, or every single one of her goddamn problems. I have problems too. I’m not saying I don’t. I’m just saying I don’t have to tell her every damn one. Not every night’s horrible though. About two weeks ago we were just sitting there on the couch, and she started giving me a back massage. I didn’t even have to ask her, which was probably a first. By the way Jimmy and I are laughing and talking, the people around us probably think we’ve been BFFs for life. I mean a few pats on your back and everybody assumes you’ve been best friends since you were five. Just like if you’ve been with a girl for a year and a half everybody starts asking you questions like, “When are you two moving in?” Or, “When’s the wedding?” I would say Jimmy’s my best buddy, but that would be a lie. More like a casual acquaintance. I just started hanging out with him recently. He was a friend of a friend. One of those guys I’ve always liked. Kind of been man-crushing on. All of my friends have moved out of the Skee. They’re either at college or have graduated by now and have gotten a real job. Jimmy dropped out of college. He says he’s going to go back eventually. I don’t know if I really believe him. Back to relationships: “Something changes in a relationship after the first six months,” I tell Jimmy. Jimmy nods, but I can tell from his blank stare that he has no clue what I’m talking about. The problem with relationships is that the first six months are easy. All you do is just learn about each other. The person will tell you all about their lousy childhood and how mean their mother was to them. You get the abundance of unlimited sexual pleasure. In a way it’s kind of like you just have blinders on for those six months. I didn’t really notice how clingy Sage was. I mean sure, I kind of thought it sometimes, but the truth is she was trying to hide it. I remember it. We were sitting in her living room at her parent’s house when they weren’t home. We were cuddled up on the couch. “I don’t understand how couples can see each other every day,” she said. Those were her exact words. Later she would tell me she was just saying that because she thought that was what I wanted to hear. I mean it was what I wanted to hear. I just wanted it to actually be true when she said it. “You gonna order another beer?” Jimmy asks. “Sure,” I say. I’m always up for one more. Well, maybe not always. Especially when they have no specials going, and the bartender’s being a goddamn Jew with the liquor. Beers are $4. I’m glad we pre-gamed before we went to the bar. “Two more Coors,” Jimmy says. I sip my beer and glance around the place. Most of the girls look trashy. Not like street-corner-I’d-suck your-cock-for-$2 trashy, but the kind that aren’t exactly difficult to get freaky with. Most girls aren’t once you get to know them. They’re closet freaks waiting to come out and have you stick it in them. Even virgins. About a year and a half ago, this was Sage. Don’t look at me all pissy. I didn’t take her virginity. I was number two in line. I start taking bigger gulps of my beer. Anything to make the girls look prettier. “I’m going on a date with Jenna on Saturday,” Jimmy says. Jenna. That’s the girl he’s working on. She lives three hours away. In a couple of weeks she’s going to Colorado for two months. Then she’ll be 24 hours away. I told him he should wait to start a relationship. “That’s cool,” I say. I feel the immediate urge to bitch-slap him. Jimmy should remain free this summer. It’s like that whole saying, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” Really, I’m kind of full of it though. I’ve never cheated on Sage. I haven’t even made a move on a girl since I’ve been with her. Other than casual flirting. Sure, I tell her I don’t even look at other girls because that’s what she wants to hear, but I mean I look. I’m a guy. If I told Sage this, she would want to choke me to death. I mean she gets intensely jealous if I’m within 50 feet of another girl. The thing is I know that when I’m not around she casually flirts with other guys. It’s not a big deal or anything. I’m not saying that. I’m just saying she kind of has double-standards. “We should go across the street,” I say. Jimmy and I down our beers within minutes. We’re champs. Here in the Skee, that’s all there is to do: drink, fuck, and wish your life wasn’t so goddamn depressing. We step out of the door. Mibar is at the corner of Lincoln and Summit. It’s the best intersection in town. On one corner there’s the bar. Right across the street is a liquor store. On the other side there’s a tanning salon. MiTan. Isn’t that cute? On the other side of Mibar you have Jumpstart Daycare. Next to Mibar is a gun store. It’s the best combination in the world. Drop off the kids while going to get a fifth. After that get a tan and walk across the street to Mibar to have a few more drinks. Next: go buy a gun to shoot your boss. By this time you’ll probably need to pick up your kids. We start the 50 foot walk to the liquor store. “What are we getting?” Jimmy asks. I know I could probably say anything right now and he’d be cool. I like people who aren’t picky drinkers. People who like variety. Me, I like everything. Pretty much stick a drink in my face, and I’ll drink you under the table. You can really tell a lot about a person by their drink preferences. Vodka people tend to dislike change and are boring. Rum people are fun and like to party. Whiskey people always talk about how things used to be. Tequila people think they’re awesome, but in reality they’re just being loud to overcompensate for how lame they actually are. And gin people think they’re classy. They’re not always classy though. “I think we should get a pint of Jack,” I say. Whiskey sounds good. The burning, stinging sensation. Too bad we don’t have any coke. We could do lines. We can talk about how things used to be. How Sage and I used to be happy and the relationship used to be interesting. I should free myself up soon. It’s just harder than it looks. I mean I kind of tried last month sometime, but when she was just standing there crying, her whole body shaking and her face turning red, I just couldn’t carry through with it. “Sure,” Jimmy says. “Here’s a couple bucks.” He hands me a five. Here’s the type of guy Jimmy is: a couple weeks ago he drove 30 minutes to his cousin’s house. I tagged along. I mean I was going to get drunk regardless of who was there to witness it. Jimmy and I made a beer run. He bought an 18-pack of Miller High Life because he was short on cash. He didn’t even know if he would have enough money to fill up his tank for the rest of the week. I mean if I had the cash I would have gladly bought his beer for him, but I barely had enough to buy my 12 of Bud. Well, anyway, his cousin was working on this one girl. Half way through the night his cousin left for god-knows-what. Probably to go bang another girl. Well, Jimmy gave this girl beer throughout the whole night. He didn’t even know the girl. He didn’t even have to think about it. This is the type of guy Jimmy is. I hand Jimmy his five back. “You’re going to need it if you’re going to be in a relationship with Jenna,” I say. Especially if he’s going to take her on a goddamn date on Saturday. Don’t even get me started on dating. We walk into the store. It’s owned by Arabs. Every liquor store in the entire nation is owned by Arabs. The name of the store is actually Arabs-R-Us. The owner speaks little English. I browse the aisles that I know all too well. One aisle has munchies. Another has beer. The necessities of life. The good stuff’s behind the counter. Fifths of all different sizes decorate the shelves. Some are in odd shaped bottles. Some more colorful than others. Some have class, looking like they should require the person drinking them to wear a fancy suit. Others look plain as hell. You can get half gallons, fifths, pints, half pints. Anything you want. The possibilities really are endless. I hope heaven’s like this. When I was in high school, I started at the bottom shelf with names such as: Five O’Clock, and Popov. Both are just straight up gasoline. I graduated from Popov and Five O’Clock when I graduated from high school. Right now I’m at the medium shelf. Once in a while I’ll splurge and sip on a little Crown or Absolut, but normally it’s the medium shelf I hit up: a little Bacardi, some Captain, or Jim Beam. “I’d like a pint of Jack,” I say. The Arab mutters something, but I don’t understand a word. Probably something like, “Hello” or “Good day.” Or maybe, “When I used to live in Kazakhstan I was a terrorist.” He doesn’t ID me, but I don’t get mad. If this was any other place I’d be pissed. So you’re telling me I look old? Basically, every person who works here knows me. I’ve flirted with the cute Arab girl a few times, but not too much. I wouldn’t trust her father Asabu not to pull out his AK. The second we get out of the store we start sipping. We talk as we walk through the woods behind the liquor store. People say you can’t purchase happiness: purchase a bottle of alcohol and you’re pretty damn close. Unless, of course, it’s a really small bottle. “I just don’t know if I should go after this girl or not,” Jimmy says. “You said she’s going away for the summer,” I say. Translation: Save yourself while you still can. Fly away like a bird. Don’t enter the imprisonment of a relationship. Sure, she’ll look all sweet and innocent at first, but it’s a trap to suck in all your money, waste all your time, and eventually drain your soul. “I know, but I feel like she expects it,” Jimmy says. “Sage was the same way before we even started dating,” I say. “Girls are jealous. She will be mad if you talk to any other girls.” “But I really want a relationship.” Jimmy is a goddamn moron. No guy wants a relationship. He only thinks he does. The reason most guys want a relationship is the safety of sure sex. Which maybe isn’t a completely horrible reason. Sex is one of my favorite past-times on the face of this earth, but it isn’t necessarily the right reason. “She’ll be gone for the summer,” I say. “You can always go after her when she comes back from Colorado.” “I guess that’s true,” Jimmy says. “Plus, we haven’t had the ‘Are We Exclusive?’ talk yet.” Never have this talk with a girl. It’s asking for the ball and chain, and you’ll want to shoot yourself in the face a year later when you realize you just can’t take it anymore. “Wait to have the talk.” “You’re prolly right.” Jimmy takes one last sip of the pint of Jack. By this point I’m ready to go back to Mibar and scope the scene. The night’s still young and at this point I’m starting to feel pretty drunk. I think back to the first night Jimmy and I hung out. This was about four months ago. We started shooting the shit, and out of nowhere he asked me this strange, personal question. I had just started talking about Sage. I wasn’t going on about how cute she is or anything like that. I just mentioned that I had a girlfriend, and I had been with her for a year and a half. “Is she the girl you want to be with or are you just settling?” he asked. Glasses filled with lemonade and vodka. Four ice cubes. “No, she’s the girl I want to be with.” I meant it. Well, kind of. I do like Sage sometimes. Other times she’s a real pain in my ass. Then sometimes I don’t mind being with her and all. Other times I think there’s no way in hell I can see myself with this girl in the future. Which is kind of bad. I mean I’ll picture everything she wants in the future. Like some stupid house in the city with a couple little brats running around, and I start to feel sorry for myself. I’m not really into children, and I’m not really the marriage type of guy. I’m the guy that likes to chill and sip a couple of beers. To be honest I’m probably not even the relationship type.After this talk, Jimmy and I grabbed a twelve pack of Corona. Yes, we got limes. Got to have the lime in it. There was a time when I used to think Sage and I went together like Corona and lime, but now I just think of her as really old beer that you want to take back to the store because it tastes like piss, but you can’t because you can’t return alcohol in Michigan. We re-enter MiBar and not even the regulars seem to notice. Then I see why: there’s this blonde 8 sitting at a table in the middle of the bar. Her breasts are a handful and a half, and her ass sticks out saying “put something in me.” Anyway, these guys are standing around the 8, hitting on her. Offering her drinks. Telling her how hot she is. They circle her, surrounding her like men in a Bukakke film. “Would you?” Jimmy asks. There are two categories that women fall into: Do-able, and Not Do-able. “All night, but I wouldn’t call her the next day.” After a girl passes the do-ability test, there are two categories she can fall into: a.) A girl you’d call the next day. b.) A girl you wouldn’t call the next day. Jimmy needs to get laid. Not by Jenna because that already happened last week, but by some random girl. Slutty would probably have to suffice as that’s all there is in this town. Booze, trashy girls, and a whole lot of nothing. I see a 6 a few spots down at the bar. “You should talk to her,” I say, motioning towards the 6. “I’d rather not.” “You’re not exclusive yet.” What I really mean is: This is your last goddamn chance to be single. Take this moment, hold it in your mouth, rub your tongue over it, and don’t let it slip away. Instead Jimmy just sits there like a goddamn idiot drinking his Coors, and for a second I really just want to punch him in his nuts. “I’m good,” Jimmy says. “What’s the longest relationship you’ve been in?” Like I said before, Jimmy and I aren’t BFF’s. Sure, we’ve shot the shit before, but it wasn’t a game of confess all of our deepest, darkest, secrets. I look at him, realizing he has a lot more life experience than me. He told me if he would die he would still feel like he gave it a pretty good run. This was when we were driving home after some party. I let him drive, and I don’t just trust anybody to drive after they’ve had a few. “Four months,” he says. I see the one area I have more expertise in than Jimmy: relationships. “You see, something changes after six months. It just isn’t like it used to be. You want that time back when it was all so new and fresh, but you can’t get it back.” Jimmy shrugs. “I think it’ll be different with her.” That’s what I had thought too. “Is this seat open?” this average brunette asks, motioning to the stool next to me. I glance around the place and aside from the people huddled around the dart board, people at the pool table, and the guys getting ready for the gangbang around the 8: there are a lot of empty seats. Her eyes are cute, brown with a hint of green. I would say she’s a 7. Which isn’t bad, especially for this part of town. I wonder how loud she moans. Is she a screamer, or does she take it silently? “It might be,” I say. “Depends on who you are and what you’re selling.” Jimmy gives me a look. I mean he knows I have a girlfriend, but he also knows I’m kind of a flirt. “I’m not selling anything,” she laughs. I don’t like when a girl laughs too hard at all of my jokes right away. “Good,” I say. “I’m tired of all the hookers around here trying to sell me their bodies. I don’t want any STDs.” She laughs, but I’ll give her that one. I am pretty funny once you get to know me. Sage used to laugh at all my dumb jokes. Now it’s like she ignores me and I’m just not funny anymore. Her eyes don’t even show a slight bit of amusement. I guess after awhile, everyone starts to become predictable and boring. The brunette laughs at about every one of my goddamn jokes over the next half hour. “You’re funny,” she says, twirling her hair, almost trying too hard. Translation: Do you want to get freaky tonight? I look at Jimmy and he looks bored as hell because I’ve been ignoring him. He didn’t even butt in and try to steal the show. I mean this says a lot about the guy. Normally everyone just wants to brag about how interesting they are. I give him an I’m- sorry-but-you-know-which-head-I’m-thinking-with shrug. Mibar, like every other goddamn bar, closes at 2 am. The clock next to the dart table reads 1:47am. “The bar’s closing soon,” I say. “Can we go back to your place?” the brunette asks. Translation: You make me really hot and bothered. “I suppose I could pencil you in,” I say. “I’ll drive.” And she can ride. Like I said before, I never cheated on Sage before. I mean I’ve always wanted to bone other girls, but what guy doesn’t? “Ok, let’s go,” the brunette says. For a second I almost think about telling her she can’t come back to my place. I think about telling her I have a girlfriend. The brunette grabs my arm. We get to my place and we have a couple more beers. She looks smoking hot by this time. A solid 9. Her breasts are begging to be grabbed and her ass is penis-friendly. I show her my room because I want to show her my collector’s Guinness Drought beer mirror on my wall that dates back to 1967. A part of me knows what I’m doing, but a part of me is confused. “It’s pretty cool, right?” I ask. She starts undressing. She takes off her shirt and bra. Next the shorts and the G-string come off. We are past foreplay. This is where she is so hot and bothered and just wants to go. No kissing, no talking. All business. “You need to get naked too,” she says. I take off my shirt. I do it slowly at first to add to the anticipation. Then I start to unbutton my pants. This is where I should say, I have a girlfriend. “Hurry up,” she says. “Before I pass out.” This is romance at its best. Her impatience makes me think of Sage. What would Sage think if I told her I did the one-two with somebody else? I take off my jeans, and then she rushes to help take off my boxers. I realize I don’t even know the brunette’s name. If we ran into each other on the street we might exchange that awkward, “Hello, I think I know you from some random drunken night.” Sage would never know. But I would know. My boxers are around my ankles. By now, she’s lying on my bed. I’m standing up. Her eyes with that tint of green look at me and I hesitate. “What are you waiting for?” she asks. I don’t say anything. “Enter me,” she says. I have never cheated on Sage. I know I’m all talk and in my mind I always tell myself if the opportunity arrives I would take it and pound it like I did to Sage on my birthday two months ago. I wouldn’t even hesitate. I want to be satisfied. Sometimes I wish Sage would just do more to satisfy me in bed. It’s like everything, including sex, is just about her. She has this vision in her mind of what our relationship should be like. “Fuck me,” the brunette says. “I can’t do this,” I say. I’m too drunk to begin with. I’m past gone. I turn away and pull up my boxers and grab for my pants. Besides, maybe it really isn’t as bad with Sage as I thought. The girl calls a cab and leaves all upset that she didn’t get any. Before I call it a night, I head to the fridge and grab another beer. For a second I feel pride for doing the right thing. After the girl’s gone I regret not giving her the time. When I settle into bed and think about how good the sex will be when Sage gets back from her trip I don’t.
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