Serial Saturday: Part Six

a continuation from Serial Saturday: Part Five

Sarah had left a message while Rachel was at the gym.  She listened to the message. “Hey.  I am super excited you got out of work!  We are going to have a blast.  I work until 5:30, so can you just meet me downtown?  I have a change of clothes in the car, so I’m good to go.  Call me back.”

Sarah was Rachel’s most nomadic friend.  She kept enough supplies in her car so that she did not necessarily have to go home everyday.  She did it on purpose.  She had moved back home after graduating from college, and her parents fought a great deal.  Sarah had told her in college that she thought that her parents were waiting for her to graduate high school before they would divorce, but that didn’t happen.  They stayed together, even though they seemed to hate each other.  Rachel had been over Sarah’s house once when I fight erupted.  Sarah’s mom got so angry with her father that she through a plate at his head.  Luckily, he ducked out-of-the-way, but it shattered into a million pieces in the livingroom.  Sarah’s mother glared at Rachel and Sarah standing in the doorway to the kitchen.  “I don’t know what the hell you two are gawking at.”  Mrs. Postingle walked by the girls and went into her office, as if nothing had happened.  Mr. Postingle sighed heavy, stood, took out the vacuum, and without saying a word, began to clean up the mess.

Rachel dialed Sarah’s number.  It didn’t even ring, but she answered.

“Hey,” Sarah said.

“That was totally weird.  It didn’t even ring,” Rachel replied.

“It rang once.  I was holding the phone in my hand.”

“In anticipation of my phone call?”

“With bated breath.”  They both laughed.

“So what’s the deal?” Sarah asked.

“Well, it’s 3:30 now.  I need to take a shower and get ready, but I can be anywhere by 5:30.”

“All right.  Let’s meet at City Tap.  They have that cute bartender that I like to flirt with.”

“That tatted-up guy?  Yuk!”  Sarah and Rachel had completely different taste in men.  Sarah liked the anti-establishment, bad-boy look.  The bartender she referred to was stretching out his ear lobes, had a piercing above his eye and in his lip, tattoos– presumably everywhere, and a straggly beard.  Definitely not the type of boy you proudly brought home to mama, which is probably why she liked these types of men.  She was trying to find the opposite of her father so that maybe she could be happy.

“You know it.  He’s got beautiful eyes and you have to admit, he is super sweet.”  Rachel nodded her head in agreement, even though Sarah couldn’t see it.  He was a nice guy.  Rachel just thought the mutilation of his body was slightly unnecessary.

“All right.  I will meet you at City Tap at 5:30.  Hopefully we can get bar stools so you can flirt.”

“Awesome.  See you then, Love.”

Rachel hung up and jumped in the shower.  She had recently purchased a new jersey, and she was excited to wear it.  It was totally retro-nineties.  Her favorite player’s name and number was on the back: Alomar and 15.  When she was a kid and played rec ball, she insisted on wearing number fifteen every year.  She thought that someday she would grow up to be a catcher like Sandy Alomar.  Thinking about it now made her laugh.  Girls weren’t allowed in the Majors, and to be honest, she was a terrible catcher.  In seventh grade, she got moved to second base, and she actually started to play well.

She dried and straightened her hair.  She put on a little mascara and blush, but nothing else.  She didn’t like the way her face felt with make-up on.  The liquid make-up made her face itch, and she always felt like she looked like an oompa-loompa, no matter what shade she bought, her skin turned a strange shade of orange.  The powder just dried her out.  Thus, the best skin care for her was as little make-up as possible.

She looked in the full-length mirror after she put on her sandals.  She was pleased with her outfit.  The jersey was a little big, but with a red tank  top underneath, it looked good.  She had on a denim skirt and a pair of Sketcher sandals.  She felt like she looked like she should be going to a ballgame.  She tucked her hair behind her ears and made a last-minute decision to wear a ball cap, too.  Now that her hair was shoulder length again, she liked wearing hats.  She had the face for it, and not everyone can pull off wearing hats, but she could.

It only took her less than ten minutes to get downtown.  She did not really expect much traffic, but it usually took a little bit longer.  Just this morning, it took close to thirty minutes, and she was not driving downtown during rush hour traffic then either.  She got out of the car and looked at her watch.  It was only 5:07.  She pulled into her favorite garage on Huron and parked her car.  She walked across the street to the bar.  Just as she figured, it was only half full.  The after work drinkers were starting to arrive and a few people in Indians garb were milling around as well.  In an hour, the bar would be wall-to-wall, but now, it was just a steady crowd.

She found two bar stools together and she sat down.  The bartender that Sarah liked was pouring some drafts, but he immediately saw her.

“Hey you!  Haven’t seen you in a few weeks.  Where you been hiding?”  He walked over as he was talking to her.  Rachel still found him unattractive, but Sarah was right, he was a really nice guy.

“I have been working a lot myself lately.  I got a waitressing job at the Lizard on Rockside.  It’s been good, but I don’t make it downtown as much because of it,” she told him.

“Dude, we need help here.  We have had two girls quit in the last month.  It has been chaos.  You should apply.  Downtown is way cooler than the ‘burbs.”

“Really?  I don’t know how to bartend,” she admitted.

“Super easy.  I could teach you myself in two days,” he replied.  “I’ll start right now.  You tell me what you want to drink, and I’ll show you how to make it.”

“Smart.  Going for an up sale from the two-dollar happy hour drafts.” She winked.

“No. No.  You want a draft.  There is an art to pouring draft, too,” he said.

“Yeah?  Show me.  I’ll take a Burning River.”

“Fine choice, my lady.”  He bowed slightly and rotated his hand.  It was cute and chivalrous looking and a complete juxtaposition from the way he looked.  He talked her through the pour: tilt the glass, let the beer touch about half way down, as the glass filled, slowly turn the glass up. “See, a perfect pour: a crisp beer and with just a little bit of head.”

He put it down in front of her.  She pulled out a twenty, but he pushed it back.  “That one’s on me.”  He smiled, and his face lit up.  Rachel thought if he cut his beard and took out the piercings, he would be rather cute.

“Thank you,” she smiled back.  “Hey, I’m Rachel by the way.”  She put her hand out to shake his hand, but he turned it and kissed the back of it.

“A pleasure, Rachel.  I’m Tony.”

Tony walked away to help another customer.  Rachel felt butterflies in her stomach.  Physically, she felt an attraction to this man, but she would not act on it.  He was Sarah’s type, not hers.

Rachel intermittently watched Tony work and Sportscenter.  Every so often, she looked at one of the two entrances, thinking that Sarah should be arriving any minute.  Twice, she had to stop people from taking Sarah’s bar stool.  “I’m sorry, this seat is reserved,” she politely said.

She finished the beer and looked at her phone.  5:45.  Sarah was late.  She texted: Flirting with your boyfriend. Haha.  Where are you?

Immediately, Sarah texted back.  Two minutes.  Get me a beer.

Tony walked back over.  “Are you ready for another?”  He pointed to her empty glass.  “Yes and a Woodchuck, too.”

“Oh!  You’re cute little friend is meeting you?”  Rachel was impressed.  A good bartender may not know your name, but he damn well better know what you drink.

“Yeah, she should be here any second.”

“Cool.”

Rachel liked that he called her cute.  Sarah was the epitome of cute: five foot two, bobbed blond hair, freckles, and an award-winning smile.  Just then, she walked in.  Rachel waved at her, and she walked over.  She had on a cute blue sundress and flip-flops.  Sarah had a way of dressing that no one else could pull off.  The dress seemed out-of-style, but the way it was belted with a red bandana, it looked chic.

Sarah kissed her on the cheek.  “Liking the new jersey and the baseball hat.  Very fanatical.”

“Thanks.  The dress is adorable,” Rachel complimented back.

“You like?”  Sarah spun around.  “I was cleaning out my grandma’s closet, and I found this.  It’s from the fifties.”

Just then Tony walked over with the beers.  “Hey Toots.  How’ve you been?” he asked Sarah, putting her beer down in front of her.

“Good, but great now that I’m here.”  She took a sip of her beer.

“How much do I owe you, Tony?” Rachel asked.  Sarah’s eyes got big and she mouthed “Nice,” obviously referring to the fact that Rachel had gotten his name.

‘Four,” he said.  She handed him her twenty.  She smiled.  She lifted her glass to take a sip of her beer, but someone knocked into her from behind and she spilled some.  She whipped around.

“I’m so sorry,” the man was saying looking at his own hands and shirt, drenched in his beer.

“Jason?” Rachel said, feeling slightly confused.

He looked at her without recognition.

“It’s Rachel, from this morning.”  She pulled off her baseball cap so he could see her face more clearly.

“Holy shit.  I mean, Oh my God.  I mean…. I cannot believe I just spilled beer on you,” he said apologetically.

“Of all the bars in all of the world, you walked into this one and spilled beer.”  She handed him a napkin.

He looked her directly in the eyes and smiled.  The lack of recognition was gone.  She actually felt like he was looking into her more than at her.   “I guess I’m going to have to make it up to you somehow.”

continued in Serial Saturday: Part Seven

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Number of Characters: 1

Number of days I have been alive: 15, 384.  Number of boys kissed: 174. Number of dogs owned: 3. Number of children: 3.  Number of years married: 14.  Number of haircuts: 214.    Number of pairs of sunglasses lost: 18.  Number of times I have felt true guilt: 39.  Number of cars owned: 8. Number of traffic tickets received: 13.  Number of rooms in my house: 8.  Number of times hospitalalized: 7.  Number of hours spent in labor: 53.  Number of broken bones since birth: 3  Number of times moved: 9.  Number of friends: 177.  Number of friends I could call when in dire need: 4.  Number of times Freshly Pressed: 1. Number of trips to Vegas: 2. . Number of times I have felt regret: 11.  Number of concerts attended: 193. Number of boyfriends: 4. Number of dreams about seeing my dead parents: 9.  Number of times I said “Sorry”: 2,142.  Number of times I meant it: 1,906.  Number of trips to Cedar Point: 29. Number of cans recycled: 14, 234.  Number of times I wished I could take “it” back: 37. Number of times I have said “I love you”: 49, 369.  Number of root canals: 3. Number of bad decisions made in my life: 136.  Number of rejections: 22. Number of diets started: 76.  Number of diets failed: 76.  Number of the house I grew up in: 11180. Number of six-game baseball parleys won: 1. Number of times I have cheated on my husband:0.  Number of bridesmaid dresses owned: 3. Number of times I have received flowers unexpectedly: 31.  Number of jobs I have had: 9.  Number of states I have visited: 17.    Number of car accidents I have been in: 7. Number of car accidents I caused: 5. Number of times I have been truly disappointed: 33.  Number of years teaching: 15.Number of colleges I have attended: 5.  Number of degrees I have earned: 2. Number of Students taught: 1,756.  Number of pairs of shoes in my closet: 9.  Number of years since my  Mom and Dad died: 7.  Number of catastrophic screw-ups that I can remember: 13. Number of not-so-catastrophic screw ups: 906. Number of my Facebook friends: 215.  Number of songs on my iPod: 771.  Number of blog posts written as of today: 400.

Serial Saturday: Part Five

Continued from Serial Saturday: Part Four

Leaving the office, Rachel was a little disappointed with the way the interview had gone.  Could she even call it an interview?  She had enjoyed a coffee and a flirtatious conversation with Jason, she had enjoyed a beautiful view of Cleveland’s lakefront, and she had gotten a quick tour from a girl who seemed put off that she had to show her around.  Hadn’t Jason said she was going to sit in on the interview anyway?  Why would she be so aloof?

Rachel could not help but think she knew Mel from somewhere.  “Did you go to Purdue?” Mel had asked.  “I cannot help but think we have met before,” she said to her while they were walking through the office.

“No.  This room is sort of like the office for the out-of-town clients.  They are welcome to set up shop in here and conduct their own affairs while we tend to their advertising and marketing needs.”

Mel did not want to engage in any personal conversation, it was obvious, so Rachel did not ask anymore non-business questions.  The tour and conversation with Mel had only lasted about twenty minutes.  Mel shook her hand, made sure she had her portfolio, and sent her out the door.  She said the Jason would be in touch, but the way the day had continued, she doubted she would get a call back from Davenport Industries.

She got home and realized she had three voicemails on her phone.  She had forgotten that she had put her phone on silent so that she could give her undivided attention to the interview.

The first message was from Sarah, her best friend from high school.  “Hey Rach, it’s me.  I know this is short notice, but my boss just gave me two seats behind home plate for tonight’s Indians game.  Pleeeeaaaaaaasssssse.  I know you probably have to work, but can you finagle your schedule and go to the game with me.  Call me back.  Bye.”

Ugh.  Sarah knew how much she loved baseball, and right behind home plate!  She could yell and the players could hear her.  A few  years back, she had sat near home plate, and she had yelled so loud at Victor Martinez that he had to put up his hand, step out of his batting stance, and regroup.  He turned around to see who was so loud, and the friend she was with pointed to her.  He smiled, got back up to bat, and hit a double.  Rachel was thrilled.  She was behind her player, and he hit a double.  To this day, she swears that when he reached second base, he pointed at her, as if to say, that one was for you.

The second message was from her mother.  “Hi Honey.  I just wanted to wish you luck on your interview.  Hope you’re not still sleeping.”

The message was time stamped 10:30.  Why would she still be sleeping?  Rachel knew she told her mom the interview was at ten.  Did her mother think her that much of a flake that she would not go to the interview?  Her mother had zero faith in her abilities.  Rachel felt that she was just waiting for her to fail so that she could say, “Told you that fancy degree would get you nowhere.”

The third message was from CJ, a girl from work.  “Hey Sweetie, I’m just trying to pick up some shifts this week because I’m trying to get enough money together to go visit Gary at Camp Pendleton.  There’s a dance and he wants me to come out and be his escort.  He’s so cute.  I want to marry this one.  Oh gosh, I’ll tell you about it later.  I’m going to keep calling around, but if you want to give up a shift, call me.”

CJ had called a little over fifteen minutes earlier.  Hopefully, she had not gotten ahold of anyone who would want to give up their shift tonight.

She redialed CJ’s number.  “Hello?”

“Hey, CJ, it’s Rachel.  I got your message.  Did you get a hold of anyone?”

“Just Jenna, but you know how she is.  She can’t afford to give up any shifts because of school.  That girl is too rigid.”

CJ was referring to Jenna Michael, a 21-year-old senior at Cleveland State.  She was working her way through undergraduate, and she saved every penny she made for tuition.  She was overly serious and hard to get to know.  It seemed that all she ever did was go to school, study, and work.

“I agree, she needs to relax.”

“What she needs is to get laid,” CJ said laughing.  “She needs to release some of those pent-up emotions.”

“CJ, you know she’s a Christian girl.  That is not going to happen.”  Rachel laughed, too.  “Anyway, are you on the schedule tonight?”

“No.  You want to give up your shift?”  CJ’s voice sounded excited.  “I could really use the money.”

“Yeah, actually, I do.”  Rachel needed the money as much as everyone did, but she also needed a night of fun and relaxation.  It wouldn’t be too expensive of an evening anyway, the ticket was free.

“Oh Sweetie, thank you.  You don’t know what this means to me and Gary.  The dance is in three weeks, but the flight is like $400.00 and I need to buy a killer dress and shoes.  Hey, will you go shopping with me for the dress?”

“Sure I will.  Whenever you want.” Rachel liked CJ.  She was 22, a southern belle relocated to the north her senior year of high school.  Her father was a butcher, and he had lost his job, but found corporate work with the Acme Supermarket chain.  CJ, short for Carol Jane, came into North Royalton like a deer in headlights.  She was dressed up, had on a ton of make-up, and wore high heels, a far cry from the jeans and flip-flop crowd in late August in Ohio.  CJ walked into home room, and Rachel knew by the sight of her that she needed someone to show her the ropes.  Rachel walked right up to her and introduced herself, and they had been friends from that moment on.

She hung up with CJ and immediately called Sarah.  It went right to voicemail.  “Hey Sar.  I got out of work.  I can go!  What time do you want to meet up and where?  Call me back and we will make a plan.”

This day could not be anymore bizarre, Rachel thought.  It was a virtual roller coaster of emotion.  She looked forward to telling Sarah about the interview and getting her perspective on the whole thing.  It was barely twelve.  Rachel decided to go to the gym and swim laps to clear her brain.

Continue to Serial Saturday: Part Six