Choose Your Poison
By Anna Balkrishna

3:17a.m. I return to an empty apartment, stumbling in the neon-shadowed darkness, my intoxication predicable and violent thanks to that bartender with the British accent who plied me with ridiculously named concoctions in exchange for my smile. I'm thinking about the moment I had tonight, the moment when I was in the ladies' bathroom at Galaxy, peeing inadvertently on my inner thigh, which somehow reminded me of being in that very same stall a month ago, with Molly and Kat, eagerly snorting coke out of the hollowed-out bottom of a Parliament cigarette. And Kat being like, "Oh yeah, didn't you know about Parliaments? They make them this way on purpose." And I'm just hoping she'll pass out another bump. But this is a flashback, and I'm really just alone peeing on my own leg.

When I emerged from the bathroom, there was the Irish guy - so easy because all Irish guys in this town (and all towns) are the displaced people of the earth, eager to shake hands and always the last to drag themselves away from the party, whether they know anyone there or not. I'm taking advantage of this fact by sweating him, ignoring his less-cute friend, talking all kinds of shit about all the Irish kids I know in this city, and if he really wants to know what's up he should go to the Sunset party next weekend, I'm not sure but I hear it's going down last-minute at Golden Gate Park, seriously, they're off the hook.

"I love your hat, where did you get it?" he says, yanking it off my head to try it on his own. And then with a blue ballpoint pen he writes his name, email address, and phone number down the length of my arm: a concrete reminder of this point in time when I am a bona fide slut-or at least trying to be.

(What's the point of this story? My motives for telling are hazy even to me, but at least it keeps me awake before I have to get into my bed alone and lie there before deciding that I should probably puke to save myself a hangover.)

The real question is: should I email him, the Irish guy? Calling is out of the question. Because this story really gets interesting when I get home from the club and hit the button on the answering machine. It's a message from this boy Sean who gave me his card a few weeks ago at Blowfish Sushi To Die For, a boy I blatantly hit on with no regard for smoothness points, hoping my brazenness would win him over, complimenting his extensive tattoos-which were really cool, by the way-so I could strike up a conversation as I bagged his sashimi: "How many chopsticks do you need? Oh, you're a photographer's assistant? That's so cool!"

He must have taken my flimsy pretext as genuine interest (which is partially true; my interest in him wa s genuine, at least), because the next thing I knew he'd whipped out a business card and was writing the name of his tattoo artist down on it, telling me to give Bruce a call if I ever decided to get more work done. I became bold: a foot in the door! So just as he was leaving I blurted out, awkwardly and red-faced, "Gee, maybe next time you'll write your phone number down for me!"

I was pleased I had come up with such a clever line but mortified it actually came out of my mouth. (Since when was I so cheesy?) And he just laughed, very enigmatically, as he walked out the door laden with my to-go bags.

The business card stayed pinned up on the refrigerator for weeks, elbowing me in the gut with its inscrutable intentions. Why did he write the number on the back of his business card, unless it was on purpose to slip me his digits? Damn .

A few days ago, fortified with the acidic courage of an ill-advised bottle of merlot (no surprise there), I called his number and left a stumbling voicemail.and got no response. I was horrified enough as it was, but then there was this message tonight, obviously recorded on a Saturday night when it was probable that I would not be home, a nice, disembodied voice saying: "I didn't want you to think I didn't get your message or wasn't calling you back, but the thing is, I'm seeing someone kinda serious right now, so I'm thinking it's not going to work out in that capacity. But hey, I'll see you around at Blowfish or whatever."

Christ. I saved it just so I could revel in all its horrible glory.

And now I'm thinking I'm just a fool for taking this random Irish kid's number. I've been through this before, no need to embarrass myself again. At least this time I didn't invite him over to my house, only to find he has an inordinate amount of body hair or is a chronic leg-humper. But then again, I've always been a sucker for an Irish accent. and e-mail isn't so personal, I could maintain some distance... I'm rationalizing. Fine. But I will probably wait the prerequisite three days anyway, and then I'll write him even though I know it's lame and misguided, because I have nothing to lose and after all there really is a Sunset party next week, and apparently I'm into punishing myself these days because, hey, I did cheat on my boyfriend after all. Who, by the way, left me a really sweet voicemail the other day.

Fuck. I guess it's time to go throw up now.

This piece was first published in "Young & Reckless: Poison Control Vol. 1."Poison Control is an independent publisher and production house nurturing what some would deem an unhealthy obsession with printed matter and pop culture oddities. Poison Control's penchant for small press publishing and handmade, limited run goods prompted its formation in the summer of 2004. More information at www.poison-control.com

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