This year, Esquire Magazine’s Fiction Contest featured three prompts: “Twenty-Ten,” “An Insurrection,” and “Never, Ever Bring This Up Again.” Something about the final category spoke to me. Who knows? Maybe it was the start of football season. Maybe it was me, reminiscing about my college days of drinking at sun-up. I can’t say for sure. What I can say is that a story came from this prompt—a story that I consider very much ME.
Yes, I’m always ME. However, I do like to try new things with my writing. I like to go somewhat off the Sara Dobie path to see what else I can do. However, there are also times when I stick to my guns. I write from my insides, out, pouring my sense of humor, my sense of life, and my penchant for cussing like a sailor onto the page, and in those moments, I feel free. I feel happy. I feel most like myself, and with the prompt, “Never, Ever Bring This Up Again,” I was quite at home.
So I’ve decided to share this story with my readers. As I mentioned last week, November is National Novel Writing Month. I’m not writing a novel this month. However, in homage to National Novel Writing Month, I submit the following short story—crude, honest, and inappropriate as it is. I will be posting segments over the course of this week. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I present, thanks to the Esquire Magazine Fiction Contest, “Never, Ever Bring This Up Again.”
Never, Ever Bring This Up Again
Max and I made a bet that if the Steelers won the Super Bowl, he would get his balls waxed. Well. The Steelers won the Super Bowl. Now, it’s the day after my victory. Max and I stand in a salon two blocks from my sports bar, and this chick with fake blonde hair stares at me like this is all my fault. I guess it is my fault; I’m the girl who initially joked about the bet the day before. Max merely agreed, and even then only after I’d fed him beers—the high gravity kind that’ll mess you up faster than a bull at Pamplona.
“So you’re telling me you won’t do it,” Max says, and the chick chews her green gum and holds it in the side of her mouth. She chews a couple times then uses her pink tongue to swoosh it to the other side. It’s a green gum dance, and I’m drunk enough from the day, night, and morning to be entertained.
I blink when Max groans, because it reminds me of a sound he made during our unexpected make out session a week before.
“Max,” I say, and I take hold of his arm, “let’s go back to the bar.”
“No, they should be able to do this. If they can wax a woman down there, why not a dude?”
It occurs to me that it’s strange Max is the one fighting to have his balls waxed. I’d suggested the bet, and my team had won the Super Bowl the night before. I should be angry that these salon wenches won’t do it. Instead, my eyes dart back and forth from the green chewing gum and Max’s Atlanta Falcons jersey.
“I’m sorry, sir,” says gum girl, rolling her eyes. “We don’t perform those services.”
“Well, who does?”
“I don’t know, sir,” she replies, and I get lost as her tongue does another loop over the tops of her bottom teeth. It’s about then I notice we’re making a scene. I’d been distracted by Max and bubble gum, but as I look around the sunlit foyer of the posh salon, I realize there are a number of raised eyebrows and headshakes.
I glance at Max. He isn’t talking loudly. The attention is fully based—I think—on the fact that we are two people wearing football jerseys who have been drinking since noon the day before. Oops. My bad.
* * *
“Well, that was a bust,” he says after we leave, but I’m not listening. I’m checking out the scene on King Street—working folk dressed in business casual bustling about in front of retail stores and palmetto trees. I can’t remember the last time I woke up this early. We get a few strange looks as we walk aimlessly north, and then this one dude in a tie and khakis lifts a fist.
“Go Steelers,” he says, and I hear Max cuss at my side.
I nod at the khakis man and throw a fist up, too. Yeah, I’m a chick, but when you own a sports bar, you adapt.
“I hate you,” Max says.
“No, you don’t,” I reply, “you want to shave your balls for me.” But I understand his frustration. I hate it when my team loses, too.
I glance over at Max, and he doesn’t look as tired as he should after staying up all night. He still looks eighteen years old, even though he’s twenty-six. He’s short—my height in flats—and he’s blond with blue eyes. More than that, he’s funny. He doesn’t take anything seriously, which was why I figured letting him kiss me last Sunday didn’t matter.
“I guess we can’t fulfill your bet,” he says, putting his hands in his jean pockets and glancing left to right as we jaywalk across Calhoun Street.
Next to us is Marion Square—a block-size grass park that houses the Charleston Farmer’s Market every Saturday afternoon and sunbathing college girls throughout the spring. On this Monday, I see a few ladies wearing their Sunday best. I wonder if they’ve been drinking since yesterday, too.
“I was gonna do it, you know,” Max continues. “But that crazy chick wouldn’t let me.”
I glance at Max again, and I realize he’s smiling. That’s when I understand. His ambitious bargaining with the gum chewer was a front. He knew she was going to say no when we’d asked about waxing his balls. I grabbed his shoulder, “Oh, hell no.”
“I’m sure someone in town waxes balls.”
“She said no.”
“That was one salon. I’m looking it up online at the bar,” I say, walking now with the purpose of a drunk chick.
Max grabs my wrist and spins me around. It’s moments like this when I remember he’s stronger than me, despite his stature. I felt as much when he pushed me against a brick wall to kiss me only a week before. “Nolan, she said no.”
“Well, I’m sure we can find someone who will say yes.”
“You agreed to the bet, dude.”
“I didn’t think you were serious.”
“I’m always serious,” I say, and his blue eyes crinkle around the edges. For the first time since I’ve known him, Max shuts the hell up.
* * *
The End. Part 1. More to come.