Ah…it feels good writing something for the fun of writing it. Writing something that makes me laugh. Writing something that comes from ME—inspired by nothing but a need to create and a need to be silly. So thank you for joining me on this romp. I hope you’ve enjoyed “Never, Ever Bring This Up Again.” (And thank you, Esquire Magazine Fiction Contest, for the prompt!) Enjoy your Friday. The work week is almost over. Soon, you, too, can put on your football jersey and drink all day like Nolan and Max. (If you’re catching up, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.) Now, here it is: Part 4 and FINAL.
Never, Ever Bring This Up Again, Part 4 and FINAL
Max is flat on his back on a worn leather chair that looks more like a recliner than something you’d see in a salon. The place doesn’t feel like a salon, but it does feel like a place providing cheap Happy Endings.
When we walked in, the lobby looked a lot like a dentist’s office, with faded off-white linoleum tile and uncomfortable brown chairs with metal armrests. Our fellow patrons were out of a mid-eighties horror flick, and the place smelled like the days when smoking wasn’t prohibited indoors. They didn’t flinch over our Steelers/Falcons jerseys.
And the chick with the wax doesn’t seem to mind that we reek of liquor.
Max lays there in his stupid Atlanta jersey; thankfully he left the aviators at my bar. His blond hair sticks up on one side, and he looks like the alcoholic, adult Dennis the Menace. He’s in his boxers, because the little Philippine chick asked him to take off his jeans. Now, she is standing by the counter near the door of this private room, and she’s stirring a tiny cauldron of wax with a tongue depressor.
“I need you to please remove your boxers,” she says, and Max glances up at me.
“A bet’s a bet, dude,” I say.
Max isn’t nervous to take off his boxers in front of me. He is nervous to have his balls waxed. So here we are: I’m fully clothed, tired, and drunk. Max is wearing nothing but his jersey, and I can’t help but look down as the Philippine chick sticks a towel between Max’s legs. I think to myself, “Amazing a guy so short is carrying THAT around.”
This is all old news to the wax chick, who’s no bigger than a junior high kid and wearing the pigtails to match. All of a sudden, as she reaches for the wax-soaked tongue depressor, Max looks up at me. “Nolan, hold my hand,” he says.
“Hold my hand.”
“Nolan, I need you right now. Please hold my hand.”
I sigh, but I reach out and clasp hands. He’s squeezing so hard, I think a finger might fall off, but I’m too busy watching her spread hot, orange wax on Max’s balls to care.
“Jesus,” he mutters, and when she puts the first piece of linen over that thin layer of wax, Max closes his eyes.
I watch as the Philippine chick unceremoniously tears the linen away from Max’s skin. I’m too entranced by the way the fabric dances over her skinny right shoulder to notice Max is whimpering.
I look down at him—my best friend, with sweat on his forehead and tears in his eyes—and I ask myself, where did this bet come from? We were watching the Super Bowl. The Steelers had been behind in the first quarter, and I’d said, “Hey. Max. Wanna make a bet?” And it had happened. But why this bet? Why waxing his balls?
As he reaches for my wrist with his other hand, the woman puts more wax on Max. I realize I’m enjoying his pain. I realize I’ve wanted something bad to happen to Max since he kissed me last week.
Before Max, I hadn’t been kissed in two years. I hadn’t dated, and I hadn’t flirted. I’d been content with my asexuality, and he’d screwed it up by making me like him, making me want to risk my stability on a relationship. And I couldn’t let that happen. Been there, done that, and there’s no time for it. It isn’t worth the pain.
So I’d made a bet. I’d won, and now, Max is paying. Maybe I’m a masochist. Maybe I’m obsessed with self-preservation. Or maybe I made the bet because I could never seriously date a man who would let me have him by the balls.
The Philippine chick rips off another strip, and by now, Max is biting his lower lip and staring at the buzzing overhead lights. He looks at me. “Never, ever bring this up again,” he says, and I don’t know if we’re talking about his bare nuts or the fact that I love the dumb bastard.
* * *