Saturday afternoon, as I was mentally banging my head against a wall trying to write my first developmental psychology paper, I received a group text from Jessica.
"Hey girls, Valentine's Day candy is 50 off and I'd love to have you all over to binge eat with me. Bring wine and movies."
I volunteered to drive and bring some of my favorite chick flicks from my DVD collection. I decided I wasn't going to tell my friends about Mike, so it wasn't a good idea for me to drink any wine. I'd end up crying and blurting it out. Judge all you want, but I know wine’s effect on me.
Jessica was taking potato skins out of the oven when we arrived. My mouth began to instantly water. Who needs to worry about a beach body in February?
We began watching Never Been Kissed while passing around various candy hearts and plates of finger foods. Drew Barrymore wasn’t even in her fabulous white outfit when Jessica had to grab the second bottle from the kitchen.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe I forgot to tell you guys,” she began as she reentered the living room. “I ran into Moose at the pharmacy today. He was buying gum and some half off candy.”
Moose, which is his last name but his mother doesn’t even use his first name anymore, is a friend of ours. We’ve seen him out a few times in the past couple of months, but him and I conveniently avoid talking past a polite greeting. Moose and I became really close around the same time that Mike and I started getting closer. Everyone began insisting that Moose had a crush on me and I couldn’t really deny that the signs were there. While Moose is relatively attractive, I couldn’t help that I was starting to really fall for Mike. So, I thought by ignoring Moose’s flirtation, I could save a friendship. When I announced that Mike and I were officially dating, Moose gave me the cold shoulder for a few weeks but eventually our friendship was fine. Mike was never completely comfortable about the situation and it caused some tension in our relationship, but he ultimately realized that if I wanted to be with Moose, I would have been with Moose.
“Who was he buying candy for?” Anna loudly asked. She was definitely enjoying the wine.
“I’m assuming for himself,” Jessica laughed. “I mean, today is the day after Valentine’s Day and I was doing the same thing.”
“No,” Darlene interjected with a mouth full of chips and salsa. “You bought it for your free-loading friends.”
“True,” Jessica said smiling, “But same idea.”
“So how is he?” I asked. I assumed Jessica had something interesting to say by bringing up her encounter.
“Fine,” she casually responded. “I guess he didn’t text you for Valentine’s Day?” Darlene and Anna began to quietly laugh. I gave them all a gracious smile.
Since Moose and I always got along so well, I sometimes got the feeling that he was just waiting for me to break up with Mike. Moose didn’t seriously date anyone while I was with Mike and sometimes I didn’t feel that our flirtation was appropriate. One night about two years ago, Moose had way too many tequila shots and ended up texting me at two in the morning. I was staying at Mike’s house that night and felt compelled to show him the messages. While Mike knew the messages weren’t in my control, he didn’t like that Moose would disrespect our relationship like that. Of course, the next morning I received an obligatory message reading, “Sorry for the drunk texts.” I feel bad because I know that Moose was always bottling up feelings for me.
The weekend after Mike and I broke up, a bunch of us were out to dinner. I mentioned the breakup to everyone, while holding back tears, and Moose was genuinely empathetic. The next few times we hung out, he didn’t make any sort of advances. Around Halloween though, I guess he figured he had waited the appropriate amount of time. We went to Nostalgic for a Halloween open bar and the whole drive home he was rubbing my leg as we sat in the back seat while whispering in my ear that I should go home with him. When we arrived at his house, he awkwardly stalled for a few seconds before drunkenly rolling his eyes at me. Before we even reached my house, I had received a text message reading, “Okay, fuck you.” He apologized, as per usual, in the morning but since that night things hadn’t really been the same.
Anna stood up and stumbled her way to the bathroom. When she got back, she sat down a little bit too close to me. “Well, I don’t even care that I don’t have a Valentine this year,” she loudly stated. She hadn’t talked to Tony since the last time we went out and even though I don’t think she liked him that much, Anna never handled rejection well.
“Girl, I’ve been spending this holiday alone since 1991 and I could not give a damn,” Darlene proudly announced while raising her wine glass. We all followed her lead and lifted our drinks as Jessica squealed ‘Single Ladies!’ Of course, she also insisted we stay in that position so she could Instagram a picture of the three wine glasses along with my red cup full of diet soda.
When we all regained our positions on the couch, I felt my phone began to vibrate on my left knee. It was a text from Mike that read, “Hey, I had a great time last night!” My heart stopped for two reasons. I didn’t expect to hear from him so soon, but I simultaneously began freaking out that Anna would see it. Before I had a chance to grab my phone from Anna’s sight, she let out a dramatic gasp.
Ugh, the jig was up.