“All I Wanna Do Is Rock” by Nevin Martell, page 2

        Gus turned to the bartender, "What's the nicest tequila you have in stock?"
         Turned out that there were over 70 available and the most expensive clocked in at $100 a shot.
         "I'll take a bottle of that and two glasses," was Gus' response.
         He poured two doubles. "To Hootie," he toasted and we tossed them back.
         He poured two more. "To the Blowfish" I added and we drank again.
         We figured out a half a dozen more ways to salute the band and when we ran out of toasts, I got up on a barstool to serenade the room with an acapella rendition of Hootie's "Hold My Hand." Everyone was cheering, waving lighters and singing along. I was a rock star! I had finally arrived.
         Then I looked down, the room began spinning and the misdeeds of the past 24 hours welled up in my throat.
         It wouldn't have been polite to lose it in front of my new best friend, who was still standing tall like he hadn't touched a drop of firewater, so I climbed down and began weaving my way towards the bathroom. I had to stumble by the lanes, where some of my more sober colleagues were bowling, but I was trying to not engage with anyone. I just wanted to make it to a stall.
         I was almost there. I could see the door thrown open – the light from inside the white tiled sanctuary beckoned. But less than ten feet away I was intercepted by a brunette from the accounting department, who I knew had a crush on me. I wasn't sure how I felt about her specifically, but I knew that in general I had never been less interested in the opposite sex as in that moment. This rock star didn't want to rock. Unless I wanted to mow her down though, I had no option but to stop abruptly.
         "Hey Nevin, having fun?" She was all chirpy, sucking on a Diet Coke like a siren feasting on a hapless sailor who had crashed on her rocks.
         "MMM, MMM" I didn't want to open my mouth. I tried to simultaneously smile and press back the vomit that welled up inside of me, which made me look like a blowfish on bad ecstasy.
         She didn't realize what was happening. "Wanna bowl in our lane? You could be on my team…"
         I shrugged my shoulders and nodded towards the bathroom like I was doing a Charlie Chaplin routine. That turned out to be the wrong moment for a physical pantomime. Before I could turn away, half a bottle of tequila staged a jailbreak and decided to sprint back to the border.
         My hand made it over my mouth, but that just meant that I ended up with a handful of vomit and a reminder that I did have a hot dog for lunch on Thursday.
         I looked down at the mess I was holding and then back up to the girl. Her expression had gone from attraction to repulsion in a single heartbeat. I had no idea what Ms. Manners normally recommended in these situations, so I opted for the practical solution. I bolted over to a trashcan, shook my hand out frantically and then shot into the bathroom.
         The next five minutes weren't pretty, but they were necessary. When I come out of the stall, who should be standing by the sinks bullshitting like they were backstage at Madison Square Garden, but Hootie and the Blowfish. Darius – the lead singer that everyone mistakenly called Hootie – took one look at me and started laughing hysterically.
        "I'd give you a high five, but…"
         "No worries. Great party."
         Then I vomited in the sink again, while the band gave me encouragement in the background.
         Ten minutes later, I poured myself into the backseat of a cab. Gus waved me off with one hand, while still clutching the tequila bottle in the other.
         As I stared out the window – my own little cracked rear view – I realized that I would never be a rock star. I couldn't even keep up with Hootie and the Blowfish's lawyer.


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