TITLE: Variations on Variations: Drunk & Disorderly
AUTHOR: Julian Lee
SPOILERS: Itty bitty ones for "The Crackpots & These Women," "ITSOTG," "Noel," "17 People"
RATING: PG-13 for some really offensive language
DISCLAIMER: All standard disclaimers, and a few untranslatable from ancient Aramaic, apply.
SUMMARY: "So now, here I sit in a DC jail cell, hating the OED and the stand it rode in on."
NOTES: Sequel to "A Particular Tuesday." Mondo thanks to Beth, who wriggled her fingers in the plot holes.
Variations on Variations: Drunk & Disorderly by Julian Lee
Whenever a couple decides to move in together, each one has a "thing," an aspect of the new arrangement that, in their nervous state, they fixate on as a reason to rethink the whole relationship. Josh and I were particularly susceptible, I think, because we made the decision so damned fast.
For me, it was the phone. The first time Josh held out the phone to me and said, "It's for you," I flipped. **Oh, my God! Who knows I'm here? Who found out about us?** Then it hit me: I live here now; this is my number. While a great many people -- including the members of the White House press corps -- fell for the "best friends saving some money" line ("subterfuge and misdirection my ass," I said at the time, but damned if people don't go ahead and believe whatever lets them avoid confronting things that make them uncomfortable), *I* of course knew what it meant, from a relationship standpoint, for someone to be calling me here: I was locked in. I almost ran screaming right then.
For Josh, it was the dictionary.
My boyfriend is a nerd. I knew this; it's one of the things I love about him; but then we decide to move in together, into my place, and he shows up with a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary. And a stand to put it on. It was not a gift; he bought it himself. I mean, I'm standing in my living room, surrounded by stuff that doesn't belong to me, and I'm thinking, **Am I really going to share my life with a man who owns a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary?**
So now, here I sit in a DC jail cell, hating the OED and the stand it rode in on. This is how it happened:
It had been a day at work. Not a great day, not a bad day; just a day. When Josh asked if I wanted to stop for a drink on the way home, that was all it was going to be: one drink, two at most. We had no reason to get drunk. We ended up staying far later than we'd planned, and Josh's low alcohol tolerance must be rubbing off on me, because I found myself far less sober than I'd expected. The waitress had disappeared, and my glass was feeling all empty inside.
So, being the considerate boyfriend I am -- and my own glass being empty as well -- I brave the mob at the bar to fetch the next round. I would like to point out that I was not drunk. For reasons passing understanding, Sam was outpacing me roughly two-to-one in the drink department. While I'm standing there, waiting for our drinks, someone bumps into me and says, "Excuse me, faggot." This is where I come to loathe the OED.
Sam is habitually ready to go before I am, and his idea of a fun way to pass five free minutes, I kid you not, is to read the dictionary. Have I convinced you yet that he is a nerd? Most times he reads randomly. But occasionally (for he is, like myself, a man of occasions), he thinks of words he's always wanted to know the etymologies and alternate pronunciations of. He has, furthermore, developed the accursed habit of reading aloud to me, and I have developed the equally accursed habit of listening.
One morning, as I prepare to do battle with the minions of Hell known as the United States Congress, the word of the day is "faggot." Now, I could tell you all sorts of useless things about Proto-Indo European roots and Middle French cognates, but you don't care, and neither do I. But the definition -- here’s the gist of it. A "faggot" literally means a bundle of twigs tied together and set on fire to light bigger fires. In the middle ages, that era of tolerance and compassion, the authorities would round up everyone suspected of witchcraft or sodomy, tie the whole gang up with a strong piece of rope, and set them on fire. To be called a faggot, then, is not simply to be called gay. It is to be marked as someone who should be burned to death. Someone who should not be allowed to live. And so I regard this word, this name I've just been called, with more than merely the hatred every human being should feel for such derogation, with more than the hatred a man in love with another man should feel. I hate it as only a linguist can.
I turn, slowly and carefully, toward the voice that has said this thing to me. I'm hoping I've misheard. I recognize the guy; he's been hanging around all night by the dartboards -- which are back by our table. Now, Sam and I are almost stupidly discreet in public, but apparently Ugly here thinks the mere fact that two guys are in a bar together -- and not hitting on every skirt in the place -- means that they're in the bar *together.* I guess it's just proof of my chronic bad luck that in my case he happens to be right.
He's huge. At least seven inches taller than me, and three times as big around. But I note that, even with the gunshot wound in my chest, I'm in better shape. I file that away in case it should become useful later. "Excuse me?" I ask politely.
"You heard me, fairy-boy." If he's trying to get a rise out of me, he should stick with "faggot."
"Whatever." I start to turn away, but he grabs my arm.
"Don't turn away when I'm talking to you, faggot."
I may have punched him at this point.
I was sitting in the booth, picking at the sad remains of our garlic cheese bread. I half-noticed that Josh had been gone a while, but like I said, I was drunk, so it didn't entirely register. There was a commotion over by the bar. I sort of craned my neck to look, but I wasn't trying hard. But when somebody yelled, "Fight!" I knew. The way you know it's going to rain. Josh was in that fight.
I jumped out of the booth and ran as best I could through the crowd that had formed. I called to him a couple times; my heart was beating three times as fast as it should've been. I was furious. He was in a fight; some reporter would pick it up -- I started shoving people out of the way.
When I got to the middle of the crowd, there was Josh, beating the shit out of this guy who was a lot bigger and, frankly, looked like he was in much better shape. I called Josh again, but it was the big ugly guy who looked at me, like a rottweiler who smells five pounds of raw beef. Somehow he managed to hold Josh's head down long enough to take a swipe at me, and when I jumped out of reach, he gave me Satan's own grin and panted, "You must be the bottom." Doesn't take a Bartlet-sized intellect to figure what that meant.
I may have jumped into the fight at that point.
Here we sit now, in jail, waiting for CJ and Leo to come get us. Can I just say, I'm gonna have nightmares about the two of them -- like Joanie, Rosslyn, Robert Cano and the plate glass window weren't enough to keep me busy. I don't know where they put the big ugly asshole we were fighting -- who I am calling Duke, after David Duke -- and I don't care. I should wonder how no one recognized us, how there were no reporters at any point in our fun-filled evening. I should worry about losing our jobs, and about how loudly the President -- to say nothing of CJ and Leo when they get here in five minutes -- is going to yell at us.
All I can think about is Sam. Is he worried? Scared? Unlike a certain deputy chief of staff I could name, my boyfriend the nerd has never been in jail before. Is he mad at me for pummeling Duke in a public place, opening us to recognition, exposure, firing, disgrace, and probably a nasty note from his mother? Will he ever speak to me again?
Josh is panicking. I can tell from the way he keeps half looking over here but never making eye contact. He thinks I'm angry. I am, but not at him. I'm proud of him -- not that I'll ever tell him that. I don't want to encourage him to get into brawls. I was terrified. That asshole was huge. If he'd hurt Josh...If I see him again, I'll kill him. I don't care if Josh threw the first punch; people like the asshole, who would spit on us because of -- please don't let me get on that horse.
Leo and CJ will be here soon. I damned near wet myself when he answered her phone. They're going to call us "Drunk and Disorderly." I'm "Drunk;" Josh is "Disorderly." Which is perfect, unfortunately, since Josh is sober and I was moderately well behaved. And drunk and disorderly conduct is what we're in here for. I'd say "what we're in for," but what we're in for is so much worse. We're in for a lecture the size of Wyoming from Leo. I hope Josh accepts it humbly and doesn't make excuses no one will believe.
Humility. That's what I need when Leo rips into us. I will not attempt to rationalize my behavior; I will accept his wrath and its consequences like an adult. I will not blame the entire situation on the OED.
Though God knows I could.
Do you like it? Loathe it? Suspect I was drunk and disorderly when I wrote it? Drop a line; firstname.lastname@example.org
Back to the Big Block of Cheese Main Page