Our hero gets engaged to the girl of his dreams, a friend of a friend who just so happens to hate the concept of marriage, and who prefers the convenience of an open relationship. Here, an introduction to their not-so-traditional first encounters.
It's just after midnight, and I'm huddled into a bar booth next to Ray, an old college friend who has lately become my very frequent drinking buddy. Ray and I went to the same state school in Pittsburgh, and although we both fled town almost as soon as we graduated--Ray went to New York City and then L.A., while I lived in San Francisco and Seattle--for various reasons, we've both moved back. Neither one of us is especially pleased with the way our adult lives are turning out. And that's probably why we both end up at dive bars three or four times a week, bullshitting about college, and guessing at the fortunes of our old friends--especially the ones we haven't heard from in 10 years.
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But tonight, Ray and I have company: Michael and Carrie, a couple I've been hearing about for ages now, and who supposedly have an open relationship. Michael and Ray were friends back in school as well, and for months now, Ray has been regaling me with stories about their college-day exploits. They were obsessed with hip-hop at the time, and on occasion they would dress up in hoodies and baggy jeans, and descend upon the city at night with stolen spray paint cans and giant Sharpie markers, prepared to carve their tags onto every blank surface in sight.
But that was ages ago, of course. Ten years. These days, Ray is much more into real estate and designer suits, which is probably why we get along so well. But lately, Ray has been dropping warnings to me about Michael, who apparently still fancies himself something of a thug--the type of guy who doesn't hesitate to throw a punch when someone looks at him sideways.
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I have a bit of a reputation myself: I'm the type of guy who likes to hit on girls who already have boyfriends. I've never really understood why I do it. But ever since I first laid eyes on Carrie at a house party, I wanted nothing more than to devour her whole. She was beyond gorgeous, and by the way she confidently strutted her way through a room, she obviously knew it. And then when Ray told me about her long-term boyfriend--six years!--and about the fact that they both sometimes slept with other people, I could literally picture myself sinking my teeth into the back of her neck, and drawing blood.
I was probably on my fourth or fifth Dogfish Head when I felt the side of Carrie's foot rubbing lightly against the side of mine, underneath the booth. At first, I wasn't entirely sure it had actually happened. This was quite possibly the most stunningly sophisticated woman I had ever laid eyes on, after all. And she was sitting right next to her boyfriend. The thug.