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“You think you’re better than me” he growled into the phone, failing in his attempt not to sound like a jealous crybaby. It was the fifth call today, and I was too nervous and busy at my new job to entertain his bruised ego.  “You think you’re too good for me right, like I’m not….”  my other two lines were blinking excitedly and I answered one, hanging up on him.

When I started in the mail room Drew had already been working there a year, comfy in his role as guru and burgeoning boyfriend and lazy at both.  Soon, however, I was promoted. Right out from under him. He took it personally.

I was ambitious, smart and a hard worker. If I had areas of my life that were insecure and vulnerable to guilt, this wasn’t one of them.  In the week since my promotion he opted to spend his time after work hunched at the bar with the sad weight of the world on his shoulders instead of being with me.  These pissy phone calls during the day was the extent of our communication about the issue.

My pushy, boundary-stomping boss Hannah sat less than two feet away from me in a round pod of work stations divided into triangle pie pieces like a game of Trivial Pursuit.  She leaned over the short, thin wall separating our desks, openly eavesdropping as I told Drew to stop calling.  Again.

“We need to hang out for drinks, all of us.  He’ll see things are still the same with you guys and get over it” she assured, dialing Drew’s extension even as I loudly explained that perhaps his damaged man-feelings weren’t my top priority.  Hannah would have none of it.

“It’ll be fine, I’ll buy the shots” she pronounced as we left the office, taking me by the arm and leading me to the popular after-work watering hole, emphasis on the “hole.”  Through the darkness I could see Drew, already on his second beer, slouching in a chair next to the dartboard and brooding like a bad poet.  The blast of hostility from him blew me across the room towards a group of friends that were laughing and conversing in animated hilarity, so I let it sweep me up into their circle.  Hannah could indulge the angry young man routine if she wished, I wasn’t going to waste Happy Hour being berated for my success.

I was having fun joking with Sarah from accounting when I saw a puzzled look cross her face.  I turned to follow her gaze over my shoulder and saw Hannah swaying in her seat at a table littered with bottles. Her arm was around Drew’s neck, her leg thrown over his lap like she had tried to crawl over him but quit halfway across.  Our eyes met and froze there for a long weird second, then I turned back and jumped into the lively conversation with both feet, joking until I felt my equilibrium level out. I made my way to the paint-chipped door of the bathrooms, conscious of keeping my eyes off my boss and boyfriend, currently entwined like drunk, sexy snakes. I felt a hand bump into my back a few times before landing on my shoulder.

“Is this OK? You don’t care, right?” Hannah slurred, spitting pieces of tortilla chip into my face. I looked into her blurry, blue eyes.
“I don’t really need this right now” I said, surprised by how succinctly I had put all the jumbled thoughts running around my head.
“It’s just sex” she assured, “it doesn’t mean anything.” A feeling of weary depression dripped over me as the emptiness of her sentiment soaked into my bones. Did anything mean anything, then?
“Just, don’t” I said in a weak attempt to change the trajectory of this moment and spare myself the kick in the stomach I could see on the horizon. “Please.”
“It’s just sex, who cares?” she repeated, as if we were in agreement.

Back at the bar I approached Drew and the mean, lubricated look he gave me stopped me dead.  Putting my empty glass down I saw Hannah stumble through the now-crowded room and begin writhing on him like they were on a porno set instead of six inches away from chicken finger-eating n-KATE-MCKINNON-LOUIS-CK-large570patrons. I slipped unnoticed out the exit with a lump in my gut, the only silver lining being that I no longer had to work out my troubles with Drew.  His tongue poking the top of Hannah’s esophagus had taken care of that.

I walked alone down the city street to my apartment and wondered if I could blame a hangover for throwing up on Hannah’s desk.
I hoped so.

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