Lookie lookie!

Nobility? Well, I don’t know about that. I’d say it’s more like “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Nah, it’s more like “if you can’t say anything nice, I’ll fucking kill you.”  I don’t think Will understands just how frightening she is. I guess she’s gotten that way from her job: when you represent someone, you have to practically be willing to kill for them. Thankfully, I haven’t asked my agent to do anything like that, although I bet the headline “Wet Willie Murders” would really sell a few papers, huh? And yet… I get the feeling that Will’s attitude toward life has very little to do with her employment. A personality like that doesn’t just show up after college, you know. I tried asking her about it once, after she apologized for badgering me about proper use of a measuring cup. I think, if she had it her way, she would control everyone and everything that came into her life.
“Hhf,” that was the noise I remember her making, “You should see my father.”
I have yet to meet Will’s father, and for that I’m pretty glad. Someone who would willingly name his daughter Wilhelmina is probably a few crayons short of a full box… but don’t tell Will I said that. She loved her parents just a little bit more than she complains about them, and I had to learn the hard way that Ma and Pa were a taboo subject… unless, of course, you’re related to them. Every once in a while, Will gets a call from someone in her family, and they usually spend half the time talking about how screwed up the rest of the family is. I made the horrible mistake of jokingly calling her Dad a little “nutty” and got a week’s worth of glowers. Sometimes, the lessons your mother taught you about being honest don’t exactly work. In the world of the professional artist, you learn that very quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said someone’s work was great, just in the hopes of them finding me more work. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. Either way, when I get home I like feeling like I have the freedom to say what I want… as long as it’s not about certain subjects.
I know, I know… it’s spineless and weak and unmanly, but… come on! I’m a professional artist, I don’t know how to fight! I got in one fight in the third grade and even that one ended in a draw. I know I’m taking a walk down Generalization Avenue here, but it’s really not in my nature to fight. I draw pictures, I make things look the way people tell me to look. Almost any fight has been bred out of me because, let’s face it, the promise of food and shelter outweighs artistic freedom. After that, it’s just a slippery slope, and soon you find yourself agreeing to all sorts of ridiculous things. Every once in a while, though, you  find just a bit of strength left over, just enough to keep you going.
“We’re not talking about your father, we’re talking about you.”
“Well, it’s annoying!” she shouted, “You hold the two cup measure right up in front of your face, that’s not going to get you a good reading! You’re supposed to put it on a flat, sturdy surface to get the right amount!”
“Will, I’m an artist, I’ve got steady enough hands.”
“And you’re also a skinny little shit!’ she said, her voice slurring a little, “How do I know your arms will be able to hold it that long?”
“That’s ridiculous.”
“YOU’RE ridiculous!”
“Have you been drinking again?”
“No!” she shot back. She made to shift in the couch to face away from me, but in her huff she jostled a throw pillow and a clinking sound issued from underneath. I couldn’t see her face, but I saw her shoulders sag.
“Dash and I broke up. Again.”
Yes, his name really was Dash. And yes, this was their second time around. The only thing that really changed was his hairstyle.
“His loss,” I pulled out one of my standard responses, then went for my ace-in-the-hole: self-deprecation, “But hey, at least you’re getting dates. Other than the chick who tried to steal from me, I haven’t…”
“Why do you always do that?” she cut me off, “why do you always do the same thing, over and over? You always try to comfort me, and then you make fun of yourself. Are you thinking I’m going to laugh?”
I opened my mouth to speak, but she didn’t give me a chance to.
“I never laugh, Ash. Never. All I ever think is ‘why doesn’t he do something instead of making the same bad jokes?’ You really should stop making those crappy jokes.”
“What should I do then?”
“I don’t know!” she turned around again, and her face was red and puffy. Still, she looked kinda cute, “Offer to kill him for me, offer to set me up with one of your clients, offer to buy me some decent booze instead of this shit!”
She tore at the pillow and a bottom-barrel brand of tequila thudded to the floor and rolled away. It almost looked ashamed.
“Hell,” she gave a bitter laugh, “You never even try to put the moves on me.  I’m easy pickings, you know, it wouldn’t take much.”
“I wouldn’t want you like this.”
That comment earned me a pillow to the face.
“There’s that damned nobility again! ‘I wouldn’t want you like this,’ what the fuck does that even mean? Who do you think I am, some princess? I’m just me, Ash, just me. I’m not this dream you’ve got in your head. I’m fucked up, I drink too much, and I routinely make very bad decisions. Don’t go thinking I’m something I’m not, please…”
She stalked across the room, snatched the pillow up from off the floor, walked back to the couch, and buried her faced in it.
“I’m nothing special.”
See, here’s the problem. For every so-called “nice guy” out there, this is the ultimate dilemma. Here’s the girl you like, the one you like for reasons you can’t even understand, and she’s basically begging you to try something. The only problem is, she’s a little tipsy and emotionally, well, a wreck. If you tried something now, it wouldn’t be the same as if she came onto you sober. You know it’s just pity, you know it’s just a fleeting mistake, you know that doing something now would completely screw things up for the rest of eternity. You say things like “I wouldn’t want you like this,” because it wouldn’t be nice to say something like “I’m afraid that if I jumped you right now it would severely hurt my chances of getting to jump you for the rest of my life.”
And that’s not to say it’s purely physical. Sometimes, it is. Some of you guys have been there. Maybe some of you have learned from your mistakes. I have. Drunk kisses and drunk promises are something you never want to engage in. Not only are they unsatisfying…but they’re usually incredibly messy, too. If you love someone, really love someone, you’ll wait until they are clean and sober before you try to kiss them. Or, if you’re like me, you just won’t say anything at all, because you don’t know if it’s something nice to say quite yet. I’d rather be lonely and have things just the way they are than risk blowing the whole thing away… does that mean I’m really not in love?
“You’re plenty special,” I countered, “but you told me to stop trying to comfort you.”
“Sometimes it’s okay…”
“You’ll have to draw me a map sometime.”
There was a bit of silence then, with her hugging the couch cushion and me, well, I was just standing there after chasing her out of the kitchen. Finally, she spoke with the truest of drunken sincerity.
“I thought you liked me.”
“I do like you,” I said, sitting on the couch next to her, “Probably too much, or else I’d be taking you up on your offer.”
“It’s okay,” she sniffled, “I’d probably be too drunk to enjoy it, anyway.”
She flopped over sideways onto the arm of the couch, still holding the pillow. In a few moments, she was fast asleep. I did my best to cover her with a blanket and headed to bed myself. The entire time, my body cursed me for not giving in, but my heart felt warm enough to make it bearable. I guess that’s what she calls nobility, huh? Well, if she knew what I did as soon as I went to bed, she’d probably think me a lot less noble.

Any chance we can get that last bit taken off the record?
 

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