Sam’s Birthday (or How To Keep Your Drunk Superhero Buddy From Revealing His Identity)

“Hey, hey bartender! FOUR SHOTS OF TEQUILA!”

Thankfully, I don’t think the bartender heard Sam over the volume of the crowd surrounding the bar and the music pulsing from the speakers.

“Sam, hey dude,” I was practically shouting into his ear, “let’s go outside for a smoke and get some fresh air, yeah?”

“No way dude, we need to do shots, ish my birthday – IT’S MY FUCKING BIRTHDAY BISHES!”, he roared.

The crowd erupted in cheers and raised glasses.

“Happy birthday you drunk fuck!”, shouted a tall kid, his ballcap twisted on his head to the side.

“Hey, watch your fucking language around the ladies, kid!”, Sam shouted, gesturing his arm to the three women sitting at the bar to his left. The woman directly to his left, with her black hair and blue eyes, and the low cut blouse that shimmered in the low light of the bar looked up at Sam, eyebrow raised.

“Sam, SAM, c’mon man, let’s go outside for a minute, this song sucks.”

“Nuh uh, hold on a shecond, lemme shay hi to the ladeesh real quick…”, Sam slurred.

Sam only slurred when he had passed the point of no return. I knew there was no getting out of this night without something happening. Something always happened when Sam got drunk.

“…Shabrina, that’s a beautiful name.”, Sam was saying to the brunette sitting in the middle of the group. She had a very Bohemian style about her, wearing a peasant dress and loads of bracelets. Sam continued, “And yours was… Becky?”

“Stacy.”, corrected the beautiful blonde woman sitting at the left of the other two women. Stacy didn’t seem bothered in the least that Sam hadn’t remembered her name. In fact, she appeared grateful that Sam was even speaking to her. She was wearing business casual attire, apparently coming to the bar straight after work. I didn’t catch the first woman’s name.

“Staaacy, yesh, also a beautiful name.”, Sam said, pointing his finger in the air matter-of-factly. “I once knew a Stacy back home, but she didn’t even compare to you…”

For some reason, Sam was somehow always lucky when it came to talking with the opposite sex, even when he was slurring like a flooded engine.

“…and this ish my best friend in the whole world, Johnny boy. Johnny, shay hi to the hiccup beautiful ladies right here.”, Sam suggested as he threw his monstrous arm over my shoulders.

It felt like a log had been dropped on me, but my knees didn’t buckle as much as they use to when he would do that. Years of carrying this guy out of bars, or having to drag him off the couch after a long night of drinking and playing video games at the apartment had made my legs stronger than when I used to visit the gym back in the day, after getting out of a long relationship and having to find a way to spend my time. So much for splurging on a lifetime membership–

“Your friend’s not much of a talker, Sham.”, giggled the first girl whose name I hadn’t caught, imitating Sam’s slur.

She looked like a Tiffany.

“Oh, he’s a great guy, he jush hash a lot on his hiccup mind right now. We were downtown earlier, and there wash this huge wreck with a bus and an ambulansh–”

“Oh my god, that was just on the news a little while ago! You guys were there?”, exclaimed Sabrina. “But that was just a little while ago, I heard traffic was backed up for miles – our friend Lauren is still stuck in traffic down there. How did you two make it all the way up–”

“Ish because I can fly like a bird, love! Hahaha”, Sam exclaimed.

Oh boy. Here we go.

I tried to change the subject quickly. “Hey Tiffany, so, what do you ladies do around here?”

All three women turned to stare at me. If I had been a bit more sober, I would have imagined they were looking on in disgust. But with the dark lighting and the low cut of their shirts, it was hard to tell exactly what they were thinking.

“Who is Tiffany?”, asked Sabrina.

Oh shit.

“Tiffany? Oh, she’s the bartender, I was gonna ask what they do around here when it’s a slow night like tonight, haha.” I was never the best at thinking quickly on my feet.

Sam broke the following silence. “So thish bus, it’s driving down the road out of control right as Johnny and I, we’re crossing the shtreet, right? And ish bouncing off all the cars in the shtreet, and it gets right to the point ish about to flip over, so I–”

“Oh my god!” exclaimed all three girls.

“Yesh, exactly, ish about to crush everyone croshing the shtreet, and so I run over–”

“Sam, hey Sam, tell them that joke about the a capella group!”

“–I’m running down the shtreet right at the damn thing…”

The ladies eyes were wide, their mouths agape in disbelief.

“…and right ash I… right as… I…”

The ladies’ eyes were darting back and forth from Sam’s outspread arms hanging in mid-air to his mouth, eagerly waiting to hear what happened next.

“…I was running up to the bush… Hey! What do you call an emo a capella group?”

Oh my god, it worked.

The women looked at each other, their mouths slowly closing, brows furrowing as they looked back and forth at one another trying to contemplate what just happened.

“Wait, what?”, asked Not Tiffany.

“What do you call a, ah, an emo a capella group?”

“I don’t know, what do you call an emo a capella group, Sam?”, asked Stacy in a flat tone.

Sam’s arms were still outspread in mid-air, his long hair having come out of it’s small bun during his excitement in retelling the story from tonight. A strand of hair was hanging down his forehead, covering one eye.

Arms still outstretched, he blew a breath of air at his hair to get it out of his eyes, which were wide open in knowing excitement.

SELF HARM-ONY. HAHAHA“, he laughed, just as the music on the jukebox came to a quick close.

The entire crowd of patrons in the bar turned to look at us, myself with my drink having been sloshed and spilled halfway to empty, my other arm massaging my neck where Sam’s arm had been draped for support, and at Sam, with his monstrous build, crazed hair and wild eyes darting back and forth between the women in front of us.

“You asshole. My brother was committed for being a cutter.”, Sabrina spat.

Stacy and Not Tiffany just sat there shaking their heads in disapproval as Sabrina threw a few dollars to the counter. The women all gathered their purses, stood up, and walked right past us towards the door.

Sam’s eyes followed them, as he slowly lowered his arms. He turned his head back to me, and asked “What’s their problem? Is it something I said?”

“No man, you’re good… they just didn’t like the music.”, I reassured him.

As the music kicked back on within the bar, and the patrons began chatting and shouting at each other as they carried on with their drunken banter, Sam and I walked over to a booth to sit down.

“Man, things were going sho well there for a minute, I thought…”, Sam muttered, as he propped his chin up with his hand, letting his eyes begin to droop.

“Hey, Sam. You okay dude? Sam. SAM. Dude, don’t fall asleep!,” I shouted. I hated having to carry the guy outside by myself. “Hey man, stay with me here, alright?”

The jukebox changed songs.

The bartender jumped up from behind the bar on to the bartop, shaking her hips and shooting streams of soda water out into the crowd, as the people raised their glasses and cheered.

“Sam, hey dude, open your eyes man, you’re missing the show.”, I yelled, as I shook the arm propping his head up. “Samson, wake up dude!”, I yelled louder, as I pushed his heavy arm out from under his head.

He caught himself before hitting his head on the table, looking startled and sleepy at the same time. He looked around the bar, noticed the bartender dancing and gave a wide, goofy grin. He looked back at me, and asked “Hey, you ready to go home, J?”

“Yeah man, let’s take a cab this time though, alright? I hate when you grab me and just fly up in to the air like that, man. I told you I get sick of heights.”, I responded.

The jukebox changed songs again as we were getting our jackets on.

“Hey J, you have any smokes on you man? Can I bum one?”, Sam asked.

“Yeah dude, hold up, they’re in my jacket pocket somewhere…”, I answered.

I heard the jukebox music clearer as the crowd lowered it’s volume as they paid attention to the bartender singing along. She had a beautiful voice.

Now that the world isn’t ending
It’s love that I’m sending to you
It isn’t the love of a hero
And that’s why I fear it won’t do

Sam leaned down and whispered to my ear, “Come on dude, let’s boogie, I don’t care how hot that bartender is, I fucking hate Nickelback.”

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