I was at a bar drinking by myself the other day. I had this girl on my mind, this girl who I'm about ready to admit I'm supposed to be with. Let's call her Wendy.
Wendy had just told me that day that we couldn't talk for awhile. She and her old boyfriend were going to start things up again and he knew about me, so it probably wasn't ideal for me to be around all the time, sliding into her inbox whenever I wanted.
She's done this every year or two since we were 15. I've just continued chasing her around.
I've tried cigarettes, I've tried dope and I've tried heroin. I've tried God and hope and booze and goddamn cough medicine. Each of these addictions took me awhile to shake, but I could cut 'em when I wanted to. Yet I can't stop chasing Wendy.
It isn't just her, either. It's this whole idea of The Chase and all the excitement it entails.
Every time Wendy wanders away, I come scurrying around. And every time I grow tired, she scampers back. We've never actually gotten together for any substantial amount of time. Instead, we've spent the majority of our lives actively avoiding the gravitational pull of each other's orbits. The Chase is what has kept us going, what has kept us connected, a shared oxygen tube strung between us.
There were others before, during and after Wendy. There will be more. The only question is: What exhilarating ride will The Chase lead me on next, and to what miserable end?
The Chase always looks so great at the starting line. Your fast-twitching muscles are all ready to snap, and you're ready to win. But with all your thoughts focused on the finish line, very little consideration goes into what life looks like once you actually pass it.
If you're lucky, you get to the finish line and have no idea what comes next. If you're not, you end up tripping well before the ribbon, hunched over and gasping for air, getting a dozen stitches for two sliced-open knees and feeling sick of running.
The Chase is a cruel trick. A burden masquerading as fun. A crocodile you swim to because you think it's an upturned boat.
I knocked back a rum shot and motioned to the bartender for two more. I'm over The Chase. It's worn me out. I'm tired of running in circles after Wendy, making myself look stupid, playing coy and dumb and sick and smart all in the name of saving face. I want to give The Chase up for a while.
That's when a stranger approached me.
She had green eyes and curly hair and the look of someone just sweet enough to schedule your dentist appointment.
“What are you drinking?” she asked.
I shrugged. “Open to suggestions.”
We started drinking together because what else is there to do? I should've gotten out of there. I saw the way she was looking at me, all intrigued like I had hieroglyphics in my head.
In my mind, I heard the man with the pistol, ready to start the race. And I was really in no shape to run.
On your mark, get set ...
“Are you here by yourself?” she asked incredulously.
"I think the term you're looking for," I raised my glass, "is 'alone.'"
"I'm genuinely amazed by that," she said, genuinely. “I could never come here alone.”
“I love coming here alone. Nobody is bothering me,” I pointed out. “Except you.”
Then I nudged her arm so she knew I was kidding.
The Chase: my old friend, and the most addictive drug there is.
I knew I was asking for trouble. But I couldn't help it. I'm forever bound to The Chase's visceral highs and inevitable lows. To be cautious would be to deny myself of some of life's most intoxicating moments.
Without The Chase, I never would have found myself at a pre-sunrise check-in at a Chelsea hotel penthouse with an aspiring Sports Illustrated cover girl. Without The Chase, I wouldn't have spent junior year by the side of the eventual Miss New York. And without The Chase, I never would have come to feel the particularly immortal sensation that stems from a summer of f*cking a rival co-worker's wife.
That said, Miss NY let me follow her around until a senior with a Camaro came into the picture. Mrs. Infidelity told the entire office. Sports Illustrated left me impotent and heartbroken and babysitting a pile of blow. She never made the cover, but her portrait is branded forever in my brain.
Without The Chase, I would never be this f*ckboy. Which I am, for better or for worse. And without The Chase, you wouldn't be hating yourself for reading this and thinking it just might make some sense.
I was feeling a little better about things as my new green-eyed friend told me about her love for Leonardo DiCaprio. Then she said I have an interesting look, kind of like him.
She pulled out a Camel Lite. “Wanna come?”
She turned toward the door, and I knew if I followed her I might never stop.
Here's a word to women: We'll probably follow you out to the patio and let the first, slow leg of The Chase materialize into its most literal phase. But we're not optimistic about the whole affair. We're not excited. We're not thinking, Yes, again! We're thinking, What am I getting myself into? Why am I doing this again? And if we're smiling, it's probably because we're staring at your ass.
I was about to make my decision of whether or not to follow green eyes when Wendy called, her name lighting up my phone in what I hoped was an act of guilt. A rush of adrenaline took over as I ignored it.
Maybe it's time she starts chasing me.