I’ll never forget that day. I’ve had some horrible days in my life, but this… this was the worst. I’d been at work all day and was just wrapping up my day as usual, avoiding my boss and any ridiculous last-minute tasks she might throw my way. I walked back into the filing area to my purse and looked at my phone and saw I had a text from my sister.
“Was that bar stalker that was killed in that accident? I just heard about it.”
Bar Stalker. A drunk creepy guy from a bar that somehow kept worming his way into my life, only to become one of my most trusted and closest friends. We could go weeks without talking, only to start up again like no time had passed at all. In fact, we should have gone weeks without talking. Needless to say, I hadn’t heard about an accident. Not a word, although I had overheard a little discussion about a girl from our hometown who had been injured in a wreck… a girl who I just assumed had the same last name as his girlfriend. I thought that it couldn’t be him, and suddenly I thought of that first time we went out in his new Jeep. It was 9 a.m., and he was already half-drunk from playing golf and drinking bloody Marys since 7:30 that morning. “You’ve gotta sing along to this song,” he said. “You just have to.”
He had been trying to get me to hang out with him again for god knows how long… I wouldn’t do it because he had a girlfriend, but finally one day I gave in. I met him just outside of town, and we went road-tripping in his Jeep for eight hours that day, just driving and listening to the same Garth Brooks CD all day. I’ll never forget pulling out of that parking lot, and him reaching over to the radio to turn it up as loud as it would go and telling me that I had to sing along. It was cold, it was raining, but it turned out to be one of the best days I’ve had in the past couple of years.
We met two years ago at a local bar. I was in a low-cut shirt, and he was the most gorgeous man I had ever laid eyes on. I’d had a bad day, and I was wanting to play some 80’s rock on the juke box to liven things up from the Jack Johnson BS that someone in the bar kept playing. Lo and behold, there was this beautiful guy standing by the juke box, and he put money in and we proceeded to pick out songs. I remember clearly saying that we HAD to play Girls Girls Girls by Motley Crue. We wound up talking for awhile, and I remember thinking that I had to be drunk, because there was no way that anyone that good-looking could be asking for my phone number. I went back over to my friends for a minute and asked them if he was really that hot or if I was just that drunk. He really was that gorgeous.
That day in the Jeep, though… him singing Callin’ Baton Rouge at the top of his lungs, even though he couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, slapping me on the thigh until I sang along too… and the surprised look on his face when he saw that I could actually sing somewhat. “Pick a CD out,” he said. “Any CD, they’re all good.” I grabbed a light purple disc without looking at it, and he started to laugh and said, “Are you sure about this one?”
Bring it on, I said.
The soft sounds of Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” filled the Jeep, and we laughed hysterically for about five miles. We wound up at a dead end on a dirt road, and decided to kick back and drink beer. “Chug that beer, woman. You’re still playing catch up.” I knew I shouldn’t have gone out with him that day, but I don’t regret it. I hadn’t seen him in a year, and I had told him (sometimes not so nicely) that I wouldn’t see him again. Yet when I climbed into his Jeep, he greeted me with that same radiant smile and the same thing he always greeted me with… Buddy!
So when I got that text, I thought it couldn’t possibly be him. I would have heard. Then I realized that the woman that he kept as a secret on the side probably wouldn’t be on the list of people to notify. No, I wasn’t his girlfriend. Yes, we had something together. We had talked several times about what would happen if we dated. I remember telling him that he was an amazing guy, but we would never work, simply because I’d never be able to trust him after he was cheating on his long-term girlfriend with me.
One day he asked out of the blue if we would hang out more if he was single. I avoided answering him, and now I’m stuck wondering what answer he wanted. Another time, while he was house sitting for his uncle, I came over to relax in the hot tub with him. At the time, the conversation seemed innocent enough. Getting married, having kids, what we wanted to do with our lives… and I made an off-hand remark about how I’d probably never live long enough to do any of that.
He laughed. “Yeah, I probably won’t either.”
Bar Stalker, the man who pursued me non-stop for two years… who never deleted my number, even when I’d blocked his number for months on end while I was seeing someone else. I’d unblock him for whatever reason, and within two days I’d get a text from him.
I’d reply, and we’d talk about hanging out again… but he’d mention that it’d have to be kept quiet, and I’d back out. Now, looking back, I wish I’d just gone with him when he’d asked. Maybe, if I’d said yes, he wouldn’t have been on that road that day.
I called my sister after I read her text. What accident? No, it can’t be him. Oh my god. No. No. No.
I don’t remember driving home from work. I remember waking up in my bed a few hours later with a pounding headache from crying and then it hit me again… Bar Stalker is gone. Bar Stalker, the guy who could light up a room with that smile, the beautiful guy who really did fall for the average girl next door, even though she wouldn’t have anything to do with him.
I wasn’t the girl he brought home to his family. I wasn’t the girl he slept next to at night. I was the girl he could relax and be himself around, maybe one of the only girls who ever refused his advances. And he was always there for me… it never seemed to fail, when I had a horrible day or had fought with a boyfriend, he would text me at some point and I’d invariably feel better. “Let’s hang. I’ll cheer you up. I’m good looking, charming, and funny. Bring Stoli.”
The first time I went to hang out with him was close to six months after we’d met at that bar. He had texted and called me relentlessly for those months, but I’d had a boyfriend. Finally, we split up, and I agreed to see him. It turns out that it was his birthday. We split a bottle of Stoli, watched The Shawshank Redemption (which was oddly enough in my DVD player at home, as well), and got to know each other. I remember him opening the door and I was struck speechless at how beautiful he was. Beautiful is a strange word to use to describe a man, but he was breathtaking.
I’ll never know why he pursued me for so long, even after he met his girlfriend.
I debated for hours on whether or not I should go to his visitation. I knew his girlfriend would be standing there, and I’d have to face her and her grief, knowing that she had no idea who I was or what had happened between her boyfriend and me. Finally, I decided I had to say goodbye to my dear friend, and worked up the courage to walk inside that church. The line was two hours long, and I held in my tears for the most part until I talked to his mom and introduced myself simply as a friend from my hometown. “What’s your name?”
A smile. “You know, it’s because of people like you that he loved living there.” The tears came, she hugged me, and I moved down the line. I shook his father’s hand, and moved on to his brother, who gave me a knowing smile, and I just had this gut feeling that he knew exactly who I was. I knew if he recognized me, it was because of the just-barely-appropriate cleavage I was showing. I debated on whether or not I should wear that dress, until I realized that Bar Stalker would think I looked smoking hot, especially if I took off the cami I wore underneath and showed some REAL cleavage. I mumbled my sympathies, feeling like I would pass out. I shook his girlfriend’s hand and told her to stay strong, knowing she had no idea who I was, and I moved on to see him.
The beauty he had in life was gone. He was grey, and you could tell that they had to work hard for an open casket. I don’t know how I managed to stay on my feet, but I made the sign of the cross and tried to find the fastest exit out of the room. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t hold back the sobs much longer. I finally re-traced my steps past the long line of family and friends, and even though the air outside was suffocatingly hot, I felt sweet relief as the grief and heat hit me simultaneously, like being crushed by brick walls. I sat in my car, crying my eyes out, not caring who saw. It took me twenty minutes to get up enough composure to drive.
My Bar Stalker. He was really gone. The man who was so vibrant, so full of life, who never had a frown, was gone. And I realized then, when it was far too late, that I really had lost one of my best friends. I’d long considered him a friend, a great drinking buddy, but looking back at everything… he knew more about me than anyone else. He knew the truth about me, my past, and he didn’t care. He still wanted to hang out with me. He still thought I was great. He still kept texting me, no matter how many times I told him that he should stop. “We’re friends,” he’d say. “No matter what, you’re my buddy.”
I think back now on that smile, those “mysterious” brown eyes, and I automatically start crying. My Bar Stalker. My buddy. There are times I swear I can feel him with me. I know he wouldn’t want me to cry. I know it’s selfish of me to want people to understand why I am so sad. They ask how I knew him, and I’m forced to answer that we had just met at a bar and didn’t see each other often. They know I had someone in my life that I called Bar Stalker, they just didn’t know it was him. The few friends that know were shocked.
A conversation with a close friend:
“I’m sorry to hear about him, I didn’t realize that you two were friends.”
Do you know who he was?
“Yeah… he was the guy who looked like a Ken doll…”
No, do you know who he was?
Have I ever told you about Bar Stalker?
He was Bar Stalker.
Nothing but shocked silence. The shock that I would be involved with someone who had a serious girlfriend. The shock that someone like him would be involved with an average girl like me. I left that night, went home, and cried so hard that I shook my bed. I realized that while his girlfriend had the outpouring sympathy of everyone who heard about the story, I had no one. I get to suffer in silence, to bite my tongue, to hold back my tears until I’m alone. I want nothing more than to share the story of the man I knew with the world, to talk with everyone else about him… because I knew him, too. I swear I can feel him sometimes, like maybe he’s watching over me as well.