Out Cold

Apparently, there comes a time in every man’s life when he must bank on a woman’s pity and sympathy to create an opportunity for sex. This is not a success story.

On perhaps our fourth weekend since starting graduate school, my roommate Lara decided a great way to get our classmates intermingling and acquainted with each other was to arrange a night of karaoke at Chicago’s “best karaoke and tiki bar” Trader Todd’s. Yes, this was a brilliant idea. Yes, we all got to know each other on a whole new level. Yes, Lara, Kurt, Kurt’s friend from California Chip, and myself got more drunk than the rest and decided to extend our night at Big City Tap just down the street. Admittedly, Chip and I engaged in some level of flirtation, although I attribute my responsiveness mostly to inebriation and friendliness stemming from common roots in the West.

After we had had our fill of  “the Big Shitty,” the gentlemen were kind enough to escort Lara, a first time drunk, and myself home to our Andersonville abode in a cab. We reciprocated by inviting the boys in for a quick drink of water and some snacks. After all, Kurt was the big brother of our class.

For some 30 minutes, the four of us shot the breeze in our kitchen, and I imagine we were probably munching on some chips and fruit in the meantime. But Kurt finally yawned and declared he was going his home to Evanston to catch some ZZZs. To everyone’s surprise, Chip announced he wanted to crash at our apartment.

Lara and I looked at each other. It wasn’t necessarily that we were vehemently opposed to the idea of a hitherto unannounced boarder, but more than we were thrown off guard by the self-invitation, and the fact that Kurt’s guest had suddenly become our responsibility. But we were nice people. We came to a tacit, yet still incredulous, understanding that this would be fine, as long as he slept on the couch.

Kurt as well was in disbelief. “Why don’t you just come back with me, Chip?” Kurt ventured, nudging his friend in the shoulder.

But Chip was adamant. “Naw, I’ll stay here. I have an early morning downtown.”

We all raised an eyebrow. “You know this is still pretty far from downtown?” Kurt pointed out.

Chip mumbled something about at least being in Chicago proper.

Kurt threw up his hands. “Alright, man. As long as you’re sure.”

Left with the task of unexpectedly hosting a guest, Lara and I pooled our resources and came up with an extra blanket and a pillow for Chip to use to make himself comfortable on our living room couch. Then, satisfied that we had sufficiently looked after our impromptu guest, we each retired to our respective rooms, eager to sleep off the jet fuel residue of multiple Red Bull vodkas.

About an hour later, I woke up to a faint knocking at my door. For a moment, I attributed this to the whirring in my ears courtesy of the excess liquor circulating my body. I tried to ignore the fact that my dog Kenji’s ears had pricked up at the same intrusion of slumber. But a few minutes later, the knocking continued, resounding louder this time and confirming that unfortunately, this noise was not a figment of imagination.

Reluctantly, I pulled myself from the bed and sleepily trudged over to the door. Kenji followed, much more curious about the source of the knocking than I.

I opened the door to find Chip standing there, hunching his back, and hugging himself.

“What’s up?” I ventured casually, rubbing my eyes.

Chip curled in upon himself further, as if he couldn’t possible save his body heat otherwise. He periodically moved his hands up and down to produce friction-induced heat. Then to top off the effect, he shivered emphatically, completing his evocation of sympathy.

Blocking complete, he looked up at me with his best reproduction of puppy dog eyes.

I’m so cold,” he said, shivering emphatically.

I honestly didn’t know what to say. “I’m sorry?” I tried.

“It’s so cold out there,” he began again, rubbing more vigorously at his upper arms.

I realized where this was going. I need a diversion pronto! my mind yelled. Immediately, I ran over to my closet and pulled out a sleeping bag. I zoomed back to the door.

“Here!” I said, thrusting the sleeping bag at Chip. “This will help you stay warm.”

Chip’s expression fell, but he remained undeterred.

“Um, thanks. But you know, it’s really, really cold.” He took a step forward, hoping to make his way into my room. “I think it would be better for me to sleep in here. With you…”

I managed a wry smile, then pushed the sleeping bag further into Chip’s arms. “Nah, I’m sure that sleeping bag will keep you plenty warm.”

Chip set the sleeping bag down, then hugged himself again. “But it’s really, very cold,” he repeated, starting to rub at his elbows again.

I glanced around frantically and saw Kenji. Making a mental apology to the poor pup, I thrust him forward at Chip. “Here! You can sleep with Kenji! He’s really warm.” Kenji looked up at me with an expression denoting extreme betrayal. Treats for a week, I promised psychically.

Chip looked flabbergasted. Evocation of sympathy and hookup attempt thwarted for good, he finally resigned himself to his fate hugged the sleeping bag to his chest. “Err, I guess I’ll just take this. Thanks.”

The next morning, I walked out to the living room to find a neat pile of pillow, blanket, and sleeping bag in the corner of the living room and no Chip.

Did I feel sorry for Chip? Sure. Did I regret not warming him up in my own bed? You take a guess.

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