Sunday, December 6, 2009

3.) Choices

The decisions you make today could essentially define the course of the rest of your life.

If you stop at Starbucks for that non-fat half-caf soy latte this morning before work or class, you may meet someone inside that coffee shop that will forever change your life. Maybe it's the person of your dreams. Maybe it's a stranger that turns out to be your best friend. Maybe it's a friendly barista that remembers your bizarre drink order, which brightens your day. Or, maybe, a gunman walks in and shoots that friendly barista because she dumped him last week for his older brother, and that crazy murderer goes on a spree killing and shoots you, too.

I'm not saying that to scare you. I'm just saying that anything could happen at any moment that will change the world, change your world, and the choices you make decide if that action affects you. If you don't stop for that coffee this morning, when the place gets shot up, then you live. If you don't stop for coffee, you may also miss out on meeting the person of your dreams. Instead, maybe you get to work or class early and avoid the accident on the highway. Maybe you bump into an old friend that you haven't seen in years, because you were five minutes earlier than usual. Anything could happen.

Also, the decisions you make today could essentially define the course of someone else's life. Just as you may meet someone that changes you, you may be that someone that changes someone else. Alters his or her life irrevocably, for better or for worse. Who knows when that can happen? Surely all the choices I or you make aren't as monumental as I'm making them out to be. Maybe not. But, the reality of the situation is that you don't which choice is the choice that will affect you and the world in any of a multitude of indeterminate ways.

We were now two weeks into the season. We were 6-1 and perfect on the road, which was a great start for the team. Personally, I had three assists so far. And a bitten finger. I'm not sure what kind of start that was for me; it was different, for sure.

The team was practicing that Friday; our next game was at home after a stretch on the road, and we were all anxious to give our fans another win in Mellon after the shutout against Phoenix during the last home game. We worked harder at practice than usual, especially since we had an off day the previous day. Needless to say, we were fired up and ready for another win.

After practice, we showered and dressed at our stalls, debating the pros and cons of possible plans for the night. It seemed like the same guys wanted to go to the same place, and the rest of them wanted to go somewhere else: this was the same argument I've heard over and over again, season after season. I didn't care which bar we went to, because I wasn't there to drink and party anyway. I would be the designated driver. Not that I minded. I wasn't a stick in the mud, which some of the party-guys like Talbo and Staalsy thought I was; I knew how to have fun. My definition of fun just differed from theirs.

As we dressed, we threw our wet towels in the bin. I didn't even notice when someone came in to wheel it away, so when I tossed my towel in that direction, it smacked him right in the head. I could tell by his stature that it was the biker I'd seen weeks before. "Sorry, man," I said, reaching down to pick it off the floor and put it in the bin.

When he turned to face me, I saw it wasn't a he, but rather a she. And she did not look happy. She glared at me as she leaned over and snatched the towel before I could. "Whatever." Her eyes caught mine, and we looked at each other for a moment before she added, "It's okay."

"Don't you have any manners?" Staal asked with his cocky grin. He walked over to us in just his towel, which he whipped off and gently placed in the bin. Standing there, stark naked in front of her, he said, "Don't mind Tanger. He was raised in a barn."

"Better than a sod farm," I quipped back, but I kept my gaze on her. If she hadn't have looked at me, I would never have known she was a girl. She was wearing baggy coveralls that hid any shape she may have, and her hair was tucked up into a hat. Her only give-away was the feminine features of her face. And besides I thought his—her—name was Joe.

I was thankful that even if she were tempted to look at Staal, she never did. Instead, she turned away from all of us and leaned into the bin to begin pushing it out of the dressing room, ignoring us.

Staal put on his boxers and called out to her. "Hey you! Girl!"

"Her name's Joe," I said, doing so automatically.

She spun around quickly and looked at me again, appearing puzzled. She asked quietly, "How did you know my name?"

I shrugged, but before I could explain so I didn't look like a stalker, Staal asked, "What kind of a girl's name is 'Joe'?"

She bit her lip. "It's Jo as in short for Joanna. It's what I go by."

I nodded and turned away, thinking that at least it made more sense now. Jo was still looking at me; I could feel her eyes on my back as I turned back to my stall and pulled a shirt over my head.

Staal continued, "Well, hey. What do you do for fun around here? We're sick of going to the same bars and clubs."

Turning back around, I watched her as she shrugged. "I dunno. I don't usually go out."

"Under age?" he smiled, flirting with her. It annoyed me to see it, because he's got a girlfriend. Not that he'd necessarily cheat, but he shouldn't be out-right flirting, either.

"I could sneak in to places if I really wanted to," she answered defiantly. "I'd just rather stay at home or go to a house party."

"What are you doing tonight?" he asked.

"Having a couple people over." She eyed him analytically, and then surprised me when she looked back at me. Jo asked everyone in the room, but I felt like she specifically asked me when she said, "Do you wanna come?"

"Well, it's something different than the usual," he concluded, looking around at TK, Gogo, Borky, and me. "Whadya say, boys?"

Some shrugged, some nodded, but no one cared to notice as I shook my head. This was a bad idea. First of all, we didn't know this girl. Who knows what we'd be walking into—she could be crazy. Besides, I knew she wasn't capable of making good choices; if she were, she wouldn't ride a motorcycle. Those aren't the types of people I choose to associate with. Additionally, who invites strangers over to her place, without really knowing them? She was asking for trouble with an attitude like that. But my say didn't matter, and Jordan accepted her invitation and got the address.

"It's BYOB. I guess any time after nine is okay," Jo said, and she turned back to the bin and pushed it out of the dressing room.

"You're driving, right?" Staal asked, texting the address he had typed to my phone. "When you wanna head over?"

"You're serious about this?" I asked him, looking at my phone and noting the address. "Do you honestly think this is a good idea?"

Jordan shrugged and smiled as he finished dressing. "Why not? The guys wanted to do something different. This is something different."

"But we don't know her," I said.

"Apparently, you do," TK laughed. "I don't recall seeing her around."

"I just don't think this is a wise choice," I advised. "The best decision would be to rest up and prepare for tomorrow's game."

"And what fun is that? Listen, man, we've got a great start to the season. And it's not like we're ruining our chances of winning tomorrow by going out for a little. Lighten up, Tanger," Staal said, the ultimate ringleader of our little group.

I wanted to explain that this wasn't about me needing to lighten up. This was a lesson in making good choices in life; this was not one of them. But I also knew that if I didn't agree to go, that wouldn't stop them. Instead, they'd go without someone who planned to stay sober and keep an eye out on their well being. "Okay, okay. Fine. I'll start picking you guys up around eight thirty tonight."

"Thatta boy," Staal replied, clapping his hand on my back in approval. I didn't decide to do this for me, though; I did this for them. They needed someone to watch out for them and make sure this was the only bad choice they made tonight.

When it came time to pick them up, the guys seemed genuinely excited for the change of scenery and plans. All I kept thinking about was what disaster may arise out of tonight. I could only hope that it wouldn't be too bad. As soon as we pulled up in front of the house, though, I knew that I was asking for too much. Music blasted from the open front door. On the good side, at least it didn't look like there were a lot of people there. And hopefully they weren't rabid Pens fans.

I parked on the street, across from the house in question, and we all piled out and wandered over. Gogo and TK each carried in a thirty pack of whatever and walked right into the house. I looked around and immediately felt out of place, and I secretly hoped that I could convince the guys to leave in an hour or so, because I didn't want to stay here any longer than I had to.

Two people were making out like crazy on the couch in the living room, but the lights were so low that we could barely see. Someone was DJing the party in the dining room. We meandered around, looking for Jo. She passed by quickly, not even noticing us, until Staal reached out and grabbed her arm.

"Oh. Hey, guys. Um, why don't you put the beer in the kitchen?" she suggested, pointing through a door. Kennedy and Goli followed her directions. She turned to the rest of us and said, "Make yourselves at home."


  1. Haha ok... I was going to quote as I was reading, but I kept getting so sucked into the story that I'd forget to copy the stuff I liked... anyway...

    I loved the start! Everytime I start reading this it forces me to think about things that I never normally think about; something that I really love about this story.
    The whole thing about the Starbucks was great... so true, strange, crazy, scary and wonderful; all at the same time.

    Also, I love that Tanger remembered her name... even if he thought it was a guy.

    " "Under age?" he smiled, flirting with her."
    ^^ Dear Jordan Staal, when you're naked and a girl doesn't even LOOK at your junk, things are not going to turn out favourable for you.

    I seriously loved that he was naked when that happened. I loved even more that he thought being naked would help his attempt at picking-up. And I loved even more that it didn't work.

    "Besides, I knew she wasn't capable of making good choices; if she were, she wouldn't ride a motorcycle."
    ^^ I love Tanger, but he's acting a little high and mighty here... this coming from the kid who was planning on buying a motorcycle HIMSELF and driving around on it.
    If he hadn't lost Luc in that accident, he probably would have been.

    I really do love this story... there is nothing else on Blogger than can equal this... it's just phenomenal and I'm always hungry for more!!

    I still can't believe that they're in her house right now... this is going to be soooo interesting!! Don't make me wait too long =P

  2. I started reading your fan fic about Crosby..NWW and I was hooked. I typically read Crosby fan fics. However, I was sucked into your Talbo fan fic and I am now sucked into your Tanger one. You are such a great writer! I am looking forward to what you have in store for us!

  3. I love Jo...and your opening sentence of this post - BEST EVER!

    Fabulous, as always.

  4. The opening part was intense, but strangely true. I can relate this story to so many things in my life, it's insane.

    I give Jo a lot of credit for not looking at a naked Jordan Staal! I would have to peel my eyes away from him.

  5. Wow just keep getting better and better!!! This is starting out great, keep it up!

  6. Kris is pretty thoughtful, isn't he?

  7. You have such a way of making me think with this story, Jay. I love Kris' line of thought, he's so deep! Haha

    I really can't wait to see what happens at Jo's house tonight. I'm a little nervous :p

  8. ooohhhhhhh boy. I can't even begin to think of how this night is going to go.... I bet it's going to be very, very interesting.

    I love the way Kris thinks, because it's something a lot of us can relate to. Making choices and decisions in life, we all question it, and sometimes something amazing happens, or sometimes it doesn't, it's the exact opposite.

    Lesigh. I want him to be my best friend. We can ponder over things for hours. =P