Scuffed Sneakers

By Jamari Jordan

“I’m not paying a cover charge. Not happening my guy. I want to go out and see some hoe, hoe, hoes, but I’m going to tell Santa I can’t do it tonight,” said Larry.

Larry had a bad habit of lying. We all have one of the those friends, right? They say they’re going to pay you back the $50.00 they owe you, but never quite get around to it. They say they’re going to be faithful in relationships, but you always see them in some random girl’s DMs on Instagram. Now that I think about it, that’s the best explanation for who Larry is, a guy who owes you $50.00 and stalks random girls’ IG pages. Took me years to find the perfect way to describe him.

“It’s the holiday season, so here’s your gift a little early. You’re not paying. You never got money anyway Larry,” said Roger. “We always pay for your way. You haven’t picked up a check since college. Fam, that was 3 years ago.”

Roger was the exact opposite of Larry. He didn’t owe anyone any money. He wasn’t cheating on his girlfriend, although he’s probably consider it. Roger is the friend that doesn’t have a soul or backbone, you know, he’s cuffed, in a relationship, under lock and key, forced to eat weird shit like avocados and kale and watch HGTV. Roger and Mary dated since high school. They were the “GOALS” couple in college, and now years removed from college, are still together (much to the dismay of everyone around them).

They’re that awful couple who always finishes each other sentences and every other corny thing you could think of. When they’re not unbearably corny, they argue over everything from the weather to that date they went on 6 years ago. Mary is the ventriloquist and Roger is well… unfortunately the dummy. I have to credit Mary. She knows all the right buttons to push him in a certain direction. She’d make a great 2K player. I mean, the set-up and delivery is something to marvel at.

“I mean, we don’t all have a dad to support us like Quincy here,” said Larry.

“Whoa, how did I get pulled into this? This doesn’t have anything to do with me,” Quincy responded looking up from his phone. “I’m just standing in this line minding my own business like everyone else, and y’all drag me into this unnecessary pissing contest.”

Quincy might be the only sane friend I have. He’s not the hunter-gatherer that Larry is and he’s not the pushover that Roger is. There’s only one drawback to Quincy: his money. Some people are born with a silver spoon, but Quincy was born with a gold one with diamonds spelling out “#Spoiled” along the side. His dad is a lawyer who represents all the celebrities and athletes when they get in trouble. Just imagine Johnny Cochran without the colorful suits, porn mustache, and quick-witted remarks. Quincy’s dad just doesn’t have anything as clever as the glove line, or Chris Darden on the other side of the courtroom.

Quincy has a habit of forgetting his privilege. Here’s a tip: If you start a sentence with, “I just don’t understand why [insert group of maligned individuals here]…” you’re probably about to say some stupid shit to follow. We have to remind Quincy ever now and then (every time we go out) that he’s in the wrong. One semester, he made any potential girl that wanted to date submit their credit report. As wild as it seemed, he did help raise one girl’s score by 30 points, so some good did come out of it.

“Tell you what, Merry Christmas. I’ll pay the cover for everyone to get in. I chose the club, so I got y’all,” said Quincy reaching for his wallet.

“A true gentleman and a scholar,” said Roger.

“Man, tis’ the season. I’ll get you back when I get paid on Friday,” said Larry.

“Dude, today is Friday,” Quincy replied.

“Y’all wild,” I said laughing.

“Oh, he speaks. I thought you were going to stand there and sulk all night,” said Roger.

“I’m good. Why speak when I can just sit back and listen to you guys argue and throw shade at each other all night? What could possibly be more fun than that,” I responded.

“Damn, is it your time of the month Adam? I hear they have tampons in the women’s restroom if you need them,” said Quincy.

“Could you just pay the bouncer? It’s freezing out here,” I said.

The last thing I needed tonight was to be sitting out in the cold. Work at the agency was bad enough today. We had a client come in and ask us to change the entire direction of the ad campaign. The same campaign I spear-headed and got a promotion for. Now, she wants to change it because she has doubts that it “aligns with her company’s values.” It’s literally an ad campaign for a toilet paper brand, who cares what your values are. People literally shit on your product.

I was in no mood to go out tonight, but I was dragged out of my apartment, literally. I didn’t even get a chance to grab a jacket before these fools basically kidnapped me. Quincy was about to head to Dubai in a couple days for the holidays and this was our last chance to hang out until the New Year.

After what seemed like an eternity in hell listening to everyone in line butchering “All I Want for Christmas is You” worse than any recent live Mariah Carey live performance, we got to the front, showed our IDs to the bouncer and Quincy paid the cover charge. I got to give Quincy credit, usually holiday parties in clubs in Atlanta are all the same. “Twerk for Santa,” “Rudolph the baddest Reindeer,” and the city’s favorite “Throw some ass for Kwanza,” this was a lot different.

Yes, there were still scantily dressed reindeer, but you can’t ask for a Christmas miracle every year. It was a good amount of people acting festive and still presentable. Also, I heard a mix of “March Madness” and “Silent Night” that I never knew that I needed in my life until this very moment. After about 10 minutes inside, we all split up. Of course, Larry went to chase down Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen. Roger went to the corner of the party and had his mandatory FaceTime with Mary, and Quincy went to go buy a section and bottles of D’Usse (Damn you Jay-Z for making such smooth cognac).

Seeing how I was avoiding looking at my bank account until the New Year, I walked over to the bar. The sign above the bar said, “If you guess the bartender’s favorite Christmas movie, you get a free drink of Nog.” The bartender had a hairline that receded to the deepest depths of hell and a lack of rhythm that was both unwatchable and must-see television. So, using my common sense, I wanted no part of Nog that night. I ordered the standard Jack & Coke and began to survey the room.

Small, decorated Christmas trees covered the room while Christmas Lights from every color in the spectrum provided all the light in the club. Every VIP section came with its own huge tree, decorations and endless bottles of alcohol that would put even the Grinch in the Christmas spirit. Santa hats and a smell of desperation (or should I say “Yuletide joy”) filled the air. All Christmas parties are terrible. No one has ever had a good time and if they say otherwise, they’re lying.

Only people who have fun at Christmas-themed clubs are those who either still believe in Santa or just found out the truth this year. But the ever pessimist in me had to admit, this one was better than the rest. Just as I finishing my drink, something in the left side of the club caught my eye. This man and a woman were standing under the mistletoe. She walked away from him just as he leaned in. He didn’t bother to chase after her. She made her way to the bar for a drink.

“Your favorite movie is Die Hard,” she said to the bartender.

“That is correct. One Nog for you Miss,” he responded.

“Thanks.”

She had a seat at the bar, but the way her ass looked in that red dress, it had been sitting the whole night. She had straight, black hair that flowed down her shoulders. The dress had a split right above her knee to show off her long legs and high heels. She had little Santa earrings and a pair of reindeer antlers on top of her head.

“Can I have another Jack & Coke please,” I asked the bartender.

“Jack & Coke? No eggnog? You’re not very festive tonight,” she said. She began looking at my outfit and that confirmed how much Christmas spirit I had. I had on a black and white button down shirt with a pair of all black Chinos and a pair of Nikes. The only sense of color was my Apple Watch band that was lime green with spots of red I got from my coworker who was my Secret Santa.

“Yeah, I guess I’m not that into the holiday season,” I responded having a seat next to her at the bar.

“I see that. Shame. Christmas is the best time of the year. It’s my favorite holiday.”

“Really, I couldn’t tell from the Santa earrings and reindeer antlers. How long did it take you to grow them? Years I guess right?”

“You got jokes huh? Who wears Nikes to a Christmas Party in a club?”

“Somebody who likes to being stylish and comfortable.”

“I’m Bri.”

“I’m Adam. Nice to meet you.”

At that moment, she gave me a smile bright enough to rival all the trivial Christmas lights in here. And her brown eyes. She had eyes that just stared right into your soul. She took the reindeer antlers off her head and wiped the hair out of her face and placed it behind her ear. She turned more towards me and continued to pry into why I was the reincarnation of Ebenezer Scrooge. It’s not that I had any ill-will towards Santa, his elves, or my guy JC, Jesus Christ. Jesus and I go way back, like 1992 being born in Grady Memorial Hospital way back.

Holidays just aren’t my thing. On Thanksgiving, I usually just eat a turkey sandwich and watch football all day. Every Halloween, I buy a packs of candy every year. Not to give away to children, but to eat while I was real scary movies like Boyz N The Hood, Get Out, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Taraji P. Henson as Brad Pitt’s mom is enough to make anyone question the meaning of life). This Christmas, I planned on sitting on my beanbag in my apartment and watch NBA all day and maybe sneak in a nap or two.

We spent the next hour sitting at those stools at the bar talking about each other and how our years went. She was a teacher at a local middle school and really loved her job. Her students always were attentive and polite in class. I thought to myself, how could they not be when they have a teacher this beautiful with an ass this perfect. I thought how excited the boys in the class get when she gets up from her seat and walks to the whiteboard. Then I thought, how old my teachers were when I was in middle school and how lucky these kids have it today.

I told her about my work at the ad agency and the client who shitted on our campaign idea. We talked about how one day I wanted to open up my own agency and do more entertaining ads than just toilet paper. Every time I told her something about myself, I could see her letting her guard down. I felt like I was rambling forever, but she still looked as interested as when we started talking.

“Would either one of you like another drink,” the bartender asked.

“No, I’m good. Three Jack & Coke’s are good enough for me.”

“I’m good. If I have anymore Eggnog, I think I’m going to turn into Mrs. Claus.”

She reached into her purse and grabbed her phone. Damn, I lost her. Maybe I did ramble too much. It’s the toilet paper jokes. I knew they’re shitty. Damn. Now, I can’t stop saying them in my own head. She’s definitely texting her friends saying how awful this night was. I’m probably worse than the dude who tried to kiss her earlier.

“Hand me your phone,” she said. I handed it to her and she handed me hers to put my number in. Wow, I don’t know how I swung this, but I’m not saying another word in case I fuck this up. I handed her phone back and she gave me mines. Next to her name in my phone, she put three Christmas tree emojis to keep poking fun at me.

“It was fun talking to you tonight. Call me some time,” she said as she gathered her things and headed toward the door. She dropped her purse on my foot and quickly picked it up followed by at least 10 apologies. Her purse left a black streak on the side of my Nikes. 

“I’m so sorry. I guess the Eggnogg is a lot stronger than I thought.”

“It’s fine. You’re good. I promise.” I worried this whole time if I was losing her and now she is nervous because she dropped a purse with only an iPhone, lipstick and keys in it on my foot.

“No, it’s not. I scuffed up your shoes and you put so much thought and effort into wearing them tonight. I feel bad.”

“Now, who got jokes? Funny. Let me see your phone again.” She handed me her phone with hesitation as if I was going to delete my number off her phone. I went back into her phone and changed my name in her contacts and handed it to her.

Nikes, clever. Really clever,” she laughed.

“Merry Christmas Rudolph.

“Merry Christmas Nikes.”

I stood there and watched her walk out the club. I wanted to make sure she got out safely. But more importantly, I wanted to make sure she didn’t drop her purse on another unsuspecting vicim destroying his favorite pair of kicks. I mean, what if she was The Purse Dropper, the most vile person this side of the Mississippi. Her whole mission was to drop her purses on men’s favorite pair of shoes and ruin them beyond repair. Is there anything more sinister than that?

As I was closing my tab out at the bar, The Three Stooges walked over towards me and I knew all the fun and good times I had tonight was over. They were slurring their words and carrying on about one of the waitresses and if she looked like Lisa from Saved By Bell.

“I’m telling you, that girl wanted my soul. I’m telling you,” said Roger.

“She can’t have it. Mary had that thing under lock and key for the past decade,” said Larry. “How are even able to be out tonight? How can you be this far away from Amy without her arm up your back?”

“Man, cool it. You know you’re wrong,” said Quincy.

“Thanks Q. See I knew he had my back,” said Roger.

“You know Pinocchio could walk on his own too. He’s a more advanced model,” said Quincy.

“Man, hell with y’all. Adam, we saw you tonight. Talking to a bad one in the red dress. Who knew you had game,” said Roger.

“I was a proud father tonight. It’s always great when you see your kids grow up and become the savages you always knew they could be,” said Larry.

“Don’t let Adam fool you. He always does this. He’s just more low-key about his hookups. I stand by we’ll never know who Adam is dating until his wedding,” said Quincy. He wasn’t lying. Unlike Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest, I didn’t brag and boast about women. It’s not my style. I believe in keeping my private life just that, private. We were taught the golden rule in elementary: “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you.” I don’t pry into others’ personal lives and I expect the same.

“Y’all ready to leave,” I asked attempting to change the subject.

“Yeah, I’m starving,” said Larry.

“Y’all trying to go to Waffle House?”

“Absolutely. That All-Star meal calling my name,” said Larry.

“I hope your wallet is calling it too. We not paying for your meal,” I said.

“Come on man. It’s $7.50. If you don’t have $7.50 in your account, I’m legitimately worried about your well-being,” said Quincy.

Maybe it was the alcohol in our system or the heat we got from roasting Larry, but we decided to walk to Waffle House from the club. The closest one was about half a mile from there. We all walked in and sat in the booth in the back corner. According to Quincy, that spot was the best for “spotting potential baddies.” Mind you, it’s 2 am in a Waffle House, so they only thing bad here in the health score. I don’t trust a Waffle House that is too clean. If the score is above an 80, I’ve lost all faith in the waffles and hashbrowns.

Waffle House is the staple of any community in Atlanta. It’s right up there with American Deli and the local barbershop/hair salon. Without it, Atlanta would cease to exist and collapse, much like our highways. After a long night out, if you don’t go to Waffle House, I’m pretty sure cops come and arrest you. It’s in the Atlanta bylaws.

“Four All-Star Meals… Two with hashbrowns, One with Grits, and another with Raisin Bread, egg whites, and turkey bacon.”

“Roger…” I said.

“Look man, Mary has me on this health kick. It’s not that bad I promise.”

“I didn’t even know Waffle House served egg whites,” said Larry.

“We don’t. I have zero clue what that is,” the waitress whispered to Larry.

“Aye Adam, you scuffed up your Nikes? Come on man. That’s why you don’t wear your new LeBron’s to the club,” said Quincy.

“Damn. You know Adam goes crazy about his sneakers. Didn’t you stop talking to a girl because she bought you a pair of Sketchers,” asked Larry.

“I’m a grown ass man, not an eleven year-old. Don’t buy me no Sketchers. Plus, she had an Android. Clearly, she had poor decision-making skills,” I replied.

“You not mad,” asked Roger.

“Nah. ’Tis the season right? I’m in a good mood. Hopefully, Rudolph has some good things in store for me next year.”

“You mean Santa right,” asked Quincy.

“Yeah. Him too.”

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