Click here for a re-cap of part one.
As we pulled into the Yosemite Information Center, my first thought was, “How the hell did I get here?” Seven years ago I thought I’d have two kids and a thriving business, not that I’d be leading a brigade of bachelors to conquer their fears. But seven years ago I didn’t know my (ex)wife. Thinking back, I didn’t know anything. We got married at twenty-three, both fresh out of college and eager to change the world. We followed our first stupid decision with another. We started a business together. We used my ideas and her money. Turns out “but it was my idea” isn’t a substantial defense to your wife taking everything. As the saying goes, “I put all of my eggs in one basket,” the basket being Madeline.
Madeline grew up with money, believing that problems were solved with money. She used to say that my lack of materialism was stoic and that I simplified her life. And when I stated that I didn’t like the direction our life was headed, I “must have thought I was better than her.” So she bought me out of our company and moved across the country. Of course it wasn’t that simple, but in her mind it was. Either I was with her or I was against her. I wanted to sell and focus on our marriage and she wanted more money.
I used the money I had left to get out of our too big house and into something more my style, back to my hometown of Tulsa to be specific. After getting moved in, I went to dinner at the closest restaurant and saw they were hiring, lied about having bartending experience and suddenly I was stagnant. I didn’t mind being stagnant on the social ladder, that was the least of my concerns. But I’ll admit that it was rather sobering to have drink orders replace formal greetings. I reconnected with Adam and Kyle, both of whom never left, and quickly settled into a routine. One year passed this way, and then another. The only interchanging variable was the occasional woman who found herself in my bed. The scenes kept rolling as I stretched my legs.
My clock read 11am, but my body was convinced it was closer to dawn. I peeked to my left and took in the tall drink lying next to me. Too much whiskey. I gave him a hard shove. “Yo, you gotta go.” He groaned and rolled, letting me know that it wasn’t happening just yet. I rose and padded to the bathroom to assess the damage. My turn to groan. My hair was playing Medusa today. I patted and pinned until I no longer resembled a comic book villain. I had an hour until my only tour for the day. A bowl of cereal, a cup of coffee and an awkward goodbye later, I was on my way to the Info center. It wasn’t like me to bring home a stranger. I went out alone and that’s how I preferred to come home. The crisp air felt cleansing. It was a good a time as any to make a promise to myself; that was the last meaningless rendezvous. I parked, yanked my backpack from the backseat and headed inside. Cheryl gave me the usual greeting, “Hey Lace-eye, you’re cutting in close.” The guy standing at the window whipped his head around and sized me up.
“Yeah, Shakespeare didn’t know about girls with i’s at the end of their names when it should have been a y.”
I couldn’t tell if she was being sarcastic, so I waited.
“You know, the whole “What’s in a name?” thing. People automatically picture me a certain way when they find out. I might as well dot the i with a heart.”
Laci had the curliest hair I had ever seen and to add to it, the longest and the reddest. Not an orange, but the deep red girls pay for. She was tiny, like maybe five foot tiny. She was also bony at almost every angle except for her confusingly large, and definitely real breasts. I blanked on a clever response and found a seat instead, but I kept an eye on her. I imagined Madeline next to her and almost laughed out loud. Madeline was naturally blonde and kept her hair shoulder length. She had one of those ski-jump noses and a full bottom lip, with a 5’6” slender frame to complete the look. I pushed the image of Madeline out and let Laci drive. To my delight, Laci then announced that she would be our guide for the day.