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To Call A Spade A Spade

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“Hit me, Marv,” Alex says as she drops in one of the chairs at the bar and lets her head fall in her hand.

“Coming right up,” Marv says, moving about behind the counter. Alex is too much in her own head to actually watch Marv’s mixology skills. Today is not a day she’s able to appreciate his tricks.

As soon as the drink is placed in front on her, she raises it to the bartender and downs it in a single swig. With a loud ‘bang’ she places the now empty glass back and gestures for a refill. Marv silently shakes his head at her but takes the glass anyway and sets about making her a second.

“Rough day huh?” he asks politely.

“Try rough life,” Alex grumbles.

“That bad.” Marv gives her a half-smile and sets a fresh drink down in front of her.   

Alex drops her head to land with a bang on the countertop before raising it again and looking at Marv. Her hand clamps around the glass and she takes a sip, this time savouring the flavour.

“Yeah, well, apparently I’m not good enough.” Alex doesn’t know where the sudden honesty comes from. Especially not to this guy she only knows because he serves her drinks every time she gets broken up with.

“Maybe you’re asking the wrong person then,” Marv suggests, wiping a towel across the bar with his gaze fixed on Alex.

“Doubt it. They all seem to agree on that.”

“Then they’re probably all wrong.” Marv shrugs and turns around to grab some dirty glasses from a tray. He faces Alex again, his trained hands washing the glasses without needing his eyes trained on them.

“Doubt it.”

“What proof do you have? That they’re right.” Marv sounds a lot like the therapist she once visited because one of her exes said she had ‘issues’. She didn’t. He was the issue. Or, well, she didn’t have the issues he proclaimed she had and she had no desire to work on the others. She was functioning just fine.

Alex grumbles, thinking of actual proof of her being not good enough. If she’s going down this path she needs more alcohol. She drains her glass and slides it to Marv for another refill.

“Make it a double,” she says, her brow furrowed as she evaluates her life. “Apparently I’m heartless,” she ends up telling him. It’s what Kevin told her right before he broke up. She’d thought they were doing fine. She really enjoyed spending time with him and felt like they actually connected. He clearly didn’t.

“There’s no spark. That’s what they say. They like me but there’s never a spark. What do they even mean? How do you even get a spark? Don’t you think that sounds rather uncomfortable and not like something to desire?” Alex complains.

Marv makes an affirming sound and curiously looks at the woman sitting in the bar stool, alone, after another breakup. He hands her another drink, a double like she asked and she gulps down half of it before continuing on her rant.

“And why do they always want more? More time, more being together, more touching, more sex,” Alex wrinkles her nose as she says the last word. “As if I’m not trying. Why do they always want so much? Why isn’t a hug enough? Why can’t they just be content with seeing each other a few times a week and having good conversations and just having fun. Why does it always have to be ‘intimate’ and ‘private’?! God, I hate the touching.” The rest of the drink disappears as swiftly as the first and she’s asking for another double as she sags forward against the bar top. “I think there’s something wrong with me,” she confesses.

“I’m sure there isn’t. Do you need something to eat? You’re drinking an awful lot on an empty stomach.”

Alex lifts one hand from beneath her head and waves him away, “I can handle my alcohol.”

Marv doesn’t look like he believes her, he’s probably right. He isthe one who knows best how much she can drink before she’s completely and utterly wasted. He doesn’t make a comment, however, and just hands her another refill.

“If there’s nothing wrong with me, then there’s something wrong with everyone else.”

Marv hums again, acknowledging her talking but doesn’t interject her with his own thoughts.

Alex fixes him with a glare. “There is.”

“If you say so.” Marv continues cleaning up whatever it is he keeps behind the bar and Alex keeps glaring at him.

“I do.”

A long silence follows in which Alex divides her attention between swirling the contents of her glass around and staring at the man behind the bar while he goes about his daily business.

“I just don’t think I’m very lovable.” The confession is followed by a long draw of her drink and if she were still sober she’d regret saying it but now she doesn’t seem to care as much. It’s true though. She’s not the mushy, lovable kind. She just doesn’t do it very well.

“I don’t think Ican love. Not like they need me too. I can’t put them on a pedestal and act all lovey-dovey and like they’re the best in the world. I can’t do that because I can’t feel like that. I told you I’m broken.”

“Different is not broken.”

“Where’d you learn that? Psych have a drink here?” she bites back.

Marv mumbles something unintelligible under his breath and Alex focusses her attention back to her drink.

“You know,” she starts back up again, “at first I thought I was straight. So I tried dating guys. When that didn’t work, I thought then I must be gay so I dated girls. I can tell you, that didn’t work either. And the whole lesbian sex is better than straight sex thing? Myth!” Alex slams her hand on the table. “I mean, why do we even bother with sex. I’d rather-” Alex stops to think of something mundane enough to work as a comparison.

“Eat cake?” Marv suggests and Alex eyes light up.

“Yes! I’d rather eat cake. Why don’t we all just enjoy cake and stop pretending we even want sex for anything other than reproduction?”

“I don’t think they’re all pretending,” Marv says, his thick brow drawn low over is eyes as he considers Alex, “and I don’t think you’re broken either.”

“Well, I don’t fucking get what’s supposed to be so great about sex. Or watching some dumb movie together when you can watch an actual good movie. I don’t get why, when watching a horror movie, you’re supposed to pretend to be scared. I don’t need someone holding my hand to scare the monsters away. They’re not real. That’s why it is a movie. Why can’t we just go do something useful instead, if the whole goal is to be together can’t we just, I don’t know, go exercising. And not that sappy stuff like on tv, just real exercising, working a sweat, training your body. Or read a good book while sitting in the same room. Actually, why can’t we just be really really good friends who live together and get a dog together, who knows maybe one day a kid, but still have our own lives?”

Alex never realised this is how she really thinks about relationships. It’s always been so normal to be in a relationship, to desire one. Her mom seems to think it’s one of the most important things in life. More so than her job even. So clearly having a relationship is very much something to yearn for. Or isn’t it?

She thinks over her own words, sipping slowly from her drink as she deliberates.

“It doesn’t sound like you really want a romantic relationship,” Marv remarks.

“It doesn’t, now, does it,” Alex agrees. She looks down into her glass, watching the ice cubes slowly melt and water down her beverage. She doesn’t care, there’s still an equal amount of alcohol in it and by now she’s had enough to drink not to actually notice the diminished flavour.

“I guess I just always thought I wanted it because everyone else wanted it for me. Logically, if they wanted it for me, I should want it for myself too right.”

Marv hums again, switching Alex’s now empty glass for a one filled with water and slides over a plate of fries. Alex doesn’t even notice what he’s sneakily doing as she slides a fry in her mouth.

“But if I don’t want that,” Alex trails off, deep in thought. “I don’t want to end up alone for the rest of my life.” She sips from her water and eats some more fries while thinking about this new revelation.

“Then you just take your time and figure out what you want. And if it’s a someone you want, then you wait for the right one to come along,” Marv advises. Alex nods along and wonders for a brief moment whether it isn’t just Marv himself who moonlights as a shrink during the day.

“You know what,” Marv says, “I don’t need this anymore but you might have some use for it.” He hands her a brightly coloured flyer; the left half striped with black, grey, white and purple and the right with two shades of green, white, grey and black. “Take a look when you’ve sobered up and if you don’t need it, you don’t need it.”

“I’m not a plant,” Alex scoffs when she reads the heading of the flyer; ‘asexuality’ on the left and ‘aromanticism’ on the right in a bold font.

Marv throws his head back and laughs, a deep rumble Alex can feel reverberate in the pit of her stomach. “No, you’re not. For people it means something different. Just read it, or don’t. Now, is there someone I can call to have you picked up?” Marv leans over the bar and watches as Alex folds the flyer and slides it in her back pocket.

“I can get home by myself,” Alex says and she gets up, needing a little support from the bar to keep her balance. Drinking on an empty stomach might not have been the brightest idea she’s ever had, but then again, neither was dating Grace and that didn’t stop her either.

“Do you want me to call you a cab then?” Marv knows Alex doesn’t exactly live in walking distance, not in her current state at least.

“I can get home by myself,” Alex repeats herself.

“I’ll call your sister.”