I’ve been back in Kansas City for a few months now, and the dating situation has been…well, not so great. The reason? There’s no one attractive in my current station. Well, okay, that’s not really true. But the problem with joining an established newsroom is that everyone is either married, in a relationship, old enough to be my father, or just not my type. Like, even a little bit.
It almost makes me long for those days when I was back at my first station, enjoying what I called my “young, fun, and carefree” years (that lasted until I graduated college and my school loans and credit card bills came back to bite me). After escaping the “DDR (Debauchery in the Dressing Room) Scandal” with my job, I thought the worst of it was behind me. But little did I know, that gossip spreads like wildfire in newsrooms, and there is no such thing as a secret. In fact, by the time I left the conference room with Julie to attend to breaking news—-the news of my indiscretions had broken all over the station. As I walked back to the control room, Sam called out to me: “Better watch yourself, girl. You’re going to have a worse reputation than me!”
I stopped and turned to face him. He had the biggest shit-eating grin on his face.
“Excuse me?” I snarled. I had just gone toe-to-toe with my boss for a relationship that was, oh, three minutes old, while my boyfriend sat there not saying a word. Plus, my clothes were still wet and cold, and my hair was drying into a curly ball of frizz that could rival Carrot Top. I was really in no mood to be teased by the guy who single handedly launched my reputation as the office whore.
“I’m just saying…” Sam started as he went back to loading tapes into the decks. “It doesn’t look very good.”
In my sloshing shoes, I marched toward my one-time friend, and one night stand.
“You really want to talk about what doesn’t look good, Sam?” I asked. “How about you going after every woman in this place? You think I don’t know about you just because I’m new here? I was warned about you from day one. ‘Stay away from Dirty Sammy,’ everyone told me. But did I listen? No. I thought you had gotten a bad rap. I thought we were friends, and you fucked me over. This whole time…this whole time you didn’t give one shit about me.”
“That’s not true,” Sam lashed back at me. “You have no idea! Melissa came over the morning after…after you stayed the night…”
But before he could continue, Melissa came barreling out of the control room.
“What the fuck are you doing?” she yelled at me. “I wasn’t fucking kidding around about the breaking news. Get your ass in here!”
I locked eyes with Sam before muttering “This isn’t over,” and following Melissa into the control room. What did he mean she came over that morning? Could that be the reason why I was so promptly shown the door? And more importantly, am I going to have to kick my roommate’s ass?
Unfortunately, these were all questions that would have to wait. After dealing with the breaking news and directing that evening’s newscasts, all I wanted to do was go home, take a real shower, and go to bed. But I wasn’t going to be that lucky. Erik caught up with me as I was walking to my car.
“Hey,” he said as he jogged to catch up with me. “I’m sorry about everything that happened in there today.”
I kept walking. I was too emotionally and physically exhausted to have this conversation right now.
“It’s fine,” I muttered as I increased my pace. “I just want to go home.”
Erik grabbed my shoulder, forcing me to stop and look at him.
“Really?” he asked. “Because you don’t seem fine.”
Now he’d done it.
“Why wouldn’t I be fine, Erik?” I exploded. “Because you lied to me and everyone else here about your fake relationship? Because you didn’t have enough respect for me to tell me what was going on before we slept together? Or the fact that you let me take the heat with Julie today?”
“I know, you’re right,” he said, trying to calm me down. “You just don’t understand. I have a lot more to lose than you do.”
“Are you fucking serious?” I shouted at him. Some of the production crew, who had been heading to their cars, were now standing in the parking lot staring at us. “Really, Erik? What exactly do you have to lose? Your amazing job as the weekend anchor of the lowest rated newscast in this small ass town? Or your stellar reputation as a pussy in the newsroom?”
I pulled away from his grasp and stormed to my car. As I drove off, I saw him in my rear view mirror, still standing in the middle of the parking lot as I drove away. It took about ten minutes before I started feeling bad about the way I exploded at him. He’s right, I told myself, he does have a lot more to lose than I do. This is his career—I still don’t know if it’s what I want to do. Plus, I’m only 21, and still in college. Erik’s old. 27. This is his life.
“Fuck me,” I muttered as I turned the car around and drove back to the station. I was hoping Erik would still be standing in the middle of the parking lot, dumbfounded. He wasn’t.
“Son of a bitch!” I said as I pulled into the parking lot. “Now what?” Do I call him? Would he answer? I know I wouldn’t if I was him. I could go home, but Melissa would be there, and with what Sam had told me earlier–that would lead to a fight, and I really don’t want to have ANOTHER fight right now. So what am I going to do?
Twenty minutes later, I made my decision.
“Erik, are you there? We need to talk.”