Betting on Bailey

By: Tara Crescent

I am a professor of anthropology, and I have trekked in the jungles of Indonesia multiple times. But I assure you that I know absolutely nothing about infectious diseases. Brunette Barbie, who clearly doesn’t know what anthropologists do, has no idea that I’m making up the story of the guide’s finger.

“He had the same kind of swelling,” I continue, my voice hushed. “Same red color. Nothing happened for a few weeks…” I swallow a sob. “Then…”

“What happened?” Her voice is shrill, her eyes are wide with fear. I’ve got her.

“The eggs were incubating. One day, they all hatched.” I clench my eyes shut, and my voice is very low. “That poor man. He had three children.”

Her face pales, and she lets out an ear-splitting shriek, which causes her sister to miss her shot at the table.

Ladies and gentlemen, my work here is done.

* * *

Once the blonde misses her shot, I watch my boyfriend strut up to the table. The cocky swagger is earned - Trevor is an exceptional pool player. The American PoolPlayer League ranks all their players by skill, and Trevor is a seven, which is the highest level.

They don’t rank douchebaginess, but if they did, Trevor would be a seven there too.

I wince at that churlish thought. I’m being unusually crabby tonight. But everything is irritating me - the way Trevor’s opponent is flirting with him, the way he’s responding, the way the bartender has served all the thin, pretty girls, while ignoring the fact that I’ve been standing at the bar for the last five minutes, waiting for a beer.

The sad truth is - I don’t really care how many women my boyfriend checks out. I don’t even mind if he’s sleeping around - that’ll give me the push I need to break up with him. Our relationship has been on life-support for a long time now, but I’m too embarrassed to pull the plug.

‘Why are you with him?’ my friend Gabby asked me once. She’s made no effort to conceal that she doesn’t like him.

I don’t know, I wanted to reply. Maybe because I’m the chubby girl and I get friend-zoned by guys. When Trevor, a good-looking and successful guy showed interest in me, I was flattered and swept off my feet. At the six month mark of our relationship, I even hoped I was in love with him. When he suggested moving in together, I’d been so thrilled that I’d held my tongue when he picked an apartment that I could not afford. I wanted the fairy tale.

Five months later, I’ve come to the unpleasant realization that fairy tales are for children. As uncomfortable as the truth can sometimes be, hiding from it won’t solve anything. Trevor doesn’t love me. The reason he’s dating me is because I can open some doors for him in Manhattan’s cultural scene. Trevor’s a social climber, and it’s prestigious to date a professor at NYU.

And I’m dating him because I’m too passive to end it, which is pitiful.

Something my dad told me when I was ten comes to mind. We’d been on a hike that had felt never-ending, and I had been tired and cold and miserable. “Can we go home yet?” I’d whined.

My father had crouched down so he was level with my face, and he’d looked into my eyes. “Look Bailey,” he’d gestured to the path, which curved round a corner. “Don’t you want to know what lies ahead? If you stay right here, how will you find out?”

And though the ten-year old me hadn’t thought very much of my dad’s reasoning, the adult version can appreciate those words. Life might not be a fairy tale, and true love might not exist. But I’ll never know if I stay with Trevor. I’ll never find out what lies ahead.

* * *

Once Trevor finishes his game, his teammates beckon me over. They’ve won handily tonight, and consequently, everyone’s in a good mood. “Bailey,” one of them, a guy called Peter says, his expression jovial, “why don’t you play a game with Trevor?”

Oh, dear god no.

I’ve tried to play a few times, but I’m dreadful. I have terrible hand-eye coordination. Trevor always looms over me, making me nervous. My overly-generous boobs graze the table, and I'm very self-conscious about them. One time, my breasts had knocked a ball out of the way. You would have thought I had tortured a puppy from the way Trevor reacted to that.

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