126: Drinking Games

on December 28, 2007 in 05: The Weekend Shift

In Which There Are More Male Characters Than Female Ones

“Weyland’s the biggest all-male dorm on campus,” Ian said conversationally when we reached the entrance to his residence hall. “I’m not sure why… it’s also one of the newest ones, and it’s mostly the older ones that are even still divided like Harlowe.”

“It’s because Lord Weyland stipulated that in his bequest to the university foundation,” I explained. “His family had been going to MU since before women were allowed in universities, and he saw the rise of co-ed housing as ‘the end of an era’ or something.”

Ian stared at me like I was speaking elvish.

“What?” I asked.

“How do you know that?” he asked.

“What, didn’t you do any research before you picked a school?” I asked.

“Yeah… on stuff like entrance requirements, class catalogues, and, you know, parties and… stuff,” he said.

“So, you came here knowing that Harlowe girls were easy but not knowing the history of your dorm,” I said.

“How does knowing the history of my dorm help me?” he asked. “I just went for Weyland because of the mirrors in the rooms. The fact that my dad thought it would be less distracting was just a bonus.”

“Better not tell him about me, huh?” I asked.

“Yeah, that’s why I can’t tell my parents about you,” Ian said, rolling his eyes.

It hurt, but he had a point.

He led the way up to the second floor. Weyland Hall was only about thirty years old, and it had a newer feel than Harlowe did. It was a lot less “All-Purpose Institutional Building”… the walls in the hallway were covered with some kind of faux-wood paneling with molding at the top and bottom, they weren’t just brick that had been painted over.

“Hey, Gabe!” Ian called to a guy who was just emerging from a room. The boy turned. He was short, and sandy haired, with the kind of topographically uneven complexion you can’t help feeling sorry for when you see it on anybody out of high school.

“Hey, Mason, what’s up?” Gabe asked.

“We’re looking for a game,” Ian said.

“You brought your girlfriend to play cards?” Gabe said, looking me up and down… or rather, down and up. He started below my waist and never quite made it past my neck. “What a fag.”

“You know, that’s not a very nice word,” I said. That was mild compared to what I wanted to say, but I felt an inner flush of pride (and a bit of a blush) at the thought that Amaranth would have approved of my gentle admonition.

“Yeah, because cups is such a manly man’s game to begin with,” Ian said to Gabe. They were both acting like I hadn’t said anything. Okay, so gentle admonitions apparently had absolutely no effect other than pleasing people like Amaranth.

“That explains why you suck at it,” Gabe said.

“I’ve been breaking pretty close to even. You’re down how much already?” Ian asked.

“I play more often,” Gabe said. “You keep running off when the game’s really getting going.”

“Yeah, pesky things like sleep and classes keep coming up,” Ian said.

“You have to play to win,” Gabe said.

“And to lose, apparently,” Ian said. “So are you in?”

“Yeah, I guess,” Gabe said. “I looked for a game earlier but almost everybody was heading for the match. What happened to priorities? Anyway, you want me to dig up a fourth?”

“And a third,” Ian said. “Mackenzie’s going to be watching.”

“Oh, you’ve named it… how cute,” Gabe said.

“Um, sorry about that,” Ian said to me while Gabe headed off.

“You didn’t have to invite him,” I said.

“Guy’s a stirge,” Ian said. “Any time there’s a game going anywhere on the floor, he swoops in and attaches himself. If we didn’t invite him, he’d attach himself anyway, and be twice as annoying.”

“I really don’t like being called ‘it’,” I said.

“Gabe only views women as objects because the women he has experience with are objects,” Ian said. “He doesn’t mean anything personal by it.”

“Of course he doesn’t,” I said. “That’s the whole point of depersonalizing somebody.”

“Look, if he does it again, I’ll say something,” Ian said.

“Thank you,” I said.

“I will,” he said again, as if he didn’t quite believe that I believed him. “Let’s go to the lounge.”

The floor lounge was bigger than the one we had back in Harlowe, but then, Weyland was a bigger dorm and wasn’t cut in half. There were three round tables with about twenty chairs distributed unevenly among them. Each table was bigger than the one we had, but I couldn’t be jealous… round tables always made me think of preschool.

I was a little jealous of the huge flat frame TV hanging on the wall. TVs like that really weren’t cheap… aside from the extra enchantment costs for the needed extradimensional space, they were more expensive to ship since they couldn’t be safely put in crates of holding.

According to a little plate mounted beneath it, it was a gift from the Arthur, Lord Weyland Foundation. Nice.

I made a note to try to find out how funds were allocated for stuff like lounge furnishings. Harlowe’s “separate but equal” facilities obviously hadn’t been free. Maybe we could have at least had bigger and newer TVs–or mirrors in our rooms–if we didn’t have so many other extras.

“Mason’s got a gambling addiction,” Gabe said, coming into the lounge with a couple of other boys. He was carrying a jar of peanut butter, a tube of crackers, and a deck of cards. “We can’t have a game of cards without him wanting to break out the slots.” He jerked his thumb at me as he said this.

“Hey!” Ian barked. “That’s enough.”

That voice… did Ian sing? I would have to find out.

“Kheez, don’t get your panties in a knot,” Gabe said. “It’s just a joke.”

“Guys, this is Mackenzie,” Ian said as everybody took a place at one of the tables. “I’m teaching her how to play.”

“Mike,” one of the guys said. He had either very short hair or very long stubble, and a skin tone that sort of reminded me of Sooni’s, only more olive than bronze. “Nice to meet you.”

“Thank you,” I said.

“And this here’s Ty,” Gabe said, pointing to the third boy. He had kind of a runner’s build, and blond hair which hung not quite down to his shoulder.

“Tyler,” he corrected. “I’m not big on nicknames.”

“Me, neither,” I said.

I noticed Tyler was staring at me. The look on his face was hard to place… it was almost smug, with a hint of mirth in his eyes.

“Can I help you with something?” I asked him.

“I knew it was bullshit,” he said, shaking his head.

“What?” I asked.

“There was a rumor that Mason was going with the Harlowe demon,” he said. “When people asked him about it, he was all like ‘Uh, what if I am?’ But I knew it was bullshit.”

“Um… it kind of isn’t,” I said.

Tyler and Gabe gaped at me, Gabe pausing in the action of raising a peanut butter-slathered cracker to his mouth.

“Holy shit, you’re her?” he asked.

I nodded.

“The fuck she is,” Tyler said. “Look at her. Just… look at her.”

“She is,” Mike said. “I’ve got a thaumo lecture with her.”

He did? Well, it was a big class.

“Hey, demon… I fucked your girlfriend’s tits,” Gabe said around a mouthful of cracker.

“That’s… nice,” I said.

How exactly did you “fuck a tit?” It sounded like nonsense… the kind of thing you’d hear from a middle schooler who had just learned a bunch of fun new words but had only the vaguest idea what they actually meant. Was it possible Gabe was actually more sheltered than I was?

“You guys are hilarious,” Tyler said. “Really.”

“Hey… where’s Anderson?” Gabe asked.

“Match,” Mike said. “The only R.A. in the building is Pokey down on one, and whoever’s got the desk.”

“I’m grabbing a brew, then,” Gabe said. “Who else wants one?”

“Sure,” Mike said.

“Just bring the case,” Ian said.

“Wait… beer?” I asked.

“Yeah,” Ian said. “Uh, do you drink?”

“I’m eighteen,” I reminded him.

Tyler gave a weird laugh. We all turned to look at him.

This is the demon?” he said. “Come on.”

“Half,” I corrected. “I’m half-human… and I do have a name. But, can we focus? This is a dry campus, and we’re all underage… you can’t just sit around the lounge with a case of beer. That’s just asking for trouble.”

Mike and Tyler exchanged looks. Gabe was about to say something which I’m sure was going to be both informative and insightful when Ian said, “She has a point.”

“Thank you,” I said, and meant it.

“Let’s move this to my room,” he said.

“Wait,” I said. “That wasn’t quite…”

“Fuck that, let’s just make it my room,” Gabe said, grabbing his food. “Then I won’t have to schlep the damned thing all the way across the floor, and risk that little brown-noser across the hall tattling on us.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Mike said, and everybody headed for the door.

“Wait,” I said, grabbing Ian’s sleeve and holding him back.

“What?”

“I do not want to go in that guy’s room,” I said.

“He’s giving us beer,” Ian said. “Sure, it may be because that’s the only way anybody will drink with the little gobli… um, goblet of… something unpleasant…”

“Way to fumble a save,” I said.

“Look, I don’t like him, but he’s harmless,” Ian said. “And it’s free beer.”

“What if I told you I don’t want you to drink?” I asked.

He gave me a withering look.

“What?” I asked.

“Nothing,” he said. “Anyway, nobody’s saying you have to have one.”

“I’m not comfortable being in a room with three men I don’t know–or two men I don’t know and Gabe–when there’s beer,” I said. “Are these guys even your friends? I mean, do you really know them?”

“Mike and Ty are okay,” he said.

“Tyler,” I corrected.

“Yeah, Tyler,” he said. “There was a girl named Tyler in my class all the way through high school… it’s hard to think of it as a guy’s name. Anyway, just so I’m clear: you’re comfortable letting a naked woman beat you with a piece of leather and call you her toy but you’re not comfortable being in a room where men are drinking?”

“She’s not a naked woman, she’s a nymph, and she doesn’t beat me, she spanks me,” I said. “And it isn’t because they’re men. I won’t pretend that doesn’t matter, but I wouldn’t particularly want to be in a room where women are drinking, either.”

“I thought you wanted to do this,” Ian said.

“I wanted to play cards,” I said, shaking my head. “I’m willing to accept betting pennies as part of that. I don’t see why drinking’s got to be part of it.”

“So what do you want to do instead?” Ian asked. “Go to the library?”

“You don’t have to say it like that,” I said.

“Like what?”

“Like it’s beneath you or something,” I said.

“That’s exactly how I feel when you talk about drinking and gambling,” Ian said. “Anyway, you think I haven’t stepped outside my comfort zone a few times for you?”

I sighed.

“Okay,” I said. “But… if I get up to leave, don’t try to talk me out of it.”

“If you want to leave after giving it a chance, I’ll go with you,” Ian said. “Okay?”

“Okay.”

“Hey, are we playing, or what?” Gabe asked from the lounge door.

“We’re playing,” Ian said. “C’mon.”

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5 Responses to “126: Drinking Games”

  1. Psi-Ko says:

    I understand that Mack’s super strong and all that, but 3 dudes and beer with one hot chick?

    As a very drunk Nymph once said “Wake up and smell the gang rape!”

    Current score: 2
    • zeel says:

      On one hand… yeah maybe. But it isn’t crazy to think they might just want to play cards, not everyone is like Puddy or Gabe.

      On the other hand, absent the intense fear of hurting other people, she really is that strong. And that’s not even getting into the fire thing. Plus, Ian can fight.

      Current score: 4
  2. Lunchbox says:

    Betting pennies?

    Current score: 0
  3. WsntHere says:

    One pence, two pence, three pence, four. The word penny came from somewhere, and that universe is supposed to be contemporary with ours.

    Current score: 0
  4. WsntHere says:

    I guess I should have added a little thing called penny-ante poker. People have been playing with small change forever just to make it a real game. I’ve lost too much with just penny ante, dime limit. I’m pretty lousy at it.

    Current score: 0