FIRST DATE • by Dagmara J. Kurcz

“Have you ever seen horses’ piss?” he says, eyes fixed on the beer mug full with Weiss and lemon slices.

We are sitting in a bar, smoke merging into our clothes, music floating around us. Stones, The Police, Abba. Music has a way of disappearing and reappearing when you’re drunk in a bar and thinking about horses’ piss.

“I’ve seen horses,” I say, sliding my butt up the stool, so that it’s sitting on the entire thing, not just the edge of it, too wobbly to sit on the edge now.

“This beer looks just like horses’ piss,” he says, and takes a long sip of it. He is sitting on the other side of the table, looking kind of drunk, with his eyelids 1/3 down his eyes. Looking kind of ugly in general, with his long nose and bald head that wrinkles occasionally, like puddles do on a rainy day. I don’t mind it though, ’cause he’s kind of weird and kind of funny and that’s what I like in a man. Although, I’m already thinking that if any of this works out and it’s gonna be long term, how in the hell would I show him off to my mother? She is a men lover, and although her boyfriends often change her tastes are always the same: she likes them rich, handsome and sober, in that order. “Don’t be dating an ugly, poor, drunkard, unless you want your kids to be ugly, you to be poor and him to be always drunk,” is what she told me when she saw me with Paul, who was ugly with his fighting scars, poor with six brothers and sisters and drunk with rum and cola at the time. But no one’s here to get married, most kids are ugly anyway, and it’s best to be drunk on first dates, ’cause they’re so awkward and painful, and almost as bad as being devirginized , although I don’t remember much of that, mainly because of the sweet red wine, which is the only thing I clearly remember.

“Horses’ piss, really?” I say, a little fascinated and amused, and watch him nod his long head up and down, like one of those big-headed dolls you put in your car so they can distract and piss off other drivers.

“In college we did these experiments where we had to collect piss and sperm, that sort of things,” he says and looks at the couple who just came in. Our table is the closest one to the main door, and every time someone walks in or out, we see it and feel the cold chill crawling up our legs and chests.

“How did you do that? The sperm I mean, how did you collect that?” I ask, and remember that the only experiment I ever did with live animals was when I was three or four and pissed on a bunch of ants to see if they’d survive; afterwards I poured some flour on them and watched them stick to the ground.

“There’s many ways,” he says and takes another sip, then refills the empty glass, “like for large animals like bulls, we had an artificial cow made of metal or something, and it was covered with a real cow’s fur and painted the right way and everything. And when we used a bull that was young and new at it, it took him awhile to figure out what to do, but once he did, he would jump on that cow so fast every time he saw her,” he laughs, wet teeth glistening in the dimmed light of the bar.

“Fascinating,” I say, but also kind of sad when I think about all the poor, unsatisfied cows in the fields somewhere and all those bulls not caring that it’s metal that they’re banging. And I think of something that Kate said once, which was that at the end of the night, all guys really care about is to get laid, and it doesn’t make a difference if the girl is pretty, or interesting or smart. All of that is just some unnecessary stuff that comes along with a body, like chips and soda do when you order a burger combo.

A fresh, cold chill licked my cheek when two chubby girls walked in — one was round and short, almost like an overfed child, and fixing her mascara with one of her fingers, and the other one was also kind of round: face, belly and ass, but much taller, and squinting her eyes in the direction of the back tables.

“Another two blatches searching for a piece of meat,” Luke laughs, while gaping at the two, who were now moving toward the bar.

“Why’d you say that?” I ask, watching Luke’s eyelids covering half of his eyes, wrinkles permanently staying on his forehead. And I’m searching for the name of the emotion I feel at the moment, when I finally realize that I’m offended by his comment, although I’m not sure why. I curse, and drink and fuck, and my thoughts are anti-social most of the time, so why should I have a problem now?

“’Cause that’s what every girl wants when she walks into a bar or a club,” he says, and fills my empty glass, which I don’t even let out of my hand now. And I feel the beer inside of me, and hear the music creeping out at me again, and I know the song, but no one asks me about the title, so I sing along in my head, and think that maybe he’s right, maybe that’s all that I want and what everyone else wants, so there’s no need to get offended and cry or make a scene, just keep on drinking the beer and try not to think too much about the fact that it looks just like horses’ piss.

Dagmara J. Kurcz writes mostly in English, although she was born and raised in Poland. She has an M.A. in Teaching of Writing from Columbia College Chicago. Her stories are published in Common Boundary: Stories of Immigration, as well as some websites. She lives in Chicago, with her husband Krzysztof, and daughter Kaya.

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