The wet T-shirt contest was scheduled to begin at nine, which meant eleven because the contestants wouldn’t be drunk enough by nine. Eventually, people began to migrate to the spare back room from the main bar with its knotty pine ski lodge vibe, cozy booths and large common tables—the bar the tourists knew. You had never been to one of these contests. You hadn’t gone to that kind of college. Nevertheless, you and a guy, your date, drifted to the back room along with the other locals, who weren’t really locals. The real locals were home with their families. Or plowing mountain roads through the night.
He said you should try it. Or he said you could try it. That your body was good enough and you shouldn’t think it wasn’t. He thought he was being nice. As if there was a list of things you wanted to do but were afraid of. Scuba diving. Anything involving parachutes. Traveling alone. And he must have thought that wet T-shirt contest was on that list and that all you needed was a little encouragement. Only five volunteered. But the one that mattered signed up. The one everyone wanted to see. Her boyfriend urged her, you’d heard. She had famous breasts, and you could almost see why she’d want more than one witness at a time. And he must have wanted other men to envy him even more than they already did. Five minutes in, she unzipped her jeans. The boyfriend hadn’t authorized this. Mad and drunk, he climbed on stage. Why am I here? you asked yourself, again. You were there because it was a small no-stoplight town and everyone did whatever stupid thing was happening. He wasn’t a proper boyfriend, the guy you were with that night. Or maybe he was and you can’t remember because it was just passing time. You only remember the respectful kindness in his voice when he said that you were good enough to do something that you would never want to do. And then you said, though also nicely, I have to get out of this town.