Thursday, December 6, 2007

when a key player in your personal history doesn't care he's a key player ...

chuck is exorcising demon holiday spirits -- with spirits; i am trying to will a plate of nachos to spontaneously appear in front of me. i might as well wish for a pony: the kitchen is closed. in the corner, a handful of college boys are playing unobtrusive bluesy music for about 20 rapt friends. the rapt friends are doing their best immition a cozy ivy leaguers at the bar scene, circa 1987.

to our immediate right are two men, hopped up on hops, sealing their friendship with frequent hugs and hahas. i sense that around 9 a.m. tomorrow they will pinky swear to never speak of this incident again,then avoid eye contact for the rest of their lives. i picture a conversation like this:

guy one: "remember last night when you said anderson cooper was a decent reporter, but you wishd he was your cabana boy?"
guy two: "zip it."
guy one: "and when i said i wished peter petrelli would save me ...?"
guy two: "i can't hear you!"
guy one: "or when you said you really understood george michael ... especially his later work?"
guy two: "seriously. i will cut you."
guy one: "wait. did we really slow dance to lionel richie's 'can't slow down' in its entirity?"
guy two: "no. it was just 'stuck on you.' now, seriously ..."

one of them looks familiar. but its hard to tell with the stocking cap pulled low and the alcohol-induced slack facial muscles. he could be my neighbor. he could be a bassett hound.

"oh, hey!" i say to chuck. "it's the-guy-who-brought-us-together."
and it is! 13 months and one missing beard later.

since that fateful night, we've run into the-guy-who-brought-us-together just once at quinlan's.

"let's get good and drunk and go tell him how he got us together," i suggested that night. so we drank and waited and watched him fritter about. into the bathroom, out of the bathroom. drink more.

but by the time we were ready, he had escaped.

about 13 months ago, we were at quinlan's on a sort-of date-like thing. in those days, we were hanging out just twice a week in some sort of half-assed attempt to "take things slow." it was diet dating -- which i now understand to be akin to sitting in front of a bag of doritos, knowing you will eventually eat the entire bag, but only allowing yourself one crunchy chip a day.

old slack muscles was teetering around the bar, looking for someone to listen to his grand stories. he recognized me from the pioneer, and hovered over our table. he slipped from an english accent to a southern accent to a warroad accent, all while trying to convince us that he was from austrailia. he told us a story about a "bird" he was seeing.

after accidentally referring to me as "baby" or "sweetheart" or something else old businessmen called their sexy secretaries in 1930, he turned to chuck and apologized.

"sorry, man," he said. "is she your girlfriend?"
here things got a little slo-mo.
girl-friend was not something we had discussed. and now he had .3 seconds to decide.
chuck is not one to mask fear. in fact, in this moment of truth his face actually looks like a caricature's rendition of what fear looks like.
my look, i'd guess was more "curious" and "amused."
"yes," chuck finally said, to my relief.
because that could have been really awkward.

eventually on tuesday night, i try to tell guy-who-brought-us-together this story. how i had gone to quinlan's 13 months with a date and left with a boyfriend and woke with a hangover.

but between the bluesy musings, the rapt college kids, and his flirtation with his friend, and constantly repeating myself, the story is lost. he seems to finally kind of understand, in a sort of passive way. but i have just enough hubris to be a little surprised that he doesn't really seem to care. he just shakes our hands and leaves.

"whatever," chuck says when he's gone. "we would have gotten together anyway."
"oh!" i say. surprised i didn't realize that myself. "yeah! we would've!"


Beverly said...

That's so sweet!

Aimee said...

That is so cute! And also better than that "what are we" or "are we boyfriend girlfriend?" conversation. hehe.