I used to have this friend who was the portrait of cool in situations like these. Run him into an ex-girlfriend, catch him in a lie, accuse him of eating half your lunch while your back was turned, and he’d just sit there with a vague grin that could be interpreted a couple thousand ways.
There’s a word for that – unflappable.
So how do I look when I spin around and find myself face to face with this girl I thought I’d never see again? Flappable? Flapped? Is that even a word? Well whatever the opposite of unflappable is, I don’t have a grin on my face that could be interpreted a couple thousand ways.
On the contrary, the look of shock on my face could probably be interpreted five different ways and all of them would be absolutely correct: what are you doing here all the way out in Bloomington, Illinois at a Jonathan Richman concert? I never called you… shit, come up with some excuses. Wait, don’t come up with some excuses, there’s a very good reason why I never called you back. Am I blushing? Get that screwy look off your face Craig and calm down.
The band winds down the first song and for the moment we can actually have part of a conversation:
“Hey Dawn. What the hell are you doing here? I mean, are you visiting friends here in town or something?”
“Give me some credit Craig. I’m a pretty cool girl remember? We drove up for the show.”
“So who are you here with?”
“My friends Marcy and Hillary,” she says, pointing over to the wall facing the bar. Her friends aren’t too hard to spot. They’re staring right at us and talking back and forth. Look at him, he’s totally squirming…
“Oh yeah? I’m here with…”
Too late. The band just started another song and the rest of my sentence gets lost in a wall of sound. I’m saved!
I glance over at Tim and he raises an eyebrow. I don’t think he’s figured out who she is yet.
“Derrick don’t pay his rent!!
Derrick won’t pay his rent!!
Can’t get the bastard to pay his rent
Ask him for his money but he’s already spent it
He went and bought a bag from Ken!
Derrick, won’t you pay your re eh-eh-eh nn-nt??!!
Oh Derrick won’t you pay your fucking rent!?”
I smile at Dawn, throw up my hands and shrug at the noise. But instead of nodding and making a motion to talk later she points upstairs. Go upstairs and talk?
I grab Tim by the shoulder and yell into his ear.
“What?” he leans closer, trying to hear me.
“Dawn!!! You know, Bethlehem High!? Remember?”
He looks at me blankly but after a few moments he gets it. He glances over at her and then back at me, then at her again and grins. So much for sympathy from friends…
I nod to Dawn. She turns and I follow her through the crowd, winding around tables and through groups of people. I pass a waitress weaving though the crowd heading the other direction. She holds a drink tray full of beers and drinks high over the heads of the audience. And how do they do that anyway? Forget about levitating elephants or sawing people in half. That drink tray thing is the best magic trick I’ve ever seen.
We climb the stairs sliding sideways to get past the line at the door. Dawn glances back and smiles, checking to see if I’m still following. Jesus Christ she’s beautiful… To look at her, celibacy is absolutely the last thing on your mind. I know it’s a ridiculous thing to say but she doesn’t look celibate.
She doesn’t look like a nun. She’s wearing a sleeveless black dress with a zipper running down the front from an open neckline. Nope, not even close. She doesn’t shave her hair cut boyishly short or wear baggy, formless clothing that hides any hint of sexuality.
I don’t know why I always catch myself doing this, always trying to throw people into nice neat little categories by their appearance. I’m smart enough to know that it’s not that easy but I can’t seem to get rid of a side of me that wishes it were.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could accurately judge people by their appearance? Think about the possibilities: the blonde in the tank top near the door will end up fucking your best friend. The brunette standing next to the bar is a psycho with thirty varieties of mind games she enjoys playing. And the redhead at the end of the bar drinking the martini has emotional problems and will stalk me for three weeks if I break up with her.
The rather non-descript looking girl that I almost overlooked, the one who doesn’t make much eye contact, she’s capable of making you happy for the rest of your life.
“Are we supposed to have a waitress seat us?” Dawn asks at the top of the stairs.
“Dunno, let’s just sit down at that table over there and see if anyone yells at us.”
The place has pretty much cleared out by now. Apparently the crowd of families grabbed their leftover pasta and garlic bread and beat a hasty retreat from the advance of college kids and rock fans. We sit down at a table near the edge of the stairs.
“I’ll be with you guys in a second,” a waitress says, wandering by our table. “I have to clean up a mess.”
She heads over to a table with a toddler highchair sitting next to it. There’s a bunch of pasta, bread and other assorted food scattered on the floor in a perfect circle of culinary destruction around the vacant highchair. I can’t wait to have kids.
“I think we’ll be able to hear when Jonathan goes on,” I say.
“We have some time. Marcy found out there’s at least one more opening band that’s not officially on the bill.”
She toys with a shaker of Parmesan cheese. I take a swig of my beer.
“So what have you been up to?”
“Not too much, how about you?” she counters.
“Oh not much.”
I’ve come to understand that ‘what have you been up to lately?’ is a fairly repetitive verbal soccer match with most people. You keep punting ‘not much’ up and down the field until someone will actually admit to having been up to something.
I mean, even boring people are usually up to something interesting at least once a week. But it takes about four or five rounds of ‘not much’ to get it out of them. Alright, spit it out. What have you been up to lately? Not much.
“So how are you? How’s Lindy?”
“Oh, I’m not too bad,” she says. “Lindy’s doing great. She’s going to be a spider in her kindergarten play next week. She’s been practicing on the neighborhood kids, chasing them around and trying to bite them.”
“That’s cool. You should really encourage that. I don’t know where I’d be today if I hadn’t bitten a lot of people as a kid.”
I’d forgotten about this. She understands my sense of humor. What a novelty. I mean, if I’d said the same thing to any other woman she would have assumed I was making some sort of attack on her ability to be a mother or raise a kid that doesn’t bite people.
“Yeah, it’s really kind of funny. The other night before dinner she was chasing this kid Eddie all over the subdivision with her arms outstretched screaming ‘I’m gonna bite you!’ And if the kid had been doing anything other than laughing his head off I think some parents in the neighborhood might have had a problem with it.”
“What else?” she says, playing with a strand of hair. “Oh, I went out to a conference in San Diego for a few days.”
“Oh yeah, how was that?”
“Well the conference was pretty dry and boring. But the hotel I stayed in was really nice and the last night I was there I rented a car went out in search of a beach.”
“How warm was it?”
“In the 90′s!” She laughs.
“Man, that’s not fair,” I say, shaking my head. “I don’t think it’s been over sixty-five here for weeks. So did you ever make it to a beach?”
“Yeah, I stumbled onto one about sunset but it was still really warm out. It was beautiful Craig! I guess I always pictured California’s beaches as being really crowded but the one I found was totally deserted. I pulled the rental car right up onto the beach and watched the sun go down.”
“That sounds really cool.” And I’m being honest. I imagine if I was in California all alone, that’s exactly the sort of thing I might do.
“Have you ever swam in the ocean before?”
I have to give that one some thought.
“Not since I was kid. My parents took me down to Disneyworld and we stopped off in Pensacola, Florida. It was kind of disgusting. I remember coming out covered in seaweed.”
“Well I was sitting there in my car watching the sun go down and the waves rolling up to the beach but it was so beautiful I guess I felt like I was watching it on TV. So I climbed out of the car and ran through the waves. And then get this,” she says smiling coyly.
“Nobody was around. I mean nobody! So I took off my dress and went skinny-dipping!!”
“I took all my clothes off and just jumped into the ocean. Isn’t that crazy?”
Heh. I may burst out laughing. Is that crazy? No. Not unless you continued on down the beach and ran through the local Taco Bell.
“Umm.. Not really. That’s not crazy at all.”
“I know it sounds kind of corny but the ocean was so beautiful and so warm and, I don’t know… it kind of pulled the blinders off and made me realize how pointless all the day-to-day bullshit is in comparison. Maybe all those people who live out there on the coast take it for granted but not me. I think I’d move out there in a second if I didn’t have Lindy.”
“There’s something to be said for St. Louis life though.”
“Yeah, I know. But I wish we had an ocean.”
“St. Louis isn’t so bad. I moved away for awhile but I ended up drifting back here. I mean, cost of living is low. The people are pretty cool. We get a lot of good bands coming through, and mainly, it’s just pretty darn predictable – which is a good thing in my opinion.”
“And it’s a good place to raise kids.”
“Well, yeah. I guess it would be. But I’m a single guy so that’s like the farthest thing from my mind right?”
The waitress shows up with menus and waters. We probably don’t have time to eat but maybe we can grab a few beers… I mean, a beer and an iced tea – because she doesn’t drink.
“What can I get you?” the waitress asks.
“What beers do you have?” Dawn asks.
“They have Bud, Bud Light, Miller, Miller Genuine Draft, Molson, Becks, Fosters, Guinness, Samuel Adams, a Double Bock, Corona, Rolling Rock, Dos Equis, and Samual Smith’s Taddy Porter,” I belt out rather gleefully. She asked about beers! There’s hope!
Dawn and the waitress stare at me. I smile.
“Uh, thanks Rainman. When’s the People’s Court on again?”
The waitress chuckles.
“I guess I’ll have a Dos Equis with lime.”
I pick up my Foster’s Oil Can. It’s nearly empty.
“I’ll have the same.”
“You guys want anything to eat?”
“Are you hungry Dawn?”
“We stopped at a Stuckey’s on the way,” she says. I think I’m riding back with Dawn and her friends, they’re much cooler than Tim.
“Eh, maybe later if we have time,” I say to the waitress, handing her back the menus. The waitress heads off with our drink order.
“Hey, I thought you didn’t drink.”
“I meant I don’t drink very often. I didn’t mean to scare you or anything. I guess it’s such a rare occurrence for me that I just say I don’t drink. Then I don’t have to make excuses when I don’t feel like drinking and someone’s twisting my arm. And then when I do drink it’s a surprise for everyone including me.”
“So have you carried through with this moderated drinking thing your entire adult life, even in college?”
“No, actually I was a complete lush in college.” She smirks.
“So what happened?”
“Well, it had a lot to do with marrying a guy who would have rather downed a six-pack of whatever was on sale at Walgreens than give me a kiss or help out with raising a little girl.”
“Shit, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring that…”
“No really, it’s alright. It really is. As much as I hate having to say I’m divorced, I’m really proud that I made it through it and that I had the strength to walk away. You want to know the truth? I carry a photocopy of the divorce certificate around in my wallet just to remind myself that I’m capable of doing anything I set my mind to.”
“Wow, that’s a really positive way of looking at it.” I hope she took that the right way, because I’m being completely honest. I don’t know how I’d handle a divorce but the best I could hope for would be to handle it with as much strength as she apparently has.
“Well, my friends don’t see it that way.” She laughs. “They see it is a sign of my ongoing demise.”
“Oh, fuck them. Whatever gets you through the night is alright. That’s a big part of my philosophy at least. A lot of people have something like that they carry around with them. I do.”
I reach into the neckline of my shirt and pull out a cheap good luck charm necklace. She reaches across the table and grabs the thin circle of cheap metal out of my hands as I lean forward.
“This is one of those good luck charm necklaces like the ones you get out a machine at the zoo or something, right? And you can have little messages punched onto them?”
She turns the flimsy metal pendant over in her hand revealing the words ‘Good Luck,’ ‘Providence,’ ‘Mercy Rule,’ a lucky horse shoe and a four-leaf clover.
“Yeah, that’s exactly what it is. I don’t know if it necessarily brings me any good luck but it serves the same purpose as that piece of paper in your wallet,” I say, tucking it back into my shirt.
“So how long have you been wearing it?”
“Oh, about four years. It’s the first thing every new girlfriend tries to change about me. ‘Would you please take that stupid thing off?’ ‘No.’ Maybe if I ever get married I’ll bring in a negotiator and broker some sort of deal for its removal.”
“Yeah, but then you’d have a new piece of jewelry to wear in the form of a band of gold.” She pauses to think about what she’s just said. “Hey, you ever notice how marriage comes up a lot in conversation among our age group? I mean, you’re twenty-nine right?”
“Me too. Have you noticed how much of a hurry some people our age are to get married?”
“Like my friend Hillary downstairs. I think she’d marry the first guy who asked her. Seems like every passing year has her more desperate. I don’t know if it’s the biological clock thing or just a growing sense of desperation.”
“Yeah, I guess I’ve seen that. I have my share of male friends who are dragging relationships on forever with no intentions of ever getting married.” Like Tim, but I don’t mention his name. “But on the other side of the coin, I’ve talked to people who are like, I don’t know. It’s like marriage is the number one priority in their life. Like your late twenties are some weird last chance to get married or something.”
“I think I’ve heard something very similar come out of Hillary’s mouth. That’s weird. And I get the pressure from the parents too. Get out there – get married. That was the whole reason I signed up with Girlfriend-Express in the first place. To shut my parents up.”
Ugh. A sore subject raises its head. You’re off the roster sweetheart. Avoid the topic, avoid, avoid.
“I don’t think I would have ever married my Ex if I hadn’t been really lonely and feeling like I was going to be single forever. Maybe if I hadn’t been in such a hurry I would have had my eyes open a little wider and would have seen the signs. I’ll always wonder… But I can’t say I regret it because if I hadn’t I wouldn’t have Lindy and she’s wonderful.”
We’ve been so caught up in conversation I’ve completely forgotten to get pissed about the fact that our drinks still aren’t here. I finish the last of my Fosters and glance around for the waitress. But then she makes a surprise attack from behind and deposits our beers on the table.
We squeeze the limes into the beers.
“You wanna toast?” she asks.
She gives it some thought, spinning her bottle to mix the lime. Idly, I watch a bracelet slide around on her wrist, the rings on her fingers and the shade of her fingernail polish.
“Why don’t we toast to our friend Jonathan and to being in our late twenties and in no hurry to get married.” She raises her beer bottle.
“I can drink to both of those things,” I say smiling.
I take a drag of the frothy Dos Equis. I guess some people are wine connoisseurs and can rattle on and on about how 1990 through 1993 are excellent years for California wines and blah blah blah. But who cares?! That’s way too much work in my opinion.
With the possible exception of Anheuser Busch and their ridiculous “Born on” infatuation, beer is far less complicated. Dos Equis is a typical of Mexican beers in that it’s rather heavy-handed in flavor and tastes great with a slice of lime to offset the heavy carbonation. And that’s all there is to it. Period. There aren’t any corks to smell and you don’t need to leave it sitting on the table for ten minutes so it can “breathe.”
“Check out the puppy.”
I follow Dawn’s finger up to a tiny little Golden Retriever puppy someone’s brought up to the carryout counter. It jumps up and down on its leash, licking the face and arms of anyone that will get close enough to pet it. Ironically I have first hand knowledge of what’s like to own a Golden Retriever puppy. One of my roommates used to have one. Which, consequently, is why I lost my entire collection of shoes, my couch, many of my CDs, and a few shirts. They’re cute as hell, but I truly believe they’d chew right through the planet if someone let them.
“Hey, that reminds me. When we left Va’san Culo that night you never got a chance to tell me your dog story. Remember? You said to remind you to tell it?”
She smiles. This is sort of a hidden talent of mine, remembering obscure little conversational details. It’s not something I try to do. I just end up remembering for one reason or another.
I guess the truly weird thing about the talent is that it doesn’t extend to remembering where I parked my car at the shopping mall or that I have to pay the cable bill by the 4th of the month or they’ll shut off my service. But tell me something on a whim and chances are I’ll remember it.
If I were trying to score points with her I think I just scored about 5 or 10 of them. For some reason she’s visibly pleased that I remembered this little detail and thought to bring it up.
“Oh yeah… Ok, lemme see here. Where to start… Well, my family goes on this camping trip every year in Southern Illinois. And all of my relatives come in from across the country so it’s sort of like a family reunion as well. Anyway, my oldest sister married this guy named Darrell. I used to hate the guy. We seemed to be forever arguing all the time about all of these petty little topics.
He’s one of those guys who can’t be wrong about anything and seems to know something about every subject in the book. I hate people like that! But I guess we’ve developed a sort of grace over the years and we get along for the most part.
Well a few years ago Darrell shows up at the camping outing with this new dog he had bought. It was an eight month old Siberian Husky. And that’s all we heard about for the first day of the camping trip – how well he trained this dog and how smart it was. It was a beautiful dog – gigantic, white fur and blue eyes. I would have taken the beautiful thing away from the idiot in a second. He just wouldn’t shut up about how intelligent this dog was.
You just have to know the guy to truly appreciate this, but he had named it some corny German name that no one could pronounce. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, he had trained it using German words. So all day he’s yelling at the poor dog in German, ‘aufenthalt!’ and ‘sitzen!’ It was completely ridiculous. You just had to be there.”
“Well anyway, later that night we had set up our tents and were all sitting around by the campfire toasting marshmallows and telling stories. Darrell had tied the poor thing to this long lawn lounge chair no one was sitting in. By this point the dog was a complete basket case and was exhausted from having German commands yelled at it all day”
So I’m watching the dog when it happens… He moves just a little to lay down on his side and the leash causes the lawn chair he was tied to move a few inches. The dog starts to back away from the lawn chair but it’s moving towards him with every step back. I guess he thought it was alive or something because it was moving and following him. So anyway, after skirting a few feet to the left and right and having the lawn chair ominously coming after him he takes off running…
And the lawn chair is right behind him tied to the leash!
He was running all over the campground with the lawn chair rattling along behind him and the faster he would run, the faster that lawn chair would chase along behind him on the leash. So Darrell jumps up and he’s chasing along behind yelling in German, ‘Halt! hergekommen!’ which of course is freaking the poor dog out even more.”
She has me laughing pretty hard.
“That dog ran around the campground for a full five minutes with the lawn chair and Darrell in hot pursuit. It was hysterical. The lawn chair was smashing into people’s cars and tents and knocking them down and Darrell’s screaming at the top of his lungs in German, ‘Halt! Fucking dog! Hergekommen!! Sitzen! Fuck, sit, stay! Halt!’ And people were coming over from other camp sites to see what the hell was going on.
And my whole family was just in hysterics. I don’t think I’ve seen my dad laugh that hard in years. I could hardly breathe I was laughing so hard. And when Darrell the show-off finally caught his German trained basket case of a dog he was so red in the face I thought he was going to explode. But the best part was that he kept his know-it-all mouth shut for the entire weekend.”
“Jesus, that’s hilarious.”
“He doesn’t bring the dog on the camping trips anymore. But I still give him shit whenever I can. Whenever he gets on one of his ‘I know everything’ rants I just say ‘sitzen’ and that shuts him right up. He knows if he keeps ranting I’ll have to tell the dog and the lawn chair story again.”
“Sounds like one of those family stories that will be retold for decades.”
“I’ll be back in a second,” Dawn says, getting up and heading for the restrooms.
I watch her walk away, hips turning in her black dress. God damn, what am I doing sitting here and talking to her? Torturing myself? She’s one of the coolest girls I think I’ve ever met but then there’s the sex thing. I mean, if I met a guy like her I think we’d probably be instant friends and hang out on weekends. But Dawn’s a different story.
Tim’s given me a truckload of shit about seeing this as a challenge and ‘storming the barricades.’ But I really don’t think there’s a chance of that. I can’t justify it in words, you’d just have to meet her. You’d have to see the way she carries herself and the little peeks into her emotion that briefly flicker across her face when she laughs. If I had to describe it – it’s almost like she’s decided that nothing and no one is ever going to hurt her again.
I’m not the most perceptive son of a bitch who ever walked down the block but it doesn’t even take five ounces of intuition to figure this out. What’s the phrase? Heart on your sleeve? Dawn wears her heart on her sleeve.
I know I’ve said it – don’t date women with more baggage than you have. So how much baggage do I have? I start taking inventory but she makes it back to the table before I finish.
“Tonight I’d like to ask that everyone in the bar to stop smoking,” Jonathan says when he comes out on stage.
“No, really. Really… really,” he says over the jeers of the audience. “I’ve been told you can’t smoke on domestic airline flights when you travel. So don’t smoke during my set, ok? Go outside.”
I grin at Tim who’s smoking. He smiles, drops his cigarette to the floor and squashes it out.
The crowd continues to jeer but Jonathan just shrugs it off. Without any music whatsoever he starts jumping around the stage dancing. He jumps and flips around swinging his guitar back and forth and finally ends up in front of the microphone.
“This one’s a little song called, ‘I Was Dancing In A Lesbian Bar.’ So quit smoking and dance.” And then the little kid who never grew up bounces into his first song.
Dawn and her friends come dancing by on their way up to front of the stage. She grabs me by the shoulder to drag me along but I decline.
“Maybe later,” I yell to her.
For a girl who doesn’t drink, she put down three Dos Equis before we came back downstairs.
Tim of course noticed this and has been giving me shit about it ever since.
“See! She said she doesn’t drink and what are we observing here Craig? She does. She says she’s celibate, but how much you want to bet…”
I don’t hear the rest of what Tim’s saying. I just shut him out. I mean, I think it’s great that he’s so encouraging and all. Everyone needs someone to kick them in the ass every once in awhile. But he couldn’t be more wrong.
Even the end of our conversation tonight had sort of a “we should be friends” ring to it with Dawn saying that “I’m pretty cool for a guy” and that we should “keep in touch.” It was pretty cool though, I felt like we had some sort of closure after that disastrous date.
We went downstairs and found Tim talking to Dawn’s friends which was kind of weird. I think we both assumed they were talking about us while we were upstairs but as it turned out Tim used to date one of Hillary’s older sisters and they were talking about her.
That’s St. Louis for you. It seems like a big city but it might as well be Little House on the Prairie. We may shop at Schnucks and Dierbergs grocery stores instead of the Oleson’s Corner store. But you can talk to pretty much anyone in the city and find that you know some of the same people.
Jonathan put on a great show. He was a little more cranky than usual with the usual admonishments to the bartenders to “stop making so much noise with the clanking bottles” and the pleas to the soundman to “turn it down, it’s too loud.”
But it was a great show. I guess just like Dawn’s ocean, a Jonathan Richman show is always just what I need to stop me in my tracks and make me realize what life is all about. Well yeah, the beer helped me relax a bit too.
And as if that wasn’t enough, Tim and I met these Bloomington college girls near the end of the show and started dancing with them. Kim and Marny. Yeah, I know. Marny is a pretty fucked up name but she was really cute. Tim stopped drinking midway through the set so he could drive but the three of us kept putting them down and dancing for a majority of the night.
Jonathan kept singing for what seemed like two hours. He wrapped it up with one of my favorites, “Abominable Snowman in the Market.”
“Well look, see, there’s an abominable snowman in the supermarket,
And apparently the housewives have never seen anything like that before.
Hear the housewives complaining to the manager,
‘Get that snow thing out of this store.’”
“Alright you drunk idiot,” Tim says, grabbing me by the ear when the last encore was over and it was pretty certain Jonathan had left the building. “Let’s go. I gotta drive all the way back and we’re leaving now.”
I hug Marny and wish her good luck on her Architecture degree. It seems kind of silly to exchange phone numbers since I live over three hours away so we settle on a quick sloppy kiss.
“You dumbshit. You should have gone after Dawn,” Tim says as we’re climbing the stairs, following the crowd out of the bar. The house lights have come on and now all of the drunken people like myself are painfully obvious in the harsh glare.
“Tim man, you just don’t understand,” I drunkenly try to explain.
“Yeah, I understand,” he says, pushing me out the door and into the parking lot.
It’s rained since we’ve been inside. The parking lot is glossy and the cars are wet and glisten in the glare of the white streetlights. A cop car sits in the parking lot watching the crowd disperse.
“Tim, you’re really my best friend man. We’re gonna know each other our entire lives. You ever think about that?”
Tim happens to walk under a gutter at the corner of the building right about the time a bunch of rainwater filters down and he gets soaked. He shakes his long hair left and right, splattering me.
“Man, fuck you! Are you a dog or something? Have some respect.”
We make it to the car and he opens my door and shoves me in.
“Put your seatbelt on.”
He closes the door and I sit there in his humid, cigarette-smelling car waiting for him to get in. But he doesn’t get in. He’s talking to someone in the parking lot. I imagine him talking to the cop. ‘Hey there, your friend is pretty drunk… hope he isn’t driving’ etc.
I spin around trying to get a better look but with the humidity and the rain on the glass I can’t really see anything. Finally he opens my door again. I peer out drunkenly and he reaches in and grabs me by the shoulder.
“Hey Craig man, someone wants to talk to you.”
“Oh yeah?” The cop wants to talk to me?
“Yeah, get out.” He drags me to my feet in the parking lot and then proceeds to go around the car and get in the other side.
The fucker is going to ditch me! I grab for the passenger side door and it’s locked. He jumps in and is starts the car. I start pounding on the glass.
“Hey let me in!” I yell. “You’re not going to pull that one over…”
“Hey…” she says.
I spin around.
It’s Dawn. I have this profound sense of Déjà vu. Hasn’t this shit happened at least once tonight? Am I caught in a never-ending loop like the guy in the movie ‘Groundhog Day?’
“Hi,” she pauses with an awkward sort of uncertainty. “I thought you might be interested in this.” She’s holding a piece of paper up to me.
I grab it out of her hands. My contact lenses are completely dried out and feel like they’re going to literally fall out of my eyes but somehow I manage to read it. It’s Jonathan’s tour schedule. I scan through all of the dates that have already passed and look up at her, not really sure what to make of it.
“He’s playing in Kirksville in a few days. You wanna go? I’d be glad to drive.”
She stands there in her black dress and smiles and I’m really at a loss. I really am. I can’t even guess all of the expressions that are being broadcast over my drunken face in rapid succession.
Shit. Why does life put you in situations like these? Why can’t you have some sort of warning so you could generate a truthful excuse: I gotta work that day, and I can’t get in too late because I went streaking last week and had to call in sick the next day because I didn’t get home ’till the sun was coming up… and…
“We should go see him, it was a great time tonight. I had a good time talking to you,” she says.
I look around at the streetlights. I glance at Tim who’s grinning at me from behind the rain-streaked glass of the car window. I look at the cop reading the paper in his car, waiting for the show to empty out. I watch the people filtering out of the Italian restaurant from the show and then back at Dawn again.
“Sure, yeah, I’ll go. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
We stand there smiling stupidly at each other until Dawn’s friends start yelling.
“C’mon Dawn, let’s go!”
“I’ll talk to you soon then,” she says smiling.
I try the door handle again and miraculously it’s unlocked now. How amazing.
Dawn turns and heads for her waiting friends and I dive into Tim’s front seat and slam the door. I struggle drunkenly with my seatbelt and finally get settled as he’s pulling onto the main road.
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