I decided to go ahead and post a small section of an unedited piece that I am currently working on. It will drop you into the middle of a dream I had about a surprise birthday party with an imaginary new girlfriend. I hope you enjoy…
This night was different though. She brought me to a bar. A new bar that desperately wanted to be an old bar. Repurposed, reclaimed, and resentful fixtures clung to the hope that the wooden paneled walls were antique looking enough. It was the sort of place where light bulbs hung exposed from single socket cords, naked orange filaments glowing within. It was the sort of place that smells more like privilege than the desperation of keno players. It sported vintage metal signs of Old Style for the sheer novelty of their running drink special called the Scottish Whelp – a bastardized boilermaker with an Old Style and a shot of Laphroaig 18 year single malt. There was a jukebox there too, but not one of the shitty internet kinds that grants instant gratification for drunk thirty-something’s who cannot get over New Kids on the Block. This one held real music, fat, stiff buttons proclaiming One through Zero and A through K. I knew and loved every song it held within.
I made it past the awkward, open-my-mouth-and-clutch-my-chest moment as I mimed having the heart attack that, inevitably, the burger I had for lunch would demand. I saw nothing but wide rows of white teeth, admiration, and love. Every one of them was my people. I hugged them for a while. I kissed her several times – some out of courtesy and some out of a kindling love. My people came and went like the breaking waters on the sand no more than thirty yards from the quaint bar.
She was everything I needed at that time. Carefree. Bubbly. Curiously insightful. Selfless. I was by no means a selfish bastard but, in reflection, perhaps I was. I could tell by the twinkle in her eye that she was mighty pleased with how things were going. She had done exceptionally well for only having known me those past four months.
We were lovers of the best sort – new lovers that is. Her lips were always damp and willing to find me. Her breath smelled as perfect as it tasted – of spearmint and laughter. Her hand seemed to glide from behind my head and down my chest as our kisses wandered apart. We had been eager for each other since our first date. Nothing we did felt common or obligated. She tasted fresh and sweet in every way.
The night found me the perfect amount of drunk. The I-feel-witty-and-sharp-and-the-life-of-the-party type of drunk. I was all of those things. It was magical. However, amidst the shimmering aura of enchantment, a smudge of reality sauntered in, dispelling the very foundation of my contentment. It, or she rather, was an unspoken incident-waiting-to-happen – the sagging weight of too many liquor bottles on ever weakening particle board shelves. She was who she was and cared little for what I or anyone else thought.
My quirky, party-planning girl’s smile bloomed into brilliance when the distraction walked in. They were friends from long ago and until forever. The positive proof that opposites attract and form covalent bonds of beauty. For every ounce that my girl was perky and vibrant, the friend was, in turn, cynical and mysterious. My gal wore a perfectly hemmed cocktail dress of a deep, rich, shimmery teal. Her friend wore tattoos of vintage pin-up models sporting tattoos. She too wore a dress and it spoke the same words of hope as the bar did – that it looked vintage and retro despite costing a ton and being newly made.
I was introduced with enthusiasm and I gave her a hug. Not a one-armed, socially permissible anywhere hug either. I gave her a trademark teddy bear squeeze that allowed me time to inhale her scent, a mixture of predatory instinct and citrus. There was a trace of whiskey too, which I embraced through the warm breaths on my neck as I rubbed on her back to finish my hug. I am a hugger, no doubt, and I have learned a lot about people by doing so.