There’s a little club in our neighborhood kind of like Cheers, only better….because it’s real. Passers-by would never think to stop there. It’s not aesthetically appealing from the curb. You have to cross the dirty gravel parking lot, trudge up the make-shift-dipping-deck-entry -“sit here and sober up”-patio and actually open the door to appreciate it’s appeal. You have to see the faces. Learn the names. Join the crowd.
And then it’s a blast.
In my world, nobody’s a stranger. Linda says men only murder on Mondays, so if a new face bops up to the bar on a Friday night, it’s safe to be the welcome wagon. It’s not my official job, but I take it seriously. I’ve met a lot of friends that way. And only a few creeps. Either way, most of them come back again.
I didn’t see him come through the door, but Chey did. He was on a mission. Probably his first time….meeting someone at a pre-determined “spot” at the bar, landing smack next to us. He zoomed up, leaned through the crowd , elbows on the bar and waited…..Jimbo, our favorite bartender-bouncer-keeper of peace, didn’t see him. He didn’t flash that “I’ll be right with you grin” and he didn’t, I noticed after a few minutes, even acknowledge him. Poor guy. He’s just thirsty. I nudged Chey. She nodded. I leaned over her, tapped the new kid on the block on the shoulder and asked if he was having trouble getting a beer. “I aaaammmmmm…” he drawled back at me. Grin. Cutest damn little accent I’ve ever heard. Chey and I chuck two coasters at Jimbo, he spins and thirty two seconds later our new friend has an iced cold Bud in his hand and is in leaning in for introductions. It’s loud here. A lotta rock and roll going on, but we talk over it. His name is Brian and he is new here. New in town. New to the club. New to our world. We scoop him up, with his baby blues ( I hear ya knockin’ Nadine!) and introduce him to every one that meanders by, drag him (well we really didn’t have to drag him) onto the dance floor and spend the evening telling stories and laughing. And dancing. And telling stories. And laughing.
We deja-vued it the next week-end. Same time. Same place. Different costumes. We had a ball. We topped it off with 2:00 a.m. coffee and get-to-know-you-late-night stories. We laughed.
We’re joy riding. Flying down a two lane highway, the top off, my arms in the air. In my world, I’m at the Fair. We’re laughing.
German potato salad. The waiter is polite. I crunch my nose. Waiting for the smell of vinegar to twist my face , the one he sees, into the KOOL-AID pitcher expression. Fake and smiling-grimacing. My Mama used to feed us this out of cans … on nights we ate salmon patties with tiny little bones floating in the greasy little bouffant blobs. I ate it all. I devoured it. And laughed.
On Tuesday he called to make plans for the week-end. And hemmed and hawed. And drug his accent out even more. He started back pedaling. To the night we met. And the moment we said hello. And all the people in the club. And how Howie called me Blondie, and Evey calls me Missy and Chey calls me Baby Girl and Sweetie Pie…..
I’m thinking he wants to call me names…
He sort of stutters.
I just want to know where we’re going on Friday night…..
And then he blurts it out. This man that I’ve danced with. Talked on the phone with. Swallowed German potato salad with…. This man I want to see on yet another Friday night.
“I don’t waaaaaannnnnnt you to be mad at me,
I don’t Knoooooowwww yer name…..”