It was New Year’s Eve 2005. I reluctantly agreed to attend a party one of my little brother’s thug friends (am I the only person who assumes all my younger sibling’s friends are thugs?) was throwing at his apartment in midtown instead of going out of town like I usually did, meaning I was forced to hang out with a bunch of bohemian graduate students who were younger than me. I was pumped. Going to the dentist pumped.
I walked into his apartment and, shortly afterward, met a pretty redhead who’d just returned from an east Alabama graveyard where she’d been digging up rotting bones for a prospective mall. We spoke briefly, but I stayed near my younger brother and tried to pass the time by downing the imported beer I’d brought, as I sure as hell wasn’t going to drink whatever the living-on-loans kids had in their ‘frig.
A few hours later, a bunch of us walked down the street to a dive bar called The Highlander. Emboldened by the cheap swill I started stealing after mine was gone, I challenged the redhead to some air hockey, shortly after a conversation about the war I’d recently returned from and her taking the last tater tot from a community plate. The party host, apparently, had a Polaroid camera and took this action shot:
Because I knew I’d whip her little red-panted ass, I told her that if I won, I got to kiss her. I don’t recall what she was supposed to get if she won. Cash? In fact, I don’t remember any of our conversations around the air hockey table; I had to be briefed on their content later. I’m told I tried to poke her in the stomach to she if she’d giggle like Poppin’ Fresh. She didn’t.
Somehow, she beat me, despite my mad skillz at air hockey and stellar athleticism while under the influence. I even blocked the goal with my left hand–which, in many circles, is considered cheating–but I still lost.
Not that such kept me from trying to claim my prize.
I was shot down, pushed away, and greeted with a look of terror that was amusing enough to the other bar patrons that yet another Polaroid was shot.
Eventually, I’m told, I did get to kiss her, after she embarked on a local intel mission with the party host and anyone else in the vicinity who knew me as more than “that obnoxious drunk who’s trying to swap air hockey goals for kisses.”
Eleven months later, I made her mine.
So, on this, my anniversary of meeting Pretty Bride, I wish all my online friends a happy and prosperous new year. Thanks for helping make 2008 one of my favorite years ever…right up there with 1987!