Bart Mendoza 5 a.m., Dec. 8
Let me begin by recommending the stay-cation. I know it is a function of our flailing economy, but it allows one to enjoy his or her everyday environment outside of the confines of the daily mundanity that dictates the Monday through Sunday dealings of a working stiff. Varying your plan and staying here can force you to take a sidewalk you don’t usually walk down during a time when you are usually shuffling papers in too much air conditioning amongst the hum and ding of various corporate technologies. It was during my staycation break from my beaten paths that my faith was restored.
Wednesday at noon found me and my PIC drinking mimosas in the window of South Beach. We talked about work, boys, moving, Lost, good jokes, and good weekends. Each story resulted in another round. As we gathered our faculties in preparation to count some cash and move on to the next drink, the waitress dropped two fresh citrus infused glasses of champagne on our already sticky table.
She said: “The guys over there bought you these.”
We giggled with nervous foreboding as we scanned the weekday afternoon crowd. Who sent us these drinks? What is the protocol? If they are hideous, are we now required to indulge them in conversation? I hate when guys send over drinks.
We met the sun worn eyes of two decent guys in their late thirties. PIC motioned them over moving our staycation girlfriend day in a new direction. We smiled politely. We thanked them. We began the nauseating activity of awkward small talk. What do you do? How is your day? Have you tried the fish tacos? Do you guys live in OB? We darted our eyes back and forth between the socializing with the guys we had to juggle and our silent assessment of one another’s comfort level. We tried to abort and escape to a new bar (Sunshine Company) but they said:
“Great. Let’s go.”
As soon as we hit the smoky interior PIC pulled me into the dingly pepto tiled bathroom upstairs.
She said: “I don’t want to hang out with these guys all night. We have to ditch them.”
How do we do that without just saying it directly and then not running into them next weekend? This is the plight of local OB bar hopping.
We returned to the table. The bar around us clinked and mingled in a world of bar fun as silence began to fill the space between our foursome.
We were trapped in silence because of $2 mimosas! Should we have refused the drinks? Said thank you while indicating they should stay at their table? I didn't realize that $2 dollars worth of alcohol allowed men a full night of entertainment.
Thankfully, our opportunity for fun and freedom arrived in the form of a nondescript group of twenty-somethings in various cool guy t-shirts. PIC recognized one of them from a hazy college memory. Introductions were made and we allowed ourselves to be absorbed by the blob of friendly boys.
They said: “Come to our party.”
We moved down Newport toward the hills with houses where I had never been.
We stumbled through the door of the random weekday party, laughing and talking as the world rocked and moved around us. I scanned the blurry room to map my new surroundings. As I turned to comment on the scene, I heard my name being yelled from the center of the circle. I turned to lock into the warm smile of an old friend.
“What are you doing here?”
“Oh my god, I havn’t seen you in forever.”
“We always reunite at the most unusual times, in very unlikely places.”
“How have you been?”
She said: “Well, we are similar people with good friends all over the place. It is not surprising when our paths cross.”
I immediately relaxed as if it was a party with many old friends instead of just one. Everyone was friendly and talkative and comfortable. In this warm OB den my PIC informed me she planned to hook-up with a particular guy. I took this to mean we were staying.
I moved unsteadily toward a couch I had identified earlier as my future bed, but sadly, a bearded man lay snoring contentedly on my pilly brown couch. Drat! What to do now? I scanned the open doors and spaces for another couch or bed. Bright blue sheets covered with the face of the Incredible Hulk caught my eye and beckoned me into a world of drunken sleep. I bounded recklessly toward the empty bed, joous at my good fortune. An empty bed! I skipped across the threshold into my room for the night.
He said: “Hi.”
Shoot. I began to babble, “Nice sheets. That is so funny that you have those. It’s so nerdy. Oh, check it out, you have a Rubix cube. I bet I can solve it. Is this you room? That's awesome. Wow you have a lot of books” My drunken diatribe seemed endless as this kind boy laughed and engaged me in every verbal whim. With each sentence that passed between us, the sweet whisper of passing out caressed my intoxicated brain, but I couldn't stop talking.
I blurted, “Can I sleep in your bed? Not to be sexy, just to sleep.”
Not surprisingly, he acquiesced.
Sleep did not find me, however. We talked and laughed. I encouraged him to sleep because he had to work in the morning, but we talked and laughed some more. I felt like I was enveloped in the silly sheets of a familiar friend. It was comfortable and fun and unexpected.
He said: “I am really enjoying talking to you. I’d like to take you on a date.”
We made out a little, but mostly, we talked some more and the hours whittled away.
When I woke up in the morning, he had gone to work, but he left a note:
I am so glad I stayed up with you last night. I havn’t had such a good conversation in a really long time. I want to take you out on that date. Here’s my number. Call me anytime. Actually, leave your number and I’ll call you. P.S. Sleep more, wake up whenever you want and have coffee.
Right as rain, he texted after he got off work: “I was so tired today at work, but it was definitely worth it. I’ll call you over the weekend for that date.”
On Friday, he called. He called me on the phone and we we set up a dinner date for the following evening.
My faith in holding onto my standards was restored by a man who loved comic book sheets on his comfy adult bed.
Takes notes boys.