When was the last time you had everything fall in line together? You’re in the right place at the right time, and nothing could possibly seem to go wrong. For a second, everything freezes a la the film Big Fish (if you haven’t seen it you should, and don’t tell me you didn’t cry at the end. I’ll just call you a liar), and you feel at home in a sea of tragedy and mishap.
That happened to me on Saturday in the most unlikely of places. Seriously. Chicago’s Sluggers World Class Sports Bar, 4:30 in the afternoon. Right in the middle of the biggest bar crawl of the year, the Twelve Bars Of Christmas (aka TBOX). Sluggers is one part sports bar, one part dance floor, one part piano bar, one part arcade, one part batting cages, and one whole shit show. I had been drinking since 8:30 that morning after waking up still drunk from the night before, and decided that the best use of my last two singles would be to have a head to head Guitar Hero battle against my best friend, who denied me.
“I’m sorry, did you just start talking shit to someone about your Guitar Hero skills?” asked a voice from behind me.
I turned around and sure enough, time stood still. There she was. Bright green tights, fake elf ears, and a pointy green hat to cover her blonde hair. She was wearing those fake felt shoes with the pointy, curly tips. More importantly, she was shorter than me, and she looked like Zooey Deschanel in Elf. This wasn’t lust. This wasn’t me trying to get in this girl’s tights by the end of the night. This was the real thing. God damn it, this was love.
With shallow breath and a pounding heart, I turned to her.
“Yeah. You in?” I think I said.
“How can I say no?” I’m pretty sure she responded. I don’t know. Time went from moving really slow to moving really fast. It’s hard to decipher.
I put two dollars into the machine. We picked our characters. She picked the song. It was “Talk Dirty To Me” by Poison. I winked. She laughed. I thought about our lives together and how disappointed my grandparents would be to see me have our first dance be to a song by an 80s hair band about foreplay – as though this wouldn’t be our song for the rest of our lives.
Once the song finished, we started actually talking to each other. In fairness, all I can really remember from the conversation was that she was from Detroit. I guess this is just what happens when you start drinking at 8:30 in the morning. But we got deep, man. I told her some stuff that I’m sure was pretty intense, and she told me some stuff that — if I remember right — was pretty intense too. I felt a real connection with this girl. It seemed like she was genuinely interested in me, something that hadn’t happened in a very long time. I missed that feeling.
Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder. It was my best friend, letting me know that our group was going downstairs to hit the dance floor. I told him that I was going to stick around the second floor for a little while and keep talking to the girl whose name I no longer remember.
That is, until I turned around and saw her making out with another dude with her hand down his pants.
In that moment, I felt clarity. I wasn’t upset. I wasn’t disappointed. I was heart broken, sure. I mean, clearly what’s-her-name and I really hit it off and could have had a beautiful future with two kids and a dog that we decide to raise in the city despite that being a horribly expensive decision, what with my low-level salary and the rising prices of real estate in the greater Chicagoland area. More than anything, I felt an overwhelming sense of understanding. I mean, isn’t that what we’re all looking for at this point in life? Someone to just grab by the haunches and shove our faces into each other?
Who was I kidding? If this was love, I wanted it to be for real. Once they came up for air, I turned to what’s-her-name and somehow got her attention.
“Boyfriend or rando?” I asked.
“Boyfriend, dipshit,” the guy responded.
Fair enough. I went back downstairs to meet up with some friends and left shortly after. I guess it’s true what they say. “It’s better to have thought you were in love with someone but really you were hammered and misinterpreting every move they make because they just felt bad that nobody wanted to play Guitar Hero with you, than to have never loved at all.” .
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