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It’s mid-june, we’re tailgating a Zac Brown Band show and it couldn’t be a more beautiful day in rural Virginia. The air smells of hot dogs, cornhole, and cheap whiskey. Pickups are abound. The teeming hordes of tourists staring up at Lincoln’s seated knee could never picture this scene, but we’re only 40 minutes outside the capitol of this great nation.
Let me re-define ‘tailgating.’ We’re bumping my buddy’s country mix out of a mid-2000s VW Golf. Really putting out the vibe. It’s either the whiskey or the pure masculinity of having the smallest and loudest car in our section of the parking lot – but it’s working.
After my friends and I enjoyed a few domestics each, two girls approached our car. One was very good looking (it was her birthday) and her well-endowed friend who was also a looker. Something about them said “I want to party.” It was either the vodka crystal lights they were both conspicuously packing in Poland Spring bottles or the fact they were swaying to the music an hour before the show. Either way, it was obvious that their crew needed to join our crew. The jams really came into play at that point. We might’ve had an undersized car, but our playlist was off the Richter. The girls agreed. We became very fast friends.
Fast forward to the lawn at Merriweather: the lawn section that we had commandeered was not enough: the birthday girl wanted seats instead of grass. This proved much easier for pretty girls than completely average guys. We eventually joined the girls after enough puking high-schoolers distracted the bouncers.
We’re under the bandstand, and it’s just as much of a shitshow as the field but there’s more cement and permanent chairs. The girls are loving the show, the music, and the ambiance of the stolen seats.
I decide to commit to one of the girls early. It’s always better to lock in a sure thing rather than chasing the dragon. We danced all night, dipping in the aisles and trying not to fall into the rows of plastic seats.
Amidst this zbb fueled haze, she tells me she has a dog (I love dogs, even if it’s a whiny Chihuahua). This is where the story turns. The tall-boys are flowing, and our new friends from the parking lot don’t seem to hate us – life is beautiful. Then, after a solid Metallica cover, the music stops.
Fade to black.
Fade back into the passenger seat of an airborne SUV. I’m crossing myself and repenting every sin I’ve ever committed. Fun girl from the concert is driving. She’s taken a wrong turn.
We got back onto the highway and it was smooth sailing. Turns out those rural parking lots can be a real bitch.
After the GTA hijinks we made it back to just south of the city and the driver and I had a drink of water. That water, combined with a dash of near death experience, turned into quite the aphrodisiac and led us to her bedroom.
That’s where we met. Half collie, half boxer, all-around amazing. Cute as shit, trainable, and totally cool with mom having sex with a stranger. He was a true gentleman. I was hooked.
A couple months on, it turned out my ZBB catch was not only pretty, she was also smart and very interesting. We would watch movies, go to the bars, do sex things, and all kinds of mature adult shit. Things were going very well.
All the while, the dog and I were getting closer. We played fetch, went for walks, and just hung out on the bed refusing mom’s commands to put on underwear. This pooch got me on a spiritual level. We were almost on a ‘tattoo your friend’s name on your ass cheek’ level. Almost.
I know what you’re thinking. This parking lot encounter led to some cheesy, picture in the middle of a field, save the date bullshit. That’s fair, this sounds like some Hugh Grant nonsense up to this point and the title is a long ways away.
No, this relationship took a turn for the predictable. We had a great month or two, littered with sleepovers and drunken rendezvous all over the DC metropolitan area. Then one of us got the bright idea to move across the country to California – that old song and dance.
Ironically, I chose to break the news at another concert at Merriweather (Darius Rucker aka Hootie). It stung initially, but like I said, this girl was smart and she understood career-motivated power moves #DC.
Both of the friends who I went to the Hootie concert with wound up too drunk to stand and told my sober ride to leave without me (don’t worry they texted me as they crossed the Key Bridge into DC to establish that I was still alive).
This led to one more sleepover with a girl who just found out I was moving 3000 miles away. Even though we weren’t exclusive or angling towards marriage, this was tough to take. It felt so final.
The morning after was one long, drawn-out silence. We both knew what was happening. We had been reaching for the magic of that ZBB show for months and hoping for the possibility of a real relationship, but it was clear. We exchanged pleasantries, I hailed an Uber, and I was gone.
Things obviously weren’t perfect, but it was a clean break.
She’s engaged and doing great now for anyone looking for a happy ending.
The problem is she had the perfect dog – and there was no clean break. There never will be. I just disappeared, and he’ll never know why. Do dogs seek closure? I don’t know and I never will. I just know that I’ll never be able to tell that pup that things with his mom and I didn’t work out, and it’s not his fault. I miss him every day, and I hope if I saw him he’d wag his tail and lose his shit. All I know is hanging out with him was a defining part of my adult experience.
I’ll never forget him..
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