I went to Katherine’s place at 5:15 on Christmas Eve’s eve evening to swap gifts and drink wine. Together we killed a bottle of Chenin Blanc and talked about subversive Christian literature.
Left her place at 6:35 to meet the 6:54 train that was conveying Erich, the fellow I was seeing for dinner that night. While waiting, I talked to a guy with a mountain bike at the train station. There was black ice on the asphalt. He told me it had been frozen for three days. He enjoyed skidding his bike across it to my laughter.
Bikeman got on the train and Erich got off the train. I met him at Chris’s Christmas party when he asked me to dance. We’ve been e-mailing and talking on the phone for a little more than a week. Yeah, it was kind of a first date sort of thing, but I don’t think I’ll see him again. Or rather, I might see him again, but kissing will not be involved.
He liked my brown fuzzy hat.
Anyway, we put our name in at Max’s (he’d not made reservations as he said he would…) and went to Barnes and Noble across the way. I believe you’re familiar with it. The restaurant was his recommendation. I had a Cobb salad. And a glass of wine.
He opted not to drink with me. Strike two. (I’d adjust that penalty if I knew he was an alcoholic or never let liquor touch his lips, but he mentioned having a beer at the Christmas party, so penalty was granted.)
Dinner was fun, though. He told me a new Monica joke that his dad had invented. Time passed very quickly and we laughed a lot. I was surprised when he handed me a Christmas present (something I’d admired at a bookstore while Christmas shopping, but he didn’t know that). Erich prefaced the gift-giving with, “I know we haven’t known each other that long, so how about we pretend I’ve known you for a year and a half and I missed your 27th birthday party and was feeling guilty about it.”
I was surprised when I looked at my watch and it was 9:30. He had to catch his train so he paid for dinner and we hot-footed it over to the station. I hugged him goodbye.
I’d told Katherine and my neighbor Abby that I’d be at the Loading Zone (a bar on Broadway in downtown Redwood City) around 9-9:30, and that they’d know how the date went by whether I brought him along. I showed up at 9:50 and Abby, Katherine and neighbor Dino were all at the bar. A reggae band I heard at the great party I was at on Saturday night was playing. They’re called “The Dread Truth”. Good stuff.
Katherine was wearing the hat I’d just given her for Christmas. Abby looked at me. “Date went really well, eh?” Dino asked to try on my hat. He ended up wearing it most of the night. “Hey, I heard you were on a date tonight. Don’t you have a boyfriend?” I told him of my split with Kevin. I think his eyebrows rose a bit at the news.
After all the wine, I knew I didn’t want beer, so I ordered Jack Daniel’s on the rocks with a splash of water. A graybeard asked me to dance, and I said only if Katherine could dance with us.
Then Oliver, the older black man who had been leaving as I entered and then turned back around to come in, joined us. After one song, I left the dance floor but Katherine and Oliver stayed out there. Graybeard asked me to dance again and I did, but with drink in hand. Finally a woman sitting alongside the dance floor took my drink from my hand so I wouldn’t slip on the torrent of droplets that had splashed to the floor.
As the night went on, most of the neighborhood showed up — my roommate (Alex), his buddy Brian, Abby, Dino, Katherine, plus people from Saturday’s party. Abby tried to wimp out and go home, but I hollered at her, drill-sergeant style, and she ordered another drink, but not before I asked for more Jack Daniel’s.
The bartender looked me in the eye and said, “I’m going to make it special for you.” Beware of any bartender who says that while referring to you. So Brian and I watched James the Bartender pour four different types of unnamed liquor into a cocktail shaker. I think that two of them were JD and tequila. He blended it and poured it into a wine glass. “What do you call this?” Brian asked. “It’s a ‘James Daniel’s’.”
I don’t like to drink strong hard cocktails, but this one was so smooth I could drink it all day. Well, all day until I hit the floor flat on my back. It did have orange juice in it, so I figured it at least had to be somewhat nutritious. Fortunately, by the time I’d let the neighborhood taste my drink, it was halfway empty.
So as the night went on, we’re drinking our drinks and *smoking*, because it’s not a smoke-free bar, woo hoo!, and playing pinball and pool, and Dino was loudly extolling the virtues of my brown fuzzy hat (while still wearing it and finding excuses to put one of his hands on any available semi-innocuous place on my body), and Abby’s drinking continued and Katherine was hanging loose and life simply could not be any better.
We finally let Abby, Katherine and Dino take off. Alex and I stuck around to watch Brian play a game of pool. Near the end of the game, I was putting on my coat when I saw the cutest guy in the bar looking at me.
“Hi.” I said.
He approached me shyly. “Hi. Who was that blonde girl you were with?”
Typical. “Oh, that’s my neighbor.”
“Who was that guy she was with? Was that her boyfriend? I wanted to talk to her but didn’t want to hone in if that was her boyfriend.”
I explained that no, he was a neighbor too.
“So they’re not together?”
“Well, my name is Charles.”
“I’ll tell her, Charles. Her name is Abby. We’ll probably be back some Wednesday night.”
I walked back to where Alex and Brian were standing.
“Oooh, Lynn, did he get your number?”
“No. He wanted to know about Abby.” We laughed. Alex drove my truck back to the house around 12:10 this morning where we proceeded to party at Abby’s. She cooked dinner for herself and the guys. Her address stamper was on her kitchen table so I grabbed Alex’s hand and stamped it.
“Great, thanks, Lynn, my girlfriend is *really* going to love this.” Alex griped.
Dino asked, “What did she do?”
I clarified the situation by stamping Dino’s hand, too. He was charmed. While Abby was cooking, I told her about Charles. She laughed. After dinner, Abby gave me and Alex our Christmas presents. She gave me a big, clear glass coffee mug chock full of candy. Alex got a small tin of mints with a ship on it. Dino settled himself in on the floor by Abby’s stereo. He had a blanket over himself. I stuck my head off the foot of Abby’s bed and teased him for his woeful condition. We decided that we wanted to go to Harold’s Club (a bar so divey that even *I* haven’t been inside) to play pool, and got Dino psyched up to go with us.
“OK, I’ll run upstairs and get some quarters. I’ll meet you back down here.”
Fifteen minutes later, he still wasn’t back. So Alex, Abby and I sang Journey songs at the tops of our lungs to wake his ass up:
LOVE WILL FIND YOU!
CHAINS THAT BIND YOU!
WILL REMIND YOU!!!!!!!!!!!
Abby called Dino on the phone and then announced we would not be seeing him for the rest of the night. So Abby and I drank what was left of her red wine, and I opened a good bottle of 1995 BV cabernet that I got for my birthday, and we three nearly killed that while playing drunken Jenga. Abby lost, big time.
So then she dropped out of the game and Alex and I played drunken power Jenga, where you start removing blocks from the very bottom of the tower. It was great until I lost.
Abby was ready to pass out by that point so I left. Alex stayed behind for a minute. I went down to my office to “talk” online with my buddy Chris, who was in the middle of a double shift that started at 4:00 p.m. on December 23 and was scheduled to finish at 7:00 a.m. on December 24. He said that he was paying rapt attention to me, but instead I think he was just laughing at me. Oh well.