Romance and Its Mysteries Live Right Next to its Rules.
Heart and Mind Series
It was a Peanuts, Potato Chips, Beer and Booze - Rock and Roll Party
The Story I am about to tell is absolutely true.
It was Chicago in 1979. Early December. He was an unattached single guy. Had some friends in Chicago, but was really just making plans for a car trip back to SoCal.
Still, he was taken with her ethereal manner. She was long and willowy. She had a small half smile, but she carried it around perpetually. It was like a permanent badge of good will, but not a twinkly flirtatious grin. Not a woman here, who was looking to make a contact. That's why he liked her.
Absolutely everybody was drunk. At least 10 of them. The collection of albums (some might not know what those are) that was at least 20 feet long, lying on the floor boxed in by concrete blocks.
Besides being drunk, the volume blasting from the speakers made the walls shake just a bit. For him this created a separate feeling. He was not drunk but was doing slow sipping on a Coors. He was thinking about his two daughters in Palm Springs. He was a noncustodial Dad and currently was carrying around a big broken heart. Too sad to be plastered. He was reflective and a little out of his normal personality. He was in a "just friendly" state of mind.
She, the willowy one with the nice easy smile was floating amongst the drunks. It was her house, and this guy with whom she lived was busy picking tunes. He liked the Eagles. The Californian stood at the end of the hallway that opened to the living room.
He had just had a small conversation with the Willowy One about her kid. He was a little blonde sprite who had managed to stay up way way longer than a little kid should be able to manage.
As they made their way down the hall, the Mom spoke for her son. "I can tell he likes you. He wants to say Good Night to you."
California Guy extended his hand and smiled. "It's fun to stay up late, isn't it?"
The Little Kid Likes the Bee Gees
"Yeah, I like the BeeGees. Stayin' Alive, Stayin' Alive. That's my favorite." He shined his green eyes up to this Stranger. "Are you gonna be here tomorrow?"
Mom made a funny rubbing on her son's curly head. California just grinned. "I think I will. It looks like everybody' who is here tonight will still be here tomorrow. He ran to bed as if his quick action would lead to a "next morning" that he wanted.
The willowy one and the Californian talked for 3 hours. It didn't seem like that. They were hiding in plain sight. Standing in the hall three feet from the bathroom, everyone at the party passed through the human gate that they were making. Even the boyfriend walked through. He left the door open and relieved himself about a gallon's worth.
"Why don't you two come into the living room? A dark hallway is no way to get to know each other." He stumbled into the hallway wall. His drunkeness was probably over 2 point 0.
"That's the blonde boys Dad. But we are not together. I'm moving to Wheaton pretty soon. We have been split up for 3 years."
"Hmm, She's Available."
Somehow that comment made them both go quiet. All you could hear was Stephen Tyler's strained vocal chords amped up to paint-removing levels. She looked down, scrambling for a cool calm countenance. For a minute she lost her poise.
She thought to herself. "No way is he gonna care about me after that remark." She kept that thought inaudible. She was half way muttering to herself.
"Finally, I have to go to the bathroom." As if she had been standing there just waiting.
Mr. California stood alone in the hallway. The noise increased as a little fight broke out, or was it just a noisy argument about rock and roll trivia? He listened. It was that old trivia question that was not really that trivial about Bob Dylan's last name being "Zimmerman". He thought to himself about how people just get loud when they are drunk, more than mean, they are just loud.
He heard the toilet and the faucets flowing, She came out. He had moved into the little alcove in front of the bathroom. She walked right into his smiling face. No words.
A Simple Kiss Outside the Bathroom
He just kissed her. And, she responded. Then he stopped and pulled away, knowing anyone could come around the bend looking for a potty.
"We got to manage a night to get together...unlike this night, I mean, you know, something closer to a date, so we can get to know each other." His smile was not lustful. He was trying to don the look of an organized guy who just wanted to manage a meeting, They both bounced a tennis ball of funny faces back and forth at each other. She nodding quickly that he was really a CPA arranging a talk about their taxes.
He knew what it sounded like though. It was: "And maybe we won't be able to keep our hands off each other."
Managing a Meeting
"My mind is working quickly. I know how we can manage tomorrow night, if you are free. I would have to get a baby sitter." She felt she was on uneven ground.
He got a thought. "You know my two little girls in Palm Springs. They are eventually going to be mine. But right now, the noncustodial Dad has a blue collar job in Chicago. That means two things. I really want to get to know you. But my emotional baggage has to do with those two little girls currently being taken care of by a high roller in Palm Springs and my ex."
"Hah." Her smile was broad now. "I thought you were going to have nothing to do with a little elf like I've got."
"You could say that kids are a warning sign to people about romance". He looked away, knowing that was too personal too quick.
She wanted to help him out. "Yeah, aint it true? You have a kid you drag around, and then darn it if you meet up with a guy who has more baggage than you do."
That revealed an ironic tone and humor that he was next expecting.
"I didn't represent myself right. I hope to get my girls someday. Right now. I mean. Your kid is..."
He felt like a stumble bum.
"I'm so embarrassed. I am just not very smooth am I"?
"Isn't it true? I mean, after tomorrow night we can talk about all our complications. Right now, let's just have fun listening to all those boozey friends and manage our secret details for tomorrow."
That night they sat down on the sofas and let the tunes flow through their ears. Watching the party goers close their blood shot eyes. Around sun up, Mr. California went to his little apartment, daintily stepping over and through crashed party goers and finding his little yellow Mazda in the back yard.
The Next Night
They ended up at his little apartment. she was quite self conscious about the arrangements. They went ahead and had a "one night stand".
30 years later, their family of six grew into a family of married kids which grew into a family of two kids per marriage. So, it didn't end up feeling like a "one night stand" in the long view.
Mr. California had a funny way of looking at it, which eased her lack of comfort. "It's a one night stand because our relationship is only one day old. In a month, what do you call a one night stand that extends to full houses and standing ovations? It becomes much more than a one night stand!"
"A One Night Stand is a Snap Shot, not a Movie"
"Yeah. It's a snap shot, not a movie. After all there's something to be said for a one night stand. Messes and clutter and men forgetting about the toilet seat --- all that stuff hasn't happened yet. And if it's in the future, then it's not a one night stand anymore!"
She realized she was being far too happy for a single Mom with just a little too much dread.
"I'm gonna shock you. How about this? The reason I like you is because you have that cute little kid."
He stopped and smiled. She constructed a big grin. Showed teeth and everything. At that moment, she thought to herself. "I think we might have a future."
"I mean after all. It's obvious we're attracted to one another."
They are still there in that marital state they call "Happily Married". They have often thought that being happily married was a statistical probability based upon all the collected heavenly view of the friction and sexiness that the world has seen.
As they are watching births of grand kids and have fun getting old, she says, to him, betimes --"Sure am glad you weren't afraid to kiss me outside the bathroom."
Then he typically says, with a phony churlish laugh, like a Pirate: "I saw the lust in your eyes. I had to respond."