|Sometimes he sits and thinks and sometimes he just sits.|
I've been quite the social hound lately, much more so than usual, but only because more people have invited me over to their humble domiciles. Normally I like to leave a party after no more than two hours, because that's about as long as I can go without making a dork out of myself or breaking something. In other words, getting out early means I'll get invited back. I encourage all of you to try it sometime, but if you do it post dancing with a lamp shade on your head, it's too late (not that I know anything about that, of course).
All of these recent social outings have made me realize that a funny thing has happened on the way to growing up. I remember the days when all that mattered were new toys, fast cars, enough cash to get by. Those are still priorities to some extent, as many of my friends like to brag about their fancy bar-be-cues, movie projectors, big screen televisions and monster sound systems. Of course, they can't afford the fast cars anymore, so the toys make up for that. Also included in the conversations are discussions of marriage, mortgages, rent, holding down a full-time job.
At one of these recent get-togethers I became wrapped up in a conversation with a gal about her job and what she enjoyed about it; soon, another girl wandered over to inquire about the first's recent medical procedure. I quickly became acquainted with tales of vaginal ultrasounds and insurance coverage and doctors who took too long in diagnosing the problem.
So much for: "Dude, check out my new engine."
All of the serious talk at these parties made me desperate for something fun. At another party I wound up sitting at a table with a string of people and leaned over to introduce myself to the pretty blonde seated to my right. Her wavy hair fell just past her shoulders; the black outfit she wore fit her plump figure very well. She also had pretty hazel eyes. I smiled after telling her my name, and she narrowed her eyes at me.
I blinked, waiting.
She said: "You can't be serious."
Something about her husky voice seemed familiar.
"Brian, it's me. Remember? Leah."
Of all the people to bump into! Ms. Leah and I had gone out on four dates back in 2000. The short version is, that was three dates too many, but she kept accepting my invitations in spite of the fact that we really weren't connecting. Regardless, I totally didn't recognize her. She'd put on a few pounds since we'd been out (on her it looked good; the extra roundness of her hips were certainly a plus). I recalled her ability to choke down a bacon cheeseburger without a second thought; at the time, it had impressed me. Obviously this was the proverbial awkward moment, but I think it bothered her more than me. I reached deep inside for something witty and sarcastic, but simply said: "How 'bout that."
She let out a huff, shook her head, and didn't say another word to me the rest of the night. But it was nice to see she was still alive and well and obviously not going hungry.
Animals are always a plus at parties. My friends Kim and Victor just moved into a new townhouse and invited a bunch of us over for a little housewarming party. Along with the new house came a new dog named Gracie, who likes to jump all over everybody, lick faces, stuff like that. There was one girl who was wearing a particularly low-cut top, and when she dropped to her knees in order to get close to the dog, he hopped up and began licking at her chest. I told her: "Put that on video and sell it on eBay and your money troubles will be over."
This girl held my attention most of the night (and not just because of the top). A lot of my friends are starting to settle down now with wives or long-term girlfriends, and as the confirmed bachelor of the group, I'm continuously frustrated at the lack of attractive single women at these get-togethers. This girl had come alone, looked pretty decent, and I decided to chat her up some more. I grabbed a couple of beers and started across the room, only to stop mid-way because she and the party's host suddenly had a big announcement - the girl had just gotten engaged. Everybody made the polite congratulatory noises while I stood there like an idiot with my mouth open and a bottle in either hand. When somebody writes my biography, they can all it Bad Timing. A guy came up and said: "Dude, you got two beers there, man, what's up?"
I held up the bottle in my left hand and said: "This is for my imaginary friend."
Then I found a corner to sit in and pretended to be passed out so I wouldn't have to talk to anybody.
I've latched on to these funny moments because it's the only thing that lets me hang onto my reckless youth. A lot of us will be 30 in a year or two and every day that goes by, I swear my high school buddies and I look more and more like our fathers. If you compare a picture of me from a couple of years ago to one of my father from 1963, you'd swear it was the same person. Along with this aging process comes families and homes and reliable fuel-efficient cars and it's all too disgusting to think about. But that's the way it is. Then we'll get even older and the kids will grow up and move out and there won't be anything left to do except retire, travel the country in an RV, and drop dead of some malady if the politicians and the terrorists don't blow up the world first.
I'll hold my breath in anticipation. But in reality, much like the situation now, I'll probably react as if it has always been that way.
Brian Evankovich lives in California where he balances on the sharp edge of indifference. Sends your cards and letters to firstname.lastname@example.org but donít say he didnít warn you.