Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bud Lights and Love in the Carolinas

The first time I fell in love was on a drunken Saturday night.

I was nineteen, full of energy and arguments. My father had, with his head shaking and his mouth muttering protests, bought me the dress I wanted for my very first formal. It was a flimsy red polyester piece: strapless, short, and with holes cut out of the sides (flirty, fun, and inexcusably trashy, I’ll admit). But, I had just extricated myself from the very heavy arms of my first real relationship. I was out to have a good time, to hell with what anyone thought. I repeated this to my father. He begged me to wear my grandmother’s large black shawl that evening, and then to never wear the dress ever again. I promised him I wouldn’t (and why would I need to if the dress did its job?).

An extra fifteen minutes of exfoliating, a blast of my roommate’s French perfume on each of my shoulder blades, and a pop of my lacquered lips later…I was ready to fall head over heels.

Tyler pulled up to my dorm room in a Toyota Tacoma and I skittered in my patent leather heels in the dead of a Carolina winter to his truck. Once at George’s, the local bar where the dances were always held, I perched on a stool at one of the high wooden tables and waited for my Diet Coke. Tyler, brown eyes shining, big smile beaming, arrived with two Bud Lights. Then two more, then two more.

We drank Bud Lights all night because it was cheap, because the bartender wasn’t checking IDs for beers, because alcohol was the best social lubricant there ever was and we didn’t know one another. We wanted desperately to like each other, even if we had nothing in common.

We danced wildly, me with my hands on the edge of my skirt the entire time, pulling it down to protect my reputation, head back laughing. A friend of ours snapped a picture of Tyler and me, arms wrapped around each other, hysterically giggling at a joke we’ll never remember.

Last Saturday Tyler and I skipped the indie movies, the fusion restaurants, the exclusive clubs. None of those was a good reason to leave our warm apartment and empty our wallets. After flipping through an an old photo album, we braved the bitter cold for a few beers.

The first bar we went to was filled with hipsters and bare-shouldered girls. Though we have been known to frequent it, with a glance and a knowing nod, we turned around and left. Not tonight, we both knew. Tonight, we wanted to go back to a time when we couldn't see anyone else but us.

We walked another block in the New York winter, much windier and more familiar to us northerners than our college stint in the Carolina “cold”. We arrived at a near-empty dive bar, which in any other city would be smoky, and walked in with no lines and no attitude.

We stood next to each other, him with his parka still on and his cool designer sneakers, me in un-designer jeans and a two-dollar headband. We didn't talk about our jobs, our stresses, our need to succeed but not knowing how, we just made jokes, we remembered college and warm weather and when our parents used to buy us things.

We played darts for two hours, laughing a little lower and a little more knowing at jokes we’ll never remember, nursing one Bud Light each along the way. We only drank two because they weren't cheap, because we weren't surrounded by our college friends, because we liked each other anyway.


TheBarmaid said...

This was absolutely beautiful.

And this is one of my favorite sentences of all time: "We danced wildly, me with my hands on the edge of my skirt the entire time, pulling it down to protect my reputation"

Adam said...

Damnit! Quit making me read about college... it makes lament my choice of graduating. I want to be back there.

Tyler, brown eyes shining, big smile beaming, arrived with two Bud Lights. Then two more, then two more.
I never went to a formal at a bar (or anywhere for that matter)... but bringing a cute girl beer and having her enjoy it is one of the finer feelings in life. Every girl loves wine and vodka- or rum-drinks... but any girl worth keeping will also enjoy a cheap beer.

Laura said...

I didn't know you went to Duke! This definitely brought back memories...

K said...

Adam, I too suffer from wishing I never graduated...I'm going to make my boyfriend read your comment about me being a keeper and nudge him in the ribs :)