Heartbreak (West Asheville, North Carolina)
31 December 2018
The dance floor was teeming with people.
The women dressed up. The men, not so much.
The pole dancers flanked the sides of the stage. The deejays were giving each other shots as the music blared out of the 6 foot speakers. The light show was shooting lasers, smoke, and sparkles as the countdown clock glared on the far wall counting down from one hour and nine minutes and thirty six seconds, thirty five seconds, thirty four seconds.
I saw my Swedish friend shooting about like a nuclear fission reaction. Bumping into women she liked, striking up conversations, making a pass at them, grabbing a breast and blaming it on the alcohol. Then they would split and break apart - and on to the next gaggle of girls or couples.
Men would try to approach her thinking she was easy. That’s when she would look around the room for her bestie, girlfriend, throw up her hand or reach out to grab her when she walked past, pull her tight, kiss her and tell the guy to fuck off.
I waited at the bar for our round of drinks. Our waitress was overwhelmed as the midnight hour approached. But I went into my wallet and pulled out a twenty dollar bill but hid it in my palm.
She saw me and came up, “Jackson, the same?”
“Shots this time,” and I turned to her, my date for the evening, “What shots did you want?”
And as the waitress crossed her arms to wait I held out my hand and gave her the twenty. She uncrossed her arms, smiled, and listened intently.
“Whiskey shots please.” said my date.
My date already had rosy cheeks. Her face and mine were shiny from skin grease from too much alcohol. Our eyes wet with a drunken expression.
The waitress asked, “How many?”
I had to use my fingers and look around the bar for the number. Swedish girl, Swedish girl’s girlfriend, my date, and female standup comedian. “Four,” but then remembered myself. “Can’t forget me, five please.”
The waitress threw up on the bar five shot glasses. She reached below the bar quickly, pulled out the whiskey, and poured. When finished, she looked at me. “On your tab?”
My date was already going for the shot glasses and handing them out like they were ice cream cones. My Swedish friend and her girlfriend approached with smiles. “What is this?”
My date answered curtly, “Something to get you fucked up.”
My Swedish friend’s date returned, “To get us all fucked up.”
My female comedian friend smiled but seemed aloof. But she took the shot glass in her hand.
My date threw the shot glass into the air for us to all clink. “Happy New Year!” And all of us yelled it back and we clinked - sloshing out precious whiskey on the floor. And then we threw it to our mouths. I downed mine. So did my date. My female comedian drank half. I looked at her and motioned that I could help. She shrugged so I took it and completed her task.
My Swedish friend had already deposited the glasses on the bar with her girlfriend and they already had their arms around each other kissing.
My date whispered into my ear, “I got to go pee.”
She poked me in the rib with her elbow. “No, I don’t think you understand. I have to go and pee. I want you to come with me.”
I had a sideways grin. “Okay.”
She grabbed my hand and led me away from the bar to bring me through the crowded dance floor. As we were jigging and jagging through couples, bad dance moves, good dance moves, pelvic thrusts, she leaned into my ear. “There is that beautiful girl.”
And there she was. The beautiful girl that we had both met at Aux Bar two weeks ago. Although my date said she was not bi, she was quick to point out and go talk to the hottest women in any bar or club.
When we were at Aux Bar, she brought me along to start a conversation with her. And started with, “You are absolutely gorgeous.”
I didn’t want the woman to think we were swingers trying to make a fantasy happen so I added, “You are very beautiful. Men by default are the pervs so I will let you girls talk.” And I left to head to the dance floor.
Now we all three were on the dance floor.
“I am going up to her,” my date said and she tugged at my hand.
As we got near to her, she recognised us with her champagne in her hand. Her short cropped brunette hair swept back, her cute cheek mole or birth mark and her lips were deep red - smiling at us.
My date spoke first, “You look amazing.”
She seemed to blush.
“Yes,” and I swallowed hard before continuing. “Incredible.”
She looked at me. Right at me. Never flinching. And smiled deeply.
Then my date leaned into me. “I got to pee, come on.” And she yanked on my hand hard enough that we lost each other’s grip. As I looked down to find her hand, I felt another hand coming up my back.
I turned just as the beautiful girl leaned in and pushed her mouth on mine. Her lips were incredibly soft. I wanted to kiss back but I remembered I had a date.
I recoiled without thinking. But then the crowd swirled around us and my legs were moving me towards the back of the building where the bathrooms were.
I could no longer see the beautiful girl.
I found my date standing around looking for me.
I told her right away, “Your beautiful girl just kissed me!”
My date nodded and went with her next thought, “Damn there is a line. I don’t think I can sneak you in.”
I think later when we were in the Ingel’s parking lot eating a cold Mellow Mushroom pizza that was in the front seat of my date’s car with my Swedish friend and her girlfriend, I said it again. “I just had a girl kiss me on the dance floor.”
Everyone seemed to look at me. Blink and go back to talking.
Maybe a beautiful, stranger kissing you on the dance floor was common. Maybe the beautiful girl would kiss every man on the dance floor by the end of the night.
Maybe it wasn’t special at all.
Or maybe it was.
Even though my date had given me a dozen sloppy kisses with tongue.
I still remembered beautiful girl’s. One kiss. I still tasted it.
And my heartbreak was remembering life before I turned 40. When I believed in romance, destiny, powers of the heart that tug and toss. And now just after my 45th birthday, to be reminded: magic still happens.
Or maybe it doesn’t.
I felt guilty to think that you could find a soulmate in the middle of strangers.
That’s when I decided I was going to write an Asheville Craigslist missed connection.
If destiny, romance is still alive, I would find her. She would reply.
When we arrived at my date’s place, she drove, she started pouring me more beers even when I told her I didn’t want any and she then began playing karaoke music videos on her laptop. Then she asked me to sing with her. And I tried. But I could feel the room spinning and the acid bubbling up from my gut.
When she could tell that I was no longer able to function, she slapped the laptop screen down over the keyboard and told me to follow her to the bedroom.
I followed. But I imagined it was beautiful girl.