(Apologies to Maurice Chevalier)
It would be more interesting if I could say that it started out as a normal day, but it didn't start that way at all. This is the story of how I met this fascinating woman, her best friend, and her dog. The story also involves Brad Pitt, but his involvement is sorta beside the point. Perhaps I should stop for a moment. I'm sure he's NOT beside the point to lots of the women who are reading this. Already, just at the mention of his name and the prospect of his appearing in this story, I'll bet at least a dozen of you have already made adjustments to your clothing to permit easier and earlier access when I mention his name again and particularly if the story involves his taking off his shirt. Well, if that's all that's going to turn you on, then rezip your pants. He's in the story, but not for long and he doesn't go home with you, he goes home with ... well, that would be giving things away.
Since this story is about a big event in my life, you might as well know a bit more about me. My name is Mike, I'm 37, 6'2", 175 lbs., long black hair, tied in back during business hours. I run a bookstore in a medium-sized Mid-western city (based on the non-coastal definition of "medium sized"). After getting shot and watching friends die in the service, finishing college and working at a marine biology lab, teaching high school and working with environmental groups, I "settled down" to owning and managing this bookstore. I've always liked bookstores. They attract interesting people, and allow you to keep a roof over your head without completely becoming an adult. Since this is a university town, there's a market for all sorts of interesting stuff and I don't have to depend on Jackie Collins and Stephen King (Jackie? Stephen? Just kidding, OK? You are the LED of my cash register, my bottom line, my cash cow, especially around Christmas). This city, and my connections, are substantial enough so that I can get promotional events from publishers and authors. That's how Brad Pitt fits in. Mr. Pitt (OK, Brad, I'm not calling anyone younger than me "Mr.") had written a book on fly fishing in the wake of "A River Runs Through It," and we'd met a couple years before. I got up the nerve to call him and he agreed to fly in on his way to New York for a book-signing event. After we'd finished for the day I suggested stopping at a bar for a few drinks. He demurred, in keeping with his desire not to be mobbed and maintain some semblance of privacy. So we (Brad, me and his bodyguard Barney) walked from the bookstore and I went into the bar, leaving Brad and Barney outside talking with a few normal people like normal people. Barney, by the way, is the size of the other one, but is neither as upbeat nor as unnervingly obnoxious as the purple dinosaur.
I noticed her almost as soon as I walked through the front door. She was a regular in the bookstore, looking charmingly clunky but also with an unmistakable concentration of intelligence. She bought and had me order computer books, "Bart Simpson's Guide to Life," a few cookbooks. You are what you read. I'd always noticed her but never had the courage to introduce myself or talk with her beyond, "That'll be $24.95, ma'am."
So I walked through the door of the old "Brew and Barf," spoke briefly with a few friends sitting near the door, looked around and there she was, sitting at a table across the room with another woman who I recognized as one of her friends. I didn't hesitate to wave and smile but after an initial warm set of return smiles, I was faced with the age-old "do you make a fool out of yourself - again" dilemma. Hanging out with Brad all day left me with a nice false sense of invincibility, so I strode across the bar, came up behind her and briefly clamped my hands down on her shoulders.
"So, never seen you here before! Come here often? What's a nice woman like you doing in a place like this? Any other cheesy lines you haven't heard yet tonight?" Like I said, I excel at making a fool of myself. I was in good form.
She said "Hi," I asked if I could sit down, we went through formal introductions (Me Mike, You Amy, She Shelly) and began stumbling through small talk. The stumbling included her tossing her drink onto the floor, where it found it's place amongst the sawdust and I don't want to think of what else.
These woman were sharp. They didn't play it up, and they might have felt nervous being too intelligent around a man, particularly when they did not yet know that I adore smart women. But after talking about life in town, I got them to talk about their work and from that point on I was Butch Cassidy, asking myself, "Who ARE these guys?"
I was having a great old time. I felt very comfortable and I had the impression the feeling was mutual. After a while, Shelly got up and said she had to get home to ensure a clean house for visitors the next day. Shel was a delight, but my heart skipped a beat knowing that Amy and I might now be able to concentrate more on being socially awkward one-on-one and not caring about it.
I should note as an aside, that when Shelly left the bar she literally walked right into Brad Pitt, who was still talking with people just outside. She shrieked, "You're Brad Pitt!" He laughed and within two minutes he was thoroughly charmed. That night Brad Pitt was doing housecleaning into the "wee hours" talking with Shelly while Barney sat in the living room mumbling about how his employer was beyond his comprehension. I don't want to say more except to suggest that you take a look at the June issue of People Magazine and to say that now, when Shelly has an orgasm and she's looking into Brad Pitt's eyes, she's no longer holding a movie magazine in her spare hand with his picture.
Back to the bar.
With Shelly's departure I was faced with the anticipation of spending time "alone" with Amy, or at least as alone as you get with friends briefly stopping by every so often; and also the fear of screwing up big time. I suggested trying out the video trivia games. She was slightly resistant at first but after mutual, "we got through the SATs OK didn't we?" stories, we grabbed one of the boxes and dove in. Of course while she spent some time apologizing for not knowing much of anything, she was, of course, very bright. Use of the video terminals also required us to sit close together and I was very pleasantly treated to almost constant thigh-to-thigh contact, her scent (unfortunately in competition with the cigarette smoke and Eau de Bud wafting through the bar) and her wonderful habit of tugging on hy shirt sleeve or making some other physical contact every time we got something right. Since our areas of intellectual strength complemented each other, that happened quite a bit. Earlier in the evening I had been subconsciously aware of how much I wanted more simple physical contact with her, and now that it was happening I felt high. Hormones that had been sitting around on "standby" were going onto "yellow alert."
After a while she complained about the smoke getting to her and I suggested going for ice cream and fresh air. We went across the street for ice cream and on our way out a friend of hers came from behind us, surprised her with a "hello" and he walked with us for a block or two. Then he excused himself to return to his girlfriend at a bar, squeezed her hand and she kissed his cheek. I felt a quick twinge of jealousy ( not healthy at this point, huh?) or need and attempted to cover it over by stumbling over, "Lucky guy."
"Well now, don't feel jealous," she said, as she gave me a peck on the cheek. "There, feel better?" She laughed and wiped chocolate from my cheek.
We were standing in front of this alley and, I swear I didn't really think about this before I did it, but sometimes the Universe just tells you the right thing to do. I had a vanilla cone and she had chocolate. I took her hand gently and said, "I've got vanilla, but I sorta want some chocolate." I took a lick of my ice cream, she took one of hers I pulled her to me and I kissed her. Really kissed her. She started to giggle as we exchanged ice cream and when we parted we both were a mess: ice cream covered lips and chins and shirt fronts. We looked into each other's eyes and, in perfect unison said, "Mmmmmmm ... ice cream."
We laughed and licked ice cream from our faces, fingers and lips like ten-year-olds. For me, that kinda sealed things. I had been feeling more and more comfortable and more and more attracted, but something about the ice cream, the kiss that was both playful and a bit nasty, and the sharing of the thoughts of Chairman Homer, ensured that once we were reasonably de-creamed I reached for her hand and didn't let go very much after that.
We continued walking around town, looking in store windows and talking, until she reported that she needed to pee, which led to a decision to go back to her place. The offer and the moment were still very real time, unplanned, not contrived. I had no major expectations and felt that having many might screw things up. But I also knew that I had to make sure she knew that I didn't consider our meeting to be just another casual evening. We got into her truck and, after a few minutes of silence I jumped in. "You know, I had come to the bar to meet some friends after this reception at the bookstore, but when I got there and saw you ... well I went over and talked to them for a few minutes. They wanted to go bar hopping and get all shitfaced but I didn't want that. I went over to see if you were still there and I'm glad you were. I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable or anything, but it's been really nice, and very strange, I'll admit, to find someone who I can just be comfortable with. I know some guys are jerks and some women are bitches, and I can't find many people who I just enjoy being around, you know."
She looked a bit awkward and part of me cringed about making the statement, but then she said,"Well, I do know what you mean. Shel and I are sorta that way but I've been surprised at how well we've ... meshed? I mean, I've known of you for some time from the bookstore, but only really met you tonight, yet it's like we've been friends for a while. Weird, huh? But enough of the mushy stuff, I think we're on the same wavelength, but I think I should warn you ... I live with someone."
In a second, my heart violated the laws of physics by plummeting at faster than 33 feet-per-second-per-second. I went for the Olympic stumbling transparent dork award, "Oh ... I didn't mean anything ... well maybe I did but not really, I mean I, hummmina, hummina ... I," sounding like a cross between Woody Allen and Ralph Cramden, as she snickered and said, "Yeah, I live with my dog, Chelsea! Man, I'm sorry, but I've always wanted to do that to someone!"
My heart returned to better-than-normal and I kidded her about being a tease (actually, I think I used the word, "creep," but in an affectionate sort of way). She continued, "She's a little hyper and loves people, just like her owner. But she's the only one who humps legs."
"Darn!" I replied, laughing.
"I just thought I'd warn you before you saw this black ball of fur flying towards you."
"Well, I'm a member of that union. My old black lab Rita used to squirm into bed between an old lover and I after we'd made love (her turn her to flash a look of mock jealousy), roll over onto her back and expect to get a double belly rub. Which, of course, she always got. We used to kid about our 'menage a pup'. When we cuddled on the living room couch Rita would come over and plant a paw on my knee as if to say to the woman, "Hey, he was mine first.""
She opened her front door and a medium-sized "Chien D'amour" jumped all over Amy doing her "Oh Boy! Mom's home!" dance. Then she started in on me and I decided I might as well surrender to the doginevitable. I slid down to the floor with her, played with her, scratched her behind the ears and petted her while she licked my face, nuzzled me and looked generally happy. The conversation went something like this:
CHELSEA: Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
ME: Isn't she a good, good girl!?
CHELSEA: Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! (Tail wags faster)
ME: Yes! She's such a good dog!
CHELSEA: OH BOY, OH BOY, OH BOY! (Pins me to the floor and licks my face)