Going out again with Valdosta (Date #7) was nice. We ate Mexican, had one margarita apiece and then headed to heavy metal karaoke. We each sang a song and I was tucked away in bed by midnight.
I'll always choose a frozen margarita (no salt) over on the rocks. And usually frozen drinks are pretty light on the tequila, so I didn't think twice when ordering a second one. Halfway into it, I realized I was more than a little buzzed. I said as much.
Our plates arrived. I continued with the standard, getting-to-know-you roster of questions. "What are you looking for?" Val dropped his silverware on the floor. "You know, other than your fork." I added.
He shrugged. "I used to be into the whole marriage and kids thing, but I don't know anymore. After you go through so many relationships..." he trailed off.
I asked my new favorite question, "Have you ever had your heart broken?"
He looked up at me. And then he said the most perfect response I have ever heard. "You don't get to be 29 and single without having your heart broken." I briefly thought back to Date #6 and his 25-year-old eager self. It encapsulated everything that was wrong with him: You don't get to be 29 and single without having your heart broken.
I switched topics. "What's your signature drink?"
"Gin and Tonic."
"NO WAY!" I burst. "You can't have that one. That's my signature drink. G&T's or gin and tonnies, depending on how many I have. When do you turn 30? "
"Well I'm turning 30 in the spring, so I'm older. It's my drink."
"But I've been drinking them longer, so it's my drink," he teased
We left the restaurant. I bundled my jacket; it was cold out. As we crossed the street into a little neighborhood where we found free parking, my ankle gave out and I nearly fell to the ground. He caught me. Dodgeball season has begun and I've taken quite a beating. I had rolled that ankle during the game and it was still weak. He took the opportunity to tuck my arm inside his. He chuckled. "I was worried for you when we were crossing the broken stones. I didn't know I had to watch you while we were crossing the flat street."
As we drove to the second location, he played the Mumford & Sons album. I broke Cardinal Dating Rule #2 and I touched his stereo while he drove and switched the song to track 2. "I love this song," I breathed.
We pulled into another little neighborhood for the free parking. "No, let's not get out of the car until the song is over," I pleaded. We nestled in the bucket seats. Maybe it was the tequila, maybe it was the warmth of his heater and maybe it was Mumford & Sons, but as the song swelled into the last chorus, I tipped my index finger against his bearded cheek and kissed him indulgently. I'm normally a traditional girl who anticipates the great firsts: the great first phone calls and the great first kiss, the asking of the great first dates. But I had been running around town lately kissing a whole lot of boys. So really, what was one more?
I wasn't shy in my kissing and did exactly what I felt like doing. Lips teased, tongues mingled, noses rubbed. We did that thing where you just breathe hot air onto each other because you're too busy smiling to kiss. The song ended and I pulled away. I giggled in a fit of awkwardness.
There are two types of singers: those that use the mic stand and those that don't. I am of the latter philosophy. He used the stand.
He's like me: he can hold his own, but he's not a great singer. He's comfortable on stage. About two-thirds the way into his song, he pulled the microphone off the stand. I smiled.
I sang No Doubt's "I'm Just a Girl." Obviously heavy metal karaoke only has a handful of songs sung by female artists. But singing with a live band really is different than singing standard karaoke. For instance, there are no scrolling words. You have to know the song forwards and backwards and know when to jump in and out. And when you're on stage, you can't hear yourself and all of a sudden the band part all sounds the same. This is a long way to say I got lost in the second stanza and had to find some creepy guy wearing a trench coat in the audience who was singing along to get back on track.
Heavy metal karaoke was accompanied with gin and tonics, beer, and then Jaeger shots for the death knell. We both got sloppy. But the good news is that we were both equally drunk, so if one of us was acting like an idiot, the other didn't notice. We danced and grinded and made out to Toadies' "Possum Kingdom" and Guns N Roses' "Sweet Child O Mine."
He ran into some girls he knew. They exchanged hugs. Afterwards he leaned into me, "Don't worry, I've never slept with her."
"How did you know I was thinking that?"
"Because you said you are an overthinker. I know how those are."
"Well, fine." I started pointing to other girls he knew. "Did you sleep with her?"
"What about her?"
"Do you want to?"
"No." He reached out and ran his hand through my hair and kissed me.
We shut the bar down. I thought it was midnight and it was after 2:30 am. We go back to my place because I was insistent that the Femme Fatale had to be walked at that moment. Only I was so drunk that I dropped my building access card and we were locked out in the freezing cold. In the middle of the night. All of a sudden that security I loved wasn't so sexy.
Valdosta got impatient and said we should just go back to his place. I reminded him that I had the Femme Fatale. He said to just bring her along. My coat was inside. And I knew if I left, I'd never see my building access card again and it would cost me $35. I ignored him and started drunk dialing random apartments. That didn't work. And then, thank jesus for living in the city and a block from the region's largest gay club, a gay guy was escorting out his hookup for the evening. He made sure to escort that guy all the way out of the building. In the middle of the night.
I excitedly ran up to him. "Hi! I'm drunk and I live in the building. You can tell I live here because I'm not wearing a coat and I have my dog with me. I mean, what kind of person would steal something without coat pockets?" I rambled.
He let me in the building and then in the elevator. I found my building access card on my front door mat. I dumped off the Femme Fatale, still forgot my coat, and went out for pancakes and sausage because it seemed like a good idea at the time. By the time we made it back to Valdosta's apartment, it was 5 o'clock in the morning.
He's a cuddler. He cradled me like he's known my body for years. He knew the right spot on my thigh to rest his hand. He stroked my hair. Kissed my forehead--
"Um, do you sleep with your closet doors open?" I asked.
"Yes. Does that bother you?"
"You want me to get up and close the doors?" he asked.
"What are you, afraid of the Boogey Man?"
Some things are just scary in the dark.
The next morning, the room was spinning. Clearly I drank too much. Clearly I broke the rule of mixing liquor colors. I had a coughing fit from shouting and singing the night before. Valdosta got a text message. He laughed and read it to me.
"'Want me to get your girl a cough drop?' It's from my roommate."
After laying in bed for a few more hours, I felt ready enough to get up and go home. However, I did not account for the fact his car is a stick shift. The first time the car lurched into first gear, I groaned and rolled the window down for some cool air on my face.
"I thought you were going to get sick there for a minute," he admitted.
"Yeah, me too," I admitted.
It was the most awful car ride I've ever had in which I did not get sick. After he pulled away, I hovered over the one bush in front of my apartment building in case I was still going to. I crawled into my own bed, wishing for sweet death.
My mom called. "Your grandmother just passed away," she sniffed.