I had gotten the green light from my bosses to leave early to meet up with Bree in Santa Barbara. Bags were packed. Until I received an email informing me that a last minute meeting was scheduled for 4:30.
I would have to wait. Some higher power was really making me work on that whole "patience" thing.
As soon as the meeting ended, I got in my car and picked up Jack from his house. Once we got out of the Los Angeles traffic and onto the open road, we cranked up Bad Religion's "Los Angeles is Burning"; a staple song of ours we rock out to when we anticipate good things from the evening.
We pulled into the beautiful, beach side town of Santa Barbara and tried to locate the hotel. Fortunately, Jack and I were arriving in town around the same time as Bree, but we weren't to meet up until 9:30. Jack and I had some time to kill.
We decided to walk to the local 7-11 to pick up a six pack, something to calm the nerves a bit before heading out to dinner.
I sat at the edge of the queen size bed with my feet dangling and Jack sat across from me. We had an hour. At one point, we both started cracking up; the realization just hit us:
It was a Friday night, we were sitting in a dingy hotel, in a town we've never been to, sipping on Coors Light while waiting to meet a girl who I met online through blogging.
My stomach was flip flopping when it was time to walk to the restaurant. Jack and I chugged the last of our six-pack, zipped up our jackets and headed out. The restaurant was on a pier and as we walked, Jack turned to me and asked:
Jack: What are the chances we end up in one of those docked boats by the end of the night?
So@24: I don't even want to think about it.
Meeting Bree for the first time, there was nothing really surprising or shocking. I had already been talking to her for a month and I knew what she looked like. Dinner with her and her friends felt comfortable; like these are the people I would have been friends with in college anyway. She was just as pretty as she was in pictures and funny as she was in our phone conversations.
The rest of the evening coasted smoothly for the most part. Jack and I followed Bree and her friends around to various bars in Santa Barbara. Pints were downed and shots were shot.
We were having a lot of fun, but understandably her attention was divided among many people. And Bree is not a flirty person. As the drinks piled up in my 5'3" frame, Mr. Alcohol was sloppily mashing his hands on the keyboard of my overly-analytical brain.
She never brushed a hand on my shoulder, she didn't stay particularly close to me when we walked from one bar to the next. These observations are poison to a drunk, self-admitted paranoid, bastard like myself.
I began to read into her actions (or inaction, I should say) more than I should have. The idea that perhaps this was the beginning of a friendship and not something else was starting to engulf me.
At a point in the evening, after we had just taken another round of shots, Jack pulled me aside.
Jack: You're shutting down, So. What's going on?
I zipped my jacket up all the way to the top; a bad habit that surfaces when I become extremely insecure.
So@24: I don't think she's into me. I just have that feeling.
Jack: Don't shut down. You hear me? The night is young. Do. Not. Shut. Down. On. Me.
So@24: You're right, I'm not going to let this ruin the night. We're still out having a good time.
Jack: You have a fighting chance, trust me. Come on, I'll get you a beer.
I tried to push my worries aside and enjoy the rest of the evening. Jack, Bree and I got separated from her friends at some point and went to another bar to polish off a round of jager shots (or as I say "YAY!ger"). But it was closing time and we had to head back.
At this point, the weather turned to bullshit. Bree pulled out her umbrella and I held it high as the three of us huddled underneath it, sloshing our way back to her friend's house. It didn't matter, we were soaked to the bone.
Bree changed into sweats and t-shirt while Jack and I peel off our jackets to dry them by the fire. Beers and wine were handed out and we warmed up in Bree's friend's living room sharing a few more laughs. However, the little hand was close to the 3 and the big hand at the 12 and Bree's friends said their "good nights" and retreated upstairs.
My phone vibrated. A text from Leo.
Leo: Status report.
So@24: I don't think anything is going to happen tonight. She's not flirty and when a girl isn't flirty, it means she isn't interested.
Leo: You need to have patience. Unfortunately, this isn't college anymore.
Jack followed me to the kitchen while I grabbed a beer.
Jack: Are you going to kiss her?
So@24: Are you serious? I still don't think I have a chance. Besides what do I say?
Jack: How about, "Can I kiss you?"
So@24: That sounds so fucking lame.
Jack: It works for me. Just do it.
With a quick gulp, Jack finished the last bit of his Stella. He reached into his soaked jeans and grabbed his cellphone.
Jack: Ooooh, I have to take this call. I'll be back in 10.
The twinkle in his eye told me he wasn't coming back. He was Han Solo at the end of of Stars Wars, pulling the Millennium Falcon out of the Death Star trench saying, "You're all clear, kid. Now let's blow this thing so we can all go home!"
Off he went, and with that I turned back to Bree. She held a glass of wine in her hand, her hair pulled back in a tiny ponytail while a few raindrops dripped off the longer strands. She looked radiant.
I threw back my beer and set the bottle on the coffee table. "You better be right about this, Jack," I thought to myself.
"Can I kiss you?"
* * *And here, dear readers, is where I must bid you farewell on this tale. Perhaps further details will emerge down the road, but again, I'm still trying to do the whole Tao of the Cucumber thing. It's been extremely difficult, trust me.
* title of the post taken from a Star Wars quote. For those readers who don't share the same level of nerd-dom as me.