I’ve been tagged. And, frankly, it’s about time I let you behind the curtain a little bit.
Also, don’t be surprised if you notice that a Christmas Miracle has happened to this website the next time you stop by. We’re turning it up to 11 over here at Awkward Things, just in time for the new year. Okay. On to the five things!
I’ve had the songs “I Don’t Want To Set The World On Fire” (made famous by Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights in 1941) and “Chances Are” (the first #1 hit for Johnny Mathis) intermittently stuck in my head since around 1997, when the Clover Hill High School show choir performed them together as a medley ballad in their competition show. I was in the band that accompanied them at competitions, but, since they did this part of the show a capella, I didn’t have to play and could just listen.
From my perspective at the back of the stage, all of the gorgeous choir girls singing the song were backlit by the auditorium lighting, so that all I could clearly see was the back of their heads framed in a white glow, with little glints of loose hairs sparkling against darkness. Naturally, I was hopelessly in love with each and every one of them. No wonder I sing those songs to myself in my head all the time, almost 10 years later.
When I solved a tough homework problem in college, I would get up in its face and trash talk it. Here’s something I might say: “What? You think you can come in here and fool me with that little-girl time-independant Hamiltonian? Listen, bitch, I was strapped with partial differential equations when your punk-ass was still getting spanked by your momma for stealing cookies.” Like, out loud. I’m not making that up.
When I’m by myself, and, say, driving or maybe even walking along, and I see extra-cute little kids, I say “Oh my goodness!” in a super dopey voice. I generally don’t say it when I’m with people. Sometimes I can’t help saying it when people are around, and in that case, I just try to modulate my voice so it sounds more like a real adult. I sure hope no one ever catches me saying that in my normal way, though.
My nickname in the college ultimate frisbee scene was “Prefontaine.” As in, Steve Prefontaine: the runner who ran faster than you, just to piss you off. That guy was a badass, and, you know, maybe, so am I.
Four years ago, in the middle of a mild Midwestern mid-July, I went to a fancy wine store and bought a reasonably expensive bottle of champagne. I did not put it on ice, but instead wrapped it in some towels to keep it somewhat cool. I put it, along with some wine glasses that were totally inappropriate for champagne, a fact that I didn’t know when I was 21, in a duffel bag.
The next morning, I packed some clothes and CDs in another duffel and, bags in hand, walked the half-mile or so from my apartment to the Cedar Avenue light-rail station in Cleveland Heights. I got on a train to the airport. At the airport, I rented a car, which I drove to Onekama, Michigan.
I went on this crazy goose-caper because I was in love with a girl.
But what with one thing or another, which phrase, by the way, is a placeholder for, literally, an entire feature-length romantic comedy, I never drank the champagne with that girl. I kept the bottle for a few years in my closet in Cleveland, but it just never worked out that a romantic opportunity to chill it and drink it with her materialized.
But that’s okay. And, anyway, lots of people know that story. Here’s the thing people don’t know: over the course of the past four years, “I’m keeping that bottle to drink with her” somehow morphed into “I’m keeping that bottle to drink with someone who loves me back.” It’s a symbol, like the mountain in Brokeback Mountain, except that I’m hoping a girl is involved. I won’t open it until I’m good and ready, but you can bet that, no matter how much damage time and temperature have done to it, if and when it gets popped open someday, it’s going to taste pretty good to me.