I look at the goddess in front of me. Not stare, just look.
Remember me? she asks, giving a tight smile.
Yeah, yeah, of course... I stutter. Amy, right?
That's right. I never caught your name.
Oh, um, Andrew, I say, offering a hand.
She accepts the handshake, and I savour the contact between our hands, skin against skin. I don't know what it about this girl, but she drives me crazy.
I don't want things to get awkward, and I definitely don't want her to go away, so I ask:
You want a beer?
She grins, sure. It's so f--king hot in here.
Unbearably so, I agree as open a bottle and hand it to her. Should we find some place where it's easier to breath?
Yeah, let's do that.
We enter the mingle, sticking as close as we can to each other, until we eventually find a door that leads to a washroom, where there are only a few other people. We sit down next to each other on the floor, leaning against a washing machine.
So, what brings you to this party? she asks, nonchalant.
Well, Tommy, the vocalist in my band, knows the hostess, and he thought we should try to promote the gig. So we've split up so as to inform as many people as possible.
I see. She takes a sip of her beer.
What are you doing here? I ask. I mean, you come to this party alone and just start talking to some random guy you served coffee to last week?
She laughs. Well, I was supposed to meet a friend here, but she hasn't shown up yet. I saw you and remembered that you were a musician, and thought I'd say hello.
Are you into music? I enquire.
Yeah, I mean, my dad owned a record shop. I grew up around music.
Wow, that's pretty cool.
I go quiet for a while, mulling this piece of information over.
Please stop me if this is too personal, I probe carefully but wouldn't you rather work in your dad's record shop than be a waitress at a diner?
Well, the shop went out of business a few years back. Her face adapts a melancholy shade, and she grows quiet.
I'm sorry to hear that, I say solemnly.
Yeah, f--king digital age, she says with a smirk. I laugh.
What was the name of your dad's record shop?
She blushes. I always thought it was kind of tacky: Notes for Nickels.
Hey, I remember that place! I exclaim. I used to go there all the time! Great blues selection right? Lots of Tom Waits.
She smiles that beautiful smile. Right.
I don't recall ever seeing you, I comment.
I usually worked in the back.
And so the conversation goes. The thing that surprises me the most is; despite the fact that I don't think I've been so attracted to someone ever before, I feel so relaxed around her. Yes, I can't take my eyes off her, yes I would do anything to be her's forever and never leave her side, but I still feel totally at ease with her and am perfectly content to just sit here and talk.
We talk together for about an hour, never getting bored or having the urge to go find someone else. I tell her about what I'm doing, how I've abandoned my education, how this band is all I have after I got fired from my job. I tell her about how Tommy and I have been best friends since high school, how Sam and I met, how he introduced the three of us to Doc.
She tells me about how it was growing up in a music shop, some of the people she met. She tells me about her dad and how hard he took it when they finally had to close the place down. She tells me that her mother died in child labour, but she's fine with it, she doesn't get any of these weird guilt trips that you hear about because of it. She tells me that she's studying business economics, and that she hopes to work in the music and entertainment business.
But mostly we talk about music. The names of bands and artists, famous and obscure, fly by as we discuss influences, techniques (she seems to know a lot about recording styles and stuff like that), we share random bits of trivia about various musicians, talk about music theory She seems to store vast amounts of information about music from every aspect.
Do you play an instrument? I ask.
I've tried a few things over the years, she says casually, when I was younger I tried the sax, but that only lasted a couple years. I know some piano, and I know a few chords on a guitar.
Do you sing?
She gives an embarrassed giggle. Not really I mean, yes, I can sing, but it's not really what I do.
Right, right, I console, I get it.
By now the house is even more packed (didn't really think it was possible, but more people keep streaming in), and now even the washroom we're in is getting stuffed like a turkey. I want to ask her if she wants to take a walk or something, but I don't want to seem too forward, so we continue to sit in the cramped room, until she does me the honours:
Hey, you want to get out of here?
We get up, and we start heading towards the front door.
Just a second, I say, turning towards the kitchen. Wait for me outside.
I squeeze through throngs of people, finally getting to the fridge. I grab two more beers, and find my (well, actually Doc's) untouched bottle of vodka. I'm just about to start heading towards the door when I bump into Sam.
Hey Andrew, he says with a big grin. How's the promoting going?
Oh, um, all good, all good, I lie. What've you been doing?
I've been upstairs, spreading the good word, he says with stoned eyes. Mmm-hm! They have some lovely shit up there. You should come up and try it.
Maybe later, I say dismissively. Keep up the good work Sam.
Represent bro! he giggles and we execute a gangster handshake.
I start moving towards the door, two beers clutched in one hand and the bottle of vodka in the other. I finally reach the threshold, opening the door slowly in fear of hitting someone on the other side.
I slip out of the house through the tiny crack I managed to make with the door. There are people all around the entrance, but I see Amy standing down on the street. She smiles when she sees me.
Her eyes follow the bottles as I walk down the steps, joining her on the sidewalk.
Are you trying to get me drunk and take advantage of me? she asks sceptically.
I can't quite tell whether she's joking or not, which makes me rather nervous, and I'm not quite sure how to respond. Luckily she sees my distress, and laughs.
Relax Andrew, I'm just playing with you.
It's not nice to toy with a guy like that, I mutter, handing her one of the beers.
She smiles and gives me a playful pat on the back and we continue down the street, moving out of the suburbia and towards the city. By now the sun is setting, and a golden, melting twilight engulfs the cityscape. We finish our beers pretty quickly, and with no trashcans in sight, we place the bottles on a street corner and open the vodka, passing it back and forth. We walk for a long time, continuing to talk music.
Eventually we find a small park without too many junkies, and settle down on a bench. By now it's dark, and we're both slightly drunk. We eventually finish the bottle, giggling and chuckling a bit.
Oh god, she says in a sing-song voice, what time is it?
With wobbly fingers, I manage to dig my cell phone out of my pocket, flipping it open.
One-thirty in the morning.
Oh, shit, shit! she says in a tired yet panicky tone, I have a seven o'clock shift; I have to get home.
Right, um, I stutter, should I walk you to your place?
Yeah, that would be great, but she looks at me sternly: you're not coming in with me. I don't work like that. You know, that whole one night stand' shit.
Yeah, yeah, of course! I babble, no hanky-panky. That's-that's fine. I'm totally cool with that
Okay, she says, giving a friendly smile. As long as we're on the same page.
We start walking, and she shivers. I'm cold, she mutters through clenched teeth.
I don't have a coat to chivalrously offer her like a true gentleman, so instead I carefully put an arm around her. She huddles close to me, and we continue to walk together in embracement, sharing each other's warmth.
We eventually get to a shabby apartment complex where she tells me that she lives.
Well, I say awkwardly, I suppose this is good night.
She smiles at me again. I had great time tonight, Andrew. Thanks for everything.
She kisses me on the cheek and dashes inside.
Anytime, I whisper to thin air.
Then I head home.
It's about quarter after two when I finally unlock the front door of my apartment, turning on the lights and stepping inside. Tommy hasn't come home, that much is apparent. I get a glass of water and dial Tommy's number. It rings a few times before he answers.
Hey, hey, quit it for a second! Stop oh, hey Andrew.
Hi Tommy, where've you been?
I've been at the party. What happened to you? We couldn't find you anywhere.
I sigh. I-I was just talking to a friend of mine. We went for a walk.
Tommy smirks. I'm sure. Hope it was good.
It wasn't like that! I snap, I just
Relax Andrew, I'm just joking around. Oh-oh, you sexy thing now that's just dirty Um, Andrew, I've gotta go. I'll see you tomorrow.
He hangs up. Well, so much for that. I'm not quite sure what to do, so I call Sam. I let it ring for a long time, and I'm just about to give up, when what sounds like a very stoned guitarist answers:
Hey, Sam. How are you doing? I ask calmly.
Oh, I've been smoking, for, like, four hours straight. I am sooooooo baked he giggles.
Right. Well, good to hear that you're having a good time. Have you been spreading the word?
Oh, yeah. I mean, I've been telling everyone I see. I've got at least a few dozen people saying that they'll be coming.
That's great, Sam. Just great, I praise, good job.
Yeah you know, you should just get over here. This stuff is sooooo good We've even mixed some opium in with it
I cough on a sip of water. Opium? I splutter.
Yeah, I mean, just a little bit. It's really nice. Everybody's so friendly his voice trails off.
Alright buddy. You take care of yourself, I say, and hang up.
Since I'm on a roll, I decide to call Doc as well.
When he answers, he's breathing hard. Hey Andrew. Um, this isn't really a good time.
I hear some girl gasping and groaning in the background.
Oh! Right, okay. See you tomorrow, I stutter, hanging up quickly.
I flop onto the sofa, thinking about Amy. What an amazing girl Snap out of it Andrew, I say. This is no time for fluffy romances; things are moving fast, and they're going to be moving faster soon enough. So forget everything you know about eternal true love and long mornings in bed and romance and shit. This is amps and guitars and drumsticks. This beer and vodka and drunken bar room brawls. This is groupies and blowjobs in the backroom. This is stage lights and noise and screaming crowds.
This is rock and f--king roll.
Robert Ippolito, August 2009