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by The Finn
The first time I posted this, Michele and Turtle had just announced their upcoming nuptials. Their news inspired me to share how I met my wife with you all. As it's been a long day at Casa de Finn and I've had little time to clean up the post I originally had planned, I'm reposting it for those who may not remember and for those of you who are new. I hope you enjoy it and look for a new post on Thursday.
It’s hard to remember the first time I met her. Most things about that time in my life are hard to remember. There was a steady drip of poisons running into my bloodstream, most notably the whiskey… Whiskey was the great eraser, nothing could blow out a bad day (week, month, year) like a bottle of Tullamore. We were cleaning the blackboard tonight and I was ten kinds of self imposed importance and bravado. I had been talking to this kid I was supposed to be mentoring for about an hour, slamming back doubles the entire time, hidden away in a little bar on the right side of Broad. I hadn’t eaten all day and the hooch was kicking my head in something fierce, making time with the kid that much more tedious.
He got up to go to the jukebox. I tried to the read the menu that the waitress had set down in front of me an hour ago, hoping that by at least glancing over it she’s stop shooting me dirty looks and just keep bringing me the booze. Tonight was not a night for southern comfort food. Tonight was a night to get rid of the kid, get a retard drunk on and hope that someone would kick my teeth in on the way back to wherever I was going to sleep. Then, maybe, just maybe, I’d feel a little better than I had when I woke up this morning.
Luck not being on my side, the kid returned and started in on me again. We’d had a running argument for three days now about whether or not Perl could be considered a “post-modern” programming language. Yes, it was a pretty geeky conversation, but I had to give the kid credit. I’d leave him little openings here and there and he’d jump right in. Bright kid, that one. Did more than his fair share of dumb shit, but he could be bright when properly motivated. We were arguing the merits of persistently defined variables versus ones that could be defined in an array, on the fly as it were, when something from across the bar caught his eye. The way he took off, it was either another music hound or a bird. I didn’t care, but I had my money on a bird.
Tom Waits was playing on the jukebox. I definitely remember that. All smoke and hurt, the man’s voice just wrapped around me. I love that voice. The smoky, boozy, voice of reason bouncing off these little red walls. Oh crap, I was getting maudlin. I waved the waitress over and ordered two more doubles. The words completely fell out of my mouth, jumbled from a drunks tongue and too many teeth. She looked at me like I was crazy. At that moment, she would have been right.
She brings me my drinks. Sets them down on the table and fixes me with the look. I’m gonna get a lecture. She knows that I’m not going to start trouble here. I come here at least three nights a week, get stupid and stumble home. But she knows that some of the people I associate with here are… We’ll call them “Less Than Productive Members of Society”, mainly because calling them scumbags seems more harsh than I mean to be. They were good kids with bad habits, just like me. She also knows that most of them are in the bar tonight and that they’re headed towards raucous. So, she simply offers me warning and leaves me the drinks. She knows I’ll back them up if it goes down. But that’s not what tonight’s about. Tonight’s about erasing whatever I have left, dumping gasoline on it and watching that motherfucker burn. And if that doesn’t work, I’ll try again tomorrow.
Luck actually left the building at this point, turning when she got to the door and blowing me a kiss on her way out. The kid came back, looking satisfied. I’d been right, it was a bird. I smiled silently to myself as he lit a smoke. He told me he’s just run into a couple of people and that they’d be over shortly, both girls, both pretty. I was in no mood for fun. I had no time for frivolity. I called the waitress over again and asked for whatever she could fit into a rocks glass. She gave a little laugh at my joke, until she realized I was serious. She went back to the bar and I could see her whispering to the bartender…
That’s when they sat down. I know it was a they, because the kid stood up and greeted whoever sat on my left. She didn’t matter. The kid didn’t matter. Nothing in the room mattered except for the girl on my right. She was beautiful. Long black hair, amazing green eyes, freckles. My head was swimming suddenly and, for the first time in a long time, it wasn’t just the booze doing it. I actually had to exhale, simply because I had forgotten to breathe. She and the other two at the table started talking about a band, while I just sat there and stared. I was completely dumbstruck. Too drunk and out of practice to talk to a woman like that, I was grateful when the waitress returned with my drink. I drained it without thinking about it, lost in the curve of her neck and the way her eyes lit up when she got excited.
After five minutes of total silence on my part, I knew I had to leave. She’d be my ruin. My little plan of self destruction, so perfectly carried out until now, would be tossed out the window if she so much as smiled at me. I reached for my wallet, threw a handful of bills on the table and said goodnight to the kid. As I was putting on my jacket, she looked over at me and said “Nice to meet you”….. and smiled.
My knees started to buckle a little. “Dammit, boy!” said the voice in my head. She smiled at me. And I really wanted to smile back. I wanted to tell her sad stories of fallen kings and run my fingers through her hair as we listened to Bonnie Prince Billy on the stereo. I wanted to smell her close to me when I woke up in the morning. By god, I could do anything with this woman at my side. But my defenses were strong, strengthened by so many years of doing my self in and getting hurt.
“You didn’t.” I answered. And I walked out the door.
And that’s how I met my wife.