I appreciate your appreciation of the venue, sir, but we really need to work out a schedule.
The night started off so well. I had been invited to a roast of a fellow kayaker. He was off to begin training in earnest for the 2012 Olympics and so a few of his besties gathered at a swanky pub, oceanfront, in Manhattan Beach.
Most of the stories told that night involved copious amounts of alcohol and as the night went on, I realized were being told with copious amounts of alcohol behind them. The words of my fellow boaters came out slurred and while funny, were ultimately unremarkable.
Then I got up to speak. There was a definite quiet that fell. I have heard this quiet over and over again in my life. For example when teachers would call on me for the first time in school. A quiet that tries to be open minded, but can’t help but feel tense.
I began with a perfect impression of our former coach, who was Australian and had a mighty crush on Kayaker. Then moved on to replicate the voice of our opera singer club member who sang as she paddled—even the day that Kayaker was paddling with a severe hangover (he ultimately found it less painful to capsize near an eddy than keep listening). And wrapped the whole thing up by reminding the group of Kayaker’s younger, Faustian days when he once called a lover by the name he gave his boat.
I left the stage to appreciative applause. Not just at my fun stories, or at the fact that I was the only sober one on the room. But at the fact that the other attendees realized that I did belong and could they feel better about themselves because they could diversify their friend portfolio without sacrificing quality or safety.
Then you walked in.
Now, I understand that I was the first person you made eye contact with, but did you have to walk up to me and ask me a question? Never mind that you were asking about directions to the Captain’s Club. The others in the room didn’t know that. All they knew is that I was talking to someone who looked more like me than they ever could—even if they went paddling without a wetsuit every day at noon for a month.
I stopped being the clever exception to the rule and became fairly typical.
“So how do you guys know each other?” Kayaker’s current girlfriend asked me as you were leaving.
I told her very quickly that I didn’t know you and that you were just looking for directions.
“That’s too bad,” she offered. “I thought he was your boyfriend, you two would make a cute couple!”
The ultimate slap in the face. She gave no such credit to the blonde slolamer I had been chatting up all night long. But I made my way back to the conversation I left to handle you, expecting it to pick up where it left off.
“Where’d your friend go?” Slolamer asked.
I’ve set this house of cards up very carefully, sir. Please do not topple it. Next time you’re going to head to an Oreo approved location, check the list. If one of us is there, you’ll have to get better directions before you leave home.