“We dated for like one day in grade 10.”
The fanbase reasonably inquired as to whether I had fun at that wedding social last night. So here’s how it went down.
It was for a high school friend, let’s call her Mary. When I think of Mary it is usually in the context of the person who I may or may not have dated in high school. I put it this way because Mary and I hung out a lot in high school, and I guess it was naturally assumed that for a guy and a girl to hang out that much then they must have been dating. I can say right now that we never dated, or did we? See how that goes?
It didn’t really help the situation that her best friend, Lisa, dated one of my friends for about a year in high school and so the four of us actually hung out together and did stuff all the time. While Lisa and my friend were clearly “boyfriend and girlfriend”, Mary and I were never so clearly defined. We liked each other, that much was obvious. We liked each other’s company and we liked doing stuff together. Was it more than that? My friends would like to think so. I guess it’s easier to make sense of a situation if you can pigeonhole it into something that you can understand. After high school, we stayed in touch and hung out from time to time, even though Mary soon had a live-in boyfriend and lived with him for years. Then all of a sudden, before we hear that she’s broken up with that boyfriend, we hear that she’s actually getting divorced from some other guy. When did that happen? I guess time does fly and here I am getting ready to go to a wedding social for her second wedding. She and her current boyfriend of a few years are now engaged. It was planned for March 17th for the longest time and I had set that day aside for months, but all of a sudden the day was almost upon us and my wife and I were scrambling for a babysitter. Both our Moms were sick with the flu so it was looking like I’d be going alone to this social unless I could scare somebody up.
I called my best friend Ed but he already had plans to attend this dinner called the “Sons of Italy”. “On St. Patrick’s Day?”, I said to him over the phone. “Yeah, it’s kind of a big deal in the Italian community here,” he told me. “But you’re not even Italian!” I said. “Yeah, I know, but we got tickets to this thing so what can you do? Last year, the guy who won the person of the year award was connected to the local mafia scene. It was crazy, but the food is really good.”
So Ed was out.
Who else from high school could I hit up? I couldn’t get ahold of Kaj, and Jon was likewise unreachable. Steve now lives in Toronto and my other friend, the one who dated Mary’s best friend, lives in Minneapolis. Could I be the only high school rep at this thing? If so, it was even more important that I went, and so I did. I arrived at about 9:45 pm. The sweet spot.
Have you ever attended an event where not only did you go alone, but you also really didn’t have anyone to hang out with when you got there? That was sort of how it was for me. I’m happy to report that Mary’s social hit all the hallmarks, though. Community club? Check. Pretzels and chips on styrofoam? Check. Golf package on the prize table and “Strokin'” on the speakers? Check and double-check.
So what did I do? I did what any sensible person would do in my situation. I got drunk.
Being St. Patrick’s Day, Mary thoughtfully included some Guinness at the bar. The bartenders thought it was HILARIOUS that I was ordering Guinness because I was also wearing a Guinness cap. I guess it was kind of funny, but it made feel a little self-conscious. There were only so many times you could wander from the prize table to the bar and back again before you stood out, so I found a section of wall and hung out there until I realized it looked like I was lurking by the women’s washroom so I had to find a new spot until it looked like I was scoping out the men’s room. I settled on a patch of wall close to the bar and sipped the Guinness. I made two realizations: that Guinness makes pretzels really taste better, and that I couldn’t really understand why Mary and I never actually got together.
To get a sense of Mary, she reminded me that U2 song, “Who’s gonna ride your wild horses?” for some reason. Especially the line “You’re an accident, waiting to happen. You’re a piece of glass, lying there on the beach.” One of the gift prize packs was called “Bachelor Pad”. It consisted of a microwave oven, 24 frozen burritos, a package of toilet paper and a plunger. That’s the kind of sense of humour Mary has. When we started hanging out, she liked to visit cemeteries, and since I didn’t have too much going on and I found her interesting, I’d go along with her on these excursions. Later on, we’d watch “The Shining”. I didn’t even really like that movie, but it was Mary’s favourite and invariably when we’d get together to watch a movie guess which one always got suggested? I remember one night when she wanted to host a viewing of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” but “Full On”, as she said. This meant people coming in costume and doing all the things that Rocky veterans do like squirt each other with water pistols and shout things at the screen at the appropriate times. I’ve never seen a more fucked up rec room than Mary’s at the end of the night. I stuck around and helped her clean up the wet toilet paper and burnt toast, but Mary didn’t seem fazed at all. She said her Mom was finding rice in the couch for weeks afterwards. “What were you kids doing?”
When my brother and I went to Ireland for the first time about 15 years ago, Mary and I thought it would be super funny if we stuck a pair of her undies and bra in my brother’s suitcase. He’s a pretty straight-laced guy and we thought it would awesome if somehow security or customs were to find it. Actually, now that I remember it, it was actually Mary’s Mom’s underwear and bra. Granny panties. You know the kind. Do you know how long it took for my brother to find them? Longer than you think. We had already spent 10 days in Ireland with our family and it was on our 11th day, our first night in a hotel in Liverpool. I was lying on the bed watching some tv and my brother was in the bathroom. All of a sudden I heard, “What. The. FUCK!”. He came out holding them like he had found dirty diapers or something. It was pretty funny all the same and I snapped a picture of him with them so I could show Mary when we got back. My brother was pretty good-natured about the whole thing, actually. Does that give you a sense of what Mary was like? She was kind of quirky. A Zooey to my Ben Gibbard, if you will. And we all know how that turned out. #teamzooey
Maybe it was because I had just come from a viewing of “John Carter” or maybe it was the Guinness, but I began to think about other worlds and alternate realities and such. That led me to think about Mary and me and how maybe in some weird “Sliding Doors” alternate universe kind of thing we might have ended up dating etc and may still be together. Which led to me thinking that maybe there could be an infinite number of scenarios out there, and the one I’m living right now, the one where I’m married and have a daughter is just one of them. At that point Lisa, Mary’s best friend, came up to say “Hi”. I hadn’t seen her in at least 10 years and we were catching up. She asked about “the guys” and I was reminded that the last time “the guys” really were all together hanging out was on my bachelor party weekend. That was nine years ago! I began to make excuses for why none of “the guys” were there except me, but I gave up and got another Guinness. I was then introduced by Mary to this older guy. “You both work for the City, you’ll have lots in common”. It turns out this guy is a police officer and when he heard I worked for the libraries he started asking me all these questions and I felt obliged to answer them because he was a police man! “How old are you?” “How long have you worked for the City?” He was asking because apparently with my age and number of years worked I could transfer to the police department, work for one year, and then RETIRE. That sounds like the premise to a bad sitcom: “librarian cop” or something. Could you imagine me as a police officer? I’d be crying at all the crime scenes, and they really shouldn’t give me a gun, right? When I told my wife this when I got home, she had the perfect line. “You’d have to pass a physical, right?” I can’t even imagine Mary being friends with a police officer. That makes as much sense as a scorpion hanging out with a salamander. But then I remembered that Mary and I hung out in high school and we weren’t exactly what you’d call “two peas in a pod” either.
I was about to make my exit when I was cornered by this older lady. “You’re Trevor, right?” “Um, yeah. That’s me.” It was Mary’s Mom. I didn’t even recognize her. It’s hard to believe that when Mary and I started hanging out Mary’s Mom was probably about my age now. It was like “Field of Dreams” or something. I had a couple of Guinnesses (is that the plural of Guinness, or should it be Guinnei?) at this point so I said ‘Holy Crap! How are you doing? It’s been years!” Don’t mention the undies, don’t mention the undies, don’t mention the undies was all I could hear in my head.
Before I left, I bumped into Mary one last time. “Hey, I talked to your Mom!” I told her.
“Yeah, she said she saw you, and then she asked me why didn’t we ever date?”
Bit awkward. “Um yeah, I never really did know that.”
Mary: “We dated for like one day in grade 10”.
Me: “Did we?”
Mary: “Something like that.”
Me: “I guess we were better friends than boyfriends/girlfriends.”
And that was that. Or was it.
See how that goes?
I was going to request “Who’s gonna ride your wild horses?” last night, as a balm between the “Old Time Rock ‘n Rolls” and “Strokin’s” but I didn’t have the nerve. Mary’s financee seemed like a nice dude and I really wish them both well. I hope this version of her reality really works out for her. She deserves it. Mary, this one’s for you: