Before I forget, let me tell you about the awkward hug.
The Friday before last, I had a hard day at work. At the end of the day, my boss walked me into the tiny “office” that is hardly bigger than a closet, closed the door and bitched me out. By the time I left (“You need to take your job more seriously,” she said, after I failed to complete a near-impossible task in the hour she gave me to do it) I really needed a beer, and I was ready to go to bat by myself if need be.
Still questing for friends
I figured I may as well text the three friends I have here and see if they were available for commiseration. But I texted in vain. There was no response from anyone, positive or negative. As I prepared to drink alone, I remembered my friend that I had bumped into a few weeks prior. I texted him to see what he was up to.
“Nothing,” he said, “what are you doing tonight?”
“Going to a bar, drinking a beer and staring into the middle distance,” I responded. For some reason he thought that sounded like a good time. “Is there a sketchy pool hall around here?” I asked.
“I’m just really feeling pool”
We ended up at a small local bar that had a total of about 7 patrons, a juke box, and a pool table. It was a little awkward at first, as hanging out with people you haven’t seen in 8+ years and were never really close with anyway tends to be, but then we got to playing some pool and chatting about le home town and the conversation flowed easily.
Everything changes when you grow up
When I was in elementary school, I had been best friends with his younger sister; I practically grew up at their house. I remembered them as a happy family that always put up 3 trees during Christmas and on Saturday mornings ate blueberry mickey-mouse shaped pancakes that their dad made. Sometimes, I’d wished I’d been born into their family instead of mine. Especially when their mom let us eat in the playroom instead of at the table and ride bikes without helmets. I also have a distinct memory of him as a ten or eleven year-old running up the stairs with marbles in his mouth. I think he may have swallowed one or two of them. Funny the things we remember about people.
“My sister’s become the kind of person I hate – really pretentious,” he said, “I always have to remind myself that she’s family when I see her.” I wasn’t too surprised to learn this, but it was still a little sad to hear him say it. Then he told me his parents just got divorced 6 months ago, and that his dad is already remarried. They don’t talk anymore.
Sometimes I forget how lucky I am that my family is still intact and that we all love and support one another unconditionally. “You guys always seemed like a close-knit family,” he said. It had never really occurred to me until that second that there are plenty of people who grow up as strangers with their family. In fact, my family’s tight bond is probably more of an exception rather than a rule. That’s a little depressing to think about. I can’t imagine what I’d do without my family there to support and encourage me. Life would be very depressing. Much more so than it already can be at times.
So, new friend, right?
After a couple rounds of pool and one or two beers, we were both yawning. We paid our tabs and walked out to the parking lot. Where we proceeded to chat for another 30 minutes or so. Course, I kept thinking how attracted I was to him, but I didn’t know how to convey that. So I just sat around, listening to him tell humorous stories and simply not leaving until he made a move to go home. I was standing on the passenger side of his truck, and he walked around to me.
I deduced that since he walked around to the passenger side, he was going to try to make a move, because otherwise he would have walked directly to the driver’s side. I kind of had a minor panic attack and flashbacks of a similar past situation popped into my head. As he approached me, I went in for a hug and ended up clinging to him like a baby koala clings to its mother. I think I caught him off guard, because his arms hovered over my back for a second, then patted me lightly. I took that as a cue to let go.
“Umm, I’m gonna go,” he said, “I think my dog probably misses me.” Hmm, lame excuse…nice touch. I looked away as he walked around me and around the front of his truck to the driver’s side. “I’ll call you,” he said, as he closed the door. I got in my car and left.
In retrospect, it’s a good thing he’s super tall. If he had been closer to my height, I may have tried to kiss him and knocked skulls or fractured a cheekbone or something. So it could have been worse. Maybe he realized that, too, because he actually got in touch with me this past weekend, and we hung out. But more on that later.