If I Ever Played Never-Have-I-Ever, I Have a New Thing to Which I Must Drink

I’ve had near-death experiences and contrary to rumors*, life did not flash before my eyes.  I’ve never had that flash of an experience before… until last week that is.

Plans for my evening were simple – take a stack of work to my local, have a couple of pops, smoke a cigar, decompress.  Half way through a La Aroma de Cuba Corona, and a great basketball game (which necessitated ignoring work) a voice behind me announced my full name (including my middle name which is only known to a handful of people.)  The very big voice came from the very petite Michelle.

Michelle and I have known each other since high school – our respective best friends were an item and they constantly tried to push the two of us together.  We remained fairly close through college, grad school and ensuing years.  One day, having fully grown into our careers, personalities, and bodies we connected romantically.  Our maturity couldn’t change our poor timing.

I hugged Michelle with all of the affection reserved for someone who requires no exposition for your stories.  I hugged Michelle like a dear friend and former love for whom there is still a deeply rooted emotional connection.  I don’t know how long it had been since we last saw each other but we shared a hug that was tight enough to melt the years.  She then turned to introduce me to her date, Damian.  To his great credit, Damian was not unnerved by our exchange.

After brief introductions but before the ordering of drinks, Michelle turned to Damian and announced “You need some history here!”

In that instance, the entirety of our romantic lives flashed before me:

The first moment when the potential became possible,

The shared laugh at the expense of all of the people waiting to enter the shopping mall parking lot for a day of Holiday shopping, while we simply valet parked at the Ritz Carlton,

The explanation of a proper Gimlet – gin, fresh lime juice, simple sugar, and a dash of bitters,

The gentle first kiss in the back of a Town Car between dinner and a night cap,

The torrid kiss in the same back seat between the bar and my place,

The exhortation while I unzipped her dress “I’m only taking this off if I get to wear your shirt,”

The first time on my couch… and the floor, and in the kitchen, and finally the bed until an exhausted entanglement of bodies collapsed into a mass of limbs indistinguishable from the other,

The entirety of the six week long and sensual escape from the reality of her return to a doctoral program 500 miles away.

It all passed through my mind in a seemingly slow motion instant that cumulated with the question of “how much history was Michelle about to explain?”

Michelle turned to Damian and in a stunningly display of understatement said “Refugee and I have known each other forever, we practically grew up together,” then she instructed the bartender about how to make her a proper Gimlet.

* every time I write or hear the phrase “contray to rumors” it is in the voice of Morris Day and The Time singing it from the chorus to the song Gigolos Get Lonely Too.  Don’t Judge – we all made some *ahem* questionable musical choices in the 80s.


8 Responses to If I Ever Played Never-Have-I-Ever, I Have a New Thing to Which I Must Drink

  1. I love this story. Beautiful and elegant as always.

    Two minor thoughts: I also have had near-death experiences, and usually found them unremarkable — adrenaline rush notwithstanding — but when I was rushed to the hospital with a collapsed lung a year ago, I actual experienced the cinematic pre-death montage. And just as in the movies, the people I saw in what I thought were my last moments weren’t the people I expected. Unlike in the movies, however, I didn’t bend the world so that I could stay with the human angel who I realized had taught this bitter old curmudgeon how to love. So. There’s that.

    And in less of a self-absorbed tangent, dude, isn’t the blogging community basically one big game of Never Have I Ever, minus the boozin’? After 21, we’re all just into drinking games for the camaraderies anyway…

    That flash experience wasn’t what I expected it to be… it was just a weird montage of those thoughts.

  2. Jean says:

    Ah, what if…? At least you have a fond memory 😉

    The part of the story that I meant to include when I sat down to write it is our parting. When we hugged goodbye, it was wistful, a mutual acknowledgement of the moment but there was no exchange of business cards, no declarations that “we should get together sometime.” We both knew that the time had passed and that was what it was – a fond memory. I hate those fake endings.

  3. The nostlagic romantic in me loves moments like this—the ones in which you see years condensed into very precise memories: the dress, the song on the stereo, the wine ordered at dinner, that first touch, the one thing you said before you fell asleep. And all those flashes fall into a long, lovely line that reads your history.

    It’s kind of fantastic, no?

    Fantastic indeed. As grateful as I am for the few memories like that that I have, I would wish for a few less in exchange for create a few more.

  4. kitty says:

    run-ins like this always leave me feeling…empty. to give credit to your writing style, your story leaves me a little empty, too.

    Thank you. I felt a little empty too, happily empty with more than a touch of hallow melancholy in the void, but empty nonetheless.

  5. hey morris…what time is it?

    I may have had to break out that whole thing on vinyl… I may have lost an entire afternoon digressing through old LPs.

  6. magnolia2010 says:

    oh, wow, it’s funny you wrote that today. i was just thinking about the tangles in my own life, and the one that got away, this morning over coffee and an obscure law-school reading assignment. you pretty much got to the heart of it. i am so addicted to that feeling of shared past, twinned history, that only a couple of people share. that someone who knows the ins and outs of me so well can glance at me across a crowded bar and say more with a look than everyone else could say in a thousand words. there’s NOTHING like it.

    I couldn’t agree with you more. The value of that ability and facility with non-verbal communication cannot be properly quantified.

  7. Lemon Gloria says:

    So descriptive! I could totally picture that being part of a movie. The introduction, the cut to one vivid image after another, the abrupt return to the present…

    I am convinced that a screenplay lives in my head but I just lack the discipline to get it out.

  8. citygirlblogs says:

    Beautifully written, but so melancholy, Refugee!

    “Our maturity couldn’t change our poor timing.” I love this line!

    You also leave me wanting more about to hear more about your past with Michelle, although I recall some of the scenarios being alluded to in other posts.

    In one near-death experience, I did see the light. I remember what I said (to whom, I know not), and that I realized that it wasn’t my time.

    Thank you, and I will happily tell more about Michelle, but most of the stories require bourbon for maximum effect.

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