“…do we, uh don’t we stand up?” This was only my third “white” wedding, but I was pretty fucking sure that the guests were supposed to stand up once the bride and her father began their approach down the aisle. The song was beginning to play and the emcee had announced their arrival. Yet no one was standing up! WTF! I glanced around my table and all of my friends had a befuddled look on their faces.
“I don’t want to be the first one, maybe you don’t stand.” whimpered Crook, still spying around the area, trying to see if anyone was standing up.
“They’re Portuguese, maybe they don’t believe in standing up.” muttered Diesel, earning him some stifled laughs from the group.
I couldn’t take it anymore. My ADD had gotten the best of me. Without asking for permission, I darted straight up like a fish out of water. Almost on cue, everyone around me began to stand up.
“Good shit Ruiz; you’re a leader of men.” Sean wasn’t the only one voicing their approval.
“Way to man up Ruiz. You stood up like a BAWSE.” whispered Tyler, imitating Rick Ross.
“I’m pretty much putting this on my resume.’Clutch in tight situations'” I said half jokingly
My last comment earned me a round of laughs from the great friends and former classmates that surrounded our table.
As soon as the ceremony ended, my hetero life partner Tyler “Stumpz” and I smashed over to the bar and kept the drinks flowing. It was now early evening and everyone was beginning to mingle and chit chat about the wedding. Tyler and I began discussing the “talent pool” at the wedding. Sarah had some beautiful friends and now we were trying to discern which ones we could recruit for Team Tyler and Team Eric, respectively.
“Stumpz seriously, three weeks ago, Team Eric was stacked. I had an All Star go-to, the girl I met at Speak was contending for Rookie Of The Year and I found a small forward that could ball it up on the hard-wood. And then cuts, trades and heated contract negotiations ruined my team chemistry. We’re definitely in a rebuilding phase.”
“What happened to that Italian chick? You said she could have been a first ballot hall of famer.” Stumpz asked, not missing a beat.
“1st round bust brah.” I replied with a disappointed look on my face.
“I’m in negotiation with a 27 year old MILF. Gonna sign her to Team Tyler.”
“How’s that coming along?” I asked
“Well, I might have to send her down to the farm league and call her up once a roster spot opens up. The way things are going with Jane, a spot could open up any minute.”
Stumpz had his squad in check. Team Tyler was like the Lakers of the Kobe and Shaq era. Meanwhile, Team Eric, once a solid and diverse group, was in complete and utter disarray. Sort of like the Cavs after LeBron took his talents to South Beach (What an egotistical douche move, BTW)
“Ruiz, you know what she should do? We should trade.”
“I don’t have much leverage, but I’ll have my GM call you’re GM.”
Tyler wanted to head back to the table and rejoin our friends.
“Go on, I’ll catch up with you, its chew thirty. I’m going to go outside and take a chew.”
“Word brotha, I’m going to go talk to Sean about our shirts, and see what thinks about my designs.”
We pounded fists and parted ways.
Despite the fact I had been chewing tobacco since I was 18, I still didn’t like to do it in front of people in a non drunk situation. I figured I could sneak away from the chatter and noise and enjoy a few peaceful moments with my Grizzly can.
I made my way through the crowd, stopping to chat with the ones I knew. I continued forward admiring the lively and green garden of the McHenry Mansion, where the reception was taking place. I finally got to the side door and the chatter and music became but a faint murmur. I found myself alone in the front yard of the mansion overlooking downtown Modesto. It was surreal seeing downtown during the day. It’s amazing how different the city looks when its daylight and you’re sober. Hell, I didn’t even know that people went downtown during the day!
I pulled out (always pull out) my can and packed the tobacco. I popped the lid open and turned around to shield an imaginary audience from my vice.
“Chewing tobacco, no big deal. Teeth are overrated anyways.” I heard a familiar and melodic female voice behind me.
“Who cares, my liver is going out first any…” I tried to finish my sentence as I spun around, with tobacco still between my lip and fingers. I awkwardly shoved the remaining chew in and greeted my old friend Katie. She walked up to greet me with an unfamiliar face trotting behind her….
“Eric this is Maddie, Maddie this is Eric. Maddie is visiting me from UCLA; she’s back for the weekend.” I was fiddling with the chew in my lip, embarrassed that someone had seen me. I lowered my head as I shook Maddie’s hand, hoping that the tobacco wasn’t all over my teeth.
“I went to high school with Eric, Maddie; he’s one of the smartest and nicest guys you’ll ever meet.” I could feel my cheeks getting red as I finally raised my head to formally acknowledge Katie, Maddie and the compliment I had just received.
“Well it is very nice to meet you Eric, I’m glad you still have teeth!”
“Likewise Maddie, glad you got a good first impression of me fumbling tobacco everywhere.”
The girls laughed. This reassured me that I had not made a complete ass out of myself. However, it took everything I had to coherently piece words together. I was too busy lost in Maddie’s eyes to think of anything else. It felt like I had just stared at an angel. I was paralyzed.
“Hey Eric, we’re going to go inside and say hi to everyone. We’ll catch you inside.”
Katie and Maddie began to walk inside.
“Nice to meet you Eric.” Maddie said, smiling and waving over her shoulder as she walked with Katie.
I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to yell, to run, and to beat my chest. I waited until they were out of sight and I hurried around the corner and immediately spit out the tobacco. I took a gander at my teeth via the reflection off the driver’s side door of a Lexus. I had to go back in and talk to Maddie. But I couldn’t do it looking like a dipshit.
Once I was certain that I had no tobacco in my teeth, I briskly paced my ass back into the wedding. I stopped short of the entrance to catch my breath and think about conversation topics. Once I got my swagger back, I fixed my tie and walked back in.
Maddie, where have you been all my life?
She looked like a Mediterranean Princess. Her long wavy brown hair accentuated her sparse freckles. Her olive skin reminded me of the girls I met in Barcelona.
I was oblivious to everything around me. I had lost track of time. It seemed like Maddie and I had known each other forever. We exchanged study abroad tales, me in Spain and her in Italy. We shared a common love for foreign films and Paulo Coelho books. What blew me away was her energy and positivity. She was as vibrant and lively as a child. Always smiling, laughing and clapping. I had studied at SDSU and I had never met another SoCal girl like her. Maddie could carry a conversation, she didn’t say “Um” every other word, and above all she was intelligent. This was a woman I could definitely see myself splitting a son with.
Eddie came up to us and offered us a beer, I politely declined. Never one to call me out in front of a pretty girl, my BFF Eddie simply nodded and walked away.
“You’re not drinking? I thought you went to San Diego State, Eric.” She teased with a smile on her face.
“Haha, I’m alright now, I’m quite full from dinner still.” I replied full of confidence.
But truth was I didn’t want to drink. The last thing from my mind was alcohol. I felt like it was just me and Maddie and the whole world had stood still. I felt jovial, almost as if the universe’s energy was flowing through me. It was a euphoric feeling unlike anything I had ever felt before. And I didn’t want alcohol to impede that feeling. There was no substance on earth that could replicate the emotion I felt when I stared into Maddie’s eyes.
It was now dark and the guests were beginning to make their way to the dance floor. Our packed table had yet to make moves, but it was apparent that our large group was ready to dance.
“Amy, let’s dance.” I overheard Eddie ask the girl sitting next to him
“Hmm, I don’t want to dance right now. Maybe later.” I was surprised by Amy’s response.
“What the fuck? You told me you wanted to dance before the wedding and now that I ask you to dance, you say no and I look like a bitch for asking. Fuck you Amy!” No one was surprised by Eddie’s reaction.
“Eddie you’re an asshole…fine let’s dance.”
Just like that the first impromptu couple made their way.
I then turned over to Maddie, stood up and simply extended my hand. She smiled back at me, uncrossed her legs, and extended her hand. The confidence in her eyes reminded me I was staring at a woman, and not a girl. A woman who in the span of two hours had left such a lasting impression on me. A woman who if I could, I’d take her to the moon with me so we could be suspended in outer space for eternity. I led her to the dance floor and held her tight as the slow rhythm filled our ear drums.
I didn’t want the song to end. I just wanted to continue gliding side to side with Maddie’s head resting on my shoulder. Stumpz wouldn’t have agreed, but I had to tell her how I felt about her. It felt as though destiny had plotted for us to meet. That was the only way to explain the seemingly random way we met. Katie wasn’t supposed to come this weekend but she did. And she brought a friend! The way we clicked, it had to be fate. As the song ended I stepped back to look at Maddie, in hopes of catching her smile. We stood there momentarily as the rest of the couples waited around awkwardly for the next song to start. I leaned in, as if I was about to share a secret with her.
“I’m really glad I met you.” Weak I know, but it was sincere.
“I…I can’t hear you, pardon me?” Maddie looked at me with an awkward stare.
I tried to repeat myself, but found my voice had been cut off by the next song.
I repeated what I had said, but she shook her head and pointed to her ear.
The song was becoming louder and louder and I was starting to see a hint of a white cloud come over the establishment.
I took a step back to assess what was going on. I looked around me and covered my ears as the song become too loud to bear. In my confusion, I could finally make out the melody blaring from the speakers. It was Jay-Z’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” Fuck.
Everything was spinning around me and I lost track of where I was. It was as if I was in vertigo and everything had flipped upside down. I feared the worst, and just like that everything went white and was knocked out momentarily.
I opened my eyes to see the worst had come true. Jay Z was still blaring louder than ever. Not now Jay! Once I came to, I hopped out of bed and darted across my room to turn off the alarm clock on my iphone. I was breathing heavily and angrily as I paced around my room.
“That couldn’t have been a dream.” I found myself repeating over and over.
“What the FUCK!” I looked at my phone and saw that it was now 8AM. I had to be at work in an hour and a half. I did the only thing I could think of. I dove back into bed, dug my head under my pillow and pulled hard on my sheets as I closed the fuck out of my eyes. I figured the harder I closed them, the more likely I was to see her again. I lay there, praying for sleep, praying for one more glimpse of Maddie, praying for my dream again.
I mean, what if someone, somewhere, was having the same dream about me?! I had to get back in there, “Inception” status and find out more about this girl! She could be the one!
But nothing. I admitted defeat and reluctantly got up. I trotted along with my head down to the bathroom, to begin the same monotonous routine of getting ready for an unfulfilling job. As I stood in the front of the mirror, I couldn’t help but let out a chuckle at my ridiculous morning. How stupid was I? I mean, it was a dream!
I grabbed my backpack and hopped in Sasha, my trusty truck. My CD player was skipping so I decided to just turn the damn thing off instead of listening to mainstream rap on the radio. It was in the silence that I could finally hear my thoughts. I started laughing as a reassuring feeling came over me.
“Wow. I literally met the girl of my dreams.” I had just gotten cock blocked by irony.