It was one of those late summer days where the heat felt dangerous. The sky was stripped of any color, the birds were no where in sight. We swam, slow-motion, from air-conditioned cars to air-conditioned buildings; drowning on the thick, humid air.
We arrived at ‘Branded’ just before 6:00 pm for happy hour. I had taken the time to change out of my work clothes into some tight jeans, a white tank top and my favorite pair of well-worn cowboy boots. It was hump day and my co-worker and I were both in need of a little R&R. She was the designated driver and I planned on taking advantage – it was my turn.
He was the only diner brave enough to sit outside; the table partially shaded by a lonely sapling planted in the sidewalk on the West side of 5th Avenue. On the shady side of the street, another patio was jammed with early revelers enjoying a folky singer-songwriter’s rendition of the Avett Brothers’ “I and Love and You”. I took notice and thought it was nice, but we were in the mood for some boot stomping country music and the band that night was all over the radio (plus I kind of had a crush on the lead singer).
I first noticed his facial hair, thinking how hot he must be with a full beard in Texas…in late August. At least it was nicely trimmed and he looked good vs. the ragged, homeless look some guys are sporting these days. I let the metal gate slam behind me and he looked up from his menu. His ice blue eyes caught my gaze and held on the way a good book won’t let you put it down when you’re finished. We traded quick smiles before Rainey dragged me inside.
If I learned anything from Grandmother, it was how to order and enjoy a good cocktail. I enjoyed my fair share and was feeling no pain by the time the band got on stage and started their first set an hour later. “Heck yeah! they sound awesome! Let’s get closer to the stage”, I screamed at Rainey, leading the way, dance/walking through the crowd. And there he was, with his icy eyes and full beard, playing the drums! Forget the lead singer…I only had eyes for drummer boy now. The next song was their latest single (my favorite), and before I knew it, I was up on that stage shaking what my momma gave me – and not one person tried to stop me. I danced the whole song front and center, using every move I learned through six years of dance as a child, and four years of clubbing; I was performing and the cheers from the crowd fueled the fire that had been lit when I first saw him out on the patio. When the song started to wind down, I made my way over to his side and just as he hit the cymbal on the last note, I bent down and kissed him full on the mouth and he was receptive!
“I can’t believe I just did that”! I said to Rainey who was waiting for me at the bottom of the stage stairs, laughing and clapping along with everyone else. “Honey, you would have done that sober!” she replied; and I knew she was right. But even in my inebriated state, I felt that this was different, and when I felt a tap on my shoulder I knew it was him even before I turned around.