It was a Friday night. Michelle and I were scheduled to work a recruitment event at the Lowe’s Hotel. It was sponsored by our recruitment partner Monster.com. We got everything all set up in one of the small banquet rooms off the main bar/restaurant area. Our designated representative from Monster was there. He told us he wasn’t going to stay long, but there was one thing, and only one thing I had to remember. “Don’t forget to take the big Monster banner with you when the event is over.”
As people came in to the event we all split up and began networking. The conversations were flowing just like the booze. As the event wore on people were getting more drunk. I was chatting on one side of the room and Michelle was on the other. I was talking to this girl, who ended up giving me her phone number. I can’t for the life of me even remember why. She was cute but pretty banged up from drinking. You know how it is. It’s a recruitment event. A lot of young people looking for jobs or seeking better jobs come to these kinds of events. They come in, drop off their resumes, drink their faces off for free, and then leave.
Michelle and I worked that event for probably 3 or 4 hours. We were drinking the whole time. I think mostly just pounding wine. But we worked in advertising, so for the most part, we could handle ourselves. Once the last person was gone and it was just the two of us left, it was time to clean up. I remember Michelle went out for a cigarette. I didn’t smoke back then. I had been tobacco free for 10 years. I sat with her outside the exit still sipping my wine from a plastic cup.
We went back in and started dismantling the signage. I’ll never forget what happened next. We had the huge banner on the floor and were rolling it up. She was rolling it up from one end and me at the other. As she rolled it closer to me she went right in for the kiss. Right on the lips. It was beautiful. I was in love. Smitten!
The heart isn’t really capable of holding onto large-scale events. But little moments like that mark you deeply and can sustain themselves for a lifetime.
Michelle told me that there was some sort of after party at the Field House. It’s a big sports bar over by Reading Terminal. So we head over and I’m carrying the huge rolled up banner around with me. The party is upstairs. I remember two things. This one guy, that whenever I would step away from Michelle for any reason, be it to get a drink or go to the restroom, he would magically appear. I remember seeing him do this again and again. He would just be standing next to Michelle wide-eyed and smiling as he stared at her with obvious admiration. It was kind of funny. The other thing I remember was this little gay dude. He wasn’t a little person, but he was really short. There was this one point where he and Michelle did what what they call “a walk off.” I think it’s a term they use in the modeling community. Michelle being a former print and runway model, she knew how to do it. It was funny to watch this 5’11 tall blonde locking arms with this little dapper dude and do a walk off. I think they did a few of them. It was just a funny sight that I remember.
By this time, I was too drunk to drive home. For whatever reason, we couldn’t go back to her place to crash. I would have been fine sleeping on her couch. Maybe her bitch face roommate was there entertaining or something. I still have the huge banner with me. (See, you thought I left it at the Field House, didn’t you?) I don’t remember whose grand idea it was to go to the Hotel Sofitel at 17th and Sansom Streets. We didn’t even go to the Liberte bar for a drink. I just went up to the front desk and ordered a room. We got up to the room and went straight to sleep. I don’t even remember what time it was or anything. But nothing happened between us. We just crashed.
The next thing I know it’s morning and I hear this little rustling of paper at the door. I open my eyes and look over. There is a sheet of white paper on the floor. I slip out of bed and go pick it up. I turn it over. It’s the bill.
$300 for one night! $300 and I didn’t even get laid. Maybe it’s not too late! She’s still asleep. When she wakes up maybe she’ll want to… What am I thinking? The only time ANYTHING happens between us that even resembles affection or romance is when she’s impaired. She’s trying to get back with Delaware Dave and when she gets drunk she acts out with me. She always regrets it. I know she has feelings for me but she’s conflicted. Funny how this will rear its ugly head down the road on several occasions. When she awakens she’ll be really hung over and then she’ll have to leave. Who am I kidding? We’re not going to hang out. I’ll just go back to my little apartment in Jersey.
We get ourselves together and I show her the bill. She’s horrified. She vows that’s she’s going to give me half. She’s hung over and so am I. We leave the hotel which all seems like a blur now. We walked up to this little deli at 16th and Arch. She wanted to get some food. Something healthy. I wasn’t in any mood for food. I’m still carrying around the giant banner. Maybe I had folded it in half by then, but it was still ridiculous. Like an eight foot vinyl scarf.
Michelle tells me she has to drive down to Delaware to see Dave. Apparently they’re supposed to hang out with some friends of his from Hawaii. I remember the day was overcast like my mood. We part ways and I walk back to the parking garage with my banner. I toss it in the back of my station wagon. I make my way back to Jersey. I’m frustrated with how things are going. It doesn’t seem right. She hangs out with me here in Philly, but her heart is in Delaware. She’s known this guy since they were 15. She’s 27now. When you’ve known someone that long they’re like family.
I take it easy the rest of the day. I reflect on where this whole thing is going with Michelle. I was cleaning some things out of my wallet, when I come across the name and phone number of the girl from last night’s event. I text her on my flip phone. (You read that right. It’s 2008.) She texts me back and we decide to meet up on Sunday. Like the song says; “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.”
I don’t even remember her name. We’ll just call her Sue for this story. We meet up on Sunday around 1pm at the Continental Midtown. We’re at the mezzanine bar upstairs. She’s young and attractive. She tells me she was out late the night before with her friends and still felt a little banged up. We order some cocktails and let the conversation flow. We get a decent afternoon buzz on and go out to explore.
We ended up the Bellevue Hyatt. That’s where Nineteen is located. But we didn’t go into Nineteen. We ended up watching a trunk fashion show on the same floor. It felt like something I’d much rather being doing with Michelle, but like I said, Sue was present. She was a little sassy and had some attitude, but I really didn’t mind. This was a decent band-aid on my heart for the day. After the show she grabbed me and started making out with me on the elevator ride down. It was good, and I had felt the energy earlier in the day, but she said she waited because she didn’t believe in PDA. (Public displays of affection). For some reason we went to Lucky Strikes. I don’t even know why. It’s a bar and bowling alley. I had only been there once before for a corporate bowling party. We ordered pizza and fries and washed them down with a few beers. We didn’t even bowl and had no intention of doing so.
After a while she tells me that she has to go home and let her dog out. I walk her home and I decide that I don’t really like this girl. She just seems like a vacuous idiot. We say our goodbyes and I tell her I’m going to give her a call.
I’m walking back to the parking garage and I check my phone. I hadn’t looked at it all day. People didn’t do that back then. No smart phones back then. There is a voicemail from Michelle. I listen to it. She says that she read the screenplay treatment I gave her. She liked it and said she looked forward to seeing me on Monday at the office.
That was the highlight of my weekend.
A couple of days later at work, Michelle returned a music CD to me that I had lent her. I think it was a record by Julie Cruise. I opened it later and inside the jewel case was a check in the amount of $150.Her half for the room.
I never cashed it.
Michelle always said: “I have so much fun with you that when the day is over, I wish we could do it all over again.”
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