Just to bring you up to speed: Mitch and Lisa had their baby on Thursday at a hippy birthing center. While Lisa is in labor I wait in the lounge and talk sports with Lisa’s dad, a stiff upper-lip Midwesterner who was doing a really good job of ignoring the animal noises coming from the birthing suite. Several generations of Mitch and Lisa’s family are present, and yes, to the little kids I am “Unca Connor.” See? Pathetic bachelor guy.
After what seems like 500 hours, Lisa gives birth to a baby boy – Hector. I don’t remember how much he weighed. I’m a guy, I don’t care about stuff like that. I don’t watch the birth because I am still recovering from the flu and I don’t think it is smart for me to be near a newborn. Actually, I’m probably not contagious anymore, but honestly, there is no way in hell I am going to hang out and watch Lisa give birth. She’s like my sister. I don’t want to think about Mitch and Lisa having sex, much less witness the end product. That’s not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m down with the whole miracle of birth thing, but the whole scene is a little too… intense for me. Lisa’s dad is with me on this one. We wait in the lounge with most of the kids while the Big Show is going on next door.
Anyway, everybody is very happy and the baby appears totally healthy; like a tiny, soggy, old Asian man. The whole thing cracks my cynical loser façade for a moment and I am very happy, hugging and kissing everybody of appropriate age.
So that was great, and then on Saturday I go to JC and Wendy’s wedding at the Mason’s Lodge in Old Town. I like weddings, so I had a good time. What can I say, I like dressing up in a tux and dancing and generally being festive. Again, not gay.
JC was trembling with anxiety beforehand and I have to calm him down with Scotch. If I ever get married, I want a guy there feeding me shots of alcohol. By the time the elegant but brief ceremony starts, JC’s hands are steady and he has a stupid smile on his face. Ahh, the curative powers of alcohol.
Wendy looks beautiful and everything, but one of her bridesmaids, her cousin Emma, looks really beautiful. In casual conversation with Wendy’s mom I determine that Emma wasn’t with anybody. Then I move in and began my juvenile but time-honored strategy for picking up women: teasing.
After the ceremony I snag two glasses of wine and slide up to Emma. I hand her a glass.
“Wendy said not to give you any wine, but I thought what the hell,” I say.
“Is that right?” she says. She’s a curvy brunette, cut in the Rita Hayworth mold. The crimson strapless bridesmaid dress showcases her elegant neck and finely sculpted shoulders. Looks like she works out.
“Yeah, she said you were a horrible lush and that you’d probably start a fight or something if you got a few drinks in you. The word’s out: people are scared of you.”
She laughs, which is the desired response. “Yeah, Wendy warned me about you, Connor.”
“What did she say? I’m sure it was all lies.”
She takes a sip of the wine. “She said you were a ne’er-do-well.”
“A ne'er-do-well? Are you saying I’m a pirate? What are you talking about? Give me that back, you’re drunk already.”
Emma laughs again, which is a relief, because I feel like I’m coming on a little strong. “I’m surprised you don’t remember me,” she says.
“I remember you; we met at that funeral for that one dead guy.”
“Uh yeah, him,” I say. Oops.
“You don’t remember that one time we met? In college? When Wendy and I came and visited you and JC that one weekend?”
“Uhh, n-no…” My heart starts thumping, in a bad way.
“You don’t?” she says. She’s wearing an evil smile. “I do. It was your Viva La Coppola festival, you guys were doing a big Francis Ford Coppola marathon. There was lots of beer.”
“Oh, yeah…” I say, sheepishly. I feel my face growing hot.
“I looked a lot different back then, I had braces. And my hair!" She laughs. "Oh my God, I had awful hair.”
I don’t say anything.
“As a matter of fact, I remember you commenting on my hair to JC. And my chest, I recall you saying something about that…”
I wince. “You know, that was a long time ago…”
“I remember now,” she says. I can’t tell if she’s really bitter or if she’s just fucking with me. “JC wanted to have some alone time with Wendy but she didn’t want to strand me, so JC asked you to hang out with me. You wanted to watch The Godfather or something. You were drunk. Do you remember this? It’s all coming back to me.”
“Yeah…” I laugh a little nervously. I look around. Is somebody going to come rescue me or what?
“You said, and I quote, ‘She’s got tits like a sparrow. Her hair looks like a fucking bike helmet. Don’t do this to me, it’s the fucking Godfather, dude.’ I spent the rest of the night crying in the bathroom.”
“Gosh,” I say lamely. “It’s amazing how people change.”
She doesn’t say anything, she just looks at me.
“You look great by the way,” I offer. She certainly has filled out.
“What are you up to these days, anyway?”
“I’m a cop,” she says. Yeah, a hot cop. A brief image of Emma in a risqué hot pants cop uniform pops up in my mind.
“Cool,” I say. I am fucking crashing and burning here. “Well, maybe I’ll see you around…”
She says nothing. I just drift off, totally defeated, humiliated.
I kind of want her.