Everyone has a story about the one that got away. It could be anyone from that person who sat in front of you in study hall to a person that came into your life unexpectedly and gave you that buzzy feeling, like when you mix Pop Rocks and soda but this time the candy bomb was detonated a little closer to the heart. They came into your life at a time when you needed them and as quickly as they appeared they left, but only in the physical sense because you can't really help wondering every so often what they are up to and how they are now. In some cases you hope for the best and in others you can't imagine a more worse case scenario. You do everything you can to keep your mind off of the person but they just will not leave your head. It does get easier as time allows distance to interfere and push the person further and further to the back of your brain. Maybe they had to move on, maybe they just had to move, or maybe it was just what was best for them at that particular moment. The emotional and mental part of it eventually catches up with the physical distance and those weeks where life seems like a collection of Del Shannon songs start to become less and less. Still, it's really hard not to think about what could have been without all the variables. Sometimes you get that second chance and despite the awkwardness of the moment, the game of catch-up begins. Assumptions are transformed into surprises and facts, the memories that kept that person on the brain for so long either become instantly disposed of or they find a place to settle somewhere in your internal hard drive. And sometimes it happens like this...
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A Story About that Second Encounter:
Prom, 1996, at the elegant Palmer House turned out to be a combination of foolishness and clownification. You know it's a bad date when he humps everyone on the dance floor, brags about how awesome and successful he is, doesn't foot the bill for anything and then lunges at you with delusional ecstasy at the end of the night. I spent most of the date staring at him in disbelief as he flirted with every girl, which surprisingly was doable...
...since there were only 60 of us in my class at St. Scholastica and apparently he must have been watching a bunch of MC Hammer videos beforehand because he was doing Hammertime all over the dance floor the entire night. When we changed the venue from the prom to a romantic boat tour which meant him romancing the new set of chicks.
He looked foolish in his black tuxedo with a bald head, but like Kojak bald and not Kobe wearing a bolo tie. This is Chicago and not the southwest!
After stiffing me on the check at IHOP at the end of the night, by some measure of insanity I thought the date was going well. I was unlocking the door at my house as I turned around only to have him shove his tongue down my throat. It took every fiber of my being to not completely hurl my pancakes all over his stupid tie. I found out later that my dad had giving him $200 to ensure that I wouldn't be paying for anything but apparently he thought this was an escort service and pocketed the money. I spent eight hours of pure agony on this date and then I spent the next 8 weeks trying to forget it.
The following Fall I was at school in Champaign and I made a quick stop at the gas station near campus. I brought my purchases up to the cashier and looked up to discover my bolo wearing prom date. His name was written on his name tag and he stood there in a blue and white smock with thick bottle cap glasses over his eyes and, once again, taking my money with a bitter smirk on his face. Turns out he lived in Bloomington and move to Champaign to get the job at the Big Foot convenience store. I guess something good resulted from this awful date: I got a hearty laugh outside of the gas station. Note to self: Don't ever let your dad set you up on a date with his girlfriend's nephew.