This was supposed to be a Notebook kind of story, the type of plot that goes on to inspire major motion pictures. Instead, it’s just a sad recount that proves that I was set up for disaster from a young age.
Let’s rewind back a good 13 years, to a time when I was a cute Russian teenager skiing with my family in Germany. I had a new red ski jacket and had just convinced my mother to allow me to get blond highlights, coming close to my dreams of emulating Stacey McGill or Jessica Wakefield.
In an act of teenage rebellion, I dedicated the trip to teaching myself how to snowboard, while the rest of my family (4-year-old nephew included) skied ahead of me. Left to my own devices, I soon discovered that doing nothing ‘chilling’ was actually part of the snowboarding culture, and began joining the fellow teen slackers perched on the side of the slopes.
It is in that winner crowd that that I met a group of young American soldiers who were stationed in Germany at the time. One of them, a tall 18-year-old tall guy named Mike, took a particular liking towards me, inviting me to join them out for drinks at the ski village that night. When my dad caught wind of the situation, he suggested I bring the poor bloke over for family dinner. My brother was appointed chaperon of the bar crawl, which ended up with B52 shots and what may have been a goodbye kiss with Mike (my memories of that time are a bit vague). With no Facebook to keep our international connection alive, Mike and I quickly lost touch.
Eleven years later, I was living in New York, when I accidentally ended up alone at a popular Chinatown club in the middle of the night. I had somehow lost all my friends during the walk from the neighboring Apotheke, and was desperately looking for a phone charger. One of the bartenders volunteered to plug in my phone and kept me company while I waited, asking for my number at the end of the night. While I gave it to him, I never took him up on his offer to hang out afterwards.
A month later, two of my girlfriends went to the same club and met the same bartender. Without knowing about the incident, they volunteered to hook him up with their ‘crazy, fun friend’ (me, duh), ‘instinctively’ sensing that we would be a good match. While their little plan never worked, we did started regularly frequenting the club, dancing up a storm while enjoying complimentary shots from my admirer. This became a regular routine that continued throughout the summer of 2012, until September, when I picked up my life and moved to Paris. The bartender, always a dramatic fellow, bid me adieu, proclaimed that we would soon meet again.
While we kept in touch via the odd Facebook message, I never really thought about my bartender buddy until a year later, when he sent me the following message:
“I found a stack of old pics when i was in the military and tell me this isnt you”
Underneath was a snapshot of an old photograph. Indeed, there I was, in my red ski jacket, surrounded by a group of guys, one of whom was my Chinatown bartender.
While I was impressed by the coincidence, I certainly didn’t react to it as passionately as Mike, who seemed to take it as a sign that our paths had been pre-destined by the stars. He had recently quit his bartending gig to focus on his passion project, which entailed having couples fornicate on paint in an effort to ‘create their own Jackson Pollocks’. This professional ambition, combined with his tattoo sleeves and eerie messages, always made me slightly uncomfortable. However, when Mike announced that he intended to visit me in Paris after his gallery opening in London, I agreed, figuring that I wasn’t really in the position to question fate.
It was a cold November night, and the The Drama Magnet and I were celebrating her new apartment up in the 9th Arrondissement. Mike had informed me that he would be arriving in Paris by dinnertime. By 11pm, we had already finished dinner and were enjoying some very strong digestifs, when he finally showed up, accompanied by two long haired hipsters who looked like they had been fornicating in paint for days.
It turned out that my Prince Charming and his buddies had driven all the way from London, a trajectory I hadn’t even known to be possible. After drinks at the apartment, we decided to explore the local bar scene. TDM’s new Parisian elevator had a 1.5 person space capacity (an elevator in Paris is already a leap of luxury), so Mike and I waited for the second shift. In this claustrophobic space of 0.3 square feet, Mike decided not to waste any precious time, and promptly stuck his tongue in my mouth.
I wish I could tell you that it was all sparks and fireworks and thirteen years of pent-up passion. Unfortunately, this was hardly the case. In fact, it felt much more like sexual assault and privacy violation, accompanied by a strong bout of nausea.
Throughout the rest of the night, my post-traumatic stress kept reemerging in the form of extreme bitchiness: no matter what Mike or his friends did, I would roll my eyes and stare sullenly at my phone. In turn, Mike kept getting progressively more wasted, finally pulling out the pièce de résistance of the night that, clearly meant to sweep me off my feet then and there. A photograph? A letter? A ring..? Nope. A LITTLE WHITE BAG OF MOLLY. Molly that he had smothered all the way from London, if I may add.
I’m sorry, but nobody in a Nicholas Sparks novel would ever pull out a bag of molly.
Disgusted, I refused the spontaneous MDMA fix and began repeatedly voicing my desire to go home. Mike, always the charmer, whispered the following seductive proposition in my ear:
“Do you want to go home, or do you want to go home with me?”
Shockingly, I chose to go home alone. Despite all the serendipitous twists of fate, I knew for sure that the soldier-turned-bartender-turned-sex-artist Mike was not for me.
Strangely enough, I never heard from my star-crossed lover again. Something tells me the fates wont be bringing us back together anytime soon.