A Night to Remember
Samuel Ramsey, a thirty-year old bachelor, readied himself for the New Years Eve celebration at Flannigan’s again this year. He donned his dressiest straight-legged Levi jeans, the ones faded to just the right shade of powder blue. These are his lucky jeans, not because he is so charming with the female gender and has bedded many a gal, but because they are NOT the ones he wore when he fell into the giant manhole at the same time last year.
No, he was not drunk or even a little buzzed, he simply decided against wearing his much needed glasses. Being far sighted meant that if he wanted to flirt with a lamppost he could get away without his specs, and yes, also the manhole would not have been a surprise. His unexpected trip to the ER that night and a cast on his left wrist, was the closest he got to a new- years-eve outing.
Some women find men with glasses to be intellectual, intriguing and even alluring to some degree, but Samuel was not so much in these categories. His lanky frame, extra long arms and legs, his hawk beaked nose, his untamable spiky coarse hair, along with the fifties style glasses, left a rather different impression. A skinny orangutan with a few crow-like features perhaps, but definitely not, your dreamy Johnny Depp type.
Samuel had tried other types of frames, those wireless ones that don’t appear too obvious, but they became too heavy and left nose indentations not to mention the tension on the ears. His ears, though normal size, protruded but the chaotic hair kept that feature hidden.
Samuel often thought that he had acquired every unattractive feature from both his parents, who were in comparison, physically and socially above average. Lets just say that when it came to his physical appearance he was in a negative category but in the talent arena, he had received his father’s ability to create music. He also played, more than efficiently, six different instruments. His ultimate joy was getting home at night to play and compose various tunes, from pop, to classical, although he drew the line at rap and country.
From his maternal side, he received a photographic memory and a lust for learning. Books were his other love, and from infancy, his face was buried between pages. His sister on the other hand, had acquired superior physical genetics and became a socialite in grade school with loads of girl friends. Later, in her teens she was also popular with a host of males, forever changing as they came and went like a revolving door. Though her grades were mediocre at best, she was always introducing him to her entourage of friends.
Samuel was excruciatingly aware of his outward appearance, which in turn led to an inability to converse with any sense of confidence. And as the years came and went he became a bit of a recluse so that he rarely went out. This year he would once again try to connect with people outside of his office at Baker Tilly, a well know accounting firm, downtown. Samuel’s expertise was in corporate accounting and his exposure to his clients was usually done by email and only occasionally by telephone.
“Tonight is going to be a success,” was his mantra and though he was smiling trying to remain optimistic, he only half, believed-himself
He placed his beloved Beethoven vinyl LP on the turntable, then switched up the volume to 9 on the antiquated speakers that stood five feet tall. This music always calmed him. He believed in the old equipment, it sent a truer sound he believed. As he dressed he became entranced by Beethoven’s fifth.
He was advised by his sister that the colour orange was not a ‘blend in,’ kind of hue and that if he wanted to be noticed, the coat that he’d chosen off the rack at Nordstom, was a call to all things wild, so tonight he opted to wear his always in style, black leather jacket instead, or at least he thought it was in vogue.
Samuel was not used to wearing jeans, and it was evident in his very walk. He looked like he was wearing show shoes as he half waddled out of his Brownstone, descending the stairs in his penguin shuffle. After the first few blocks he adjusted and he looked mildly less awkward. Although he had attempted to tame the wild mane in preparation of this event, his wiry locks sprung free once the cold air settled around him, making him look like a 1960’s rocker, recently revived from electrocution. Despite his lack of sophistication, he managed to stay as confident, as was available to Samuel.
The pub was jammed by the time he got there at 10 pm, and the music, if you could call it that, crashed out into the street like a trumpet blast, harsh and much too loud. Suddenly Samuel felt out of place and definitely too old to be here.
The line up snaked half way down the block, it might be hours before he got inside. A group of twenty something kids directly in front of him discussed inane topics that Samuel found not only dull and inconsequential but their facts were incorrect which was truly an annoyance for Samuel and he turned around to see if there was something more interesting behind him.
Two women! Yikes! His tongue became cement instantly, so he smiled. Yes, not the magnetic toothy grin that engages conversation but the ‘lips closed’ smile stretched tight across a face, more like the grinch kind of smile. One of the women was engaged in her phone so she hadn’t noticed him at all, but the other gal’s eyes widened. Was that shock, thought Samuel, was she perhaps frightened? If she took a step backward he’d have his answer.
No, she stood her ground and slowly after what seemed like minutes, a return smile crept across her lips.
“Hi there,” she chirped happily, “what brings you to Flannagan’s?” she lilted.
Yes, she lilted it, in a proper Irish accent to boot. There was an impish twinkle in her eye, like she was having him on.
“Why, I’ve come for the five course dinner of course,” he tried his best thick brogue. “And yourself?”
“Well, the dinners good you know, but I’ve come for the brew,” she continued the charade.
“You’d best be careful lass,” began Samuel, thinking to himself, wow, this is going extremely well, “there’s plenty of beasts in there to be sure. Perhaps you’d be wanting my gallant prowess to protect you in there.”
“Why sir, that is most gallant of you to offer your services to this mere fragile creature.” She put her gloved hand over her heart as she turned her head to one side, with a wink.
Samuel notice that she was indeed petite and possibly fragile, although it was difficult to detect her actual size as she had on one of those puffy down filled coats, the Pilsbury dough boy variety, definitely warmer but not seductive in the least. Perhaps he should have worn his warm orange and very loud parka as well he thought at that moment.
The most striking detail about this chatty gal was her strawberry red and wildly curly hair that accented her very blue eyes and faintly blushed cheeks.
She held out her suede gloved hand and said, “Colleen,” with a curtsy
“Lovely to meet you Colleen, I’m Samuel.”
At this point her attractive friend, with holly-wood type looks, tall, blonde, arched eyebrows over deep chocolate eyes fringed in cartoonish long lashes looked up from her phone as if she hadn’t heard a word of their conversation. She glance momentarily at Samuel, and attempted a brief smile, then turned her head in hopes of finding a more interesting specimen, he supposed.
“Oh, pardon me, this is my flat mate, Brandy,” said Colleen, once again in her Irish impersonation, “she’s managed to pry me from my sofa, where I’d planned to watch the ball drop this new years eve, on the telly!”
At this point, Brandy turned her gaze back onto Samuel, her brilliant red lipstick accented her perfect white teeth in what appeared to be a smile.
“Charmed,” she chimed with a trace of humour.
“N-n nice to m-m meet you t-too B-Brandy,” Samuel stammered.
Shit, what just happened here? I’ve just turned into a bumbling idiot, Samuel thought.
Colleen started to giggle, “Yes, it certainly is c-c-cold out here!”
Her face was so open, warm and friendly and her smile so engaging that Samuel became instantly relaxed again. He returned to conversing with the delightful Colleen and the stammering, disappeared, thankfully.
The time in the line up went by too quickly and soon Samuel found himself inside the dimly lit pub bumping into sweaty bodies, squeezing his way toward the bar, the floor sticky due to spilled beverages, and the scent of hops wafted through the establishment. All around him was the thumping of a bass drum to the decibel that sent the beat directly through him, bounced off the walls and back into him again.
“I’m old!” he decided almost instantly. Upon tasting the Guinness, which was cold and welcome in his still dry mouth, he drained the first one almost immediately and was half way through his second brew when he scanned the pub and slowly relaxation flooded into him.
Although the visual and auditory stimulation was well beyond a comfortable level he was undoubtedly adjusting and well, maybe even enjoying the calamity around him.
The beer circulated his almost virginal system, and soon Samuel received messages from his brain that suggested he find a bathroom, and soon. Although he saw no sign indicating the needed room, which held the porcelain fixture, he did finally notice women filing towards a hallway so followed them in hopes that the men’s was close by.
He stepped carefully trying not to sway or stumble and there before him now, was the lovely Colleen. Without her bulky coat he could see that she was indeed tiny. Dressed in an emerald turtleneck sweater, black jeans and flats, she was as out of place here among the scantily clad women in four inch heels as he felt in his cardboard jeans and leather jacket. His face flushed as he felt awkward now, he felt a bit perverted, like he was inspected her.
“Well now, how have you been Samuel,” she chirped again, “Tis been ages since I’ve seen you!” she teased. “You’ve grown older, more distinguished over the minutes, it looks good on you.”
That was all he needed to engage in flirting once again, with a wild haired gal, who just seemed to know exactly what to say to make him feel great. After what seemed like moments of cheerful bantering she winked at him and suggested they dance.
“Why, me lady, I don’t dance, I stomp and I strut like a rooster, I’m totally inadequate on any dance floor. Perhaps you might behead me right now?” he queried, tilting his head in jest.
“Oh come on now, you’ll be fine,” where upon she took him by his hand and lead him through the cramped bar up to where gyrating bodies filled the dance floor.
“Oh, would you look at that, no room at the inn,” Samuel said turning as if to leave.
“Nonsense, simply use your elbows,” Colleen indicated.
In minutes they had found a total of 8 square inches upon which they were squashed and moving as a single unit. It felt silly but somehow Samuel felt happy, except for his screaming bladder sending yet another urgent message about a bathroom
After what seemed like an hour of pounding endless repetitive noise, the beat slowed and people started leaving the dance floor. For the first time since stepping onto the dance area, Samuel could breathe and he too had turned to leave, when Colleen indicated that this was her favourite song and could they please dance to it.
“Well, sure little lady,” Samuel said in his best John Wayne accent.
With Colleens arms around his waist, and Samuel bent over somewhat to accommodate her, they swayed like teenagers to a song that simply did not want to end, and Samuel became sweaty trying to avoid any thoughts of urinals, pressure, or dams bursting.
“Well now, me lady, me thinks the water closet call-eth my name,” Samuel said stepping off the dance floor, but at that moment the beat had picked up again and Samuel was swept away by a Congo line that had formed impromptu.
The sudden surge of people pulled him along as he moved further away from the magical door he so desperately needed and when the music changed and the line finally dispersed, he realized he was closer to the entrance so he made a wild dash out into a nearby ally, where he finally emptied his over extended bladder.
The steam wafted up past his face but he didn’t see it as his eyes were closed in ecstasy and a most satisfied feeling overcame him as he signed “Ahhh!”
He was certainly surprised when a constable placed a hand on his shoulder and told him of his rights and that he was under arrest for indecent exposure.
Samuel was stunned, “but officer, my, my, my, date is inside.”
“That’s okay he said, she can pick you up from the station later.”
“But officer, I don’t even know her last name, we just met tonight,” Samuel looked completely deflated.
“The thing is, that I’m sure she’s the one,” he was practically begging with his hush puppy eyes.
A unified shouting, “Ten, nine, eight….” could be heard from the pub.
Officer O’Malley, softened, heaved a sign and rolled his eyes, “Okay, you have exactly one minute to correct that." With those words Samuel, flew up the steps, into Flannagan’s, shot past the bouncer so quickly his moustache wafted in his vortex and shouted “Colleen!” over and over but of course the crowd was so loud that his shouts were ineffective.
“Three, two, one,” Samuel pushed through several pockets of bodies, frantically looking for the red haired, Colleen, when he collided with her. Balloons were drifting down in slow motion all around her like confetti, as if they were in a fairy tale.
“Well, look who it is,” she teased, “my knight in sh…..”
Her words were muffled as he pressed his mouth onto hers.
“Don’t you ever leave my sight,” he said a second later. He was holding her by her shoulders, eyes pleading, just as officer O’Malley appeared at his side, and pulled him away from the crowd, only this time a stunned but smiling Colleen followed them both out of the pub.
“And that, is how I met your mother,” Samuel said smiling, his five year old son perched on his lap, “exactly six years ago tonight”
Angus peered at his father with sea blue eyes, through strawberry curly locks and asked, “Da, will I have to listen to this story every New Years Eve?”
Samuel’s gaze drifted to his silhouetted wife in the kitchen. She was humming ‘Auld Lang Sine,’ and while his smile widening, he murmured, “Yes, I think maybe!”