I don’t see my (our?) mystery fox until the following weekend, when me, Blue and Finn decide to hang at the beach lot for awhile before we go to Onstage in Bridgeport to see Devil’s Child. Finn wants into this band real bad, so it’s taking a lot out of him to have to kill time. He’s been practicing all day- lord have mercy on the neighbors. But to show up early at the club would be completely uncool. We must walk in like it was an accident, or the result of an errant coin toss. Perhaps even act like we’re against being there. So, we’ll go after dark and on the late side. To be enthusiastic would be akin to showing our hand. Personally, I think we’re holding only Jokers and 2′s, but whatever.
As we head down Beach Road, Rainbow’s ‘Long Live Rock’N'Roll’ blasting through the Pioneer Super Tuner, I see a bike coming in the opposite direction, and I immediately think: could that be him? The windows in the Caddy are wide open-so if it is him (and what are the chances?) the best I can hope for is a good, quick snapshot, to hang in my mind’s darkroom and hopefully develop. I take my foot off the gas pedal slightly-as if it will slow down time and then- there it is! -it actually IS him! We drive by each other on opposite sides of the road, a sliver of grass median between us, in what really does seem like slow motion. He’s wearing a black ribbed tank top (what we now call a wife beater), acid- washed jeans, his Ray Bans and of coarse, Nike high tops. I swear he looks right at me- and after he passes, when I look in the rear-view, he’s downshifted and is kind of standing up on the bike and looking back! No way! My heart gets all fluttery. Maybe he’ll turn around and come back to the beach? There are other cars driving beside us, in front and back, so it’s impossible to tell whether he was reacting to me. But my instict tells me he was.
Blue missed the whole thing, she’s busy looking the opposite way- out towards the Marina at all of the boats docked there, bobbing in the water. Finn’s caterwauling in the back. We pass by the miniature golf coarse, and through to the booth, where a rent-a-cop checks to be sure we have a beach sticker. Then we ride the entrance road, and hang a right into the lot. We creep slowly, looking for a cool group to pull next to. I see my brother’s black Firebird, speed up as bit and glide in beside it. I turn the key off, shutting it all down: engine, music, Finn. My brother comes walking over.
“What uuuup, dickwads?” asks Rob, leaning into the open window, Michelob in hand. Finn sighs and says “Oh!…. why don’t you go play some football, Rob! Get yourself a first down!” Both Rob and I look back at him, eyebrows furrowed. Whaat? In my family’s world, being told to go play football is a compliment, so as a put down it’s super weak. Proving that sometimes they just don’t land.
Meanwhile, Blue squeals- she loves Rob, so she opens her door and jumps out. She races around the back of the car and then dives into Rob’s arms- the two of them acting like they haven’t seen each other in months, like he’s finally on leave from the Navy or something.. Finn hops out her door, and lets out a guttural squawk, holding his arm in the air, devil horns up, playing to no-one and everyone. I grab a cigarette out of my purse, and wait for the car’s lighter to pop out. When it does, I light my Newport and join the crowd. I lean against the side of the car, puffing away. Rob’s here with Mike, Seth and Jimmy,all friends of his from NHS. Jessica is sitting in Rob’s car, fooling with a cassette, blowing a pink bubble with her gum, bracelets rattling. Rob’s stereo sounds awesome and we’re soon privy to a little “Bottom’s Up” courtesy of Van Halen 2. We bob our heads and aimlessly hang for awhile, making small talk, smoking, drinking and watching the sun set, a big orange marble in the summer sky.
About an hour in, Finn walks up and hands me a silver flask, which he reveals from the inside of his faded jean jacket.
“Here-take some. It’ll cheer you up!” he says.
“What is it?” I ask, wrinkling my nose. “And I am cheered!”
“Oh, just drink it!” he says.
“No! Not unless you first tell me what it is!” I say, and then add “God! Is this real-life peer pressure happening here? I’ve been warned about this! I watched those filmstrips!”
“I don’t think so- I think you need more ‘peers’ to be around for it to be peer pressure” Finn says. Then he moves in,playfully putting the flask up to my mouth “Come on, baby, drink the ba-ba!” he jokes.
“Eww!”I start laughing, and batting his hand away. “Sto-op!” I whine, turning my head away from the flask,”You are such an idiot!” But I’m smiling, and so is he, and I really do wonder what’s in the flask.
“No, no- baby has to drink!” he kids, and now I’m holding his arms away from me, and giggling and then…..sonofabitch!…A Suzuki rolls by-maybe six feet from where we are leaning against the car, horsing around- and it’s HIM! He’s goes by slowly- and as he is passing by he lifts his Ray-Bans with one hand and stares a hole right through me. With to-die-for eyes! I freeze, in the middle of laughing with Finn, his arms entwined in mine- and in an instant the Suzuki’s out of sight. My heart does a cartwheel and then effs up the landing.. He probably thinks I’m with Finn- it sure looked like it. Damn! I struggle with Finn- who’s still back in time, in his (now) crappy joke….When I get away I rush to the back of the car and look in the direction the bike was heading- just in time to see him (literally) riding into the sunset. And then out of the beach. Where the hell does this guy keep going? I hate that he belongs to the world, and not just me. And no- I haven’t the slightest idea who he is as a person. He could be a serial killer! A Top 40 lover! A non-smoker! The list goes on! I’m always blah-blah-blah-ing about judging people by their looks,(‘Don’t do it!!’) and yet it is exactly what I am doing! It’s so primal, this physical attraction- the kind we often slight men for. It’s hormonal, ridiculous and embarrassing, and yet- it is a feeling unlike any other -of hope, anticipation, and what-ifs. Like anything could happen, like the world is full of possibilities, and that those possibilities are endless.