"You Can't Start the Play in the Second Act"

I have a friend--strictly platonic these days--who calls on holidays and birthdays and other random occasions just to say hi. Somehow, a year passed without us chatting. Every time we talk, he finds a way to slip in a mention of this crazy night we shared far and long ago. The story is hilarious to us now, but at the time it happened, we thought it was the end of our then-budding friendship.

I talked to him the other day. He called to wish me a "Happy Birthday" and he told me I should go out and have fun. Instead of saying, "don't do anything I wouldn't do," he told me, "do all the things you've never done..." Pause. "Like the start the play in the second act." (Everyone from my long-term inner circle just busted out laughing and thought 'she is not about to tell this story.')

During the seven months of my discontent back in 2002 (my Dark Period), I went to a club in DC called Dream (now Love) every Friday night. Dream was a four-story super club that held about 5000 people and at the time, it was newly opened and the poshest place in DC if you were young and/or fabulous or aspiring to be such. Faithfully, my best friend Ace and I showed up every Friday around 7pm for happy hour. We usually two-stepped until midnight and were safely and soberly tucked in our beds back in MD somewhere around 1am.

One of those Friday nights, I met a boy. He was... beautiful. There's really no other way to describe him. No, scratch that. He was... of such beauty that he appeared to be hand crafted by God Herself. That's more accurate.

I spot him in the crowd and he's headed in my direction, but not headed toward me. He's sees me. I smile. He smiles back. I bite my bottom lip and look away. But then something feisty in me kicks in. This is no time to be a coy southern belle. This man was not going to pass without me knowing who he was. He needed to be spoken to. I make eye contact again, point to him, crook my finger and yell loud enough for him to hear me over the bassline of some B-more club song, "YOU, COME HERE!"

He happily and promptly obliges. I introduce myself cheerfully, tell him he is the cutest thing ever. I ruffle his vast mane of hair with my fingers. As we chat briefly, I'm beaming. So is he. He's got great energy. From that Friday on, we see each other at the club for the rest of the summer. He would see me, give me a hug, buy me a drank. His boys would see me and my girl, and they'd come up to tell me what floor he was on so we could find each other (this was before the days of rampant texting.) Or they'd bring him over to me and we'd just sorta stare at each other smiling like idiots going, "Hey." Pause. "Hey." Blush. "Hey." Giggle. "Hey." I was head over heels for this dude, but I didn't even remember his name.

So three months of these Friday interludes go by. In these passing convos, I piece together that he's a senior at a local university, he's from the ur-e-ah (DC speak for "area") and he's a year younger than me. I'm sure more details were exchanged, but I was usually tipsy during our interactions. Damn Bone Crushers. (What is in those things?) I knew the most important facts: he's cool as hell and he has great energy.

One Thursday afternoon, I get a call offering me a job in NYC. It's far from my dream job, but it's in New York, where I desperately want to be (that I was not there was the source of my seven month depression.) Of course, I take it. I have to move in three weeks, and two of the weeks I've arranged for an overseas vacation.

My summer of Friday-night partying at Dream comes to an abrupt halt as the next night will be my last at the club for the foreseeable future. In honor of my departure, Ace and I decide we will party the night away. We'll arrive when the doors open and enjoy the buffet, dance until we sweat through our dresses and not leave till the lights come on at which point we'll slip on flip flops to walk to the parking lot. It's the only proper way to say goodbye.

It's my last night at the club and dude finally asks for my number, tells me he'd like to call me sometime. But summer is almost over and so is my stay in DC. I don’t do well in long distance relationships. And I already know I don’t want to be just Dude’s friend. With a deep sigh, I ask him, "Dude, why'd you wait so long? I'm moving."

"Moving?" He looks stunned. "What do you mean moving?"

"I'm leaving. I'm going to NY." And then I explain how I have this two week-trek coming up and that night is my last in DC for a long time. (The following morning, I boarded a train to NYC to find an apartment in two days.) "Dude, I'm out," I say.

He asks for my number anyway. I ask him back, "What's the point?"...


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