Saturday, January 06, 2007

Horns, balance and lots of sports

“Horn or sax?” Friend asked over the music as she sat on my right. (She also asked how much of the evening she’d be reading about later. “Not sure.” I answered. “Have to tie it into some life lesson, I guess.” was her wry response and I giggled and nodded in agreement. I didn’t come up with much, but I also wasn’t making much progress on Project X, so post I shall.)

“Horn.” I answered promptly, moderately surprised by even the question. He was clearly more attractive, and I naturally let my eyes drift back toward him.

We’d reached the bar easily after dinner. Dave had arrived, happy and talkative, exactly as I expected. He threw his luggage in the office, pronounced himself good to go as long as drinking was involved and I scooted the passenger seat back as far as I could to accommodate a male frame. We picked up Friend, got dinner among good conversation I did little to create, then headed downtown.

“Did you look up the address?” Friend asked and I shook my head.

“As with almost everything I was planning to do today, I forgot.” I said and she shook her head at me. “I believe I can find it.” I claimed.

“OK.” She scoffed and I shrugged. My sense of direction is hardly legendary (well, at least not in a good way) but I had a feeling as to where it was. Sort of.

“I’m confident we’ll get there.” I said again. “We can go back to your place to look it up if you want, but I think – I believe – that I’ll find it.”

So we headed downtown.

“Look at the lights!” I said. “And all the people! Who knew I was missing so much by sleeping at night?!”

Thinking – not for the last time – that it was a shame I’d taken advantage of little of what the city offers, I proceeded toward where I felt the bar should be.

“I don’t remember which side it’s on.” Friend mused. “I’ve never driven down here. And I’ve always been drunk.”

“It’s left.” I said, feeling good about that part of the trip. “Then…” Just as I was starting to lose confidence though, Friend spoke up.

“We parked there before.” She said, pointing to a deck off to one side. I selected a slightly different one – though it was close – and we followed a truck up the ramp to the deck. A slow truck. A very, very, very slow truck.

“What the hell is the problem?!” I burst out, interrupting whatever Dave was trying to say.

“He thinks he’s too big.” Friend decided. “Compensating for something, no doubt.”

Dave agreed. “He’s afraid he’s going to hit the overhead beams. So he has to go slow. Very slow.”

“Look at the muffler and tailpipe.” Friend noted and Dave peered up from his sprawl in the backseat.

“Go there!” He finally advised, seeing the first opportunity to find a different route from our slow nemesis. I had reached the critical point of irritation – I’m not relaxed even on nights out – so I guided the car to a spot we found quite quickly after losing the not-as-big-as-he-thinks truck.

Opening a side door, we found ourselves in an alley.

“I’m so good at what I do.” I bragged as Friend spotted a landmark. We walked across a street then directly into the bar we’d sought. “I knew we’d find it.”

Pleased with my navigational mastery, I followed Friend past the band, up the stairs, around the room, then nodded my approval at her choice of three seats in front of a surprisingly sticky table. I took the creaky wooden chair in the center, balancing my tiny blue purse between my pretty black flats, and adjusted so I was too close to neither companion.

Dave noted his approval of the bar and Friend nodded. She liked it there and decided I’d be less bored with this music than the other choices. She was right. I liked it well enough.

“Oh,” I breathed as soon as I’d settled and peered down toward the band. “Aren’t they pretty…” I said of the brass section. Two young men stood directly in my line of vision, framed nicely by the wrought iron that decorated the balcony. The black curves of metal separated nicely and I could see them both clearly as they played and smiled and talked to each other.

“Who’s talking?” I asked of the man I could hear telling stories in the middle of his song. Something about chicken wings, leaving his wife and a beautiful woman in a bar.

“We can’t see him.” Friend said, craning her neck to catch a glimpse of the man she’d seen play before.

“I don’t care.” I noted, happily staring at the beautiful men I could see playing the music that was just a touch too loud for me. I sipped Diet Coke, followed by water, and sat – content but growing sleepy – between my drinking friends. They seemed to be enjoying the experience, and I was happy they were happy.

I’m not sure what people experience when they hear music, but I’m pretty sure I don’t get it. I enjoy it – it’s something to listen to – but I don’t tend to feel anything intense or moving. I get a glimpse of that during some hymns, but blues? Not so much. So I do what I do when I’m in a seminar or watching sports or waiting for a meeting to start. I think my thoughts. I look around. I just settle in and wait for time to pass.

“Why?” I asked of Friend’s original question as to my preference.

“Curious.” She answered and I nodded in understanding. The horn player was prototypically attractive for me. Tallish, though not huge. Medium build. Dark hair in a good cut, clean shaven, good facial features, nice clothes in dark colors, decent shoes.

“You?” I asked and watched her make a face. My own curiosity increased. Though Saxophone was secondary to Horn, he was also quite cute. Striped shirt, good haircut, clean-cut and a bit younger. These were cute boys! And she didn’t have a favorite? In response to my clear shock, she elaborated.

“I’d lean toward Horn, but he keeps looking bored.”

I liked that he looked bored in some vague way. He was doing his job – was good at it – but it was hardly capturing his full attention. He looked around, wet his lips, played his notes then held his instrument in his left hand (no ring, nice watch) as he waited for his turn to arrive again.

I find that detachment attractive. I’m so tuned into everything around me – feel it as a personal and intense experience – that I’m drawn to men who are a bit more contained. That search for balance – cool confidence against bright insecurity, steady strength contrasting passionate intensity, art vs. science, rough and gentle. It’s just interesting – I find myself most stable when I’m around someone who is struggling. I’ll allow myself to be quite neurotic when nothing else is going on. Nothing to talk about? Let’s discuss me!

As I grew more and more tired, watching the hour creep toward morning, I leaned toward Dave. Noticed that our arms were pressed together and wondered why I didn’t feel much. It was not unpleasant. That’s all I could offer. And it isn’t that I’m unable to muster any attraction to men of late. There was Visitor 2 – I blushed when I asked for his card so I could contact him with questions. Then Horn – he was worthy of a few little fantasies while I waited for my friends to become adequately drunk or blues’ed and we could go home to sleep.

“I see why you both like him and don’t like him.” Friend noted when Dave excused himself.

“Thanks.” I smiled, glad she understood. Dave is fantastic – smart and sweet and funny. But we don’t balance at all. If you replace his interest in sports with my online pursuits, we mirror each other. A time-consuming hobby of which we’re intimately familiar. He’s ready to be married – can catalog faults of many women over the past years. I could direct you to those sections of my archives if you’d like. He’s a social animal though – bar managers know him by name. I’m happiest in the safety of my house. He talks. And talks and talks and talks. I eventually tune him out so I can think my thoughts.

But it’s nice – having someone around that I love. I went to get donuts this morning along with juice and milk and soda. (He doesn’t drink coffee. I do not understand this phenomena.) After he showers, we’ll head back downtown. He craves the people and activity – I’d just as soon nap. But we’ll watch one game on TV, then see another one live and I’m currently listening to the Duke game on ESPN. And, of course, writing for my blog. Because when it comes to obsessions, I’m pretty forgiving.

I have too many of my own not to be.

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