I had been living alone in a charming, white cottage in the country with 3 bedrooms and 3 baths and it was really too big for just me. I have 3 children from my only marriage and the home was plenty big enough when they were with me, but it was quite lonely on the weeks without them. On those weeks, I would live like most bachelors do….little food in the house, lots of cleaning undone, and laundry piling up. I would usually watch a movie and head to bed. When it was time for the kids to come stay, I would scramble and clean up (man-clean, that is…) and go to the grocery store for food and snacks for the weekend as well as a quick trip to the video store for the latest movies.
On the weekends without the kids, I would go to the local bars for a drink and hang out for a few frosty beers with my good friend, one-eyed George. George is a jovial, portly fellow who loves to drink heavily and can always be found at the bar...kinda like Norm from Cheers. He is a great guitarist and was once a great pilot, but lost an eye in a bar fight years ago, which has kept him from flying. George is someone I never thought I’d be friends with, but we had known one another through a mutual friend back when we were 16 or 17 and this friend had re-introduced us recently and we had begun meeting for a few drinks after that. George was a good guy… taking care of his ill father, something I could totally understand and sympathize with. I knew he had a good heart and loved his father and this was the thing that drew us to a close friendship. We would meet for drinks early, leave about the time the crowd showed up to go take his Dad some ice cream and other sweets he craved, and then grill some ribeyes and giant shrimp. It was nothing like my usual routine whatsoever. Don Juan was usually knee deep in women about the time we were going to see his father with the ice cream. It was refreshing to know that I could change…I didn’t need a woman…I could simply be a good friend helping my buddy George take care of his Dad...and didn't need to chase women.
I had not had good luck with relationships since my divorce 10 years ago. I had been through many girlfriends and was tired and disheartened by the relationship thing. I had always been a big believer in love and that one day I would find the love of my life, but I was now jaded and feeling like maybe I was destined to be alone. Why could I not find a woman that was right for me? Why were my hopes and dreams always getting shattered by failure?
It was a time of reflection. It was a time of patience and growth of understanding.
I had gone out with George that night and we were leaving the bar by 10:00 to take the ice cream home to his dad. This night, however, I had decided to go back to the bar afterward for a beer or two…why, I did not know...but I was determined to go back and have another beer before heading home. An old friend from high school came to me at the bar and urged me to come to his table as another old high school friend was in town. I went over and hugged her and met the whole table. She had brought a friend from where she worked and her friend tapped my glass in a toast of new friendship. She smiled and there was an instant attraction between us. I figured she was married and besides, there was another guy at the table giving her the full court press and dancing with her. I stayed at the table awhile, talking to one of the guys at the table who had just moved to SC from England. I love having drinks with foreigners and finding out what they think about our culture! I ended up leaving when they were ready for breakfast and the friend from high school made me promise to do a FaceBook sign-up on the upcoming Monday. I stopped by a friend's birthday party on the way home and then went straight to bed.
The following Monday I signed my friend from school up on FB and noticed the girl that was with her was on there as well. I actually thought about it for awhile before sending her a friend request, but she accepted the request and sent me a message within the first 30 minutes. Then she sent me another message and then her phone number and by Tuesday, she invited me to meet her for dinner in another city. I actually was not planning on meeting her for dinner, but at the last moment decided ‘what the hell’ and went. She was more beautiful than I remembered and when I followed her into the restaurant I checked out her rear and thought it was one of the nicest ones I had ever seen. We looked into one another’s eyes and laughed and talked till it was later than we both realized. Time had flown by and it was time to leave. We texted one another all the way home and then the next day as well. The texting was flirty and sexy and I found myself anxiously awaiting her next move. By that Thursday, between the texting and messaging, we both couldn’t wait to see each other again.
Friday was the 3rd of July and I was awaiting getting my kids when my ex called and said they had plans at the lake and would it be ok if they came the next weekend. I have always been ok with their schedules and told her that was fine. I got off the phone and immediately texted my new friend and she texted back that she wanted to come spend time with me if that was alright. My heart lept with anticipation and I was very excited that we would be spending the weekend together…and then I realized I had only a few hours to clean up…and scrambled like hell to make my bachelor pad presentable to a lady.
She came and we went out for a few drinks with George. George instantly liked her and wanted us to join him for the 4th of July Jumpteam. The city has a big celebration and there is a jump team that lands in the middle of the crowd in a designated area. George told us it was an honor to be a member of The Jump Team. We laughed and said ‘sure, sounds like fun!’ and really didn’t think anything about it.
We left George to go to another club where we could dance. We hadn’t even kissed yet.
We were feeling good by now from the alcohol and a slow song came on and we jumped out on the dance floor. It was a beautiful country ballad and before it was over, we found ourselves kissing passionately on the dance floor and probably making everyone in the club a little uncomfortable. The song ended….but we didn’t hear it….we were lost in the kiss and continued long after it was over. The crowd was mesmerized at the couple who had such unbelievable passion. They probably all wished they had that much attraction for someone in their life. I know I was long overdue and loving it!!
We left and that night we had unbelievable passion and fun together. We talked about life and love and looked into each other’s eyes. Everytime we kissed, her lips just met mine so dang perfectly….it was as if we had been kissing our whole lives together. I kept thinking to myself…”can this be really happening to ME?”
The next day was the 4th of July. Late that afternoon we met up with George. He met us at a bar and he had obviously been drinking. He was dressed in his flight suit and looked like he couldn’t breath it was so tight. It was like seeing Chris Farley in Tom Cruise’s Topgun suit. It was hysterical, but he DID look official. So we climb into George’s Cadillac and proceeded to the park a block away where the festivities were taking place. He said we were running late and needed to find the 'Jumpzone', which would be near a black suped-up 68 El Camino with rims. We get there and realize that there are A LOT of people at this celebration...thousands of people walking around!! We see hundreds of police cars. George flies up to the first one we come to and rolls the window down. I’m a little nervous because I know George has definitely had a drink or two, but not sure how much. My new lady friend is in the front seat and I’m stuck in the backseat. The policeman comes to the window and George yells out in a slightly intoxicated tone “We’re with the JUMPTEAM, where’s the landing zone? Have you seen a suped-up, black 68 El Camino withrims?!!” My heart jumped with fear….I knew the policeman HAD to know he had been drinking. The policeman, a little stunned by the directness and oddness of the question and seeing George all decked out like a Topgun instuctor, says he is not sure and waves us through the crowd of cars.
I breathed a sigh of relief until George heads to the next officer and, just as quickly and directly, yells out “We’re with the JUMPTEAM, have you seen a black, suped-up, 68 El Camino with rims?!!” This officer, just as stunned as the first, sent us in a general direction and we passed a few more officers who all got the same statement and question. Each one was baffled, but respectful of the Jumpteam and George’s Topgun outfit. George heads to the crowded area where people are all walking like ants and starts to drive through the crowd…and all the while I’m in the back seat pressing the floorboard and praying as I know he’s had a drink or two and can’t see and I’m about to shit my pants in the back seat out of sheer terror that One-eyed George is gonna run people over. I know he can’t see too well between his one eye and the mass of people slowly walking around us. My girl in the front seat looks just as nervous….hell, she barely knew ME, much less this one-eyed Jumpmaster in a much too tight Topgun suit!
A few seconds later and we were traveling in the only car allowed in the sea of people. I yell out “Look out for the baby stroller, George!!!” at the top of my lungs! I was petrified he would hit someone....all I can think about is getting the heck out of the car before the police come and arrest us all. We zigzag through the crowd of people a little while longer and finally get to a place where the Black 68 suped-up El Camino is. The Jumpteam IS there alright….and they had jumped 30 minutes EARLIER. It was a nice suped-up black 68 El Camino for sure, though...
George tells us the Jumpmaster and his wife having a big party at their home and they actually jump in the pool naked during these parties. I look over at the 60ish couple and shiver at the thought...(I tell George sure, but my mind is saying "no fckin way, homie!")
George tries to convince us to go to the airport for a flight in the airplane as he was certain he could convince the pilot into taking us up for a little while, but my nerves were shot and I was hoping my lady friend was not totally frightened away from our newly developing romance at this point. As we pulled up to where we had met George, he says “This is not the airport?!” and was genuinely confused…which made getting out of the car even more expediant and necessary. At that moment, all I could think about was getting OUT of that car and to safety. We both thanked George and decided to go back to my house as we were both tired and a little rattled. It was a quiet trip home and I was thinking to myself she probably thinks I am crazy as hell and my friends are even crazier. Once we got home, we looked at one another and I blurted out “That was the craziest shit I have ever seen.” and we both busted into hysterical laughter at how insane it all was and how frightened we had been. We laughed until we had tears rolling and our sides hurt... It was a crazy and insane time, but we had officially been on the JUMPTEAM for the 4th of July celebration. It was a funny day that we all will remember for the rest of our lives.
George, you are one of a kind, and I love you, Brother!!!