We ended last week with my good friend scolding me for that which I’d not yet done. He could tell from the gleam in my eye that I was already a bit smitten by this magnificent young lady. He then made it his mission to verbally beat into me the notion that she was absolutely off limits. At first I genuinely believed that he was simply trying to protect this sweet girl from the likes of a mud bather like me. I knew me, he knew me, and it made perfect sense. It wouldn’t be until a few years later that I would discover that he had a thing for her himself. Sorry buddy.

At first though, I was a good sport and heeded my friend’s desperate pleas to distance myself from this exquisite creature. I finally reached the point that I didn’t care anymore what anyone else thought, I had to pursue her. So I started inquiring about her to mutual friends of ours and her coworkers. Many of whom I had known for many years, and despite my cavalcade of foibles were fond enough of me to perhaps put in a good word on my behalf. I started to plant the seed. I was super nervous about the prospect of asking her out and I needed any help I could find.

Believe it or not, although I was 37 at this point and certainly no prude, I had never actually just approached a girl I didn’t really know to ask her out. Up to this point, every coupling I’d ever encountered had been a coworker, a classmate, the result of excess consumption at a party, or someone I’d met over the bar when I felt comfortable and in my element. When not in my comfort zone I’m actually pretty shy.

Unbeknownst to me, the contingency of people championing her and me as a couple was growing and there were some wonderful promotional words being conveyed to her on my behalf. After several of her female coworkers had laid a foundation for me, I decided to throw caution to the wind, break character, and go ask her out. After more than a month of building up the courage, rehearsing in the shower, the car, and in front of the mirror, I thought I was finally ready. I sat in the parking lot in front of the bar she works in for 15 minutes practically hyperventilating before I finally went in on a night that I knew she always worked. I sat down, ordered a drink, and asked where she was. I was then told that she was on vacation and would be gone for the following week. NOOOOO!!

My immediate thought was: what the hell bartender at the beach takes off a week in freakin July?! I would learn later that her entire family and extended family had a long standing tradition of taking this same week every year to vacation together. Just my luck. I finished my beverage and left the bar with my head down, tail between my legs and heart palpitating. I had to wait an entire week to ask her out. How had no one mentioned this to me sooner?

The next seven days were some of the most torturous of my life. I had to make sure that I didn’t lose my courage. I consulted some of her coworkers while she was gone to find out what her schedule would be upon her return. I was pretty certain that by now she was privy to the fact that I was more or less stalking her from a distance. I sincerely hoped that she could look past my apparent desperation and not think I was a total psycho.

I was informed that her next shift would be the Sunday day shift. Perfect, I could get it out of the way early in the day, and I was off on Sunday so that would give me the rest of the day to either celebrate, or wallow in self pity. I sat down, ordered a drink, and much to my dismay she was nowhere to be found. As I sipped, I inquired as to her whereabouts; I was told that she came in at noon. I quickly knocked back my drink, paid my check, and got out of there. The last thing I wanted was to be already sitting there when she came in.

I drove around town for awhile trying to clear my head and give myself a pep talk. Being someone who doesn’t take himself too seriously, I found myself sitting at a stop light staring into the rear view mirror and giving myself the ‘daily affirmation’ in the voice of Stewart Smalley. Around 12:45, I returned to her place of employment to now find two bartenders working, neither of whom was the one I so desperately sought. I again, casually approached and ordered a drink hoping to lower my freak flag to at least half mast. Retrospectively speaking though, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t fooling anyone by this point in the stalking process. I tried as delicately and nonchalantly as possible inquire yet again as to her estimated time of arrival. This time I was told she worked at 3:00.

Same drill as earlier, I paid my check, tipped more than enough for hush money, and went on my way. I honestly don’t recall where I spent the next 3 hours, but I remained undaunted, and was perched back at that bar shortly after 4:00. Another cocktail, another wave of shame and disappointment washing over me, and she still was not there. The two bartenders, both of whom thankfully are friends of mine informed me that she now was not due in until 7:00. Now they’re just messing with me. I started looking around for Alan Funt or Ashton Kutcher (depending upon which generation of hidden camera show you prefer).

I entered the establishment for the final time that day. By now, my spirits were broken, my shoulders slumped downward, I felt like a complete buffoon, and I was already bracing for the inevitable rejection. I had now been drinking sporadically throughout the day for about 10 hours, my eyes were bloodshot, I was mildly disheveled, and carried with me a complete look of defeat. I knew what was coming, but having trained for this moment for the past six weeks I had to stay the course.

I approached the bar with the reticence of Oliver Twist asking for seconds. Behind the bar stood the object of my obsession looking more beautiful than anything I’d ever seen to this point despite her less than flattering work uniform. Though I was thrilled to see her, FINALLY, I no longer had any enthusiasm left to give. She approached me with her patented ear to ear toothy grin and said how nice it was to see me.

I looked at her half cross eyed and asked timidly, “will you go out with me sometime?” She shook her head laughing and responded, “ya know what, why not?” She then asked me what she could get me to drink to which I responded, “nothing thank you, I have to go home now”.

This time I left the bar floating on a cloud. I took her to dinner the following Sunday evening and we’ve been together every day since. Thanks for playing along. I hope you enjoyed it.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols

Please share your thoughts and input with me sydnichols@yahoo.com