18 January 2009

A Chance Encounter
(or "How I Met My Wife")

"Please Baby... Let's get it right
I don't think I can take it...one more night.
I know I love you, I love you, I love you as though the stars are mine
So please Baby, show me you are mine."
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, "Please Baby" (1998)

In the late 90's I worked as a bartender at the Broadway Grill on Seattle's Capitol Hill. Capitol Hill is an eclectic, sort of arty, bohemian neighborhood - or it tries to be. It's where I lived, and it's also the predominant gay neighborhood in Seattle. The Broadway Grill was one of the main hangouts to see and be seen. 

I was good friends with another bartender who worked across the street at a bar called Charlie's. She would come in to the Broadway and drink when she was off work, and I would go to Charlie's and drink when I was off and she was working. At that time she was also dating one of the female servers at the Broadway, and we would hangout for cocktails and whatnot occasionally.

On Valentine's Day of 1998, my bartender friend was sitting at my bar in the late morning. It was a Saturday and she had just had breakfast and was nursing a Bloody Mary. Her girlfriend would stop by and talk to her (and nibble off her plate) while she was working her own section of the restaurant. At one point they asked me what I was doing that night - since it was Valentine's Day. I laughed and told them I had no plans, since I wasn't dating anyone at the time. They invited me to go out with them to the Re-Bar that night. The Re-Bar is a gay (or gay-friendly, at least) bar downtown, just down from Capitol Hill. That night was Lesbians in Love night to celebrate the holiday. I laughed again and asked if they were serious. They both nodded and said that they were just going to hang out and play pool and they wanted me to go along. Since I had no plans, and would be able to hang out with two beautiful women, I decided to do it.

We got there around 9 or 10 pm, got some beers, and retired to the pool room to shoot a few games. After a while I wandered out to the main area, which had a large dance floor and a long bar at the back. I stood off to the side, leaning against the wall and nursed my beer. I watched the dancers and sighed at all the beautiful women who weren't playing for my team. There were a few men there too, in couples or by themselves - so I didn't completely stand out, but was certainly in the minority as a man, and even more so as a straight man. I noticed in particular a redhead dancing by herself at times, and with a few friends at other times. I have a particularly strong attraction to redheads (a compulsion really), and so I watched her with keen interest.

After some time the redhead broke away from her friends and walked directly towards me. She stopped in front of me and said, "Can I ask you something?"

Surprised, I stammered, "Sure."

"Are you gay or are you straight?"
she inquired.

I laughed. It was a question I got a lot working at the Broadway. Most everyone assumes you're gay if you work there. But after they'd see me eyeing the female customers or comparing notes with the lesbians (we would give each other a 'head's up' if a particularly striking female would come into the restaurant) - they would often ask me exactly the same question.

"I'm straight," I replied.

"Thank you," she said, and immediately turned around, took a couple steps and yelled to her friends across the bar, "I TOLD you so!"

I stood there stunned and amused as she made her way back to her group of friends. I wasn't sure what to do next. She was beautiful and so I was certainly interested. But I realized with a smile that now I didn't know if SHE was straight or gay. I wandered back into the pool room to discuss the strange happening with my friends. They both demanded that I go talk to her, at the very least to see what persuasion she was. After a couple more beers and some more convincing (I'm a bit shy) I decided that I didn't have anything to lose and that I should at least find out her name and what her forthright question and odd response to my answer was all about.

I made my way back out to the bar area and scanned the crowd. For a moment I was afraid she might have left. Then I spotted her standing near the bar.

I approached her and said, "Can I ask you a question?" She smiled and said, "I'm straight. I'm just here with my friends dancing."

I smiled back and said, "What's your name?"

"Stacie," she replied.

"I'm Kevin, would you like to dance?" It was the only other thing I could think of to say.

It should be pointed out at this time that I do not dance. Or at least, if I do dance, I don't dance well. I would be the visual definition of the stereotypical non-rhythmic white-guy. I'm probably not as bad as
Elaine Benes from Seinfeld - but I'm really (really) not a good dancer. But I had nothing else at that moment, so we danced. I do like to dance, if I'm tipsy enough not to feel too self-conscious. So we danced. And it was fun. She had a great smile, and she, at least, could dance. I shuffled and flapped about and watched her move smoothly to the beat of the music.

The night got late and I had to open the bar the next morning - being there at 7 am. Gotta be ready to serve the morning drunks their Bloody Mary's right on time at 8 o'clock. Even had one guy who would be there at opening to have a straight shot of Rye whiskey. I decided to try to play it cool, and so I told her that I had to go. I told her I wanted her number, but that I probably wouldn't call her. I told her that I would love to see her again and that I worked at the Broadway Grill and that if she came in while I was working I would buy her a drink and we could talk. Then I left.

It was a good walk home, as I felt exhilarated and alive. Happy. The cold February chill sent shivers through my body as I smiled and thought of the redhead.

It was a few days later that she came in to the bar. It was a weekday evening and I was tending alone. She came up and sat at the first stool and said, "Hi, do you remember me?"

I said, "Sure, Stacie right?"

She nodded and I held out my hand and said, "Kevin. Nice to see you again."

She stayed there for a few hours and we got to know each other a bit better. I had one ticket to see
"Big Bad Voodoo Daddy" that Friday night at the Fenix Underground, a club downtown. I asked her if she wanted to go with me. She said she would and we made a date to meet at the J&M Café in Pioneer Square that night before the show.

Friday night at the J&M, and she was right on time. We had a couple cocktails (Tanqueray & Tonics - it would become our signature drink) and made small talk for a bit. Then we walked over to the Fenix. I had my ticket and had planned on just buying one for her at the door. When we walked up I saw, to my dismay, that the show was sold out. I asked the door guy if there were any tickets left and he shook his head.

At the spur of the moment I surreptitiously slid a twenty dollar bill onto his clipboard and asked him to check and see if she was on the "guest list." (I think I even used air quotes). He stared at me for a moment, probably saw the pleading look in my eyes, looked down at his clipboard again, and said, "Oh yeah, here she is."

I was astounded. It actually worked. It was like a scene out of a movie. A river of relief flooded my veins. He stamped us both and we went inside. The band was rocking and we danced, laughed, and partied through the night. To this day I still crack a smile when I hear Big Bad Voodoo Daddy play "You and Me and the Bottle Make Three Tonight."

And that, my friends, is the story of how I met my future wife.

KJT - Seattle (1998)


cae said...

great story - almost makes me want to move to Seattle (there aren't enough redheads over here on the peninsula).

Lara said...

: )

redwithenvy said...

love the story..

seriously, though. what is it about redheads? i've never figured that one out.

cae said...

vive la difference times 2 ...


gazolene said...

My-O-My...Kevin, I did not know you are quite the romantic. Just wait for your son to read this blog.....and also think your bedtime stories will be a hit.

The Bandit said...

Good story my friend, I had never heard it and did enjoy reading it very much!

SFR said...

Great story Kevin....

KJT said...

Thanks everyone... it's one of my favorites. Just such a random happening that all worked out so well...

And the redheads? It's difficult to explain... it goes deep. The pale skin, freckles, and beautiful hair are just part of the equation... excuse me, I think I need a moment...