Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mozzarella Sticks

Darren and I have been dating for several weeks but because we were friends first, it feels like much longer. It feels like he was always my boyfriend, he was always supposed to be my boyfriend, and he always will be my boyfriend.

Except he hasn't actually called himself my boyfriend yet. Weird, yes???

Anyways, we've gone on so many great dates, I have fallen harder and harder for him as time has gone on. We are just so easy together, so playful. He is incredibly proud to introduce me to his friends, show me off, tell our story. I love who he is and what he does for other people too. His friends and family say great things about him, this man I only knew as a boy. This new side of him, this grown up side is romantic and interesting and very impressive. He throws me over his shoulders on a whim, making me laugh and squeal and giggle and scream like a silly school girl. We have great back and forth, we are passionate kissers, and nothing seems dull or boring around him. Life is fun and exciting and new.

I realize after weeks of being in his world, that he is not nearly as enveloped in mine. I've met all of his friends from various places but he's spent no time with the people I care about the most. This must be remedied at once. When I find out that he has off on a night I'm performing in the city, I insist that he spend the evening with me in Manhattan and he is happy to oblige.

Our comedy team is spot on. We have great chemistry on stage, the audience erupts with laughter no matter what we do. Darren even throws out several "suggestions" for our improv games, making me adore him a little more for taking such an active part in the show! He laughs the hardest and the loudest, especially when I'm being ridiculous in a scene, making me want to work even harder to keep that lightheartedness going. The atmosphere is infectious and I don't want the night to end.

An hour flies by before we know it and it's curtain call at last. I am two parts proud and one part extremely embarrassed when, as we take our quick bow before running offstage, Darren doesn't just applaud --- he stands up, cheering, whooping and hollering at the top of his lungs. This causes a wave of standing ovation in the small and less than packed theatre, but it feels so good to know that we all experienced something magical that night. A live performance with high energy, great enthusiasm, and tons of memorable moments, which had never been done before and will never be seen again. Improv is like a rainbow that way. One minute it's here and absolutely amazing. The next minute, it's gone and leaves no trace behind.

Darren felt like my rainbow everlasting. He made me seem funnier, sweeter, smarter and sexier than I ever had before.

Although we weren't having sex. Also weird???

As I exit backstage, I hear someone crying. I cannot figure out who would be crying after an awesome show like we just put on, but I approach the bathroom and knock on the door. A girl's voice answers and I ask if she's ok. She cries harder and through broken words tells me she's locked in. Actually, she's been locked in there for several hours. Since before we went on stage. She's upset because she is stuck in a theatre bathroom but even more distraught that her boyfriend never came looking for her.

This poor girl! I try as hard as I can to get the door open but it is no use. I grab a screwdriver and try to take the knob off the door, thinking it will unlock but there is no way to undo it. I talk to her the whole time, trying to keep her calm, reassuring her that I'm doing everything I can to get her out (and so is the theater manager!) Finally, I go grab Darren because I can't think of anything more to do besides call 911. He's a firefighter, after all, so he must be able to think of something.

"What's her name?" he asks me. "Laura," I reply.

"Laura?" he says through the door, his voice confident and full of resolve. "I'm with the Fire Department. I want you to get as far away from this door as possible. Do you understand me? Back away from the door."

Laura calls back that she's safely tucked into a corner. Three seconds later, Darren has kicked the entire door down, busting it at the hinges, sparking riotous cheers from all the onlookers. I fly through the hole, seeing her shaking and shivering in the corner and hug her tightly. She grabs hold of me and just keeps repeating thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou. I escort her carefully out of the bathroom where Darren takes her from me and sits her comfortably on a chaise in the lobby. I get her water while he talks to her, keeping her calm and trying to stop her shaking, as the patrons file out past him, all offering their congratulations and slapping him on the back. The theater manager tells me that my group can perform anytime, as long as I bring the fireman with me! Everyone says they'll meet us at the pub and Darren will be drinking free all night long.

No one was kidding. Darren doesn't pay for a drink all night (and neither do I, for that matter!) He saved the day. He rescued the girl. He is the life of the party amongst both my friends and total strangers. He even got rid of Laura's useless boyfriend when she burst into hysterics over him not coming to check on her sooner. The guy showed up eventually, but it was too little too late for her. What can I say? Not everyone is as lucky as I am to have such a super great guy!

Darren pounds back one whiskey after another, keeping up with my teammates, my friends, the theater manager, the bartenders, and eventually drinking most of them under the table. It's late and I'm hungry so I order us onion rings, chicken fingers and mozzarella sticks. (Fried food makes me happy in times of intoxication!) I put a little plate together and find Darren in a booth, entertaining everyone around him as I've become accustomed to him doing. He is charming and witty and just the right amount of sarcastic. He's an excellent story teller and knows how to stay in the spotlight long enough to make everyone around him think he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. This would normally be a compliment, but ever since he kicked the door in, nobody has even mentioned our show. Nobody is talking to me, other than to say "Your boyfriend is the best!" I smile because they're right, he is the best. But inside, I feel a twinge of sadness, because they're wrong about one thing. He is not, in fact, my boyfriend.

I approach the booth where Darren has a captive audience, regaling them with tales of the NYFD. He freezes mid story when he sees me, wrapping an arm around my shoulders and kissing me hard. "Isn't she just the sweetest, most beautiful girl in the whole world?" he asks. (Out loud. To the whole table. To practically the whole bar.) "And she's funny too! Can you believe it? She's tall and beautiful and smart and funny. I'm the luckiest bastard in all of New York!"

I hand him the plate of mozzarella sticks and force a smile. "Wait. First you're sexy as hell AND you also brought me mozzarella sticks?" he continues loudly. Yup! That's just the kind of girl I am. I wanted my friends to like him, and now they definitely do. "That's it. That does it. I love you. I seriously fucking love you."

And then he throws up.