He Is A Few of My Favorite Things
This Saturday is HoST’s 30th birthday. I’ve already been 30 for ten months, which bothers me. Not because I’m uncomfortable being 30, but because I really don’t like being older than HoST. I’m not sure why – I think I worry that being older than him means I have to be the level-headed, more mature one who balances the checkbook, files the taxes, and kills those huge fucking centipedes in the basement.
I don’t even want to TALK about the time one FELL OFF THE CEILING AND ONTO MY LAP WHILE I WAS ON THE TOILET OH HOLY MOTHER OF GOD THE TERROR.
But in actuality, I don’t have to do any of those things, because HoST indulges my desire to pretend I am the younger one – and my completely pathetic belief that being mere months younger than him would somehow equate to a total inability to balance the checkbook. Because he is awesome. And incredible. And I can’t even begin to express how deeply I love him on a blog where I talk about diarrhea from chicken pot pies, so let us move on.
I thought it might be nice on this, the week of HoST’s birthday, to relate to the internet the story of how we met, if only because this story involves musical theatre, irritable bowel syndrome, and the many sins citrus-flavored vodka can commit against your digestive system, and really, who am I to deprive my two readers of such brilliant storytelling?
(Nevermind that one of those readers is HoST, and he already totally knows this story. As he was there.)
Our story begins in the summer of 1997. I was working at the mall and getting drunk as much as possible, facilitated by my ID, which I had crudely doctored with silver nail polish. I didn’t turn 21 until December, but I covered up the “1” in the “12” so that it appeared I had been born in February. And that shit worked EVERYWHERE. I was totally amazed. All anyone had to do was give that little blob of nail polish the teeniest scrape and my cover would have been blown, but it NEVER happened. No one ever seemed to notice that there should have been a “0” where the blob was if I had really been born in February, but oh well. More Jim Beam and box wine for me.
It’s like a party with a handle!
ANYWAY. Summer of ’97. I decided to audition for a local community theatre production of “The Sound of Music,” as I LOVE that movie, and used to watch it every year when they aired it on ABC. I still remember the year when I realized that Christopher Plummer was one hot little schnitzel with noodles, IF you know what I mean.
Do Re Me Fa So hot.
Because I was a total self-involved theatre major coming off a year where I had gotten some lead roles at school, I was totally confident that I’d land the part of Liesel. After all, this was community theatre and I was a theatre major at a large university – I’d done Shakespeare and read, like, two whole Ibsen plays, you guys. Surely, I would get the part.
I so totally did not get the part.
But you know what part I DID get?
“Somewhere out there is a young girl who will never be a nun.”
Yes, the Baroness. The crusty, old, bitter Baroness. Did I mention I was all of 20 years old at the time? But, hey, the Baroness is a total bitch and therefore fun to play – not to mention she has two [god awful] songs that were cut out of the movie [for fucking good reason]. So I embraced my role as the Baroness, and quietly hated that bitch who got cast as Liesel. Just part of my character, you understand.
HoST, meanwhile, was cast as Rolfe, that adorable little Nazi who rats out Liesel and her family after VonTappin’ that ass in the gazebo. HoST, who has a fucking amazing singing voice, was a total stranger to me, so apart from watching his scenes with That Bitch Liesel, I had absolutely no interaction with him whatsoever.
As I mentioned, that summer I spent whatever time I wasn’t at work or rehearsal partying my damn fool head off. Whiskey was my drink of choice. Unfortunately, this was the summer my stomach went all to hell, and rebelled against just about anything I’d put in it. No matter what I did, I almost always ended up in crippling pain in the evenings. I’d like to say that this curbed my consumption of hard liquor – the one thing I knew for absolute sure wasn’t doing me any good – but…not so much. I just took to supplementing my liquor with Pepto Bismol. LOTS of Pepto Bismol. Behold the photographic evidence:
Gee, you guys, I can’t imagine WHY my stomach burns with the intensity of a warehouse fire every night – can you?
After one particularly harrowing evening writhing around in pain, my mother decided to take me to the doctor. But I had to go to rehearsal first. I remember walking in the door to the theatre, and seeing HoST standing there, staring at me. I said hi, and he just kept staring. Fine, I thought. I’ve got a fifth of Early Times burning a hole in my stomach lining; I don’t have time to figure out why you don’t like me. And that was the sum total of our interaction during the entire run of the show.
[HoST would later tell me that he was nursing a major crush on me and – while he doesn’t remember the interaction above – he’s certain he probably just froze and didn’t know what to say. Methinks he was actually just put-off by my awesome hangover hair and wrinkled clothes that were probably reeking of booze, but you know. I’ll take lovestruck.]
After the show was over, one of the cast members threw a pool party at her house, and at the last minute I decided to go. I really had no desire to join Mother Abbess and her gigantic Climb-Ev’ry-Mountain bosoms in the pool (and I also didn’t bring a bathing suit), so I just sat in a lawn chair wondering why the fuck I had agreed to come in the first place. Before I knew it, HoST was sitting beside me, and we struck up a conversation. He was fucking hilarious. I stayed at the party way longer than I had intended just to keep talking to him, but eventually had to leave to go pack up my things for my move back to college the next morning. We exchanged email addresses, and I remember thinking that I’d wished we’d gotten to know each other sooner, because maybe then the summer would have contained more fun and less stomach acid. Or at least more fun.
After that, I had to live through the hell that was my first semester of my junior year. It was ass. My stomach was still a mess, I was in terrible shows, my roommate and I weren’t getting along, and I was having some pretty rough relationship problems with a guy who – in hindsight – should never have been more than a friend to me. I cried and popped Maalox way more than anyone really ever should.
Then, right before Thanksgiving break, I got an email. From HoST. Turns out he had lost my address, and – through some pretty impressive detective work – called the theatre office and asked them for it. Thankfully, the secretary had no problem giving out my personal information to perfect strangers, and HoST e-mailed me. He asked if I was interested in hanging out over the break while we were both home from school. Remembering how much fun I had talking to him at the pool party (and how much fun I was NOT having in my present situation), I immediately agreed.
So we met up. And he was just as awesome as I had remembered. And he could really make me laugh…not the ha-ha-you’re-a-guy-I-don’t-know-very-well-so-I-shall-laugh-to-be-polite, but real laughing – the kind I couldn’t stop if I tried. He was smart. And kind. And not afraid to make fun of me. I found myself conveniently avoiding telling him that I had a boyfriend. Afterwards, as I saw his car driving away from me on the highway, I got a little pang in my stomach that decidedly was not acid-related: I was sad to see him go.
After finals week – which contained more misery and pathetic sobbing – I decided to throw myself one hell of a 21st birthday party. I got a hotel room. And lots of Mylanta. I was not kidding around. I invited HoST, and to my great delight, he said he’d be there.
The party was a blast. For most of us, at least. Poor HoST got a little gung-ho with the Absolut Citron and ended up forming a close, personal relationship with the bathroom floor of the hotel room. Somehow, I managed to be totally charmed by this. Don’t ask me how. The powers of the universe were obviously scheming to bring us together, and I formed a sudden soft spot for this sweet guy who had the Holiday Inn’s bathroom tile pattern pressed into the side of his face. Sigh.
The next morning, I had to work. Being the consummate professional I was, I showed up at the mall (which was, conveniently, across from the hotel) reeking of booze and cigarettes. I was also probably still drunk, but luckily for me, my manager was the kind who enjoyed getting her herb on in the stockroom, so I fit right in. Unfortunately, I was running late, and had no time to grab my beloved hangover breakfast burrito from the McDonald’s in the food court upstairs. HoST, hearing me lament my lack of a breakfast burrito that would most likely not stay in my body for very long, walked over to the mall in his painful hangover haze, waited in the insanely long McDonald’s line, bought me a burrito, and delivered it to me at the store.
To a hungover 21-year-old facing an 8-hour retail shift? This was love.
Ah! Sweet mystery of life, at last I’ve found thee!
HoST and I hung out for the remainder of Christmas break, and it didn’t take me long to completely fall for him. Early one morning as we were driving back home from a friend’s party on a nearly empty interstate, I looked out over the road and realized – with absolute certainty – that I wanted to ride along with him in his beat-up old Eagle forever.
Of course, being the annoyingly anxious and paranoid bundle of stomach acid I am, I worried that this amazing connection we had would fizzle over time, and pretty soon he’d stop making me laugh and I’d be back to crying tears into my Pepto. I mean, that’s the way these things go, right?
Ten years later, I’m here to tell 20-year-old me: It doesn’t change. He still bends over backwards to perform the tiniest act of kindness for you (be it burrito-related or not), and he still makes you laugh harder than anyone else on this planet. He’s your best friend, and he’s your whole life.
And he’s also turning 30 on Saturday. Happy birthday, you old bastard.
“In my day we didn’t have hair dryers. If you wanted to blow dry your hair you stood outside during a hurricane. Your hair was dry but you had a sharp piece of wood driven clear through your skull and that’s the way it was and you liked it! You loved it!”