I was not alone for long before Philip conspicuously slid onto the chair to my left. We proceeded to chat and share a generous portion of white chocolate cheesecake decorated in elaborately swirled dark chocolate, sparkled with slivers of almonds. My favorite part was the luscious, crumbly graham cracker crust. But I digress.
On cue (i.e., as soon as I licked the last remnants off of my fork), Philip asked me to dance. We spent the next several hours grooving to 1991’s best: Paula Abdul, Madonna, Boys II Men, Michael Jackson, Celine Dione (I know. I know, but she wasn't hated back then), and more of the same.
At the midnight hour, we separated to make the obligatory rounds, forcing insincerely loving hugs onto everyone in the room. Alas, we were thrilled to reunite a minute later. After some more, and slower, dancing, Philip moved in for a kiss. I still remember the sound of his shirt collar as it brushed against my right shoulder. Our kiss was long and breathtaking.
We continued down that vein throughout the courtship: on a lifeguard stand at Santa Monica Beach under the stars, in the back row of Manhattan Village Cinema during a showing of Beauty and the Beast, and, well, in my bedroom. Don’t get the wrong idea; he didn’t. He simply hinted devilishly at it on a few occasions. It was a relationship comprised of kissing for the sake of kissing, with no real pressure to get to second base, much less hit one out of the park. Ah, those were the days.
I didn't kiss him just for the fun of it, though. I had another agenda. I needed to shut him up. Talking was not Phil's strong suit. The words emanating from his facial orifice irritated, confused, and contradicted themselves, me, and the greater stratosphere. There was the message, “I’ll pick you up at seven,” when, in fact, he did not arrive until nine-thirty. There were the words, “I’m going to take you to Disneyland next Saturday. We’ll get a locker there, for our stuff.” A locker? I was baffled by this nuance; however, intrigued. In all of my ventures to the happiest place on earth, I’d never been privy to a Disneyland locker. That must be something special!
Two days later, he canceled the trip. What? No, no locker? “An apology would be nice,” I asserted.
With a grumble and heavy sigh, Philip sputtered, “I’m sorry, but it’s not my fault.”
Between the kissing and irksome vociferations, our romance ebbed and flowed into January 13, 1992. On that fateful day, Philip invited me to the Santa Monica Boardwalk for, perhaps, his most dramatic performance to date.
“It’s just not working,” he announced, with the agony of a soap opera character whose evil twin – the one that died in a plane crash fifteen years ago- just reappeared; having survived on a small tropical island unknown to scientists, Oprah and the CIA; to avenge all who wronged him, starting with blood relations.
“You don’t talk enough to me….We’re stopping each other from seeing other people.”
You don't shut up.
"What? You haven’t even given me a chance.”
“That’s not the point,” he proclaimed. “And I don’t believe in second chances, but I still want to be friends.”
“Well, I don’t,” I said, heading for my car. I drove to the nearest shopping mall, perused the stores, ate some fudge, and all was well.
Philip might still be giving his speech right now. I’m glad to have since moved 350 miles away.
After I relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, he called Brian to get my new phone number. Brian, a loyal friend, refused to oblige.
At the very least, I can still say I had a romantic New Year's Eve once. I hope you can say the same.