by Thom Garrett and Danna Colman
Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby. That’s the rock ’n’ roll truth. We’ve written about it, talked about it, even dreamed about it, but none of that and nothing else could prepare us for the real thing, our first sight, our first touch, our first kiss.
I woke at 4:30am in Greenville, North Carolina before she even went to bed three time zones away. I’d been planning for weeks, and packing for days, so there was nothing left to do but shower, dress, and kiss the dogs goodbye. A good friend pulled up to my house in his truck, and I stepped out of my door and into my future.
A good screenplay would have a plot twist or two along the way — a flat tire, a missed connection, something to build dramatic tension as six months of phone calls and the most unlikely of friendships inexplicably turned to love. But no, the flight to Charlotte was quick and easy, the longer one to LAX couldn’t have been better, and the little 30 minute hop to San Diego brought me to the same zip code as she, closer than we’d ever been. It was a long walk to baggage, but my suitcase was one of the first to arrive. Everything was perfect. I texted her to say I was about to find a taxi.
I was early. The plan, the fantasy, the hope was for her to arrive first at the restaurant, Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern. She’d sit in a booth and order two martinis, sipping one until I arrived for the other. Now I was closer to Jimmy’s than she, and she couldn’t find her shoes. So I waited. I figured after 6 months and 5 days I could be patient another minute or two. We texted.
I arrived moments later. The hostess saw me get out of the cab and met me with a grin.
“Are you meeting someone here?”
She gave me the keys, and I put my bags in the car, and then she directed me to a booth in a dimly lit corner.
Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby.
You looked surprised, and then you slipped out of the booth and stood, smiling.
We held hands and leaned forward for the softest of kisses, our lips barely touching. We were grinning. You touched my cheek; I ran my hand through your curly hair. We kissed softly and hugged. Real lips on real lips; real arms around a real body, warm, soft, and welcoming. If there ever was a dream come to life, I was holding her, and she held me.
I woke at 12 noon, a little later than planned but understandable since I stayed awake until 3am after saying goodbye to him at 5:30 his time and 2:30 mine. He was flying into LAX in just a few minutes, which meant he’d be here in less than three hours. I knew I could take my time to shower and dress and still be early, or so I thought. Somehow, suddenly the time was gone, and then at the last minute I couldn’t find my shoes.
My plan had been to arrive at Jimmy’s Famous American Tavern at 2:45 to have time to relax in a booth with a martini. That would give me just the right amount of time to gather myself together enough to meet him by 3:15. I was already feeling extremely anxious but more or less on schedule when he texted “Ohmygod I’m in San Diego!” His plane had arrived twenty minutes early! Ohmygod!
I explained to the hostess that my boyfriend would be arriving soon and to please give him my car keys so he could put his bags in my trunk. I told her that I hadn’t seen him in six months but failed to mention that I had not ever seen him before that, either. By the time the drinks arrived, I had all of three sips before she gave me a wink and said, “He’s here.” Ohmygod!
And suddenly there he was, standing in front of me smiling. It took a few seconds to sink in that it was him, really him. I stood, and we were both smiling and saying hello.
We held hands and talked as if we’d always been together instead of 3,000 miles apart. We kept smiling and kissing and hugging and looking at each other with amazement, wondering how this could have happened, how this couple of strangers could have become lovers before they’d ever met. It was inexplicable but not unexpected. And now here he is in my arms. Ain’t nothing like the real thing, baby, so good.
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