I've been doing a few things in my time not writing. First, I've been playing Bastion. So far, I see why people liked it when it came out -- what, five years ago? Yeah. I'm behind. I also finished the series of Cheers and started Wings, because it is by some of the same people. I feel like Wings got the short end of the stick; I think it is nearly as good as Cheers, so kind of a shame it never really picked up. Oh well, Table of Contents here.
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When we came here, we sort of expected Christine and Peter to bump into each other, serendipitously. We weren’t going to go out of our way to make the fireworks happen. The fact that Lucy did it made it even worse, I think. Because she just wanted to make them happy. I was sliding my head next to the microphone while the emcee was too busy asking why I was back on the stage.
“Don’t you think that’s a little vague, uh, Mr. —?”
“Smith. Mr. Smith.”
“Wow. Really? I’ve never actually met a Smith,” I said.
“Could you please get off the stage?”
“Wait, first, think about it, how many Peters and how many Christines do you think are out there, right now? A dozen? A hundred?”
“There are maybe four hundred people here,” Smith said.
“Ah hah! Do you know about the birthday paradox — everyone stay in your seats!”
He motioned for the band to start playing; I motioned for them to stop playing. “How many people do you think it takes to have someone in the room with the same birthday?”
“What does this have to do with the dance request?”
“Everything,” I said, taking the microphone away. I could see Christine standing near the edge of the dance floor, tapping her foot, glaring daggers at me with one eye, while scanning for Peter with the other. Peter, for his part, was nowhere to be seen. “I mean, you only need about 50 some people in a room to have two people with the same birthday —”
“No sir! That’s math!” I said. “When you think of how unlikely that is, you have to admit, that there could be any number of people with the same name as ‘Peter’ and ‘Christine!’ In fact, they could be total strangers!”
“These two things are nothing alike at all, now stop messing around,” Smith said, again giving the band director the sign to play. I tried motioning again for the band to stop, but the band played on.
I didn’t let this deter me. “How do you even know there’s a Peter and a Christine here?”
“No one would make a request for people who aren’t here,” Smith said, turning the microphone off. “I don’t know what has gotten into you, but we’re done here. Unless you want me to call security.”
I decided that wasn’t a thing I wanted; Peter, I hoped, had gotten the hint to lie low. I was all for exposing his scumbagginess, but not this way. I climbed down from the stage and pushed through the dance floor to find Christine. She was still waiting on the sidelines, standing on her tip toes (which I don’t think even made her much taller than she was in her heels) trying to see through the crowd.
“What got into you Sam?”
“It was a reasonable concern,” I said. “Look, why don’t you let me cut in? I don’t think he’s going to show up.”
“I’m going to keep looking for Peter. Besides, I have a date,” Christine said. “Not very gentlemanly to steal your friend’s date for a dance.”
“It’s also not very lady-like to run off to dance with someone not your date.”
“Well, I’m not a lady,” She said. “Plus, he’s not here.”
I was about to press the point when I saw Susan approaching. I gave a half-hearted wave to her smiling face, and she grabbed my hand. “You owe me a dance,” She said pulling me to the dance floor. Christine barely acknowledged as I was whisked away. I tried to explain that this was a bad time, but she really was a bad dancer. Atrociously bad. Our movements were sporadic; I deftly kept my feet from being stomped while keeping Christine in my line of sight.
“You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think your mind was somewhere else,” Susan said.
“It is,” I said. “I’m trying this new honesty thing.”
“You’re lucky I’m strange and don’t mind a guy telling me I’m not interesting to dance with.”
“I wouldn’t say that; this is the most interesting dance I’ve ever had.”
“What’s on your mind Sam?”
I don’t know how to describe people’s eyes. Romances always say someone has soft eyes, but I think eyes are primarily squishy. Susan’s eyes weren’t especially squishy. Maybe she wore contacts? I spun Susan, in an over-exaggerated dance move, as I tried to decide how best to explain things with Peter. Luckily for me, in a way, it was a moot point.
Susan and I stopped dead when we saw Peter sheepishly being dragged along beside his wife. Christine saw them; the two women’s eyes met. I wondered if maybe they knew each other, then I figured they had to, otherwise, why would Chelsea be dragging Peter around to find Christine? Maybe she was always suspicious of Peter, and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Either way, I felt responsible for making sure this didn’t escalate. I could only imagine the two of them brawling in the middle of the fund-raiser. Then again, maybe we could set up a mud wrestling grudge match — for charity.
I let go of Susan’s hand and made a sprint toward the couple and Christine, with Susan befuddled behind me. I skid between the two; Christine’s head snapped in my direction as Chelsea, with a burning ire, turned her head towards Peter.
“Peter, who is this woman? She sure seems to know you,” Chelsea asked, folding her arms and leaning back. Peter began rubbing his hands together, trying to stammer out some creative answer. Peter looked at me, a mixture of helplessness and apprehension. I’ll admit, I was trying to be big on this whole honesty kick. But this was one time where I thought: “You know what? Lying is a really, really good idea right now.”
So, that’s why I turned to Christine, grabbed her hand, and said: “Emily! I’m so glad to see you.”