As far as fairytale encounters go, I don’t even think Joel and Ethan could have produced a better script for an introduction than the one that belongs to myself and Will Ryan.
Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
I’m late. I’m late. I’m late. I’m late.
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being late. I was once three minutes late to a friend’s baby shower, was the first guest to arrive, and was still upset that I hadn’t made it at exactly the time that had been printed on the invitation.
THAT, is how much I hate being late. And right now, I was exactly that.
The parking gods, at least, must have been looking out for me, because just as I was about to go into full-on Van Der Melt mode…and by ‘Van Der Melt mode’, I mean:
…just before that moment of no reasonable return, I lucked up on a parking space to whip my junker of a car into. I leapt out—barely managing to escape twisting my ankle and closing my black handbag up in the car door, and bounded up the stairs of Nashville’s own, Cannery Ballroom/Mercy Lounge.
I had a show to see—and James was awaiting me.
Morrison, not Van Der Beek.
Either way, neither were actually waiting for me…not only did neither of them have a clue who I was, James Morrison hadn’t even hit the stage yet (and James Van Der Beek wasn’t hitting it—the stage—at all). For that much though, I was thankful. There were 1.5 billion people inside Mercy Lounge, and they were all caking the stage like a flour bomb to Kim Kardashian’s face at a red carpet event. Too soon? o_O
I’d definitely need the opening act’s entire set to make my way through the crowd to a prime spot in front of the stage.
It was a good thing I’d come alone…you’d think giving away a free ride and ticket to see someone this good…
…would be an easy sell….but nooooo. I mean, so what if it was on a Tuesday night…and so what if it was a two hour drive there and back? We can all stay up past our bedtimes every once in a while, right? Apparently, I was the only one who thought so, because here I was—-alone.
I began to side-shimmy my way through the crowd, and instantly regretted my choice of wardrobe. The bright yellow v-neck I was wearing was fine, but the Guess skinnies were a bad idea…it was too hot for pants of any kind, much less jeans. And the fact that my toes were being jammed upon as I moved through the crowd—also made me wish I hadn’t worn sandals.
After a near act of Congress, I’d finally made it to the front of the stage. The dirty-blonde haired girl beside me with the huge boobs greeted me by bumping her shoulder into me.
I will not overreact…this is a concert, you’re gonna get bumped.
And then she bumped me again. And it wasn’t even the bumping me that was pissing me off, it was the constant bumping, and the not giving at least a “my bad” in my general direction. Between her and the people who kept leaving their spot in front of the stage to go to the bar, and then pushing their way back to their spot— my level of annoyance was increasing at a rather rapid pace.
Short of punching them all in their pie holes, I decided there was only one thing I could do to feel better at this point—Twitter rant!
8:45pm-I’m giving this, apparently drunk, b*tch beside me ONE more time to bump me b4 I have to knock the plumb dogsh*t out of her.
8:59pm-Mothereffers who wanna walk back ‘n forth from the middle of the crowd, to the bar, and back, sitcho ass down somewhere.
9:47pm-If thisbeeyotch in front of me leans back and puts her effing ponytail in my face ONE more time. just one, I swear..
9:56pm-I’veresolved all issues. I am now chillin…moved aaaall the way from the front, aaaall the way to the back. They win.
And by ‘the back’, I mean, I walked out of the area where the stage was, completely. It was a lot cooler here, and at least with no doors to the lounge, and my being just a couple feet away from the entryway, I could hear Mr.Morrison perfectly. I perched myself up comfortably in a low window sill and listened with ease.
My eyes were closed…until I started feeling that feeling you feel when you’re by yourself but then you suddenly feel like you’re not by yourself anymore.
I popped them open just in time to see a guy walking toward me. He looked me right in the eye as he continued on past me. Or, I think he did. Did he just look at me? Should I turn around to see if he’s looking?
I turned my head casually, and he was in fact, NOT looking at me…it actually appeared that he was leaving the show.
It’s too bad too, he was …well, hot and had a certain style that I really liked. He wore a pair of what looked to be, designer jeans, a white short sleeved tee-shirt with a black vest, and a pair of low-top black and white Chuck Taylors. Cool hair too…the guy had moxie.
Oh well, he’s gone now.
I closed my eyes, letting go of the momentary distraction, and began to listen again. Until, I felt that feeling again. A presence.
I opened my eyes, and there he was again. He had apparently walked back in and was now standing just a few feet away from me in the doorway. Listening. With his eyes closed.
Just as I began to dream up some imaginary conversation with him in my head, he opened his eyes, proceeded through the doorway and disappeared into the crowd.
Dangit! Not since Disappearing Dane had someone captured my attention this way…and that was eight years ago. EIGHT YEARS. How could I just let him slip into the crowd like that? But really, what was I gonna do, pull out my old “…I know this is weird, but do you have a girlfriend?” winning line? I thought to myself, it doesn’t matter what you say, if he walks by again, you better at least…
And before I could even finish the thought, I’d let him walk right past me again, and I didn’t say a word.
I turned around and caught a glimpse of him tilting his tall-boy into the air, as he took one last swig, and dropped the empty Bud Light can into the garbage bin, before exiting the building.
“Welp, there went my chance.” I thought.
Wait. MY chance? Hell, if he were interested, HE would have said something to ME.
His. Freaking. Loss.
I could hear James closing out his set, so I eased myself off of my sill, and a few feet over to stand in line at the merch table to have my cd signed ahead of all the fanboys.
Well, most of them.
There were 4 people in front of me: an older couple directly in front of me, and in front of them, a dark-haired girl and a blonde-haired girl stood together.
I looked down at my phone, checking a reply to one of my earlier Twitter rants.
“Ha ha, Robyn, you’re crazy.” Whatever.
I look up again and I see Mr. Stylin’ come sauntering back in. He walks to the entry way again, but by this time people are coming out of it, so he proceeds to go back into the crowd and disappears….again. A few minutes pass and he reappears.
He’s standing about 10ft away from me…in the middle of the flow of people-traffic, drinking another beer. He takes a couple steps closer, like he’s moving out of the way of the onslaught of people…but I can tell he’s intentionally getting closer, and not for the purpose of being courteous to those making their way out.
I would have gotten excited, only, I was sure he was trying to get close to the blonde.
She was really pretty, I couldn’t blame him. My spirits dropped a little and so I decided to do the only logical thing anyone would do at that point.
I updated my Facebook status: I ♥ music. Mr. Morrison rocked my face off …from the windooooow, to the flo’!
I hit ‘post’ not a moment to soon, because as soon as I did, my phone died.
“Ya know, a person has got to be bored out of their mind, to sit in a window sill at a James Morrison concert”
I nearly dropped my phone. Mr. Stylin!!
I decided to play it cool.
“It’s a solid spot…”
So, that was the icebreaker.
“I’m Will, and…what’s your name, Yellow?” He said looking down at my bright-hued shirt.
Cute, and sarcastic. Not a terrible combination.
Turns out he’s originally from Michigan, but moved to Nashville a year prior to pursue his career in music as a singer/songwriter.
“I’ve given myself until I’m twenty-six to get the music thing off the ground, and if nothing happens by then, I guess I’ll explore other options—I figure three years is plenty of time.”
Ugh. He’s only twenty-three. Twenty-seven is too young to be considered a cougar…right?
Our chatting and exchange of witty banter continued for the next several minutes. That is, until his burly friend came up and tapped him on the shoulder…at which point, he apologized and said he had to leave.
“But, look, since you said you’re back and forth to Nashville all the time for music, and I play, maybe you can come listen to me play sometime soon, or, if that doesn’t work, maybe you’d just like to hang out sometime?”
Um, DUH. Well, that’s what I said in my head.
“Yeah..yeah, that sounds cool.”
“So, maybe we can exchange numbers and maybe talk about it a little further? I give you a call, you answer, we talk…that’s how it works, right?”
I laugh a little…so freaking adorable, this guy.
“Yeah, sounds like you’ve got it down to a science…unfortunately, my phone is currently dead, and I can’t get your number, so I’ll have to rely on you holding up your end of the bargain and initiating the call.”
I said a silent prayer that he would in fact hold up his end of the bargain.
“That, you don’t have to worry about.” He replied, rather matter-of-factly.
And with that, he takes his phone out of his pocket, I proceed to give him my number, he punches it in, and then…and then he just sort of stand there and looks at me a minute…
“I love the yellow, it looks very nice on you. It was a pleasure meeting you.. I look forward to talking to you more later”
He grabs my hand to sort of shake it, except it’s more of a hold, a lingering hold…and then…then he was gone.
“BOOOOOOY, he was sure into you, and he was cute!” The older lady in front of me said, once he was out of earshot.
I felt like a stupid little giddy school girl—with THE biggest smile possible on my stupid little face. My mom tells me that whenever I get really mad, whenever I cry, or when I get too excited, I turn red. I was pretty excited right then. How embarrassing.
I got my cd signed and jetted to the car so I could get back home…it was after eleven, I did have an hour and a half drive in front of me, AND had to be at work at 730am.
Once in the car, I immediately plug my phone up and power it on. I had one missed call and a voice message from a 734 number…which I assumed ws Mr. Stylin’. But I needed to focus on getting on the highway first. Even though I’ve been to Nashville one zillion times, I’m a habitual getter-loster, so…yeah, highway.
Then a text came through.
Him: Charge your phone, Yellow…get to me soon we’ll have a gorgeous time.
I shouldn’t text and drive…I shouldn’t text and drive…I shouldn’t….
Me: It’s on the charger now…a gorgeous time, sounds delightful
Me: Adding you to the address book, what’s ur last name Mr. Will
That’s code for: I’m going to Google you the first possible chance I get.
Him: Well now we’re getting personal…it’s Ryan, Will Ryan. I know, I know, they say you’re never supposed to trust a man with two first names…
Me: I didn’t know that, but I’ve definitely deposited it stored in the ol’ memory bank…guess I’m gonna have to watch out for you…
Me: Oops, take out ‘stored’. I’m driving, and therefore all typos automatically expect forgiveness.
Him: I believe that’s fair enough…you be careful…I guess I should thank the lonely window sill tonight
Me: Maybe that should be the name of your next song. I’ll be careful, although, the only real danger I face is not being able to wipe away this silly grin
Him: Well, I shall not challenge you on that. It was wonderful meeting you tonight. I wouldn’t mind discovering a little more about you.
Me: Well now, there’s something we have in common already.
Him: Good. Darling, I have an early writing session in the A.M. will u get with me tomorrow and let’s plan something soon?
Me: You can bet on it. Good night.
Him: Goodnight darlin’
Who even says ‘darling’?? I don’t know, but I like it.
Seemingly intelligent and witty-CHECK.
Lover of music-CHECK.
…too good to be true? Maybe. Too soon to tell.
And THAT, folks, is the endearing tale of how I met Will Ryan. Except…that’s not really even the most endearing part about it…care to read a bit more? You might as well, you can’t quit when you’re getting to the best part: The Date.
Saturday, May 4, 2009
Will and I had text one another every day since the night we met, and four days later, I was headed back to his city for our reunion.
I have to admit, I’d had second thoughts…not because I didn’t want to see him, but because I was dog tired. Friday night, I’d had dinner and a bit of a late time hanging out at my cousin’s. I’d gotten up Saturday morning and had to drive to Birmingham for a photo shoot with Elleira Couture, and then the plan was to drive from Birmingham after the shoot, to Nashville to hang with Will.
After a six hour shoot, and a four hour drive (due to TORRENTIAL RAIN and accident-traffic), I didn’t make it to Nashville until close to seven. I felt like I might die from exhaustion.
I think my nerves were the only thing keeping me from passing out.
What if he was just buzzed the other night, and NOW he’ll be sober and think I’m ugly? Or, what if it’s all awkward and quiet? Or, what if I’ve driven all this way and he’s changed his mind and …disappears?
All actual thoughts I had running through my mind, right up until the point that I knocked on the door and…he answered it.
Aside from a genuine smile, I can’t recall what he was wearing. I do remember the way he hugged me, as if we’d embraced a million times before, and it seemed he only broke away from it, in order to invite me in….it was pouring down rain, afterall.
He introduced me to his roommates and giving me the grand tour of the bachelor pad, complete with a quite impressive back tiki porch to include 200lbs of actual sand (not kidding), then, he suggested we jet away and see what the night had to offer us.
We ended up at his favorite bar, Dan McGuinness. Honestly, I’m not a fan of bars on a first date, but it was quiet, and we were in our own little corner…and it was nice. We talked about his life in Michigan..and we talked about my growing up a military brat. We talked about our parents, and our friends…our likes, and our dislikes. We talked about our mutual love: music. We ordered dinner. We talked more. We laughed. We talked about wine. We talked about beer. We drank beer. We talked about the night we met. And we talked about how much we were enjoying one another’s company. We must have sat there for two hours. Finally, we decided to go next door to check out a more ‘happenin’ bar, the Tin Roof.
It was ‘happenin’ alright. There was obviously some sort of birthday party or reunion of some sort going on. Neither of us knew what was going on, but we could tell that whatever it was, the folks in attendance had been at it for a while, because they looked like they were about four and a half sheets to the wind, and they were having fun while they were at it.
“Let’s crash their party.” Will suggested.
“Um, what? No, we can’t do that..we don’t even know them.”
“That’s sort of the point of ‘crashing a party’. Come on, it’ll be fun.”
It did sound like fun, but, this could be horribly embarrassing for us if it went wrong. If this were a high school reunion, which I was pretty sure it was, it would be pretty obvious that there was no way as young as we both looked, that we went to school with them..unless they happened to be our teachers.
“Okay, fine, what’s the plan.” I gave in.
“Alright, I’ve got it, it’s foul-proof. We just walk over and start talking to one of them, and if they ask who we are, I’ll be Zack Morris, and you be Kelly Kapowski. We just improv the whole thing.”
And that’s exactly what we did. We walked up to the most dazed member of the group and Will started in.
“Well, I’ll be damned…how ya been man?” Will said, extending his hand out to the drunken partier.
The guy just sort of stood there, cocked his head a bit, raised an eyebrow in question.
“It’s me man, Zack! I can’t believe you’re here, I didn’t think you’d still be able to hold your liquor buddy!”
…“Zack….Zack..you sum-uh-muh, you bet your ass I can still handle my liquor. Hey Bobby! Bobby, Donna, get over here it’s Zack and…and…”
“Kelly…Kelly Kapowski.” I said as I counted in my head, so I’d know exactly how many heart beats it took to get to the center of a heart attack. Because between the terror and trying to hold my laughter back, I was sure my heart would explode.
Bobby and his wife—I assume, Donna, walked over and more handshaking and back slapping ensued.
“Kelly, you said? Kelly Kapowski, your name sounds sooooo familiar, but…well, anyway it’s so good to see you!! Why don’t you guys have your name tags on?” Donna asked.
“Oh Donna, sweet, sweet Donna, you know Kelly and I never followed the rules, remember Belding? That guy and his rules.” Will interjected.
And the most amazing thing happened, they all started nodding and laughing.
Alcohol (and whatever else they were on)—it’s a helluva drug.
We only crashed the party for about an hour before heading back to his place—everyone hated to see us go, but, it had to be done, it was getting late.
When we arrived back at the bachelor pad, all was dark, and all was quiet—it was 10:30 on a Saturday night, so I assume his roommates were out painting the town nearly as red as we had.
First, we took to sitting out on the back covered tiki porch, a single Citronella candle lit, and a couple glasses in hand of the best wine I’d ever had in my life. We took our shoes off, sunk our toes in the sand, and just listened to the rain a while, before he went inside and grabbed one of his seven guitars, and played me a song….but he didn’t just play, he sang, and he didn’t just sing, he sang amazingly….and here I was thinking the night couldn’t have gotten any more memorable than it already had been.
But surely, THIS had to be as magical as it could possibly get, right?
He stopped playing mid-serenade. “De Niro, or Pacino?”
“What?” I asked, confused.
“Who do you think is a better actor—De Niro, or Pacino?”
“Um…De Niro, I guess.”
“De Niro’s great. And you’re great…but you’re wrong on this one, darlin’. Have you ever seen Scent of A Woman?”
“Can’t say that I have.”
And with that, he stood, and grabbed for my hand.
“Come on then, I’m going to make sure that you answer that question correctly from now on.”
Back inside, he fumbled around putting the dvd in, the whole time, carrying on with some sort of explanation.
“There’s seven minutes in this movie that will change your whole perspective on the Pacino versus De Niro debate for the rest of your life. It’s brilliant—you see, in that seven minutes …blah blah blah blah blah blah..”
Or at least that’s what I heard in my head, because, honestly, he could have been talking about the enumeration of salt grains on a cracker and I wouldn’t have found it any more or less interesting. It didn’t matter WHAT he was talking about, only the passion with which he spoke about it mattered. I’m a real sucker for that sort of thing.
To this day, I don’t even remember the seven minutes, something about a court room, I think…or maybe it was a limo ride? All I know is that someone stopped in the middle of serenading me with a song, to ask me who I thought was a better actor between Al Pacino and Robert De Niro, told me my answer was wrong, and then went to the length of playing seven minutes of a film to prove it to me. Passion. Like I said, I’m a sucker for it.
I’m not sure how, but we segued from Pacino to Sinatra. Sinatra had come up often during our daily texts throughout the week—it was one more thing we had in common, though, I was not nearly as well-versed with Sinatra as he. He’d ask me about a Sinatra tune, and I wouldn’t know it…his brows would furrow a little and I could read the disappointment between the crinkled lines in his forehead as he frowned. He’d hum a tune, and I’d stare back at him, blankly and sort of wince a shrug.
Finally, he stopped. I thought maybe I’d annoyed him. Without saying a word, he stood up from the couch we were sitting on, walked over to the TV and turned it off.
I sat still in the perfect darkness. I could hear him moving around, but couldn’t tell what was going on…soon I heard a slight buzz, and then music began to play.
Then I heard his bare feet padding against the wooden floor until I could feel him standing in front of me. Presence.
“Oh won’t you come fly with me, Ms.Kapowski?”
He grabbed my hand and we were suddenly both up on our bare feet, dancing in the darkto Sinatra.
“Something in your eyes was so inviting
Something in your smile was so exciting
Something in my heart told me I must have you
Strangers in the night, two lonely people
We were strangers in the night
Up to the moment when we said our first hello
Little did we know
Love was just a glance away
A warm embracing dance away…”
He sang quietly along, as both he and Mr. Sinatra’s voices poured into my ears like a funnel of chocolate covered liquid lyrics.
I didn’t want the song to end. Ever.
But, it did.
Damnit Frankie, I thought you had my back. Dah, well.
“As much as I don’t want this night to end, it’s getting late, and I know you have a long drive back. You’re welcome to stay here, I’ll sleep on the couch, no funny business, but if you’re going to make that drive back, I’d rather you get going now so you’re not out there by yourself …it’s almost midnight, does your fairy godmother work after hours?”
“I don’t want it to end either, but, you’re right, if I’m going, I’d better get to it.”
After grabbing my shoes and purse, we walked out to my car…hand in hand. And then we stood there. My back against my car, wet from rain, and his arms around my waist.
He looked from me, up to the star-lit sky.
“At least the rain finally stopped.”
He spoke too soon.
As if on cue, I felt a single drop of rain on my forehead. And then another. And another. And another. And…pretty soon, it was pouring again.
“I should let you go…it’s raining…” He kind of whispered.
And then he leaned in and kissed me.
And he didn’t let me go. We stood there kissing in the rain for an eternity. In fact, it’s still raining and we’re still standing in the rain beside my car—kissing.
Okay, that part is a lie, but everything else is at about 98% accuracy. If he reads this, which, I think he might, I’m pretty sure he’d agree.
I hate to say it, but we did eventually part from that kiss….and I say “I hate to say it” because, well, if this were a movie, it would have ended with the kiss.
Then again, I guess in a way, it did sort of end with that kiss.
Truth is though, after that night, we both made plans that always seemed to fall apart for one reason or another….we’d plan for him to come visit me and then he wouldn’t be able to, or he’d invite me to a show and I’d say yes but then I’d have something come up—it just never seemed to work, and maybe it wasn’t supposed to after that. Sometime later, he started seeing someone, and so did I, but we have remained in contact and friends over the years.
It’s not all bellyaches and teardrops though, we’ll always have that night that we crashed a party at The Tin Roof way harder than the ‘real’ Morris ‘n Kapowski ever even thought aboutrocking Bayside.
Until next time…
[ ♥ ] . Peace. And Bacon Grease.