I can remember the first time I became aware of the Bella’s “thing” for her now ex-husband. It was a Friday night in May of 1986, and my parents had left for the weekend to visit my Bratty Big Sister down in Oneonta. I had the house to myself, and my friend Dan’l and I had procured a case of Labatt’s “Extra-Stock” from one of his older brothers. We weren’t too inclined to sit home alone and split the case, so we had invited a few other people of the “softer” persuasion to help out. Bella, The Girl Next Door, and their tall blond friend who had the unfortunate habit of getting drunk at parties and trying to physically and s%xually assault the nearest unsuspecting male.
The girls arrived after dinner, the music was turned up, and we were just starting a game of quarters when there was a knock at the door.
“That’s odd”, I thought. “Who could it be?”
My friend Tim was either working the drive thru at Wendy’s, or making out with his girlfriend in the meat freezer atop a stack of frozen buns. My friend Chris was bussing tables at the Engine House, and there wasn’t anyone else who even knew we were there.
“Could it be the Cops?” I asked, before Bella sheepishly admitted to “telling someone” where she’d be.
As I opened the door I discovered 4 guys from BHS standing on the porch. The first guy I remember from my Dungeon’s & Dragon’s days but had never officially met, the second guy was his best friend (whom I despised) and other two were rich kids from Naramore Drive, who I only cared to associate with when they were providing the beer and coeds. I tried to be civil, and “cool” about it, but I was not real interested in having these clowns at my house. What’s worse I only had one case of beer to go around and I could be pretty certain that these losers had no more beer than they had coeds to offer us.
After fifteen minutes of somewhat uncomfortable mono-syllabic dialogue on the front porch, it became clear that Bella and her eventual-ex were deep into flirtation, and that she would be leaving with him, whether we wanted to or not. So it was decided that we would all head out to the Morganville Pits to drink my beer. Someone said something about scrounging up some more liquor, and before I knew it my private party was over, and me and my tasty cold beer were in the back of one of the rich kids’ old Buick cruising out of town with some God awful mid-80’s rap music playing.
I never did get within sniffing distance of the girl next door that night. We all sat around a campfire down by the stream, and proceeded to kill my poor, innocent case of Labatt’s. One of the party crashers must have found more booze because I proceeded to get quite drunk as the night wore on, as did Dan’l. Before long, the night fizzled to an end as the beer and booze was drained, until there was little point in any of us hanging out in the woods, just to sober up and get bit by mosquitoes. The party broke up, and before long Dan’l and I were back in the rich kid’s Buick heading towards home. The Girl Next Door, and her Aggressively Amorous friend were catching a ride in the other car. It wasn’t the way I had imagined our night would end, and I sat in the back seat fuming another lost opportunity.
Streetlights flickered on the windows of the car as we made our way through town, back to my house. The two rich kids were drunk as well, and were blaring some heinous rap song about some woman with “booger’s on her butt” when I looked over at Dan’l and noticed he was starting to look a little green. As we hit the intersection of Summit Street and Washington Ave. the Labatt’s “Extra Stock” rose from the dead, and broke like a wave upon the leather back seat of the Buick with a sickening splash.
Surprised and startled, I immediately broke into hysterical laughter. The driver pulled over into the lot next to the Quarterly’s corner Grocery, and Dan’l began apologizing profusely. The rich kid was pissed but didn’t say much. It wasn’t like he was going to beat us up. So Dan and I started walking back to my house and left them with a backseat full of used beer and a few McDonald’s napkins from the glove compartment.
Now Dan’l and I have been friends since kindergarten. He’s one of the small handful of friends that I know I could count on under any circumstance, and we have been together through many strange, and crazy adventures. He is like a brother to me, but I’m not sure I ever loved him more than I did at that moment. In later years I have asked him if he threw up on purpose because they crashed our party, but he continues to deny it. He still claims it was the song about the woman with “booger’s on her butt” that made him sick, and I guess I can’t argue with that.
As for whatever happened to Bella and her Beau that evening, I have no idea. The last I of saw them they were looking pretty chummy around the campfire, before disappearing into the cozy confines of the ruins of the log cabin down by the old mill stream. Perhaps their evening ended with a walk in the moonlight, or the recital of some poetry from Lord Byron. Most likely it ended in the back seat of a car with the squeak of bare sweaty flesh against cheap vinyl.
It has been 24 strange and wondrous years since that night. All of us have scattered to the four winds. I don’t know what became of the rich kids, and I don’t much care. Bella and her beau were married about 10 years later, and she is now divorced and remarried to a guy whom I respect a hell of a lot more than the first one. Dan’l is out on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake, and I am here in the frozen wastes of the Upper Midwest. When I think back to these nights of our impetuous youth, I can’t help but laugh, and marvel over where it has gone. Time slips by so quickly, and yet it seems like just yesterday. As the weekend looms, I can’t think of anything that I would enjoy more than to have them all over to share stories.
And get my case of Labatt’s back.