I was looking down listening to my diskman when she stopped directly in front of me to say hi. She was tall and narrow and her face hawkish, beautiful. Her eyes smiled. I took off my headphones. She told me that there was going to be a microbrew festival at the waterfront the coming weekend. Cool, I said. You can sample all sorts of beers for the price of admission, she said. She added that it should be a real fun time. I don’t need a special occasion to drink beer, I told her. There was a pause. I made a quick calculation. Are you asking me to go with you, I asked. Yeah, sounds fun, I think, she said. Sure, why not, let’s make plans later, I said. She walked away. A few weeks earlier I had asked her if she wanted to get a drink and she said that she had a boyfriend, which made perfect sense because she was so very pretty. I had only gotten the courage to ask because we worked together nearly every day and the familiarity had collapsed the distance between her prettiness and my illusions.
We met for lunch before the beer-fest then walked there. She wore faded blue jean overalls and an undersized pink t-shirt underneath (this was fashionable in the ‘90s, take my word for it). It was sunny, she was a fair woman, and she practically reverberated in the light. I was already plenty smitten—I used to listen to “Lay Lady Lay” and picture her with me—and by the time we got to the waterfront, I was a lost cause. Then we drank in the sun for hours. As the day went on we brushed accidentally against each other more and more. At some point, we crashed into each other as we turned away from a beer display. As she laughed, I put arm around her waist, pulled her to me, and kissed her square on the mouth. You’re bad, she said. It was as corny and clichéd as I’m describing it, but it was fucking wonderful just the same. Not long after, I told her that my apartment had a great view of the west hills and that we should drink a beer there and watch the sun go down over Civic Stadium. She knew what all that bullshit meant and said yes and came home with me. We never opened any beer. We kissed from the door to the couch to the bed. I sat on the bed and she stepped in front of me. I looked up at her smiling eyes, just as I had a few days earlier. She undid the straps of her overalls and the top came down to her waist. Women get naked all sorts of ways but there is something grand about the times when you get to see that bit of skin between the bottom of their shirt and the top of their underwear. Yes and more, I thought. At that moment I couldn’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else but near her. That’s the place I wanted to stay. Until one day I didn’t.
“You were out of my league/All the things I believed/You were just the right kind/Yeah, you were more than just a dream,” sing Fitz and the Tantrums. But I can’t shake the sense that it’s never more than just a dream. That no matter how lovely, the dream ends the moment you feel its unreality. And it’s those beautiful people that let you dream the most.