I reached over and introduced myself to the new guy at the table. “Hi, I’m Elly…Thom’s sister,” I said as I stood to extend my hand across the table. My eyes traveled upwards for what seemed like an eternity. Saying nothing, he loomed over me like a giant Asian Frankenstein. He shook my hand and sat back down. I blinked, expecting a response. He just smiled awkwardly, looking both uncomfortable and confused.
I sat back down and scooted closer to Thom. He was, as usual, laughing at me, not with me. “Is he shy about his English?” I asked.
“I wouldn’t know,” Thom responded.
“You’ve never seen him before in your life, have you?” I guessed, ready to embrace embarrassment.
“So introducing myself as your sister probably didn’t have the same impact I’d hoped for.”
That fuck-of-a-brother just continued to shake his head and smirk. I stewed quietly as yelling at him for not introducing me seemed rather foolish at that point. It was Thom’s birthday party, damnit. I don’t think it was such a crazy leap to think that most of the people in attendance would at least recognize his name. Foolish me.
It was a strange evening all together. I felt like I’d stumbled into an episode of The Big Bang Theory. Never before (and most likely never again – unless I win the Nobel Prize for my contributions to the field of Creative Cursing) have I shared a table with a physicist, and mechanist, and handful of mathematicians, and…well…I didn’t really understand what that last guy said he did. I think there was something about the ocean and a lab and some sort of equation. Suffice it to say, it was not my normal crowd. One of these things was not like the others. One of these things just didn’t belong.
As I stared at the table, unable to really contribute to a debate on which text book offered more insight into Some-Name-With-No-Vowel’s Principle of Something-ivity, I noticed Thom had a strange cell phone in his lap. It turns out he’d swiped the phone of the only other girl in the group. She was adorable, drunk, and completely distracted as she cuddled with her new husband. Shamon!
I’d like to introduce you to my new favorite game. Find and swipe the unattended phone of someone with whom you have little or no connection. Have someone tell you the name of their spouse or significant other. Locate the contact file of said spouse or significant other. Then replace all contact information with that of your little brother. Lather, rinse, repeat.
That kept me entertained for a full three minutes. Sadly, brilliant drunk girl left shortly afterward and I was the lone uterus in the crowd.
Somehow I managed to steer the conversation away from a passionate comparison of the various logic theories, but that ended poorly when a discussion about Southern cuisine disintegrated into an argument over the causes of the Civil War. I lost track of the finer points of the argument as I tried to explain to an older Romanian guy that “North Carolina is still considered the South…much like South Dakota is still technically the North.” It didn’t help that he’d never heard of the Mason-Dixon Line. Things got even more heated when I tried to explain that West Virginia is basically on the East Coast.
“STOP, JUST STOP!” he threw his hands up in surrender. “THE THINGS YOU ARE SAYING DON’T MAKE SENSE.” The conversation did not go well to say the least.
I managed to get myself in trouble more than once. One of Thom’s professors arrived and I introduced myself. He told me his name and my memory clicked. “You’re the guy that lives uptown!” I responded. You live near that bar with the great potato skins. Every time we go there, Thom reminds us that he peed off your roof. It’s so nice to meet you finally.”
He looked at me blankly as he processed my greeting, and then looked at Thom while still pumping my hand. “You peed off my roof?”
Oops. While we were on the topic of pee, I decided it was a good time to find the bathroom.
Since the only girl at the table was a married relative, the boys felt it was ok to talk about sex and dating…or the lack of those things with such a group. Comfortable. Very. Even more comfortable was listening to Romanian Guy (RG) yell at an adorably shy Ukrainian guy that there was no justification for his lack of girls. “LOOK AT YOU, THERE’S NO EXC– USE. YOU’RE SO PRETTY!” After hearing for the seventh time how very fetching he was, the Ukrainian guy started to look a little uncomfortable. I almost started to feel bad for the guy.
The topic of conversation switched again and I continued to confound RG. It seems my strange sense of humor is even harder to follow if English isn’t your first language. Apparently my tendency to abbreviate, combine, and fabricate words is more confusing to others than I would have guessed. Even when I used words straight out of Webster’s Dictionary, confusion seemed to abound.
It didn’t help that RG only had one volume when he spoke – yelling. He yelled his drink orders. He yelled his greetings. He yelled at me every time I asked a question. Thom assured me RG wasn’t mad, just loud, and encouraged me to keep goading the poor guy.
“I’M AN UGLY BASTARD AND I FOUND A WIFE! YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO GET A DATE!” he continued to yell at the shy Ukrainian even after we’d moved to another bar. I decided to try and steer the conversation in a different direction.
“You’re not ugly.”
“LOOK AT ME! I’M A MONSTER! I’M STILL HAPPILY MARRIED!”
“You’re not ugly. You’re…” I paused as my chemo brain tried to find the right word. “You’re swarthy.”
That stopped him in his tracks. He turned to yell at Thom. “WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? SWARTHY. I DO NOT KNOW THIS WORD.”
Thom, still giggling, stood up with his arm bent in a right angle and moved his fist across his chest in a rocking motion. “Swarthy…you know…like a pirate.” He squished his face up on one side as though he were about to arrrgh. “Think swashbuckling. Think Keith Richards in Pirates of the Caribbean.”
RG muddled this over a bit, his eyes moving from Thom’s pirate-grimacing face, to mine, and back again. “SWARTHY. PIRATE, EH?” We all enjoyed the perfectly normal conversational volume of the room while RG thought in silence. Then the yelling started again. “WAIT, KEITH RICHARDS IS UGLY.”
“He’s swarthy,” Thom and I corrected in unison.
“YOUR SISTER IS AS STRANGE AS YOU ARE,” he yelled at Thom shaking his head and practicing his grimace.
RG left soon afterward. I’m still not certain if he left because he was a 40-year-old kid or because he had a 4-year-old kid. Between his accent, the yelling, and my bad hearing, I just couldn’t be certain. I think he just wanted to run home and try out his swashbuckling on his happily married wife.
Happy Birthday, Little One. That was…interesting. Don’t get me wrong, I had fun…but DAMN.