Her Life

The Drink

We met on a Saturday night in May 1976 about a week after I graduated from college. I was still in a post-graduation festive mood. I had decided to go out with several friends to celebrate. The four of us ended up at a nightclub called the "Pasta House." The place was already filling up and the music was blaring.

I asked my friends to do me a favor and buy me a drink as I had to use the restroom. When I rejoined them, I asked if they got my drink. One of them pointed to a cocktail on a small unoccupied table in front of us. I took it and started sipping as I looked out at the dancers on the dance floor.

I noticed one young blond gal looking at me oddly. I did not know what to make of it. But when the music stopped she headed straight for me. My friends were chatting behind me in low monotones but I wasn't paying attention. I was curious as to why this gal was heading my way. She reached me and said crossly, "Why are you drinking my drink?" I was stunned. I turned to look at my friends. They were grinning from ear to ear. I had been hoodwinked!

I felt my face turn red. Immediately, I apologized. I told her I had been tricked into believing her drink was mine. I explained I had gone to the restroom after asking my friends to buy me a drink. On my return, I thought the cocktail they pointed to was the one they bought for me. She looked towards my friends and saw that by now they were giggling. Before she could say anything more, I said I would buy her a new drink. I took off to the bar and ordered a 7-7, which was what she had been drinking.

I came back and felt so foolish. I handed her the drink, apologized again, and muttered a few choice words for “the group of idiots” I had come with. She smiled and said it was okay, adding that at least she got a new drink. She recognized my so-called friends had pranked me!

So that is how I met Helen, all thanks to my friends’ practical joke and my mistake drinking a cocktail I thought was mine! Once we officially introduced ourselves, Helen and I danced the rest of the night. We c
hatted away and got to know each other.

When the night was over at 2am, we walked out holding hands. My dateless friends looked on in astonishment. I was now the one grinning from ear to ear. I walked Helen to her car. I wasn't sure if she had come with a friend or not as I never saw a girl come by to chat with her while we were in the club. It didn't matter. We stood by her car and continued to talk.

The night air started to chill so I asked if we could get in the car, either hers or mine. She wanted to see my car, which was a Camaro, one of the classic-looking sports cars with a black vinyl top and cream exterior.  I took her to my Camaro and we sat inside for several hours talking about her family, her two young boys, her mom and siblings. She was working three jobs. During the day, Helen had her regular 40 hour job. In the evenings she worked as a concession stand cashier at the local drive in theatre. On weekends she worked at a bar serving drinks. She soon realized it was way too much, even having to rely on her mom to take care of her kids. To free up her time she quit the weekend bartending job. After working so many hours a week, she finally had a free weekend to unwind and go dancing that night we met.

And so that's how it went with both of us sharing our life stories. By then it was 5am. I asked if she wanted to have breakfast. She accepted my offer and we headed to a local IHOP. I still remember what we each had: scrambled eggs, hash browns, bacon, a side order of pancakes, a small glass of OJ and plenty of coffee. When we were done we headed down the boulevard back to the club and her parked car.

Driving back I heard church bells ringing. I looked to my left and noticed several people walking up the steps to a huge church. I slowed down, turned and looked at Helen, and asked, "Do you want to go to Church service?" She said “Yes.” And as I parked in the church lot, I told her it was a Catholic Mass. She said that was okay since she was Catholic. So we sat there for Mass, went to Communion, and afterwards, I drove her back to the Pasta House where her car sat all by its lonesome self. I walked her to her car and thanked her for a magical night.

I then realized I did not have her phone number! I asked if I could call and take her out on a date. She said “Yes.” She wrote down both her number and address.  I asked if we could  have our first date later that afternoon --- adding, after we both got some sleep!  She smiled and chuckled and said “Sure.” So that is my story on how one mistaken drink changed both our lives for the better.