Friday, April 11, 2014

No. 55 – Wild Mountain Honey

Performer: The Steve Miller Band
Songwriter: Steve McCarty
Original Release: Fly Like an Eagle
Year: 1976
Definitive Version: The studio version.

The final night of my New Year’s visit with Laurie in 2005, Laurie took me to another of her favorite bars called The Abbey. The Abbey had live Irish music on Sunday nights, and Laurie wanted to hear some. Unfortunately, by the time we got there, the music was over for the night. Apparently, the musicians played around dinnertime, so if we wanted music, we had to make it happen ourselves.

We ordered a couple of beers, and Laurie went to the jukebox to pick out songs. (You know things are serious when I yield control of the juke.) The first song that came on was this song. I knew Wild Mountain Honey, of course, although not as much as some of Steve Miller’s bigger hits. Laurie played it before, when I visited at Thanksgiving, but that night, at The Abbey, the song hit me like a freight train.

As the mystical Eastern sounds of Wild Mountain Honey washed over me, I watched Laurie. She was bent over, looking at the songs on the juke. She wore a brown plaid skirt and brown top, and I thought she was the most beautiful woman in the world. I was so in love with her, and when I hear this song now, I have that vision in my head and feeling in my heart.

The New Year’s Eve weekend had been incredible. In addition to it being our longest visit—I arrived with all my stuff (good ol’ No. 687) on Wednesday and left Monday—the big social event of that weekend was meeting Laurie’s friends, known as The Posse. I met them in three waves.

The first was the next night after I got there. We had bar food for dinner at a place Laurie called “the Bosnian Hooker Bar.” The real name was the Wild Goose Tavern, but Laurie said she always imagined it was where Bosnian hookers hung out. God only knows what she saw the night she dubbed it—and now forever known as—“the Bosnian Hooker Bar.”

After a stunning lack of propositions at the said bar, we then proceeded to Ten Cat. Ten Cat is a great pool bar. It used to be a great pinball bar, too, but they got rid of their pinball machines—and an awesome juke that was full of old blues songs by Howling Wolf and Muddy Waters, among others—last December.

Anyway, Laurie’s closest circle of friends were in the back room, on couches by a fireplace. I met Janet, her husband, Cliff, Steven, his partner, Michael, and Laurie’s cousin, Julia. Laurie had prepared me, but as I sat down in my spot on the sofa next to Laurie, I realized I’d never actually met a gay couple before.

I hadn’t been particularly nervous to meet any of Laurie’s friends. I figured if they liked Laurie—and I liked Laurie—then we at least had one thing in common. However, friends can kill a relationship quick if they sense doofusness.

The conversation at first mostly was about me and what I was doing, so that made it easy for me to talk and get comfortable. Like being with Laurie, being with her friends was easy, and later, Laurie told me that Michael said I had a nice butt. I passed the first test.

The next test was at an after-party following our New Year’s Eve event. A couple, Ann and Barry, lived not far from where we were, so we went over to their house. That didn’t go as well. Everyone was well into the party by the time we arrived. Laurie wasn’t as close to this crew as the Posse, but it wasn’t terrible. It was almost 5 a.m. by the time we got home, and I was pretty beat.

The final wave was the Sunday morning, the day we ended up at The Abbey. This time, we met up with almost the entire Posse at one of Laurie’s favorite breakfast places—the late, great Lincoln. The Lincoln was known as the Scary President Lincoln Head because of the gigantic Lincoln billboard over the entrance to the old-school diner, and it was a favorite of the entire Posse.

We were in the naugahyde and bad-wood-paneling room, because we had 14 people, including everyone who had been at the Ten Cat (minus Julia) plus eight new people and a few newborns. We sat apart from Janet, Cliff, Steven and Michael, so I had to meet new friends. I did OK, although I felt more disconnected than I had the previous Thursday.

But I made a good impression with one of Laurie’s best friends, Jenny. Laurie showed off the garnet necklace I gave her on New Year’s as a birthday present before I knew I’d be back for Laurie’s actual birthday. I picked it out at a store in Columbus that was known for its Wiccan/Pagan influence, and Laurie loved it. When she showed it to Jenny, Jenny was impressed that I picked out something that she liked, on my own. She gave me a big thumbs-up, and I knew I’d scored again.

So I was feeling good when we wound up at The Abbey. I’d done all right enough with the friends, I felt, that they wouldn’t plot against me when I was gone, but the biggest reason was how I felt about Laurie. I thought I was in love with her when I saw her pictures at Christmas in Cincinnati (good ol’ No. 236). Being with her again confirmed it.

Laurie and I weren’t the only couple at The Abbey feeling the love. When we left, another couple were going at it hot and heavy in the car parked directly in front of ours, and I don’t mean they were just making out. The couple wasn’t nude, but they were in the passenger seat of the car on top of one another. Laurie and I were trying to just act normal, get in our car and not draw too much attention, but they were oblivious to our presence.

When Laurie drove away, we both cracked up. Did we really just see what we thought we saw? It seemed like it, and that’s what we believe to this day. Laurie and I at least had the decency to “get a room”—her apartment—before we did the same that night.

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