(BLOG NOTE: I know the title sounds shallow, but please remember that I am a schmo. If you are scoring at home, a Pittsburgh 9 is equivalent to a New York/London 8 and a Los Angeles/Paris/Milan 7. Any city smaller than Pittsburgh would have scored this girl a 10.)
My previous tale about going to bars and clubs sparked a memory that could be categorized as my moment of oblivious joy. An oxymoron yes, but once I’m done telling this tale, you’ll see why I say this.
Last post I mentioned how my friend Dave and I used to drink on the South Side of Pittsburgh. One night in the fall of 1997, we went to Dee’s Cafe with a group of people from our work. Dee’s was always a good place to start the night since drinks were cheaper than most places in the neighborhood. The problem was that many other groups started their night there as well, so acquiring drinks from the bar was usually a headache since you had to wait so long to get the attention of a bartender. To alleviate my time waiting for beer, I always grabbed two each time I fought my way to the front.
Dee’s was two floors and shaped like a U downstairs. It had an entrance on each side of the downstairs, but you had to enter through the door to the right, which brought you into the bar side of the downstairs. The bar was the longest in the South Side. It was shaped like a J, with the curved part near the front door. This little alcove was where many of the regulars sat and where the local celebrities (Usually band members after a gig) sat when they stayed on the bottom floor. The upstairs was spacious with full-size pool tables and a smaller bar, but it was really stuffy and there was less room for the cigarette smoke to circulate (No restrictions on smoking in bars in 1997!).
On a busy night when we finally received all of our drinks from the bar, my group usually walked to the back of the first floor and made our way to the quieter side of the U. The left side had three bar-size pool tables, bar tables and four seats at each table along the far wall. No bar, but if we had our drinks, we didn’t care since we were probably leaving soon anyway. On the night of my encounter with a “Pittsburgh 9”, we stayed on the right side for drinks 3 and 4, and it was really getting crowded in Dee’s.
On my own, I noticed there was an open chair toward the front end of the bar. I walked up to the chair and asked the girl to my left if I could sit there to get a few beers. She told me that nobody was sitting there, and after I sat down I started a conversation with her that I had no expectations of making a lasting one.
“I figured if I’m going to wait fifteen minutes for my next two beers I might as well get a front row seat for the request.”
She laughed. “Yeah, this place can get crazy on the weekends. Are you here with anybody?”
“Yeah, they are all toward the back trying to wave their money at anybody behind the counter. Even the bar backs are getting an earful from them. Are your friends back there with them?”
She pointed behind us at a cluster of people who all had drinks and talking to one another. “My friends bumped into a few friends that I don’t know, so I stayed here to save our spot at the bar.”
“Well I’m glad I can keep you company among the madness in here. I’ll give you back your chair when I get my beers, whenever that will be.”
Her response shocked me, and I suddenly forgot all about ordering beers. “It’s cool that you’re here sitting with me, they (Meaning her friends) won’t mind. I’m Nikki by the way.”
Nikki was easily the most beautiful girl I ever saw in Dee’s. She had shoulder-length wavy black hair, a plain white top with a chic black leather jacket, jeans and black boots. To paint a picture for you, she looked like Selena Gomez with the personality of Elizabeth Banks.
To explain what I looked like then will take a few references since the first one might not sound familiar to many people. I actually looked a lot like Jay Mohr back then, since I still had my hair and my chest muscles didn’t become boobs yet. For a more modern reference, give Charlie Puth 90’s hair and mix in Rupert Grint. Yeah, I was definitely floating between a 5 and a 6. So for me to be seen talking to Nikki was a victory already.
Now that I had the information that I was welcome to sit with her there, I remained in that seat after I got those two beers. For roughly the next ten minutes after I got my drinks, we small talked about a few topics and we were both laughing it up pretty good. At one point, Nikki actually reached out to touch my arm! This isn’t supposed to be happening to me!
Right when our conversation started taking off and I was inching in closer to Nikki, my friend Jill from work rushed to the front. Jill grabbed me around my shoulders and almost knocked me off the bar chair.
“Larry, we have to go NOW. Come with me to the back. HURRY UP!”
“Why? What’s….!?! It was nice talking to you Nikki! Have a good night!”
Nikki looked shocked at first but I think she understood what was going on, based on information that I didn’t receive yet. “You too Larry. It was nice meeting you!”
Jill had me by the hand. For her to make a run to the front to get me was confusing. Why didn’t my guy friends come get me? Why didn’t her boyfriend come get me? What was so urgent that I had to flee the main bar area?
When Jill and I made it to the left side of the bar, we stayed in the back for a few minutes. She told me that everybody in our group noticed that all of the band members from (A famous local band in Pittsburgh) and their friends were looking upon me with hatred. Apparently one of our friends pointed out that I was talking to the lead singer’s girlfriend, and he wasn’t looking very happy (What a puss I say, he should have told me to go and I would have been alright about it). The guys were afraid if they went up to get me, it might have caused a fight to start and we would have been kicked out for good. The local band could have stabbed all of us and we still would have been in the wrong. That’s why Jill came to get me.
Still stunned at this news, I thanked Jill for uh, saving me. I knew I was way over my head anyway. Unless money is a contributing factor, you never see relationships work where the imbalance in the appearance “rating” is at or beyond +/- 2. I was lucky if I was a 6, so there was no way Nikki as a 9 wanted anything to do with me. The ironic part about this tale is that the best moment of the night was being alone with Jill for those few minutes.
I worked with Jill for a few years. I always had a girlfriend when I worked with her and she always had a boyfriend. I never questioned her when she dragged me out of that chair that night. I willfully went with her and held on to her hand as we turned around the back of Dee’s to get to the quieter side. When she explained to me the possible scenario I was taken away from, we were actually standing face-to-face, holding each other’s hands by our sides. Jill was way more compatible with me, for me. She was a 6 for sure and she loved being around my 5/6 ass.
Jill already knew that I drove a shitty fourteen year-old car, still lived with my parents, had no credit, no ambition and hardly any money. And yet, there she was, going out of her way to corral me back to the group, but allowing for us to be alone with each other. Her boyfriend was no more than ten steps from us, and when I was with her there that didn’t matter to us. I could just tell by her eyes and how she was holding my hands. My girlfriend at that time (Who wasn’t there) couldn’t duplicate the charge of absolute love I felt from that moment with Jill. Maybe Jill didn’t feel the same way, but if my heart was right on that night, she did too.
If I had to choose a girl from my past that defines, “The one that got away”, it would be Jill. I never asked her out on a date because of our own relationship ties. I really believe she would have said yes to me. We’re together in some parallel universe I’m sure and on that night when I fatefully sat down next to a “Pittsburgh 9”, Jill ended up being a 10. That’s the score I would have given her anyway.