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G&B: Apologies to Sting

It's been a blast, folks. The Worlds Most Popular Podcast is signing off. Truth to be told, there's not enough hours in the day for ...

Monday, August 17, 2009

special lady...

Something about Ali always made me swoon into her blue eyes. I still remember that day when I saw her for the last time. It was the summer of 1980. We had just finished graduating. Her blond hair was blowing in the air while she was throwing around her blue cap and trying to take off the accompanying blue robe to expose a beautiful red dress she had gotten at the mall the week prior to the big ceremony. She ran up to me and gave me a huge hug. I lifted her up and we screamed to each other that we graduated. At last. Four years. Four long years finally done. Now, it's time to see the real world. Car payments. Marriage. Starting a family. Starting a career. Growing old. Becoming grandparents. Moving to Florida. Waiting to die. Adulthood had hit us so fast. I still remember the days when Ali and myself used to swing on her swing set after dinner and talk about what these days will be like. I never knew they'd be so real. So ordinary. I don't know. I guess we both thought they'd be more special. High tech. Hell. Back in the 50s, I thought we'd be flying by then. Like that family on the TV. Guess not.

Ali and I dated back in high school. Still remained best of friends, though. She actually set me up with my University girlfriend. We broke up a few weeks before the grad since she decided to go to Vancouver and I decided to stay in Toronto. No biggie. I was ready to deal with the world. Didn't really want anything standing in my way. Holding me down. That night, at the party I was Ali's date. We thought it would be appropriate as we both helped each other out so much during our school days and well, we were both single. I bought her some flowers. She bought me some beer. Good deal. We drank in the back of the hall and then went in later. Avoided all the talking from the teachers. We just wanted to dance and eat free food. That night was unbelievable. Everyone was there. It was one of those nights that goes by so fast and you just wish that you can have a second of that night back to experience again. Looking back at the pictures today I can't seem to even start to feel the happiness we all felt that night. The joy of being done. Starting our lives. We were also feeling the loneliness where we knew after that night, our friendships we had built for the past four years and for some, longer will never be the same again.

As quick as it started, the end soon came. The last dance was called. I searched out Ali and grabbed her hand. We had to dance this song together. The huge hit at the time, Ray Goodman and Brown's Special Lady started. I took Ali close to me. We didn't talk at all. We just danced. Hugged each other knowing it was our final moments before things changed. Forever.

Things did change forever after that night. Ali and I tried to keep in contact. A few letters here and there over the summer but they died down after October. I got a couple of Christmas cards for a couple of years but that was it. I didn't see her. She didn't see me. I heard she had moved out of town. Nothing confirmed, but I had a feeling she actually might have.

I went on with my life. Married. Had a baby boy. Divorced. Married again. Had a baby girl. Divorced again. I was in love being a traveling salesperson, I guess to really commit to someone. Someone who wasn't Ali. It had been over 20 years and there was no sight of her. I hadn't heard from her. I heard rumors. Some said she had moved to Washington and works with the government. Others say she had died in a car crash. I didn't really listen to anyone. Even though I should've. It would've given me closure on the whole thing.

It was the summer of 2002 as I was walking around in the suburbs of California looking for this guys office who had promised me will buy a bunch of my product. I needed something to eat, though. Maybe a drink, too. It was getting late. I called him and told him that I was caught up with another customer and I'll go see him tomorrow. Make him think that he wasn't the only one after my stuff. Anyway, I decided to wonder into a pub that was right by my hotel. As I sat down, I was enthralled by the conversation three guys were having in the corner. They were graduating. Just hearing them talk about what life will be like. It amazed me. Amazed how I guess everyone seems to be so innocent about what's out there. What could be. What will be. How unpredictable it is. How it changes before your eyes. I clued back in when I heard someone faintly calling my name. I wondered who it was. I looked around and there stood behind the counter a tall blond who didn't look older than 25 asking me by name where the hell I've been all her life. I rubbed my eyes. I shook my head. It was her. It was Ali. I couldn't believe it. It was her. I stood up and raced behind the counter and gave her a huge hug just like that one we gave each other on graduation day. We both couldn't believe it. We caught up over some beers. She convinced her boss to let her off early so we could have a few drinks. Her boss said it was OK on one condition. She closed the bar. She agreed.

That night we laughed in between shots. Shared stories before finishing pitchers. We played pool and showed each other our new cell phones and laptops. We talked about old times and reminded each other of things we had done. Suddenly, it was time to close down the joint. Our reunion was coming to an end. As the last customer strolled out, I went over to close the door. Ali decided to put up the music and dance while she cleaned. As I helped her put up the last stool, just like if it were written in a book, a song came over the radio that made us both freeze in our tracks. Special Lady. That song we had danced to so many years ago was again in our lives. We both looked at each other and chuckled. Wondering how cheesy this really is. How someone must have set this up. But no one did. And it wasn't cheesy. It was kinda nice. I went over to her and grabbed her dirty rag from her hand and threw it over the bar and took the mop from her hands and placed it on the floor. I gently took her by the waist and we started to dance. Again to Special Lady. We didn't talk while we were dancing. We just enjoyed the moment. In that dark, empty small pub on some street in Northern California. After the song was done, she walked me to the hotel. We exchanged numbers. Promised to call. To E-mail. Of course we didn't.

That was the last time I saw Ali. Stopped by a few months ago to see if she was still there. She had left. To Washington, actually. Had triplets with a regular. I was happy for her. And even happier that we had our last dance together. Me and my Special Lady.