she said mid-kiss, "you know, i usually don’t make-out all night with boys on the dance floor like this."
i said, "me neither."
she rolled her eyes, these perfect denim blue marbles and i chewed at her skinny lips. the girl was all avian neck moves. each peck put my head back-and-to-the-left like the Zapruder film. each kiss blew my fucking brains out.
eventually she jerked away, covered her mouth, her denim blue marbles open wide.
"did you just burp?" i asked her.
"hiccuped," she said.
"has it been a half-hour already?"
she nodded ’yes’.
this was the stand out feature of the otherwise flawless ms. maria smalls: every half-hour like clockwork she would hiccup. she nor medical science could explain it, it just happened... like black holes or gamma flutter or lemming suicides. the enigma of ms. smalls’ half-hourly hiccups existed without any definitive explanation but plenty of random speculation.
"i had stomach problems as a kid. maybe it’s long term after effects from that. or maybe it’s something to do with my diet?"
"are you vegetarian?"
"raw foods fanatic?"
"uh, i like salad? if that counts."
"you eat it everyday?"
so the mystery persisted and presented itself all night at balanced intervals. i would notice without even trying to.
initial incident. 6:23pm. she’s closing up her work, i’m picking her up. pre-date. she counts out mounds of cash. she’s gorgeous not looking up at me. the first hiccup is pretty unremarkable, slips by unacknowledged by both parties.
secondary incident. occurs at dinner right before her chili and my burger shows up. she’s not drinking anything carbonated, just water. so i get curious, i ask her...
"you got the hiccups, girl?"
"my whole life."
"get the fuck outta here.”
"at least once every hour."
"you can time it out?"
"maybe every half-hour."
tertiary incident. i’m skeptical on the walk interzone, this low-lit crowded bar where ms. maria smalls (as it turns out) is a known pool-shark. she’s a feared hustler with a street name and everything: "lazer grenade". 7:22pm, an entire minute before the next projected hiccup should arrive: i’m opening the door to interzone when lazer grenade goes off. the hiccup shtick is for real. and i’m so into it. it’s fucking adorable. but i dunno if she’s sensitive about it? or at least i don’t want her to think i’m this asshole first-date who is gonna be picking on her the whole night. i try to stop noting the further incidents, the frequency of occurrences. but they continue and are impossible for me to ignore. i can’t help it.
some come, like, mid-paragraph...
"i spent a lot of time by myself as a kid. i’m an only child. so i would always play outside by myself by the lake. it’s not that i didn’t have any [HICCUP] friends, i just did fine on my own. plus i lived on a farm, it wasn’t like i was bored. you know?"
some come to serve as markers. dog-ears before good dialogue...
Maria: Do you do a lot of drugs?
Me: I, uh-- not really. It’s all relative anyways.
Maria: Like, what do you do?
Me: I dunno, I hangout. If you wanna finger paint, we can finger paint. If you wanna eat some Ecstasy we can do that, too.
Maria: I ask ’cause I don’t do drugs.
Me: That’s-- that’s alright.
Maria: I love mushrooms.
Me: I-- me as well.
Maria: But the last time I ate them, though, was just so...
Me: Heavy? Long?
Me: What’d you do?
I laugh a little. I Catch myself and cover my mouth with the palm of my right hand.
Maria: I’m serious. I laid on the bed and cried my eyes out for hours and hours. And Wyatt, my boyfriend at the time? He was in the bathroom, sick, convinced that he was throwing up babies.
Me: Fuuuuck that.
Maria: Seriously. I was like, "Ah! Please do not tell me that you are throwing up babies right now!"
Me: Sounds like a bad one.
Maria: I never know what to expect with those things.
Me: Yeah, the water’s always a little deeper... a little murkier. Vast.
Maria: But I still love ’em. I can see the potential there.
Maria: Basketball. Soccer. Volleyball.
Me: So you were a letterman?
Me: I mean letterwoman. Or, uh-- letterperson?
Maria: I was a letterman. Yeah.
Me: You had the jacket and everything?
Maria: I did.
Me: I dated a girl when I was 15 or something who did Volleyball. Maybe you played her.
Maria: Maybe. I played a lot of girls.
Me: Guess that makes sense.
Maria: Did you wanna...
Me: Yeah, let’s get out of here. Let’s check out that bar, catch a drink.
Maria: I almost don’t want to leave. It looks freezing outside.
Me: Wanna borrow my jacket?
Maria: No. I’ve got my own.
Me: Oh, that’s right... a letterman.
Maria: Our coats are gone.
Me: Check the rack.
Maria: The rack’s gone.
I peak inside the bar.
Me: Our coats are gone.
Me: Maybe that’s what that guy meant when he told me it wasn’t a coat rack. I just thought he was being a prick.
Maria: Do you really care?
Me: That he was being a prick? I mean—
Maria: About the coats. Are you upset about your coat? Do you even care at all about it?
Me: Maria, right now? I don’t care about a single fucking thing right now.
Maria: Would you leave with me without it?
Me: Right now?
Maria: I mean, when do you want to go?
Me: Right now!
Maria: Even without the coats?
Me: Fuck the fucking coats. Taxis are warm.
Maria: So let’s go...
A bartender inside yells out "Last Call!"
Maria: After this last drink.
the whole night like that, until her hiccups became more than bench-marks and more than interjections. more than a cute quirk. more than anything, the hiccups came to represent a passage of time like smokes or drinks.
i was down a whole pack of mediums. i had downed well over a 12-pack. i was down on one knee trying desperately to remember how to tie my shoes. that’s when i heard maria’s 23rd hiccup: the final bell. i told my shoelaces to fuck-off, and i hailed me and maria a cab. it was one of those minivan numbers.
no more than one minute in the cab, i was on my knees for maria smalls. literally. each of us had one of the pilot seats in the middle row of the vehicle. she was on the driver’s side, i was on the passenger’s side. there was only two-feet between us which, apparently, was two-feet too much. because i unbuckled and dropped to the floor. i fumbled over to maria to chew and breathe and eat and love on her skinny lips again.
i went head-first at her. face-first into uppercut kisses. and we were still lip-locked when the cab stopped out in front of my place.
i said, mid-kiss, "you know, i usually don’t make-out all night with girls on the first date like this."
she said, "me neither."