Monday, November 07, 2005

An innocent man

I was just hanging out with my buddy at a bar, keeping to myself. There I was, enjoying my beer, catching up with my friend Mike, watching the Miami-Virginia Tech football game (Yeeck!) over his shoulder. As the night wore on and the bar got more crowded, our little table was getting smothered by people, making my personal space nerve twitch. One guy kept practically sitting on my shoulder, only taking a step forward when he got an elbow in the ass.

There was a thud on the floor, and the circle of people stepped outward. Again, the dude was sitting on my shoulder. What happened? Did someone drop their beer? No, it was a digital camera. "Shit! Shit! No, it's okay. Wait! Wait! The battery popped out! Shit! Help me find the battery! C'mon! Help me! HEY! I lost the battery!"

Mike went back to his story about his little daughter biting the nurse who tried to give her a flu shot earlier in the day. "Oh my God, it was so embarrassing. But funny as hell."

And you know I love stories about children. Remember, they're our future. Mike's kids are phenomenally well-behaved, however, so I don't often get tales of misbehavior.

Our conversation was interrupted by a couple of "Ooo-OOO-oooohs" from the circle of people. I turned to see what the deal was and saw them all looking at me. What the hell... ? I looked down and a woman's face was in my crotch. Okay, not "in," but close. Close enough that I should've bought her a drink and taken her to brunch the next day.

She looked up at me, smiled, and said "Hey." How adorable. Just a girl having fun! I wanted to go back to talking with Mike, but well, I had to know what was going on.

"Can I help you, Miss?"

"I lost my camera battery!" She was using her cell phone display to illuminate the floor under our table, like the guys on C.S.I. using ultraviolet lamps to check for blood or semen stains. I have no idea if she found those. But she didn't find her battery either.

I stood up and tried to help her, mostly because it was impossible to chat while a woman was crouching underneath our table, waving her cell phone at the floor. Did we find a crumpled up napkin? Yes. A coaster? Yes. Plastic wrap, probably from a box of cigarettes? Yes. A digital camera battery? No.

Then the woman shoved me aside and screamed at her friends. "I don't even know this guy, and he's helping me! Help me find the battery! Hey! HEY! Get the fuck over here! Quit being such an asshole!"

I stood on my tip-toes and craned my neck, looking for another table somewhere - anywhere - else in the bar. But the place was packed. We were probably trapped. And we weren't ready to leave yet. Finally, someone about 20 feet away calls over to the woman and holds up the battery.

"She found my battery!" she screamed at me, as I sat back down. I held up my glass in celebration, and she clinked hers against mine - a little too hard, if you ask me. I thought the thing was going to shatter in my hands. And I'd just gotten another pint. "Thank you! Can I take a picture of you guys?"