It’s been awhile, I thought.
Perhaps I needed to get out more—see more of the world. Maybe I haven’t been exerting myself lately…? Why wasn’t I meeting wonderful strangers like I used to? Strangers like Becky, Traci, and Jeff? Hell, it had been four months since I had written about someone new. Maybe, just maybe, I needed a vacation.
With these thoughts in mind, I happily boarded the plane to leave the frozen tundra called Fargo last Saturday afternoon. The combination of flying and simply leaving the Midwest proved euphoric. I love flying. I always have. In fact, I’ve even thought to myself that the risk of fiery death via plane would be well worth the adrenaline I feel twice a year as the aircraft’s wheels fold up under me.
I was headed south to a place that knew no cold. A place that was tolerable in April. A place where the inhabitants considered 82 degrees “chilly.” A place I’d be pleased to retire someday: Arizona. There was no better place to celebrate my birthday, I thought, as I stepped off the plane into warm, dry, desert air. At the very least, I’d get a tan.
I spent the first few days lying under the sun, sipping margaritas in the pool before I decided I was ready to greet civilization once again. It was my birthday and I’d be damned if I didn’t at least attempt to celebrate. Lucky for me, my college degree brought me a little more than student loan debt—friends, if nothing else. Friends who refused to get stuck in the Midwest (unlike myself). Friends in search of better things and brighter places. One friend in particular had made his way from Wisconsin to the Grand Canyon state and continued to taunt me from afar.
Thanks to technology (and a 20-something that thrives on spontaneity), I soon had birthday plans with my old friend, Kollin, and three strangers—a night I would later recognize as the highlight of my vacation.
Kollin greeted me (hairy as ever) dressed in a pink button-up, his face covered by an impressive Sons of Anarchy-worthy beard. He had since lost the ponytail I’d grown accustomed to seeing in college. Later, he’d explain that the khakis and pink shirt wasn’t his typical look… he had lost a bet.
When I got in the car, I was greeted by a curly-headed blonde who went by the name Jacob. When he shook my hand, his smile was so big that you would have thought we were long lost friends who were catching up.
As we headed north to Old Town Scottsdale, I was excited for what the night would bring. I was soon surrounded by dozens of open-air bars strung with patio lights and blaring with music. This is the life, I thought. This is how birthdays should be.
First stop, El Hefe.
It was Tuesday, but we weren’t the only ones up for a good time. I was introduced to two other gentleman that would make up our five-pack. Brandon was a towering six-foot, four inches and built to be my bodyguard—something I was always looking for as a five-foot, two-inch shrimp. Zachary had just finished his commitment to the Air Force—a characteristic that gained my respect, having a brother in the military.
As we polished off our first drinks, Kollin brought up the idea of relocating to Tempe, home of ASU—one of the top party colleges. “There’s too many old people here,” he said. “Although I’ve been known to attract some cougars.” He grinned and motioned behind us. “Want me to get her number?” he said of a woman in her 40s… maybe 50s?
I laughed knowing full well that I wouldn’t have to dare him. Kollin was the kind of guy who lived to get a reaction—something I, too, enjoyed. But, as it turns out, this cougar was the one hunting. Kollin wouldn’t have a chance to play his game. Tonight, he was the prey.
The woman stumbled over and proceeded to rub her glutes against mine. While some may have called it dancing, my sober eyes saw it as attention whoring. I was the gateway to the bearded king. This lady knew if she got my attention, she could get his. And with more enthusiasm than necessary, I opened the passage and let her through. I couldn’t wait to see how Kollin would handle it.
Unfortunately, my college friend got bored quickly, and the woman—“Tara” she told me, intimately whispering in my ear—moved on to the others for attention. Jacob, Brandon, and Zachary all fell victim too soon. “Let’s go to Giligin’s,” she begged, slurring her words.
We agreed. Leaving this bar was the only hope we had of ditching the wild animal on our backs. Well, that and convincing her that I was hanging out with four gay guys. For some reason… she didn’t buy it.
Making our way to Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row, Tara followed but was quickly distracted by two other gentlemen who found it shockingly easy to attract her advances.
We wiped the sweat off our brows and hopped towns. No way were we risking running into her again. As the night progressed, I’ll admit I could no longer call these guys strangers. It’s amazing what you can learn about people in just a few hours.
After some less-than-sober self-defense training, a running biff on the sidewalk, and an accidental near-concussion, it was time to go home. After all, Jacob was waiting outside. Somewhere along the way, they had kicked him out. He was just too good of a time.
As I arrived back in Fargo, I’ll admit I have but one regret: not meeting these guys earlier. (Okay, okay, maybe two… why do I live in this cold?) Now, come on North Dakota… bring on summertime.
Loving the Arizona boys? Read about Becky, Traci, Carrie, Angelique, Jeff and his coworkers, and the Schiavo family and friends—my other favorite strangers.
Feature photo via theodysseyonline.com