Sunday, August 05, 2007

The Story of Us Part 3

AUGUST 2006 - MAY 2007
The time from August 2006 to May 2007 may seem pretty uneventful on the surface but in reality it was a time of building a nice solid foundation of friendship on which we could build from there.

I began to visit the coffee shop on a pretty regular basis. I soon learned that Sarah was 23 years old, only a mere 13 years younger than me. In my head, that pretty much sealed my fate, as the last thing in the world I wanted to be thought of (especially by Sarah) was "that creepy older guy." I also learned Sarah was seeing someone else at the time and I would have no part in trying to move in on someone already in a relationship. I accepted the situation and moved on into "the friend zone."

What I didn't realize at the time was  the fact that this was probably the best thing that could have happened. I'm not too naive to admit God knew what He was doing.  If circumstances had been different I would have changed the way I acted around her. I don't know if I"ve mentioned this before but I'm not a good single guy around pretty girls. I become awkward, unsure of myself, very self-conscious, and I usually end up coming across as a goof. And not in a good way. Trust me on this.

But when I know there's no chance (or, in this case, think there's no chance), I can talk to anyone. Whether she is the one in the relationship or if I happen to be with someone, all of that goes out the window and I can talk to anyone. Why? Because of the simple fact that I don't care what they think of me. If I don't impress or woo them, it's all right, because it wasn't going to happen anyway. And so because Sarah was seeing someone, I was able to just be myself. I know. Crazy.

The Coffee shop is owned and operated by Sarah's sister Stacy and Stacy's husband Nathan. The are two of the coolest, kind-hearted, down-to-earth, mellow people you'd ever want to meet and I got to get to know them through my frequent visits as well. Sarah's younger brother David also works there and because Sarah's family  was always around that also made things for the future even cooler.

You see, what was happening was this: I was getting to know and love Sarah's family.

Don't get me wrong, they're great people and I'm not saying it wouldn't have been fun -- or easy -- to get to know them if Sarah and I started dating right off the bat, but this way there wasn't any of the pressure that is sometimes there when you "MEET THE FAMILY" for the first time. It was really cool.

Speaking of cool, wait until you hear this. It may be a little harder to follow reading it than if I were there to explain it in person but hear me out and try to follow because it's worth it.

I grew up going to church in Auburn, Indiana. One of the kids who also went there was a boy in the same grade as me named Chris McCormick. We became really good friends and it became a common occurrence that after church I would go home with him or he would come home with me and we would hang out and play and get into whatever kinds of mischief fifth graders get into. Sometimes I would get to spend the whole weekend at his house. I have fond memories of us pooling our Star Wars action figures together so we could create epic adventures. I remember that my Princess Leia action figure was cross-eyed, so she became Chris's Princess Leia's retarded twin sister.

Chris's Mom had remarried a guy named Ken Stine and because I spent so much time at their house I got to know the two of them pretty well over the years (and vice versa). Ken spent a few years working as the guy who refills candy machines and I remember Chris sneaking me aboard the candy truck on more than one occasion to sample the goods.

As sometimes happens, things change, and a number of years later Ken and Chris's mom separated. And, you guessed it, a few years after that Ken married Sarah's mom. Small world, huh?

So, From late summer of 2006 to spring of 2007 I got the chance to get to know Sarah and some of her family. They're great people and now, as Sarah and I move closer to marriage, I can't wait to call them not only friends, but family.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

A Ghostly Plan Redux

A couple weeks ago I posted a blog about a ghost tour and my thoughts on creating one of my own. Last night I sat down and wrote about the same thing again, but I feel I flushed some things out and added a few humorous details. I don't know, call this the director's cut of that blog.

There's a small town outside of Lancaster Pennsylvania called Strasburg. It's quiet. Quaint. It has a nice Amish population and an ice cream shop on the corner that attracts a fair share of tourists. It's not much different from a lot of other small towns on the East Coast. And, like a lot of small towns on the East Coast with any history behind it, it has a ghost tour.

Every half hour or so a small group of people will converge, led by a woman wearing a long black cape. I understand the mood they're going for but this far away from Halloween it just has a tendency to look silly.

I spoke to a woman who is on the Strasburg city council and apparently many of the ghost stories are just that: stories. Totally made up with no real basis in fact or history.

By the way, they charge 15 dollars a head to go on this Tour of Lies. And people pay it. On some days they have as many as six tours a night. They're making out pretty well if you ask me.

Why couldn't I do that?

Who says I couldn't?

I talked to my friend about this and she told me they do indeed require a license to perform these tours. And the license is only twenty bucks. Even if I did a half-assed job of it, I could make that back in one tour. But I wouldn't do a half-assed job. Not me.

My only other expense would be a cape. Where do you get one of those? I'd need to get a cape, though. Maybe one with sparkles or sequins. I bet Sarah would be willing to Bedazzle the crap out of a cape for me. Really show up those amateurs.

I wouldn't charge 15 bucks a pop, though. I would only charge 10. And I wouldn't feel like I was sacrificing anything because if you want to give me 10 bucks to lie to you and a bunch of your friends for half an hour...I'd totally be down for that. And I can pretty much guarantee you my lies would be way better. Please. That's easy. I'll make up a story right here on the spot:

This mansion was built in 1872, not long after he Civil War, by John and Olivia Worthington. John fought in the Civil War and came back missing an arm. Nevertheless he continued building the house he'd always promised his young bride. One day while he worked on the roof he lost his footing. He tried to steady himself but because he only had one arm he had to let go of the bucket of materials he held in order to save from falling from the roof. Unfortunately Olivia was right below working in her garden and was struck on the head by the materials. She died instantly. Mr. Worthington was so distraught he threw himself from the rooftop where he plummeted to his death, impaling himself on a decorative stick in the yard. To this day if you ever find yourself in the garden at night, you'll see a huge shadow on the roof that leaps off right at you. Of course, the ghostly figment vanishes before it lands but not before you hear the haunted scream of a woman right beside you. And then your lips fall off.

OK, so granted I need to work on the ending. And I'm not really sure why they had a "decorative stick" in the yard, but I just made it up. I bet if I took some time to really think about it I could make it into an awesome story. But my point is I can make up stories and lie about ghosts and accept ten dollars from people to do it.

At first I thought about charging people half of what the other ghost tour people charge, which wold be 7 dollars apiece. But after some consideration I decided to make it an even 10 dollars because I'm not good (or fast) at math. If a family of four wants to go on the tour at 7 dollars each and they pay with a fifty-dollar bill, how much change would I owe them? Maybe you know, but I don't. So yeah. Ten bucks each. Easy. And also that way I never have to worry about running out of one-dollar bills. That would suck.

My ghost tour would also be better because I would include my friends to play crazy characters we meet along the way. Believe me, I know people who would totally be down for playing a creepy man on the corner with a story about the old firehouse or abandoned livery. Not that there's an abandoned livery in downtown Strasburg but believe you me, when I tell the ghost stories one of those old buildings is going to end up being an abandoned livery.

There will also be stories about people dying in fires, secret lovers murdered by over-protective fathers, and at least one death by monkey. That one might be tough to make sound convincing but I'm determined to be the only ghost tour storyteller with a monkey death tale to pass along.

You'd pay ten bucks to hear that, right?

Yes you would.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Story of Us Pt 2

I made my way to the coffee shop downtown, Brewdaily's Cafe. I was impressed from the moment I opened the door. As soon as I walked in, it didn't feel like I was in Smalltown, USA. It was huge inside with really cool decor and big comfy couches to sit in. This place would easily fit in Santa Monica or Greenwich Village. The girl behind the counter was really cute. And not cute in a "oh hey she's cute" kind of way but in a "wow, who is THIS" fashion. The thing is, I'm horrible at the "how old is this person" game (seriously, never ask me how old I think you are if you don't want to be offended) and I didn't want to do or say anything too forward lest she turn out to be 16 and I find myself in jail and the talk of the town.

She was really friendly and made a mean white chocolate mocha. I sat down to write a little bit and knew I would be back. I had to find out more about this girl.

I visit the coffee shop once again and again, the beautiful girl is working behind the counter. I'm so happy with the fact I have found a new place to hang out I am inspired to write a short story, called simply "Java."

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Story of Us Pt 1

I'm going to do my best to recount the story of Sarah and me as best as I can remember. It's a long story (or at least will be when I'm done with it) so I'll be publishing these in installments.

*Just a warning: There will probably be inaccuracies, lapses of memory, and free association. Sometimes it might seem like what I am writing has nothing to do with Sarah. Trust me.

I hadn't been back in Indiana for very long. I was previously living in New York City and to say The Big Apple had a few coffee shops would be putting it lightly. To say I frequented those coffee shops would also be putting it lightly. I usually went to Starbucks, not out of brand loyalty, but because in New York every third building you pass is a Starbucks.

After moving back to Indiana it didn't take long for my coffee craving to kick in. But this was Auburn Indiana, not New York City and I didn't know what I would find (if anything) in the way of coffee shops.

One day I happened to notice a coffee shop in a strip mall across the street from a grocery store. It didn't really stand out and it was one of those places you had to know was there in order to find it. I didn't think they were getting a lot of drop-ins. I went in armed only with my notebook I always carry with me. I intended to do some writing and enjoy some quiet time.

I ordered my coffee (white chocolate mocha) and sat down. The coffee wasn't very good, but it was warm and it was made of coffee beans, so I figured I'd force it down. I began writing in my book when the owner of the shop began to make a loud fuss (all of the details are here). Turns out the owner knew my brother and was shouting loudly to his wife across the shop about me and who I was. To say I was a little embarrassed would be pretty accurate. I vowed never to step foot in that place again. And so far I've made good on my vow to myself.

I told my brother Ray about the incident and he and his wife Piper told me about another coffee shop that was located in downtown Auburn. And when I say "downtown" I don't mean like on Sunset Boulevard or Michigan Avenue or 42nd Street. I mean "downtown" as in the courthouse square in Back to the Future. Seriously. It looks just like that, with the huge courthouse and the big clock and all of the little shops all around. Apparently there was another coffee shop located in the square and I intended to check it out.