She wasn’t sure why she kept carrying around the damn Minion. Just a cheap plastic Christmas ornament she’d meant to hang from her rear view mirror, thinking it would put a smile on her face on dark winter mornings to see the grinning fella with his wreath. But now it was New Year’s Eve, she was leaving a bar, and a man was asking for her number, and more. Fishing through her purse for a pen, she instead found the Minion in her hand…
Ordinarily she hid on the last night of the year, unamused by the ruckus as only a seasoned bar-hopper can be. She hadn’t hopped any bars since moving to this little island, though. She was now a grounded gal in boots with real beach mud on them. So why bother with nylons and strangers, she grumbled to her mother.
But she did anyway.
Driving into town, it was very clear the classy bar was tucking itself in for the night and the party was at the local dive. The twang from a country trio filled the otherwise silent night sky. So she walked in her long skirt into the only establishment in town boasting plate-size pancakes in the mornings and five dollar doubles at night.
Everyone was in jeans and everyone was plastered.
She felt like a princess in the worst possible way, but out of sheer principle she ordered a beer.
The problem with showing up after a football game and four rounds is that everyone around you has partnered up to the degree they’re going to. The buffet is basically empty, and unknowingly, you have become the last drumstick.
A drumstick in a skirt.
She had to keep her wits about her.
A drumstick discovers quickly that nice men move slowly, while weirdos and the very horny have no inhibitions. But it was the retirees who were unnerving her, their eyes locked on her from all corners, like the sight of her cleared the beer from their bleary brains and made room for just one delicious thought:
Exhausted by the military maneuvers before she’d even finished peeling the label from her beer, she gave in to the second guy who approached her, letting him sit with her and pretend to have a conversation through the music and his drunken blur.
He made her laugh, but she couldn’t tell if it was intentional. She mostly felt pleased that his presence protected her from the old men, many still staring.
At midnight, he faltered and kissed her hand. She made him get up and dance, and he did, and kissed her there. And she liked it, in spite of how blurry he was. He was a man, and the song was festive, and she’d made it out of the godforsaken year before, and it was enough to make her laugh.
A little later, as he negotiated with a buddy over a spare cell phone he wanted to buy, it became clear that the kiss to “Brown Eyed Girl” would be as magical as her first New Year’s Eve on the island would get.
She told him she was going to turn into a pumpkin soon, and then had to explain what she meant. Because his cell was broken, and he wanted her number, and giving it to him seemed like the easiest way to leave, she fished through her purse for a pen.
He said something she couldn’t hear. She leaned forward to hear him repeating, “I want to come with you.”
She wanted to say, I know you do, but I don’t, in any way, want to take you with me. Instead she handed him the Minion because it was in her hand. He set it aside, saying it again.
She realized looking at the ornament resting on the bar by his hand that giving it to him had made no sense, and yet had also been the most sincere thing she’d done all night. She felt certain the right guy, the guy she would take home, would have somehow understood that a Minion is significant.
For now all she could do was leave the bar, making her first New Year’s resolution as she pushed the door open: The next man I kiss will take the Minion.