Top This One!

So let me tell you about my epic of a tale. It all started about two and a half months ago. I got an email here at work. It had an advertisement inside that said, "The Moscow Ballet Presents: The Great Russian Nutcracker". I thought to myself, "Hmmm, I spent two years in Russia and never saw the Nutcracker!" So, I called the number and asked how much a ticket would cost. "Sixty three dollars," was the answer. Well, I found a cute girl with a great personality at the church that I attend and asked her out a month in advance just to make sure she was available. This was going to be only the third date in three years, so I wanted everything to go without a hitch. Well, Friday I went and picked her up at her house. I opened her door, told her the plan for the night, and we drove off. I had a $25.00 gift certificate for a restaurant that I thought was pretty swanky. We were dressed for the ballet, so we wouldn't stick out either. Well, we show up at the restaurant and go inside. We are met by a waitress who is bouncing to the beat of the music. "Do you want to sit at the bar or at a booth?" She almost had to yell to be heard over the music. We chose the booth. We made our way past the bar and the DJ and sat down at this huge table. There were TV's on every wall. One had baseball, the other football, and another basketball. Everyone else was at the bar watching the TV and talking about the different games. The place was not a restaurant. It was a sports bar. The booth where we sat was designed for a party of fifteen or so, and the table was quite large. We sat about five feet away from each other. It was really quite awkward. We ate quickly so we could get out of there and make it to the ballet early. Well, when we got there my date, Marilyn, asked for a piece of gum. "Sure," I said. But when I went for my gum pack in the glove box, it was empty. Rejection. When we arrived at the theater, I got a great parking place. We walked up to the doors and they were locked. The lights were out, too. No worries, we were forty minutes early, after all. It definitely looked suspicious, though. So, we went over to the ticket booths awhile so I could pick up the tickets I had prepaid for over the phone. Well, the ticket boots were closed, too. There was a poster by one of the booths that read, "The Moscow Ballet Presents: The Great Russian Nutcracker coming November 14th". It took a few seconds for this to hit me. November 14th. NOVEMBER 14th? It was now October 11th. We were a month early. Yup, so, what to do now? Well, it was only 7:00, and we had the whole evening ahead of us. So, I suggested we walk around a bit since we were in center city, and there were lots of tall sky scrapers, parks, and historical buildings to keep us entertained. So, we started walking. We were talking and I was thinking, "Man, something around here doesn't smell right." Just then we noticed a man lying on the ground in front of us. He was passed out and smelled from alcohol. His friends on the opposite corner started making cat calls at us. So, we decided it was time to head back to the car. Before we got there, we passed a church. My date suggested we go inside and see what was there. Right outside the door to the church there were four or five buckets filled with cigarette butts. What kind of church was this? Well, we went in anyway and…bam! This huge guy with tattoos up and down his arms bellows, "Welcome to Friday's super family get-to-know-you night!" or something to that affect. He gave us each a ticket, and we sat down somewhere in the middle towards the back. Several people came by and told us how happy they were to see us and how much they liked it when new people "join". Many of the people had not-so-modest clothing on, tattoos, and a general raggedy look. It was kind of strange. Well, my date and I laughed and joked until it was about to start. Then we noticed a poster on the wall by the pulpit. It was kind of far away and it was kind of hard to read. Squinting my eyes, I read, "The Twelve-Step Program: Step One: Pray to God to help you overcome your weakness." I thought, "Hmm, this must be the twelve-step program to converting to their church." I kept reading, "Step Two: Admit that you are an alcoholic." "What?!" I thought, "What is this?!" Just at that moment, the guy in charge got up and said, "Welcome to Alcoholics Anonymous' super family get-to know-you night." He then welcomed all the "visitors" out there, and five or six people looked at us and smiled and nodded. The first speaker told his story about how he was a millionaire until alcohol and drugs made him homeless in the course of six years. And that, thanks to AA, he was now on the path to recovery. Next the guy in charge stood up and called for a ticket number. The person with the ticket got up, went to the pulpit, and said, "My name is Bob, and I'm an alcoholic." Immediately, the whole congregation chanted in unison, "HI BOB!" Bob told his story. The process continued with tickets being called and people going to the front and announcing that they were alcoholics. Story after story was shared about how people became alcoholics and how AA had helped them. Then they called ticket number 040. That was my ticket. I didn't move. Everybody sat uncomfortably for a few seconds until, finally, the guy called the next ticket number. We slipped out the next chance we had. At that point I was thinking, "Sports bar, passed out guy on the street, no ballet, Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, how could we possibly top this night off?" So, we drove up and down a familiar street acting like a bunch of teenagers. I was revving my engine, had the windows down, and blasted the music. After I dropped Marilyn off, I was thinking about what an absolute loser I was. I figured I could either move to Texas or maybe New York to escape it all. And I mused at how the impossible could only happen to me. Well I got over my "I'm a loser" thoughts and decided to at least make a little bit of restitution. So, I drove to a local store and bought some roses and a stick of gum (remember the empty package?). I spent like fifteen minutes thinking up a really smart and cute note to attach to it. I got to Marilyn's apartment complex at around 11:30 PM. The plan was just to leave the gum, flowers, and note at her door. Well, her apartment complex had about thirty cop cars around it as well as an ambulance and a fire truck. As soon as I got out of my car, I could hear a man's earsplitting scream, "Help! Help! They are going to kill me!" There were cops milling around and residents standing in little groups looking at the third floor of the building directly across from my date's building. There, straddling his balcony wall, was a completely naked man still yelling at the top of his lungs, "The demons! No! God wants us to love everyone! The Demons! Help!" "Are you sure he is naked?" I asked one of the spectators since it was kind of dark and hard to see, "He might have shorts on." "Nope, when the cops shined the spotlight on him…" enough said. Well, my date lived on the third floor, so I checked to make sure she was not outside or on her balcony. I snuck down the apartment building hallway to her door. Just as I got to her door, she opened it and ran out! I was completely unprepared and could think of nothing to say. I think she was just as surprised as I was when we saw each other. My stupor of thought continued as we stared at each other. So, I just thrust the flowers and gum with the note into her hands. She said thanks and then excitedly asked if I had seen the naked guy. I told her I had. We spent the next twenty minutes watching the naked man yell and scream while cops tried to coax him down. The last thought I had before I left was, "This was the best way to top the night off."

— Bradley, 30

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