After our round, we headed back to our room to shower and get ready for the evening’s festivities. None of us in our wildest dreams ever could have imagined how it would have turned out.
Following dinner and drinks at one of the restaurants in the village, we headed to a club, where a DJ spun old school. It had a nice, hip vibe, despite the fact that we were the only customers in there.
“Wow, this place is hopping,” I said.
“It’s still early,” Adriana said. She had a point. It was barely even ten. And even if nobody else came, it wouldn’t have mattered. We were bound and determined to have fun no matter what. Nothing could stop the Downhill Trio. Not at this point, anyway.
We sat down at the bar.
“What can I get you guys?,” the bartender asked.
“Do you have Absinthe?,” Melody asked, completely out of left field.
“Absinthe?!,” Adriana asked.
“We certainly do,” the bartender said. “We’ve had an unopened bottle ever since we opened.”
“The real stuff?,” Melody asked.
“Okay, then let’s open that bad boy!,” Melody demanded.
“Are you sure about this?,” Adriana asked.
“I am. Are you guys in?”
“Have you ever had it before?,” Adriana asked cautiously.
They both turned to me.
“Well, I have,” Adriana said. “In France.”
“Of course you have,” I said.
“Well, this is Canada. Close enough. The time has come to lose my virginity to the Green Fairy. Are you guys in … or out?”
Reluctantly, Adriana and I gave in. At this point, I felt like I had nothing to lose. If I had survived the slopes, I could survive Absinthe. It couldn’t be much different than vodka, right? Turns out I knew even less about absinthe, than I did skiing.
The bartender prepared our shots, complete with spoon, sugar cube and lighter. It was as close to doing heroin as I would ever get.
“To tonight,” Melody said, holding up her shot. “And to the green fairy.” Then we downed it. It burned like hell. And to no one’s surprise, I had the most averse reaction to it.
“It’s like varnish!”
“Would you like another?,” the bartender asked.
“I don’t know …,” I said.
“Come one. One more. We only live once,” Melody said.
“Exactly,” I retorted.
“Yes, three more!,” Melody commanded the bartender, leaving us little choice. The good news was, the second shot somehow went down much more smoothly than the first.
We downed the shots. We were now beyond toasts. The effect was felt immediately.
“Okay, I’m good now,” Melody said, nodding her head to the music.
“Next round on me,” Adriana said. And so we drank. And kicked it old school on the dance floor. At one point, I was turned into a human sandwich (not an Absinthe-inspired hallucination), but as the night would continue to teach me, the effect of Absinthe on one’s actions and memories is immeasurable.
“Hey, look who’s here,” Adriana said, pointing toward the door. It was Andrei and his entourage. I swear, they were walking in slo-mo.
“Now it’s a party,” Melody said.
Recognizing us, Andrei nodded, then proceeded to the bar, where his comrades ordered shots of vodka with a chaser of beer.
Andrei separated from his group to join us on the dance floor, singing along and bobbing his head like one of the dancers in Charlie Brown Christmas. His white button down was completely unbuttoned, with his gut hanging out at the bottom. He wore loafers with no socks.
“Look at him!,” Melody said. “He’s awesome!”
He most certainly was. It was his complete indifference to whether or not that he was cool that made him so cool. He was like a hipster who was too hip to even know what a hipster was.
Melody, fueled by absinthe, headed over to Andrei and danced along with him. Meanwhile, Adriana started dancing with Andrei’s buddy, who introduced himself as Sergei (or something like it). I remained on the sidelines, until one of the Russian girls – seemingly jealous – approached me and started dancing with me. I got the sense that this was a regular occurrence. She spoke with a thick accent, so comprehension was difficult – especially when Vanilla Ice is being spun.
From what I gathered, here is how the conversation went:
“You are American, yes?”
“What does this mean, full blooded.”
“Born in the U.S.A.”
“Like Springsteen song. He is Jew, no?”
“A Jew? I have no idea,” I said in response to her seeming non-sequitor.
“Where are you from,” I asked.
“You mean red-blooded?, I joked.
“I do not understand,” she said.
“What do you do in America?
“I’m a teacher.”
“Oh,” she said with utter resentment and disappointment, before walking away. Did that just happen?, I thought to myself. It had.
I decided to sit back down and eavesdrop on Andrei flirting with Melody.
“You are most beautiful woman. Like American newscaster. Or model. Or actress,” he said, not only bringing on the cheese … but melting it.
“Thank you,” Melody said, flattered. “But I’m married.
“That should not matter. Let’s have some fun.”
Meanwhile, the girl who was disgusted with my livelihood approached them, clearly jealous of Andrei’s inattention to her. I wondered if she still would have been jealous if she knew Melody was only a teacher.
“Why are you wet?,” she asked Melody with disdain.
“Wet. With sweat. Like that of pig in heat.” True, Melody had a thin layer of sweat on her face from dancing, but by no means was it was anything that would warrant disgust.
The girl looked at Melody’s hands.
“You have hands like man.”
“Excuse me?,” Melody said, half-pissed and half-confused that such a conversation was taking place.
But this little Russian bitch was relentless. “I said you have hands like man. And your ring. It is small. When I get engaged, it will be big one.”
Get out of here you filthy slut,” Andrei scolded her in Russian, attempting to put her in her place. She responded by slapping him in the face, then turning back to face Melody.
“Try not to get wet. It is not good look.”
Sensing Melody’s anger, Andrei tried to smooth things over diplomatically.
“She is jealous bitch. It is very hard for one woman to accept that all women want me. I need smoke. You come with me outside.”
“Are you asking me? Or telling me?,” Melody asked.
“I ask. And tell at same time. That is how good I am,” Andrei said with a smirk.
Melody looked at me for guidance. I gave her a look of doubt for even considering it. But she went out anyway. I walked over to Adriana, who was still dancing with Sergei or whatever his name was and explained what had just happened.
“Should I go out there?,” I asked.
“She’s a big girl. She can handle her business.”
“She’s drunk,” I reminded her. “And married.”
“She’ll be fine. Let’s dance.” So we did, but after a couple of minutes, I decided to check on our missing comrade.
When I got outside, Andrei had Melody cornered against the building. She was trying to squirm free, but Andrei wouldn’t have it.
There is a time in every man’s life when he must step up to defend a lady’s honor. My moment had come, as did my inner Crispin Glover from Back to the Future.
“Hey you,” I began. “Get your damn hands off her.”
Andrei turned around just in time for me to punch him squarely in the jaw. Melody shrieked as Andrei fell to the ground, writhing in pain, his butt dangling in the snow like a white spare tire. Adriana came out just in time to witness the aftermath.
“Okay, we should go,” I said, cradling my meat hook.
As we quickly got the hell out of there, Melody channeled her inner Cameron from Ferris Bueller:
“You’re my hero,” Melody said, meaning it.
“What in the hell happened?” Adriana asked.
“He asked me to come back to his room with him. I told him no. But he kept insisting. Enter Jimmy the bad ass.”
“I was just doing what any friend would do.”
“But we just met,” Melody said. “That’s pretty impressive.”
“I have my moments,” I said in full swagger mode. She was right. For one moment, I was a bad ass. There was no moment prior to that that could compare, nor could I foresee something like this ever happening again.