The summer of my sixteenth year I thought I was the coolest
motherfucker on the planet. Not because I had my own car (a 1983 blue
Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra previously owned by my mom). Not
because I started wearing two different types of cologne (Polo in the
day, Drakkar Noir in the evening). Not even because I started dressing
like Don Johnson from “Miami Vice”(who was, and still is, something of
a mentor to me). No, I was cool because I spent the Sunday nights of my
summer hanging out at a nightclub called The Cosmopolitan or, for those
in the know, Cosmo for short. Sure, The Cosmo was an under eighteen
club that served no booze and was located deep in the burbs of
Cleveland, Ohio, but what did that matter? I was a clubman and The
Cosmo was my home.
The Cosmo was located at the very end of a shopping mall in
Mentor, Ohio, about an hour outside of Cleveland. This being the
Midwest, the club was very democratic. There was no doorman, no velvet
ropes, no VIP’s. You simply walked up to the front door, paid your
five-dollar cover and entered the hippest place on earth.
To be honest, I’m sure that the inside of The Cosmo looked
like a nightclub on the ground floor of a Ramada Inn located just
outside of any major U.S. airport. But at sixteen, to me it was the
epicenter of all things cool. Strobe lights, dry ice machines, loud
80’s dance music, and chicks with ridiculously big hair – The Cosmo had
everything. And I was a part of it.
One of the greatest and coolest moments of my life happened
one night at The Cosmo – which makes me quite the sentimentalist or
just plain pathetic. I was on the dance floor grooving to “Can You Feel
the Beat” by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. I had just performed my patented
spin move, you know, the one where I spin around one and a half times
rather than once because one spin is for pussies? And as I finished my
turn, there she was: the cutest girl I had ever seen. She wore long
spandex pants and a huge, oversized paisley shirt. Brightly colored,
neon bracelets covered one arm. She wore earrings so big they
could choke a donkey. And she had the biggest fucking hair I had ever
seen. It was massive. It was more than just a hairdo – it was a
lifestyle. She might have been wearing perfume, but it didn’t matter as
I was intoxicated by the overwhelming smell of her Aqua Net Hairspray.
I slow motion walked over to her and immediately started
dancing. Didn’t talk, didn’t ask, didn’t beg. Just immediately started
dancing in front of her. She couldn’t resist me. She couldn’t resist my
incredibly moussed hair. She couldn’t resist my white sports jacket
with the sleeves rolled up and the collar popped. She was mine.
As we danced she told me her name was Trisha and she worked
weekends at The Chess King (I quickly made a mental note: “If I start
dating her seriously, I bet I could get a discount!”).
We danced with each other to every song. We danced to the
good – “Kiss” by Prince, “Word Up” by Cameo. We danced to the bad
– “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money, “Dancing on the Ceiling”
by Lionel Richie. And we danced to the just plain bizarre – “St. Elmo’s
Fire” by John Parr? The thing was, it didn’t matter what song we danced
to. All that mattered was that I was a dude grinding with a chick
without any parental supervision.
Then the DJ, as if he knew ahead of time that Trish and I
were meant to be together, slowed things down and spun “Broken Wings”
by Mister Mister. I looked at Trisha. Trisha looked at me. No
words were spoken. We started to slow dance. Trisha put her head on my
slightly hairy chest and we just swayed. She looked up at me with those
big, heavy, mascara eyes and smiled. I felt like we were the only two
people on the dance floor. I felt like we were the only two people in
the world. We were one.
So I sang to her.
Take these broken wings/And
learn to fly again/Learn to live so free
When we hear/The voices
sing/The book of love will open up and let us in
(And yes, I
whispered the “Yeah Yeahs”right after the chorus. I whispered it right
in her ear. Cause I was that cool.)
As the night drew to a close (this being an underage club, I
think all of us had eleven o’clock curfews), I decided to take it to
the next level.
“So,” I asked Trisha, “Can I call you sometime?”
Trish smiled and took out a pen from her silver studded
“Do you have anything to write on?” I looked around, hoping
to find a cocktail napkin at the bar, but there was nothing. I guess
teenagers really, really need something to rest their Pepsis on.
I knew I’d never remember her number and yet I knew that I had to have
it. I couldn’t leave The Cosmo and never see this girl again.
Then it hit me in a flash: A way to get her number and a way
to impress her at the same time. Suavely, I pulled out my wallet, you
know, the ones that velcroed, pulled out a one-dollar bill, gazed into
…And ripped it in half.
“Here, “ I said, casually handing her half of the dollar, “write it on
Trisha’s eyes widened in astonishment. She might have thought I was
extremely rich. She might have thought I was incredibly cocky. She
might have thought I was a bad ass for committing a felony. But,
regardless of what she thought, I knew that at the very least, she
thought I was fucking cool. *
(*I have since told my wife this story, and all she has to say about it
is, “You dumb ass. Why would you waste a dollar like that?”)
Trisha wrote down her number, leaned in and kissed me. She
tasted like watermelon and I could feel just a hint of a moustache on
her upper lip (which I actually was a little jealous of).
“Call me soon,” is all she said.
I wish I could say that the rest of the summer was as magical as that
night at The Cosmopolitan. But, alas, it was not. Though we did a lot
of dry humping that summer in the backseat of my car, Trisha was not
the girl for me. In fact, she turned out to be a ball buster and
an incredible pain in the ass, and when she got grounded for an entire
month at the end of the summer, our relationship died. I never got that
discount at The Chess King. But I will never forget that incredible
moment we shared at that nightclub. And I’m pretty sure Trisha didn’t
One year later I went back to The Cosmo and nothing had changed. The
strobe lights, dry ice machines and the 80’s dance music were still
there. Except The Cosmo was no longer an underage nightclub.
It was now a Laser Tag Center.