Rewind 2-3 hours: the night starts innocently enough...
"Come in, come in."
"Have a seat, grab a drink, try not to mind the fact that I'm still not wearing a bra."
It may seem like casual entertaining to say the least, but Rory is the kind of friend who, when I accidentally stepped out of an Urban Behaviour fitting room topless, informed the crowd that it wasn't "anything she hadn't seen before."
So, while she unburdened her soul of all the troubles a girl can accumulate in 48 hours, I finished dressing under her steady gaze, and between smoke breaks on the balcony, did my hair and my makeup too. And when she'd confessed herself into exhaustion, we topped up the drinks and headed into more light hearted territory, otherwise known as my life, the soap opera.
Rory, like lots of my friends, lives vicariously through the sordid stories of my random rendez-vous-ing but is suspicious as to how I actually manage to accidentally meet so many strange characters. The best I can ever manage by way of explanation is "I don't know! It's not like I have a lesson plan for spontaneity. It just happens." Luckily, statements like that do not diminish statements like "...and after we chased the chipmunk back up the tree, we introduced ourselves and then made out." It sounds a little crazy in the retelling, but I like that my life is a mix of fantastical and unpredictable.
So as I was wrapping up a story we've since dubbed "The disarmingly hot guy who wears UFC jammies to bed and whose number is now deprogrammed from my cell", the only thing louder than our giggles was the grumblies in our tumblies.
Being the domestic goddess that I am, we ordered some chinese.
And then we went down to the lobby of my building to make sure no one abducted our dinner, remarking on "that buzzing noise that kind of sounds like someone's smoke alarm" as we left.
When we got back (10? 15 minutes later?), paper bag of hot delicious MSG-soaked goodness in hand, the noise hadn't abated. In fact, as we were sitting down, maybe half an egg roll in, the noise seemed to get louder. Still largely unconcerned, I decided that the least I could do was poke my head out the door, and that's what I did, and was rewarded with the sight of one neighbour pounding on the noisy apartment's door. When it was finally answered, smoke billowed out.
That chicken fried rice is looking mighty good....
But then the lady who answered starts yelling "Call the fire department! Save the animals!" as she neglects to keep her tattered bathrobe closed while lugging large crates containing (I hope) pets out into the hallway and then into the elevator. A man's voice, coming from within the offending apartment bellows "There's no fire, don't get so worked up" and reassures the growing crowd with "She just passed out with something on the stove."
And she has somehow "slept" through 20 minutes of smoke alarm. Riiiiiiiiiight.
Anyway, the woman, now that she's conscious, is now "agitated" enough to pull the building's alarm, which means the fire department's on its way and 187 people are about to be very grumpy.
* Note: When I say "slept", and "agitated", you can pretty much assume I mean "stoned out of her fucking mind."
So we leave our dinner but take our drinks and evacuate calmly. Not a drop was spilled despite the urgency of the alarm and the people rushing past us in the grimy stairwell.
As soon as we hit the cool night air, I say to Rory "If this turns out to be a real fire, I'm going to very upset, because I just left my baby up there!"
* Note: When I, a single, selfish, independent woman say "baby", you can pretty much assume I mean "laptop."
And then a man comes out the front doors with precious cargo under each arm, and declares that "Just in case, I brought my babies."
* Note: gay man babies = laptop + cat
So we're all standing around, watching the firemen take an elevator up to the maybe-fire (which I thought was a fire-safety sin, but what do I know?), some of us in post-work-pajamas, some of us in states of anger and disbelief, and some of us sipping from swirly straws feeling kind of amused about the whole thing.
And I start playing "meet the neighbours" with a guy who's standing off by himself in a hoodie and a puffy vest, looking like he maybe had better plans than watching his building go down in flames tonight.
Actually, he admits, he'd been home sick from work all day. The fire thing is kind of a pain in the ass, as he'd had to peel himself off the couch and actually mobilize. Rory and I volunteer brilliant information about ourselves, such as how I first came to meet the building's superintendent on my very first day as a tenant because I'd turned on the taps in my shower and then couldn't turn them back off, and how Rory had had a similar near-fire incident when she'd accidentally let a pot of carrots boil all the way down, scorching the pot, which she then for some unnamable reason placed on a carpet, thus burning a hole right through it.
Brilliant way to introduce ourselves, no?
Eventually the fire fighters exit the building unheroically, no women strewn over any shoulders, not even a scared kitty reunited with joyful owners, and even more disappointingly, none drop trou or so much as remove a shirt to reveal achingly chiseled pecs and a waxed-smooth toned torso as those calendars would have you believe.
So, Rory and I race up the stairs although at this point the chinese food can't get any colder. The night has derailed nicely and as we pass the chicken balls and red sauce between us, we debate who should tell which parts when we inevitably drunk-dial some lucky friend to tell them of our night's events.
But then we get stuck on one salient point: the guy. The guy named _______. Who lived on the ______ floor. Who told us his job was _________ and originally came from _______ and had moved to the building last ________.
And then I pointed out to Rory that she'd actually been with me on one of my patented randomly-meeting-people adventures, and look how badly we'd done! He should have been eating gross egg rolls with us right that very moment, but we had failed.
Well, not quite failed, not yet.
I got out the construction paper and the markers, and we went to town.
An hour later, we were making asses out of ourselves, papering the building with our posters: the mail room, the elevators, the stairwell, the front lobby. We were thorough. We put up whatever random facts we could agree on, and offered some of ours in return (Gushing shower girl and burnt carrot girl want to see you again!). We hoped that he possessed a sense of humour, or at least felt kindly disposed towards stalkers.
"Only people in the movies do this kind of thing" we agreed, but did it anyway, not quite capable of the stealthiness we strove for. It didn't matter if it didn't work, the fun was just in doing it, and enjoying it, and seizing the little joys that life puts in your path.
We hugged as we parted, as we always do.
"When are we doing this again?" she asked.
I'm pretty sure we'll never have an exact repeat of the night, and that's okay. I'm also pretty sure that life still has plenty of surprises left for both of us, and that those surprises tend to multiply in magnitude when we come across them together. And I'm delighted that our twosome seems destined to become a trio since the guy was very quick to respond to the posters and doesn't want to wait until the next fire to do it again.