Image by Peter E. Lee via Flickr"I have to run home and let my dog out; I'm sure he's dying," she said apologetically.
"I totally understand," I replied. "What's your dog's name?"
"Marley," she said. "But not a Marley & Me Marley."
"I read the book, but didn't see the movie," I said.
"I heard that the dog dies--"
"Yup," I interjected.
"--so I never saw it or read it," she finished. "My dog is A Christmas Carol Marley."
I'd been intrigued by her conversation the entire evening. It was a great evening to sit outside for a few beers and wonderful conversation, especially with someone that you didn't mind looking at on the other side of the table. Beautiful can be distracting.
"Oh, which character?" I asked.
Flatly, she said, "The dead one."
My mind raced through all the characters from the movie, not at all remembering a dead one. There was one that got his tongue stuck to a frozen flag pole. There was one that got shot in the eye with a BB gun. But no dead one. I feigned understanding and proceeded to grab the check and pay the bill. As we approached the register, her face showed horror.
"My wallet. SHIT." She looked at me quickly, and then back to her purse where she rummaged through its various residents. "I left my wallet at the last place."
Before she finished her alert, I already knew the solution, "I'll pay this bill. You run back to the last place and catch them before they close."
"Okay," she said and bolted out the door.
Before they close? How do I know when they close? There was only one other couple there when we left and we had felt like the server was pushing us to finish our drinks. That was, like, an hour ago. There's no way they're still open. Yet, somehow I knew they were still open and that the solution would work brilliantly.
I briskly walked the two blocks up the street and met her in the middle of the street. As she walked toward me, I could see the beam of a smile on her face and a pink Kate Spade wallet wagging in her hand. Without thinking, I simply hugged her; I was happy that it had all worked out. Maybe it was strange; maybe it wasn't. We'd only known each other for a few hours, but we'd already achieved a friendly comfort. We walked side-by-side back to her car, hugged once more and ended an enjoyable evening of conversation.
As I walked home, an aha moment occurred that caused me to chuckle aloud. I'd left a mental question mark in our conversation about Marley where I knew I'd missed something. As I replayed the chat, I knew that we'd gone from Marley & Me the book-slash-movie to A Christmas Carol, and then I realized that my mind had stayed with the silver screen and accessed a completely different, and much more recent, holiday classic. As a self-proclaimed reader and writer, I'll surely catch hell for that error at some point in the future.