"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison came through the speakers. I sang along. Jared made a joke about playing the song at a New Jersey Invasive Species Strike Team gala event, and politely ignored the tears that appeared in the corners of my eyes. Perhaps only "Night Moves" by Bob Seeger would have brought the tears from my eyes and down my cheeks. I am a sucker for rock ballads.
About twelve years and two weeks ago, I sat in McCormick's, an Irish bar in New Brunswick. They had St. Patrick's Day "Warm Up" the 17th of each month and served corned beef and cabbage. I'd go there with friends sometimes. On this particular evening, I sat across from a guy named Jared that I had had my eye on. I had invited friends, but they stayed away.
Earlier in the week, we'd watched the presidential polls come in at a grungy rental inhabited by lefty political types. We managed to get past "hanging out" at the lefty hub - a place where my rear end fell asleep on the far too cold hard wood floor, and to a place where a couple beers might warm our reclusive natures.
I hooked my motorcycle boots around the rungs of the barstool. We talked about music. Jared had been into metal as teen. 'Real' metal.
Me? My teen years were spent in rural New Jersey. My first concert was the Bangles in Easton, PA. I loved the 1990's era hair metal band's hit songs. I spent memorable hours (probably six in total because my friends who actual had cable TV were bored by it. But, me, I was without at home, and was transfixed,) watching MTV at a friend's house. Headbanger's Ball, Aerosmith videos…
"I liked hair metal," I admitted. I laughed and turned my face to the side, a bit embarrassed, but also a bit "love me if you will. I dare you." Jared took me up on my dare. He told me later that he knew he loved me when I turned, and he saw the profile of my face, my nose especially, I think, and I was laughing.