Dana Norris is the founder and host of Story Club. She once went on 71 internet dates.
“Wanna go to a hot cop party?” I get this text in the middle of the day from Sara, a good friend of mine who’s been married since she was 23, loves my dating stories the most, and really wants to be my wingwoman. I write back, “More than anything.”
Sara has a friend, April, who is good friends with a man named Phil who is also a cop who is also throwing a house party this weekend. April tells me, “Oh my God, you will love Phil so much. He’s chubby, but like in a fun way, and really funny and just the nicest guy. I should totally marry him but I can’t because he’s like my brother and I don’t know what that says about me that I don’t marry him but, whatever, that’s why I’ll die alone and meanwhile you should totally come to this party and meet him and marry him and have his babies.” I agree that yes, this man does sound like he could be my future husband and father to my children.
All I need to do is meet him first.
The party starts at 8pm so we don’t show up until 9:30pm because it’s important to seem aloof when you’re meeting your future spouse. April drives us to Phil’s condo, which is part of a three-story brick building in Humboldt Park. We enter his condo and go into the kitchen, which is enormous. There’s a giant bar running along one of the walls and Phil is behind the bar, smiling and pouring drinks. He’s red-faced and seems friendly.
April calls him over, “Phil! I want you to meet Dana!” He comes out from behind the bar and greets me warmly. “So nice to meet you! April said that we’d really get along. I’ll swing by later to talk more—I gotta go make some cops some drinks.” He walks away and April turns to me, “Perfect, right?” I agree that he seems pretty great.
We get drinks, mill around, and notice that we three appear to be the only women at this party. We stand in a circle, just talking to each other, and notice that nearby is a group of men, also standing around in a circle, just talking to each other. “We should go talk to them,” Sara prods. April and I agree but we don’t move. It’s like a drunk-cop-themed middle school dance where no one is brave enough to venture to the other side of the room.
Suddenly, a guy sporting an authentic Chicago cop mustache and an authentic Chicago cop accent approaches us. “Hey ladies, how are you doing? My name is Dan and I’m married, but most of those guys over there,” he indicates the circle of men who are now all looking at us and smiling, “are incredibly single. Any of you ladies single?” April and I raise our hands. “Great! Why don’t you come on over and say hello to my friends?” So this is what my middle school dances were always missing: a married, Chicago cop wingman ready to take the first step required to get the boys and girls to finally start talking to each other.
We step over and soon the cops are telling us stories about stupid criminals and their favorite homeless people. I notice one cop, taller, with dark hair and green eyes. Huh. If I hadn’t just met my future husband I’d be looking to make a play for that man later this evening, but I came here for Phil.
I notice a new girl come in carrying food. She’s tall and gorgeous and Phil’s face lights up when he sees her. He runs out from behind the bar and grabs her before she can take her coat off. They start kissing passionately. “Um…” I say, pointing Sara and April to what’s happening. “Oh,” April says. “He…did he get a girlfriend?” Looks like it. April runs off to do some research and comes back with a report.
This new, beautiful woman lives in the unit below Phil’s and they did just start dating and he is totally butt crazy in love with her. April is apologetic, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know. I feel like a complete asshole.” I reassure April that it’s OK, I had spent the past week or so imagining that Phil was my soul mate, but I also don’t actually know him so, while I do feel a sort of a crushing disappointment right now that could lead to tears, it will probably pass quickly. Especially if I drink more.
I leave to get myself a whiskey and I see a blue-eyed boy standing by the bar. He’s wearing a hoodie and has a relaxed stance that makes me think that he’s a cop, too. He notices me looking at him and he quickly steps over and introduces himself. His name is James, he is a cop, and his eyes are so blue I can barely take it. We start talking and discover that we both take improv classes at Second City, which is true for approximately 95% of adults in Chicago, but here, in this moment, with this whiskey in my hand and those gorgeous eyes staring back at me, our shared interest seems to be kismet. I have found my hot cop.
James and I stand in one place, in the middle of the kitchen, and talk for hours. We talk about how improv is all about saying “yes” and which teachers we share and how we were nerdy arts kids in high school and then James moves in to kiss me.
What is it with drunk dudes and the public make out? I tell him that we should go somewhere else. “Where?” “Um…” I glance around and I see that the bathroom is unoccupied. “How about the bathroom?” Perfect. We run to the bathroom and lock ourselves inside. I’m sitting on the sink, he’s standing in front of me, and we are gloriously, drunkenly making out. Sara sees us head off and puts herself in charge of wingwomaning the hell of out the bathroom door by telling people there’s a line to use the restroom and discouraging them from knocking.
Eventually the cop bladders get full to the point that even Sara’s charm can’t dissuade them from urgently knocking on the door and demanding, “Come on! Really?” James and I exit the bathroom and I notice the green-eyed cop staring at me, like he’s concerned about something.
Sara tells me that her husband will be here soon to pick us up. I argue that I want to stay because maybe I can find a new location for another make out with James because he is such a good kisser and plus there’s more whiskey to drink and I never thought I’d marry a cop but now I think I could do it after I took some basic gun safety classes and I hear my words and notice that I am sloppy drunk and should go home.
I’m half-way down the stairs with Sara when I realize that I didn’t really say goodbye to James or tell him that he’s the new front-runner in my husband derby. I turn around and run back into the party, run right up to James, grab his face, and start kissing him. “Oh, OK,” he says when I’m done. I look him in his blue eyes and drunkenly demand, “Call me.” “I will,” he responds, smiling, but not emphatically as I’d like him to. “No,” I say. “I mean it. Call me. For real. Do it. Call me.” He swears that he will call me and I run away, happy.
On my way out the door the green-eyed cop stops me. “Hi. You know that guy you were just kissing? He has a girlfriend. He’s kind of a dirtbag. Sorry.” I blink at him, say, “Thanks,” and leave. I jump into Sara’s husband’s running car and announce that James is no longer my future anything and I am a dirty cheater. “No!” Sara protests. “You didn’t know! Not your fault. You are absolved.”
I tell Sara and her husband about how I just ran back inside to kiss James goodbye and they both grimace with sympathetic embarrassment. I began the evening ready to meet my future husband and ended it as both an accessory to cheating and the perpetrator of the most misguided romantic gesture on Chicago’s west side that evening. Sara sees me stewing. “Look, you just had a hot cop makeout. Your life is going pretty well.”
I’m tempted to argue that, no, my life is wretched, but then I notice the good friends driving my drunk self home and decide to agree that, yes, things might be going OK.
Dana Norris is the founder and host of Story Club, a monthly show for stories in Chicago. She has been published in Tampa Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and The Rumpus. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Northwestern University. She performs around Chicago you may find a list of upcoming shows at www.dananorris.net.