‘Twas the night before my 26th birthday, making it July 1, 2011, in case you’re wondering. I was at the Houston airport on a layover during my trip to Chicago.
Things were not so great.
I was in a weird place with my then-boyfriend. I don’t even think he was my official boyfriend at the time, though I wanted him to be, badly. I booked this trip as a treat to myself, a chance to get away and visit one of my best friends, Sheena.
The weird thing was, my faux-boyfriend was also going to Chicago. I’m not really sure why, but he was going with his sister and her husband, and because I was really just a fuck buddy dressed up in a girlfriend costume, I wasn’t invited to come along.
Oddly enough, though, I’d seen his sister and her husband at the Baton Rouge airport, and recall crossing my heart in hopes they wouldn’t be on my same flight.
I was waiting at my gate, when they said something was up with our plane’s engine, and it could be an 8-hour wait, putting me into Chicago well into my actual birthday. So, I made the mistake that all party girls do, and I found the nearest bar, ordering a 32-ounce cold one.
I had time to kill.
As I sipped, I called my mom and told her the news, and informed Sheena that I would be arriving a TAD bit late. When I hung up the phone, a very (very) handsome young gentleman had sat himself in the barstool beside mine and ordered a cocktail.
“We’re on the same flight,” he said, looking at me.
“We are?” I asked.
He nodded at my phone.
“I heard you talking about the delay,” he said.
“Oh yes, it really sucks!” I whined.
We continued on, complaining about how we were never going to make it to Chicago. We both kept drinking and talking, exchanging information about our jobs and so forth. After about two hours had passed, we decided to leave the bar and go back to our gate to check on the plane.
You can guess how this story ends. The plane was gone.
I called Sheena back to have to check online, and yes, the plane had already left, without us.
“Why aren’t you freaking out?” he asked me (we still hadn’t even exchanged names yet).
“Probably because I’ve had damn-near 60-ounces of beer!” I said.
We walked over to the Delta counter and of course, there were no flights to Chicago that night. We were booked on a flight in the morning. Well, actually he was a gentleman and let me go first, so I got the last seat on the 5am flight, whereas he couldn’t leave until 7 am.
I was planning on finding a bar, and getting back to business before just sleeping on a bench somewhere, before he proposed a bit of an adventure to me.
“I know this is crazy,” he said. “But maybe we should just get a cab out of here and have a drink, and get back before our flights.”
“But, I don’t even know you,” I said.
“I know,” he said. “But, my name’s Matt.”
Oh my dreaded Curse of the Matts, I’ve dated and failed with SO many Matts. My faux-boyfriend was named Matt, and so was everyone else in this world, it seemed like.
I laughed, and told him the only way I would go was if I could send his picture to Sheena, along with his address and license plate number, in case this turned out to be a Natalee Holloway situation.
So I snapped his picture, and sent his driver’s license information to Sheena before getting in the cab. Sitting there, with only our carry-ons with us, he kept looking at me saying how crazy it was. He lived in Houston, so we took the cab to his apartment, where I waited outside for him to grab a set of keys.
We hopped in his Jeep, and he took me to a bar.
I walked in and ordered a drink, when a stranger next to me started flirting and asked me how long I’d been with my boyfriend, here, nodding at Matt. I laughed, and said I just met the guy two hours ago.
“Y’all are going to get married,” he said.
We stayed, played darts, had drinks, and at midnight, we took shots for my birthday. Somehow, I had lived to see 26.
When it was time to leave, I was planning on getting a taxi to take me right back to the airport. But instead, Matt insisted I stay at his apartment, and that he would take me to the airport in the morning. After many back-and-forths, I agreed. I’d already made plenty of bad decisions that night.
At his house, he found a spare charger for my Blackberry, and loaned me a pair of sweats, along with a blanket for the couch.
After just a few hours passed, I woke him up in time to get me back to the airport, where I called Sheena to tell her everything was okay, and that I hadn’t failed to do something a little wild on my birthday.
Matt and I kept in-touch during our weekend in Chicago, though we didn’t run into each other. Instead, I was focused on having fun with my friend. I even heard from my faux boyfriend a few times as we tried to meet up.
A few weeks later, Airport Matt invited me back to Houston, so I drove to see him one afternoon after work. I stayed with him for a few days, and although we had a great time eating sushi, getting delicious bloody marys, and laying out at his pool, it just wasn’t meant to be.
We agreed, though, that it was a story for the ages.
And, in case you’re wondering about that faux boyfriend? He was actually in Chicago with his REAL girlfriend, who he proposed to and they are now married.
So I don’t feel so bad about kissing Airport Matt on my birthday, in a bar full of strangers, who at least wished me well.
“People have the right to fly, And will when it gets compromised, Their hearts say ‘Move along,’ Their minds say ‘Gotcha heart,’ Let’s move it along…”—John Mayer, Wheel