What do a bottle of wine, a sexy pilot, and the history of smallpox have in common? Not much, apparently. Safe for one spooky night of mischief that left me with a Halloween hookup story that continues to haunt me to this day.
The year was 2014, the month was October, and the song was "Mr. Brightside" by the Killers (because of course it was). I was in the first semester of my sophomore year of college, and had found myself in a bit of a romantic rut. My freshman spring boyfriend had seemingly changed with the seasons and broken my heart over the summer. Our breakup was brief — as in, he briefly fled the city we both lived in for the month of August and simply "forgot" to tell me about it. The end of our relationship had left me feeling hurt, confused, and sexually frustrated. So, by the time Halloween rolled around and I still hadn't hooked up with someone new, the only thing scarier than the costumed goblins and ghouls scattered around campus drinking Natural Light, was the size of my libido.
My roommate, who had somehow struck up a serious relationship between syllabus week and the first day of classes, took pity on the lack of passion in my life. Knowing what Halloween means to me (I would dress up in costume every Tuesday if people would let me), she told me that I could plan a "couple's costume" for us this year, and that she'd happily go along with whatever I chose. She'd later go on to regret this.
My ensemble of choice just so happened to be the very duo that had been getting me through my breakup: wine and cheese. I politely forced my roommate to purchase a giant cheese suit, while I happily invested in a cute wine-bottle dress and a hat that resembled a cork. "I'm starting to feel better already," I told her. "I hate you," she replied.
Our big plans for the evening were to attend a party at a fraternity house off-campus. After throwing on our costumes and making our friends take a million pictures, we confidently strutted into the soirée as if we were on the set of Hocus Pocus. I was instantly impressed by the setup: The frat had seemingly invested in a smoke machine, hung cobwebs from the ceiling, and even put out festive snacks and drinks. (OK, the punch was labeled "blood." But still!) My roommate and I shimmied onto the dance floor, screaming the words to "Monster Mash" and laughing as our classmates attempted to mimic the "Thriller" video. But as soon as my roomie's new partner showed up, I began to feel like the third wheel... of cheese.
"Why aren't you flirting with anyone?" she asked me, looking around the party. "There are a ton of hot guys here!" I followed her eye line and scanned the room. I had to admit she was right — everyone had gone all out and looked incredible. But the sad truth was, no one measured up to my ex. I explained to my roommate that I was in a rebound funk and that nobody at the party was doing it for me. Instead of accepting my response, she furiously shook her head (have you ever seen a block of cheese shake its head? It's literally hilarious). "I'll pick someone for you."
My roommate shut her eyes, raised her arm like Frankenstein, then spun around three times. When she reopened them, she was pointing at a man dressed as a pilot in the corner of the room, checking his phone. "Go say hi!" she ordered. I sighed, knowing she wouldn't take no for an answer. Summoning up all my courage, I took a deep breath and walked over. The closer I got, the more clearly I could see that this pilot actually had a wonderfully dimpled smile. I felt the blood rush to my head. Was this love at first sight? (I was just horny.)
I introduced myself to the pilot and we began to chat. About what, I don't remember. All I do know is that I eventually asked him to dance, and his response was, "Wine not?" As a self-professed pun-lover, this practically sealed the deal for me: We were definitely going to hook up. And hook up we did! We publicly made out on the dance floor — or DFMO'd, as the kids say — for the rest of the night, as onlookers watched and yelled, "Get a room!" and, "Mile high club!" But I didn't care because I had broken my cycle. I was back, baby! Turns out, all I had needed to get off was to hear the words, "Prepare for take-off."
The very next morning, deliriously pleased with myself, I strolled into my Friday dissertation. It was a subset of the class I was taking on the smallpox epidemic in order to fulfill my school's history requirement. We had begun meeting in smaller groups in order to prepare for the midterm. I had hypothetically known that my seminar was so large that it had been split up into two sections, each with its own separate teacher's assistant. But when my pilot from the previous night strolled into class, looking hungover and sheepish, and announced that he was the TA assigned to our group and would be the one grading our exams, I almost sh*t my pants.
I patiently waited for him to see me slinking into my seat in the back of the room and turn as red as the pox. But if he recognized me, he did a great job of hiding it. My pilot remained professional for the entirety of the meeting, and as I sleepwalked out of the room and back into my bed, I couldn't help but wonder: Had last night even happened?
The hickies on my neck suggested "yes," but his behavior for the rest of the semester screamed "no." Every Friday, I waited for my pilot to pull me aside after class and either apologize or make out with me in a broom closet. Something; anything! But the course came to a close, I did "OK" on the final, and I made peace with the fact that he simply did not remember our night together. I'd be forced to carry the memory of our mysterious makeout to my grave.
A year and a half later, a lot had changed: I was a junior in college, finally enjoying singledom, and had fulfilled my history requirement. But one thing had remained the same: I was still getting ready for fabulous parties with my roommate — this time, our university's senior ball. All decked out in my Sunday best, I walked into the lavish event and immediately spotted someone familiar out of the corner of my eye. It was my pilot, who I hadn't seen since taking my final, looking dashing in a perfectly tailored tux.
Feeling more confident than ever, I walked right up to him. "Do you remember me?" I asked bluntly. He looked down at me, surprised, his eyes sparkling with mischief. Instead of simply answering, he leaned in and kissed me. "Of course, I do." He said, walking away and leaving me permanently stunned for the rest of my life.
I never saw my pilot again. I heard he actually went on to become a pilot IRL. Psych! He went to med school, but that's just as cool. But even though I've moved on since that fateful night, every Hallow's eve, I can't help but be haunted by a single question: What if he was my fly or die?
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