She is drunk. Not outrageously, and perfectly within reason, seeing as how we are standing outside a bar.
“I’m so sorry to interrupt, but do you have a light?”
We do, and Diana hands it to her.
“Thanks”, she says, exhaling toward the stars. “I didn’t mean to intrude.”
“You’re not intruding,” I say.
“We’ve just come out for a smoke,” Diana says. “You can join us if you want.”
And she does, because if there’s one thing Northeast Minneapolis is, it’s friendly. Inside the 1029, a boisterous gaggle of talented drunks are singing karaoke, one of whom who encourages the crowd, to its roaring approval, to “holla, mah ninjas”.
“My favorite part of Nordeast,” the new girl says, “is the age range in the bars. Twenty-one? Seventy? They’re sitting next to each other.” The streetlamps spill on to the sidewalk, pools of light at intermittent intervals that continue up the block and past two- and three-story houses.
Diana and I nod in agreement.
The girl ashes on the sidewalk. “I mean, us, we’re all the same age.”
I laugh. She is clearly younger than I am.
“What,” she says. “I’ll bet you money that we’re the same age. I’ll bet you $10.”
I smile at her. “I’m definitely older.”
“You want to bet? Within three years, okay? ”
Along with the admonition to sit up straight, suck in my gut, and straighten the house before company arrives, my parents also instilled a strict money-is-not-for-playing-with policy. I take a look in my wallet. I have two dollars.
“I’ll bet you two bucks,” I say.
We shake on it. “You’re on. So how old are you?”
“Fifty,” I say.
Her mouth drops. She looks at Diana, who is smiling.
“It’s true,” Diana says, shrugging. “And yet she lives a remarkably depraved life.”
The girl squints at me. “Well, I’ll be danged.”
I smile at her. “How old are you?”
“Thirty-five,” she says, digging in her purse.
I hold up my hands, shake them at her in a gesture of refusal. “You don’t have to pay me. I don’t want your money.”
“Nope,” she says, handing me two bucks. “I always pay my debts.”
And that, my friends, is how I doubled my money Friday night.