It was the arm-wrestling that did it.
There we were, the three of us, sitting in an oceanfront bar in New Jersey. We’d left the kids with a babysitter and headed out for a girls’ night of fun. But so far, the evening had gotten off to a slow start.
Sure, we’d enjoyed a drink by the tiki bar on the beach, watching a newly married couple laugh and joke with the remaining members of the wedding party. One of the groomsmen, in a maroon vest and tie (“I’m not a valet,” he kept insisting, drunkenly) pointed us in the direction of an exclusive-looking bar and the end of the boardwalk. But the crowd there was trying much too hard to be … well, exclusive, so we left the sardine-can space and settled into a tiny, quieter beach-front bar.
The green marble bar faced a wall of windows, where a few couples talked quietly while perched at tall tables lit by tiny candles. A man eating a hamburger sat at the bar, mostly watching the golf game on the place’s unobtrusive plasma-screen TV.
And then we walked in, the dangerous three: Redhead, blond and brunette, wearing sexy jeans, glitter on our shoulders, perfect lipgloss. We’d just ordered the first round of Blue Moons when Kristen turned to Sheryl, a wicked gleam in her eye.
“Let’s bring some excitement to this place,” she said, grinning. She turned to me. “You know, I’ve never arm-wrestled.”
I feigned shock and held up my arm to accept her challenge. The bartender glanced over and smirked at our beers, muttering something about “liquid strength.”
“Here, hold your hand like this,” I instructed, sure I could take her. She grabbed my arm and immediately pushed my hand to the bar. The struggle lasted less than a minute, but it was enough to turn the heads of the burger-eating barfly and a few other patrons standing around.
I was laughing so hard I almost wasn’t pissed that I’d been beaten by a novice — but not quite. I challenged her to another round, this time standing at one of the tables so that we had more equal leverage. This round stretched on for two or three minutes, and we had attracted a small crowd by the time I defeated her. Most of the bystanders thought I’d take Kristen in the third round too, but we never got around to it.
Instead we slipped back to our seats, and the bartender came over to say that three gentlemen further down the bar had offered to pay for our next round.