by Kirk Pynchon

In the summer of 1986 I thought I was the coolest, most badass teenager on the planet. Not because I had my own car (a blue Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra previously owned by my mom). Not because I started wearing two different types of cologne (Polo in the day, Drakkar Noir in the evening). Not even because I started dressing like Don Johnson from “Miami Vice”(who was, and still is, something of a mentor to me). No, I was cool because I spent the Sunday nights of my summer hanging out at a nightclub called The Cosmopolitan or, for those in the know, Cosmo for short. Sure, The Cosmo was an under eighteen club that served no booze and was located deep in the burbs of Cleveland, Ohio, but what did that matter? I was a clubman and The Cosmo was my home.

The Cosmo was located at the very end of a shopping mall in Mentor, Ohio, about an hour outside of Cleveland. This being the Midwest, the club was very democratic. There was no doorman, no velvet ropes, no VIP’s. You simply walked up to the front door, paid your five-dollar cover and entered the hippest place on earth.

To be honest, I’m sure that the inside of The Cosmo looked like a nightclub on the ground floor of a Ramada Inn located just outside of any major U.S. airport. But at sixteen, to me it was the epicenter of all things cool. Strobe lights, dry ice machines, loud 80’s dance music, and chicks with ridiculously big hair. The Cosmo had everything. And I was a part of it.

One of the greatest and coolest moments of my life happened one night at The Cosmo - which makes me quite the sentimentalist or just plain pathetic. I was on the dance floor grooving to “Can You Feel the Beat” by Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam. I had just performed my patented spin move, you know, the one where I spin around one and a half times rather than once because doing one spin is for sucks? And as I finished my turn, there she was: the cutest girl I had ever seen. She wore long spandex pants and a huge, oversized paisley shirt. Brightly colored, neon bracelets covered one arm. She wore earrings so big they could choke a donkey. And she had the biggest goddamn hair I had ever seen. It was massive. It was more than just a hairdo - it was a lifestyle. She might have been wearing perfume, but it didn’t matter as I was intoxicated by the overwhelming smell of her Aqua Net Hairspray.

I slow motion walked over to her and immediately started dancing. Didn’t talk, didn’t ask, didn’t beg. Just immediately started dancing in front of her. She couldn’t resist me. She couldn’t resist my incredibly moussed hair. She couldn’t resist my white sports jacket with the sleeves rolled up and the collar popped. She was mine.

As we danced she told me her name was Trisha and she worked weekends at The Chess King (I quickly made a mental note: “If I start dating her seriously, I bet I could get a discount!”). We danced with each other to every song. We danced to the good - “Kiss” by Prince, “Word Up” by Cameo. We danced to the bad - “Take Me Home Tonight” by Eddie Money, “Dancing on the Ceiling” by Lionel Richie. And we danced to the just plain bizarre - “St. Elmo’s Fire” by John Parr? The thing was, it didn’t matter what song we danced to. All that mattered was that I was a dude grinding with a chick without any parental supervision.

Then the DJ, as if he knew ahead of time that Trisha and I were meant to be together, slowed things down and spun “Broken Wings” by Mister Mister. I looked at Trisha. Trisha looked at me. No words were spoken. We started to slow dance. Trisha put her head on my slightly hairy chest and we just swayed. She looked up at me with those big, heavy, mascara eyes and smiled. I felt like we were the only two people on the dance floor. I felt like we were the only two people in the world. We were one.

So I sang to her.

“Take these broken wings/And learn to fly again/Learn to live so free”

“When we hear/The voices sing/The book of love will open up and let us in”

(And yes, I whispered the “Yeah Yeahs” right after the chorus. I whispered it right in her ear. Cause I was that cool.)

As the night drew to a close (this being an underage club, I think all of us had eleven o’clock curfews), I decided to take it to the next level.

“So,” I asked Trisha, “Can I call you sometime?”

Trish smiled and took out a pen from her silver studded purse.

“Do you have anything to write on?”

I looked around, hoping to find a cocktail napkin at the bar, but there was nothing. I guess teenagers really, really need something to rest their Pepsis on. I knew I’d never remember her number and yet I knew that I had to have it. I couldn’t leave The Cosmo and never see this girl again.

Then it hit me in a flash: A way to get Trisha’s number and impress her at the same time. Suavely, I pulled out my wallet, the ones that velcroed, pulled out a one-dollar bill, gazed into her eyes...

...And ripped it in half.

“Here, “ I said, casually handing her half of the dollar, “write it on this.”

Trisha’s eyes widened in astonishment. She might have thought I was extremely rich. She might have thought I was incredibly cocky. She might have thought I was a bad ass for committing a felony. But, regardless of what she thought, I knew that at the very least, she thought I was insanely cool. *

(*I have since told my wife this story, and all she has to say about it is, “You dumb ass. Why would you waste a dollar like that?”)

Trisha wrote down her number, leaned in and kissed me. She tasted like watermelon and I could feel just a hint of a moustache on her upper lip (which I actually was a little jealous of).

“Call me soon,” is all she said.

I wish I could say that the rest of the summer was as magical as that night at The Cosmopolitan. But, alas, it was not. Though we did a lot of dry humping that summer in the backseat of my blue Oldsmobile Cutlass Sierra, Trisha was not the girl for me. In fact, she turned out to be kind of mean and an incredible pain in the ass, and when she got grounded for an entire month at the end of the summer our relationship died. I never did get that discount at The Chess King.

But I will never forget that incredible moment we shared at that nightclub. And I’m pretty sure Trisha didn’t either.

One year later I went back to The Cosmo and nothing had changed. The strobe lights, dry ice machines and the 80’s dance music were still there. Except The Cosmo was no longer an underage nightclub.

It was now a Laser Tag Center.