Dec 2nd, 2008
When I met Michele, I was young — long hair, late nights, a saxophone in the living room. On our third date, I really wanted to impress this beautiful woman, so I took her to a little bar where I knew the band would let me sit in. It was a nice place with white table clothes and little candles on each table. And it was packed.
As soon as we walked in, the band leader introduced me: “Ladies and Gentlemen, Aaron Hillegass and his horn are in the house. Let’s see if we can get them on the stage for a song.” There was much applause, and I modestly made my way to the stage. I gave her a smile as the band started to play “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. It is a beautiful, romantic tune with a big sax solo right in the middle. And I rocked the house. People were hooting and holding their lighters over their heads.
After the song, I put my horn down and left the stage. As I walked over to the table where Michele was seated, I realized that I had just scored an incredible number of Cool Points — no small feat for someone as awkward and cerebral as myself.
Flush with success, I leaned confidently across the table with a smile and kiss for my date. And, as our lips touched, my hair caught on fire. (Remember the candles on the table?) As I patted the flames from my mane, a terrible stench filled the room and I felt all the Cool Points evaporate.
Smelling the smoke and assuming the place was on fire, patrons started for the exits. Our waitress shouted everyone back to their seats with “The Sax Guy set his hair on fire! It is out. Everything is OK.” I tossed a handful of hair and ash into the ashtray.
My hair reeked, so Michele and I left. We stood outside the bar and laughed and laughed and laughed.
That night, Michele figured out I wasn’t actually cool, but she married me anyway. Eight years later, we are still laughing together.