Luke O'Brien and his crew of irregulars will be filing occasional dispatches from South Africa for us. Today, a story of attraction and frottage, involving our correspondent and one Bianca Kajlich, then the future (and now the former) Mrs. Landycakes.
My slow dance with Bianca Kajlich took place years ago, circa 2002, shortly before Landycakes burst on the international scene, his Tinker Bell feet carrying the U.S. to the World Cup quarterfinals. George Bush was president. Jihadis were closing in. Anything seemed possible back then. The world was on fire.
And so we danced, Bianca and I, under the red red lights of the Lava Lounge on La Brea. I don't remember how it began. I'd gone with friends to a play. She'd gone to the play. My friends knew her friends. Our friends went for drinks. She liked my sweater, a ratty Eddie Bauer gray. I'd had it since high school, and it was unfashionable and strange for L.A. But strange is sometimes good. I was on my way to Mexico. I didn't give a fuck. We started talking. You understand.
Bianca was on the make. Or as close to it as an actress who's never really going to make it can be. She'd appeared in Bring It On as a nasty cheerleader, I think. A Halloween remake was about to hit theaters, and she was in it. The way she talked about co-star Busta Rhymes, I got the sense they'd been close. She told me about growing up in Seattle and her tattoo and about going to boot camp for a Spielberg TV show called Semper Fi. I told her about writing a story about a tamale truck that tipped over in a small town in New Mexico and caused such a panic that a Hazmat team was summoned to quell an outbreak of oozing chilies. My story was better. Hers had famous people.
It's kind of sad, I realize, that I remember this so poignantly. But you can't control what sticks. Bianca will surely have deleted me from her cortex, and who can blame her? She might even sue if I go into too much detail. She might deny tugging on the Eddie Bauer gray and pulling me on the dance floor, pulling me close, legs tight, the booze setting in, all that getting-to-know-you stuff over with. She might deny running her hand down my flank, and she might deny that my hand cradled her lovely Slovak bottom. She might tell you that she didn't nuzzle my neck or throw me a scent of her perfumed hair. Or that we didn't do that thing you do when you're drunk and dancing and want to kiss but don't want to kiss in front of a crowd and just slowly rub noses and brush lips. But this all happened, by god. And she liked it.
She didn't return my call the next day. I never heard from her again. For obvious reasons, I'm sure. But four years later, there she was — in front of me in a Kaiserslautern schnitzel line. It was halftime of USA vs. Italy, a game sabotaged by poor refereeing. Bianca was wearing a Donovan jersey. She and Landycakes had gotten engaged. Someone in the crowd called her name. She turned, beaming, as actresses do when recognized in public. My friend, a man who will be known in this space as The Fenian Mob, nudged me: "Go chat her up." I didn't. I couldn't. Bianca would never remember the hazy red evening we'd passed entangled on a dance floor. And how could I tell her about it if she didn't remember? Arrests would be made. Schnitzels hurled. Far better to slink back to my seat, lager in hand. At some point, you have to accept that the Biancas of the world, even in divorce, are for the Landons of the world, not the guys who tell stories about tamale trucks and piss off to Mexico in Eddie Bauer. And hopefully you are the better for it. One slow dance with a WAG in the Lava Lounge is all you may get and all you can ever hope for. Be grateful for it. Bianca, I set you free.
As your part-time Deadspin correspondent for the World Cup, I can't promise more dances with WAGs. But I can promise a few more posts. Carry on. I have a plane to catch.
Luke O'Brien is a writer in Washington, D.C. He's written for Details, Washington Post Magazine, Boston Magazine, SI.com, and other publications. He'll be filing dispatches from South Africa throughout the World Cup.