Previously, Boy Met Girl
Beer pitcher in hand, Jesse moves to greet you. As soon as he does, he flings his empty into the crowd. Now and again, so does everyone else, creating the effect of heavy, thudding confetti. But unfortunately for Jesse, his pitcher crosses a Hong Kong cop's path.
"Sah! Sah!" the cop screams at him. "Sah! You come here now!"
Dutifully, because the man in charge is toting a gun, Jesse obeys. Trotting off, he turns around to take what might be one last look at you. After all, those arrested are not allowed to return to the stadium. Tickets confiscated, armbands removed, they're banned for the duration of the Hong Kong 7's. Worse still, it's rumored that they're relieved of their passports, too, while they spend a night in a Hong Kong prison.
"You can't take him unless you take me, too!" you scream at the cop, suddenly indignant. Couldn't he see that you and Jesse were busy meeting each other for the unlikely second time?
Of course, he couldn't. And if he could, he wouldn't, and didn't.
As Jesse is carted off, you turn to one of his friends. "We have to do something!" you implore, as if the most important moment of your life was being undone.
"Don't worry," he says with the mischievous smile of unsympathetic confidence. "If anyone can talk his way out of something, Jesse can."
And so about an hour later, Jesse returns. That he returns is of no surprise to his friends. How he returns is a surprise to everyone.
After his arrest, Jesse was marched off for questioning. It didn't last long, and didn't live up to the rumors of jail time and confiscated passports. But his arrest does live up to its expectation of being deported from the stadium - for good. Released from police custody, Jesse was ticketless and turned away, ordered to return to his hotel, or face the consequences.
'But what about the girl?' he'll later tell you he wondered then.
Standing outside the stadium, unsure what to do next, an unbelievable thing happens.
"Mister?" says a small boy, holding out a ticket. "Do you want my ticket?" The boy is with his father, who nods in agreement, saying, "Go ahead; take it."
Although Jesse tries to pay them, the father refuses, insisting that he accept the ticket as their gift. It's almost, almost, as if the father knows something Jesse doesn't know. Later, you'll both tell the story that way, too: that the boy with the ticket was some sort of uncanny divine intervention, like he and his father were party to some cupidinous inside joke that you both would understand only much later.
However, ticket in hand, Jesse still needs to get back into the South Stand. And just as his friends promised you he could, he talks his way right back in.
Suddenly, you see him, and it seems like time is moving very slowly. 'He's back,' you say quietly to yourself, before joining in the standing ovation Jesse receives from the crowd for his sneaky re-entry. As he picks his way through the Smurfs and sheiks, arms raised victoriously, he's looking at you and only you, smiling the guilty smile of ill-gotten, odds-beating luck.
"What would it take to get a beautiful girl out to dinner in New York?" he blurts, and you misunderstand, allowing an obvious pick-up opener to sail right over your (appropriately) blonde head.
'Is this guy kidding me?' you say to yourself, wondering why he'd have come all this way to ask you about taking another girl on a date.
"Alain Ducasse," you smirk, and wait for his reaction. Annoyed that you think you've misjudged his interest in you, you recommend one of New York's most expensive restaurants as a ploy to get this 'other' girl out for dinner.
"Okay," he says, unaware of his unintentional misstep. "Because I would like to take you out to dinner one night."
"But you live in London?" you think but don't say, trying very hard to push away the suddenly overpowering feeling that this story might be your Story.
To Be Continued - And I very much appreciate those of you who've read, forwarded, and followed. Please continue to do so, as it will help me with the coming "Live from Mongolia!" book's publicity.