Ford held the box up to the light, examined it, and put it right back down on the desk. The box was too large to be the old yearbook that he requested back from Sharon. He took a pull on his beer and decided that he better open the thing. Ford used his mailbox key to open the package. When he got the box open all he could see were balls and balls of crumpled up and yellowed newspaper. He unrolled one ball and read the date on it; December 31, 1999. What in the hell? He thought. Where had Sharon gotten a newspaper this goddamned old, and from the so-called last day of the 20th Century?
Ford thought about that day. He remembered going to the bar with Sharon. They had to go all over the city to find one that was open, or that wasn’t having a private party. They settled on a sports bar. It wasn’t much of a bar, just a couple of pool tables and ESPN playing on two televisions. The joint was new. It hadn’t built up any clientele yet. Ford remembered Sharon taking a long pull on her beer, leaning in so close that her breath was hot on his right ear, and saying wouldn’t it be funny if they became regulars in a place like this? Dinner was a plate of hot wings and fried clams. The entertainment was a table with too bored looking guys tying two helium balloons to a paper cup of complimentary pretzels, seeing if they could get the contraption to sail over the few denizens in the bar. Ford had called the one guy, the bald one with the goatee, Professor. Sharon called him Bill Nye the Science Guy, from these shows she watched as a kid, but that he’d never seen.
The brunette at the bar would give everyone a free glass of champagne at midnight. Ford remembered the champagne being sweet. It was spumante, the bartender said. Her name was Carla. Spumante was Carla’s favorite but Ford didn’t think much about it. Still, he went to the liquor store and got her a bottle of it every year after that, in order for them to ring in the New Year together. It was the least he could do, Ford thought.
As for Sharon, well, Ford guessed that she was still holding a small grudge after all of those years and two children together. It didn’t matter that she’d moved on, and found a second husband of her own, one who made her laugh and was in the process of buying her that big house in the suburbs that she’d always wanted. Time never moved on for a spurned woman, Ford thought. He’d always be a heel in her eyes, even after a decade apart. Ford dug into the box. There was no yearbook in there. Carla would have to wait to see that picture of him playing Fullback on the football team. Ford held up a new ball of the yellowed newspaper from the so-called last day of the last century. He thought about sailing pretzels and the sugary taste of spumante. Then he wished he’d taken his collection of rare and valuable newspapers with him when he’d left Sharon all of those years ago.