Why I owe Susie Yang

This is a story that actually begins back in March of 1994, on a recruiting trip to Notre Dame. Of course, at the time, there was no way that I could have known that a night hanging out in the LaFortune student center at ND would have such an ENORMOUS affect on my life almost 6 years later. What could possibly be the connection you ask??? Well here is how the whole thing unfolded:

 

That March, just a few months shy of graduating high school, I went on the recruiting trip to Notre Dame that would eventually have a profound effect on my life on many different levels. It was a great experience and truly the ultimate reason I decided to go to Notre Dame, but that is a story for another time. On the last night of the trip, there was a group of us who stayed up all night talking. It was still to this day one of the best all night talk sessions I have ever had. There was a group of about 10 of us hanging out in the basement of LaFortune, (the student center at ND) which was one of the few 24 hour co-ed places on campus (DAMMIT!). Anyway, we were all discussing our impressions of Notre Dame and whether or not we were going to come there or not. I remember STILL that there was one girl from Houston who was going to go to Rice University. What's funny is that I had never even heard of Rice at the time. Mind boggling. Ironically, it is right across the street from where I go to school now. Man, I was so sheltered back then. Anyway, there was another girl Kaye who was going to A&M and this girl Candace who was going to Air Force. There were a few others that were undecided...but only me and this girl, Susie Yang (from Schaumberg IL...a Chicago suburb) were sure that we were going to be coming to Notre Dame in the fall. We both hit it off really well and at the end of the night she and I said our good-byes with a knowing nod that said, "See you in the fall."
That summer we kept in touch a little bit and needless to say, we both ended up at Notre Dame. We hung out periodically throughout our four years there and we were always friends right down to the final days before leaving ND when she was a bartender at Senior Bar (a bar on campus). She told me she had gotten a job in Chicago working for Ernst and Young and that was cool. She sure had come a long way since that faithful night in LaFortune. I was really happy she had gotten a great job. It was the last I knew of Susie before leaving ND.

On Friday, February 18, 2000 it was fairly normal day here in H-town. My friends Dave, Mo, and I were hanging out at my place having a few beers trying to decide what we were going to do that night. Dave had heard about this club downtown, called "Toc" that was supposedly pretty good. Well, at the time, I hadn't ever been there (which seems funny now) so that was our final decision.
I have to digress for a second to explain a concept of being single and twenty something for those of you who are 1) Either too old to remember those days, 2) Been married too long to remember those "single" years, or 3) Too young to be worried about this yet. Basically, it's the "Feast or Famine" principle. It is a very strange phenomenon where by, for some strange reason, you can go through a horrible "famine" period where you have absolutely no luck with the opposite sex for possibly months on end and then, inexplicably, a "Feast" period begins where you can do no wrong. It's almost like a momentum shift in a basketball game. I mean, you can't hit a basket to save your life, you go in to the locker room, and come out in the second half on fire. When you are in this "zone" you are unstoppable. Sometimes you can't even believe it yourself. Sometimes you meet a guy who seems to actually LIVE in this zone, which can piss you off a little, but of course inside, you still root for the guy because he is out there representing the team. Anyway, that's the Feast or Famine principle. A way of life for single twenty-somethings.
So I only explain that because it just so happened that my buddy Mo was smack in the middle of a huge "Feast" period right around then. He was like Michael Jordan (and he is FROM the country, Jordan...oooooohhhhh) and the rest of us where just riding his coat tails...letting him represent the team.
Well, we headed out to Toc that night, ready to have a great time. We wait in line for a little bit and actually witness a couple of underage girls getting denied by the bouncers with their fake ID's. It was pretty funny. When the bouncer did a double take on the picture of one of the girls and looked back at her, she started faking this coughing fit and covering her face. As TSG would say, it was a 9.9 on the unintentional comedy scale. I remember those days.
So we get into the club and it looks like a pretty cool scene. We head over to the bar for beers and the place is pretty packed. Well, as we are approaching the bar, this girl comes toward us and asks if that guy (Mo) is with me. So I ask her her name (Sonya), introduce her to Mo, and turn around to order beers. That took about 2 minutes or so. I get the three beers, turn back around, and Mo is hooking up with this girl!!!! It was probably the fastest "in the bar to hook up time" in the history of man. I was blown away. But that's how it is when you are feasting. You can do no wrong. It's almost like you are releasing some kind of pheromone that only women can detect. Amazing.
So we end up hanging out the entire night at the club with Sonya, her sister, and a friend of theirs who is visiting from Mexico. It was a good night and seemed pretty promising. We got their number and asked where they were headed out to the next night. They mentioned this club called "Europa" that at the time, I had never been to (again, this seems very funny to me now). We were game...we said goodbye and headed home.
The next night, we decided that we would go to Europa to meet up with Sonya and her friends. It seemed like a good idea since we hit it off well with the girls and we hadn't been to the club before. We headed there around 10:30, which was a bit early. The girls showed up shortly after and it was all good. So we are all there dancing, having a great time (and things are going quite well with the sister and I) and suddenly I her someone calling my name. I turn around and what do you know, SUSIE YANG!!!!! Right there, live and in the flesh. I couldn't believe it. I was just floored. So we have this big hug and I'm just absolutely in shock. So I asked her, "What the hell are you doing here in Houston???? I thought you worked in Chicago???" Well, as it turned out, she DID work in Chicago but they had put her in Dallas on a project for a couple months. Well, it also just so happened that one of Susie's best friends from high school, this girl Colleen, was working in Houston. Susie had come down to Houston to visit her for the weekend. It was the FIRST and ONLY time Susie has EVER been here...and as fate would have it, we end up in the SAME club in Houston at the SAME time. Let's also not forget that, although I had been in Houston for a year and a half, it was the FIRST time I had ever gone into this club, and the only reason we went was because Mo had hooked up with that girl Sonya the night before!!!! UN-BEEE-LIEVABLE.
Well, Susie and I are hanging out in the club catching up and she's like, "Let me introduce you to my friend from high school." We go and find her and she introduces me to Colleen (who is a super hottie by the way) and to two friends of Colleen's that are with her, Will and Tony. Colleen proceeds to tell me that they are all going to go to "brunch" the next day at this place called "La Strada" and invites me along. I had never heard of the place and I didn't really want to commit to getting up early so I told her MAYBE I would show up. The next day, for some inexplicable reason, I woke up early and decided I wanted to hang out with Susie a little longer. I headed off to La Strada that day (which is a WHOLE separate story), knowing nothing about what was in store for me when I got there. Needless to say, it was one of the craziest days I had experienced in Houston. I knew that I had found a group of people that I was going to be hanging out with for quite some time.
The next weekend, we all went out together again (Sans Susie, who had returned to Dallas). They mentioned that they were going to go to South Padre for spring break that weekend and I was down. That Friday, I set off on a road trip to South Padre with Will and Tony, and the rest, as they say...is history.
And so that's how Tony and I crossed paths for the first time. Since then we have gone on countless road trips together and we have become best friends. We have had some seriously crazy times in Houston and life wouldn't be the same here without him...and wouldn't you know it, I owe it all to Susie Yang, who I had met WAY back on that fateful night in 1994. Dammit, I can just NEVER stress how important every little person that comes into your life is...it is true example of how one person you meet, may know a person, who knows a person that can become one of your best friends...a friend you know you will have for life.

Thanks Susie...I owe you more than you'll ever know.

AC