The story changes but things stay the same

Twenty years ago, in the evening, I arrived back from my home country of Switzerland, tired and aching, after taking part in an MMA bout against the then world champion. I didn’t win and wasn’t in the mood to deal with people so off I went to the pub.

The place was busy but it was a bar where no one knew me, and I liked it that way.
I had just taken a few sips of my pint, when a guy dressed in silver hot pants and a tight white tee-shirt approached and ordered a Babycham with a cherry and demanded an umbrella.
“I know you!” he said.
Great. Just what I needed. Another deluded fan either looking for a fight so they could go home and tell their friends they’d fought an MMA competitor, or someone looking for an autograph.
“You’re that guy from the telly!” he said.
“I think you have me mixed up with someone else,” I replied.
“No, I know who you are!”
He wasn’t gonna give up and I just wanted a quiet night.
“Can I get your autograph?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said, hoping it’d make him go away.
“I can’t wait to tell my friends I met the guy who plays Phil Mitchell!” he said.
Furious, yet also amused, I scribbled something on a piece of paper and walked away, looking for a table.

Making myself comfy I opened the MMA magazine I’d bought at the airport and started to read. Then he appeared again.
“Are you on your own?” he asked.
“Yes. Can I keep it that way?”
“Of course. I’ll stay here and make sure no one joins you!”
I sighed and carried on reading. Or rather I tried to.

He started talking. And didn’t stop. Like, literally didn’t stop.

Some pints later the bar staff called last orders and I got up to leave. He drunkenly followed, stumbling in to me as we went down the steps away from the bar. It almost felt like he was purposely falling into me.
“Do you have a lift home?” I asked, now concerned about the state he was in.
“Yes!” he said, “with you!”
“Excuse me?!”
“Oh come on! You know you want to!”

We shared a taxi back to his place and he invited me in. By now it had become like a game and I had to know more about him. Given his outfit I was desperate to see what the inside of his palatial apartment looked like, so I accepted his offer.

It was 5.30am when I left knowing that, for once in my life, I’d made the right decision.
Twenty years later he still has the hot pants and I still have the hots for him.

Happy anniversary of our first meeting Brad. The night we met will always be pasted into the album of my memory even if the story changes every year. You’re my absolute hero, my love and my heart and I’m the luckiest ex-Swiss MMA fighter in the world.

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