We were at Bar S, shaking off the Monday blues over a drink.
"I mean, we spend lots of time together," I continued, "And we've grown pretty close the last couple of months. We just don't do the smooching part."
"Yeah, no offense, but I don't want to smooch you."
"Same here. Still, in some ways, it's like we're having a relationship. Except that it's more fun and not as draining as dating can be. I never feel like I'm wasting my time when we hang out."
We did some more girl bonding, and I recounted Saturday's encounter with Neighbor Neil.
"On one hand, I'm glad we kissed, I needed to be kissed. On the other hand, he made it pretty clear that he's not interested in dating me, so I'm all out of prospects. I kind of officially give up. Which is fine, because that's when they say it happens, right?"
"Great. Then from this moment on, I totally and unequivocally give up. I state for the record that I never expect to meet another suitable man ever again."
Rachel talked about her dating woes a bit. She was out on a couple of dates with a guy Coworker Chris nicknamed Slice, probably because of his generic nature (or maybe because we were drunk and Chris hadn't eaten dinner). Slice was attractive and attentive but, ultimately, fatally bland. Roommate Rachel couldn't bear the thought of hurting his feelings. We tried to figure out a nice way she could end things.
"Don't tell Slice you like someone else," I advised. "That's never nice for the ego. How about you tell him you have all this other life stuff to figure out, and it's overwhelming you?"
"Ooh, that's good. Because it is true."
"And that way it's not about him, it's all you."
"Brilliant. That's what I'll say."
I paused. "I believe what we just came up with is: It's not you, it's me. Very original."
Back home, around 10:30, while Rachel and I watched Favorite Show, there was a knock on the door. Neighbor Neil.
"Just a minute!" I scrambled into my room to put on a bra. Damn, I'll never be able to lounge in sweats and no make-up now.
"Hey, I just back from classes, and wanted to return this to you."
At the door, Neil handed over the bottle what was left of the vodka we drank on Saturday.
"Wow, did we drink that much?!" I looked at how little was left.
"Well, it was open when we started... but, yeah, we did a pretty good job."
We chatted for a few more minutes, with surprisingly little awkwardness.
When I returned to the living room, Rachel nodded and said,
"You two have chemistry."
"I think I'm shaking a little bit. Damn it, that means I like him."
"He likes you."
"What do you mean, how can you tell? You think so?"
"Yeah, he's just confused. He's young."
"He's my age."
"But you're still older."
"You're right. But how could you tell we had chemistry?"
"It was the rhythm of your talking. You and he have this rhythm that you and I don't have."
"Exactly. Like that Nick and Nora thing you were saying you wanted."
"I do want it. I mean, we don't need to solve Jazz Age mysteries together or name our dog Asta, but if I wanted a martini at ten in the morning, it would be nice to have a man who would make one for me. And vice versa. But it's not even about the martinis--I don't even like martinis all that much. It's more the playful banter; it's downright crucial."
"You have very high standards."
"Which is why I plan on being single for a while yet. Except that it's going to happen to both of us, and soon."
"You think so?" Rachel asked.
"You bet. It's going to be the winter of our content, remember?"
Rachel and I giggled.
"Yes. It has to be. It will."
Score one for optimism.