"Do you think those two are straight?" I asked Willow.
"I don't know, I think they could be. They don't look like they're together that way."
Willow and I were in Bar Z, where she was flirting with one of the regulars who guest bartends on the weekends (let's call him Guest B). I was concerned my presence might verge into third wheel or cockblock territory, but Willow insisted I stay and hang out. After all, it was a three-day weekend for us, so drinking on a Sunday night felt a little more indulgent than usual.
"Guest B, how's your gaydar?" I asked.
"I have very good gaydar."
"Those two," I pointed to the end of the bar. One had strawberry blond hair and was drinking a martini; the other was wearing a striped shirt and drinking a beer. "What do you think?"
"I think they're straight. But I can find out for sure," he made a move like he was going to walk over there.
"Oh no you don't! I'll find out myself," I said, eyeing the stack of board games placed conveniently near the two attractive men whose sexual orientation we were trying to determine. "Let's play a board game."
"I'd be up for that," said Willow.
I went over and examined the boxes, chose VH1's I Love the 80s game.
"It can't just be the two of us; we need teams."
"We have to find a way to play this game," Willow was insistent, being a fan of both pop culture trivia and the decade in question.
"I think I'll be able to find us teams." I went back over to the other end of the bar and, nervous but bold as anything, asked the two guys if they'd be interested in playing the board game with us.
Introductions were made. Martini guy was Lawyer Luke and stripes and beer was Programmer Paul (friends, roommates, and very much straight). Neither was much of an expert on the 80s, so I decided to make the teams boy-girl. This meant I had to make a command decision about which guy I was more interested in. Programmer Paul and I seemed to have more of an instant flirtation happening, so I chose him for my teammate. Meanwhile, Willow left the game from time to time to smooch Guest B outside, which made me feel bad for Lawyer Luke.
The game was pretty close, but Paul and I pulled ahead. Guest B would come by once in a while to check our progress, put his paws on Willow, and show us just how much drunker than the rest of us he was.
Paul and I were up. Willow asked our question:
"Who posed as a high school student while writing the screenplay for Fast Times at Ridgemont High?"
Paul shook his head. "No idea."
I thought about it, "It's someone like John Hughes, but not John Hughes."
Willow shook her head.
"I feel like I know this one." I wracked the part of my brain that forgets birthdays to store trivia like this.
"You don't know. I'll give you... two hundred bucks if you get this right," Guest B chimed in.
"It's definitely not John Hughes, maybe Cameron Crowe."
Willow kept shaking her head.
"I know it's someone I'm familiar with. I'm going to guess Cameron Crow."
Willow smiled. "You're right. It's Cameron Crowe."
I high-fived Paul and turned to Guest B. "Looks like you owe me two hundred bucks."
Everyone agreed, and Willow showed him the card to verify I got the question right. He didn't say anything and went behind the bar for a bit.
We laughed it off and kept playing.
A few minutes later, Guest B returned and handed me a handful of twenties. I counted out a hundred dollars.
"This is what I could get."
I laughed in astonishment. "I think a hundred bucks is fair. Call it even." We shook hands.
The next round was on me.
Programmer Paul and I ended up winning the game. Willow and Guest B went off, and I left with the two guys, hoping they'd stick around long enough to make sure I got a taxi (it was around 3:30am at this point). Luke walked on ahead, but Paul stayed with me. The streets were totally empty and Paul recommended that I walk a few blocks over, where there were more cabs.
As we walked, we continued to chat, and put our arms around each others' waists. I was lightly buzzed, but far from drunk. A bit about Paul: he's my age, from the Midwest, hates sports (yay!) and gives good banter. Easygoing, friendly, flirty, but mildly so. Turns out he doesn't like the 80s much at all, so bonus points that he endured hours of the game (I suppose my sparkling company made it all worthwhile).
A few blocks later, still no taxis.
"Maybe I should call a car."
"You could do that. Or you could come over for a quick drink."
"I live just down the street."
How convenient that he led me in the direction of his apartment. He didn't press the issue, though. Left it up to me.
Luke was in his room when we got there, so we had the living room to ourselves.
I just need to pause the action to point out what a lovely apartment these guys had ("yes, we are straight," Paul confirmed, when I complimented their taste in decor).
"I feel like I'm in an actual grown-ups apartment. I'm so impressed," I said, as I glanced around: minimalist design, autumnal color scheme, soft lighting, and cleaner than my place is on its cleanest days.
Paul poured us some wine, and we settled on the plush (suede?) sofa. Between the delicious wine, the comfy seating, and Paul's laid back demeanor, I felt instantly at ease and happy that I came over.
He sat about a foot away from me and we talked. And talked. For hours. About our families, our experiences growing up, our thoughts on New York. He did not make a move and I knew I wouldn't mind it if things did not go beyond conversation, because I was enjoyed his company quite a bit.
Paul did sit a bit closer, though, and put an arm around me. He kissed me. Soft, then more intense. It was nice, then it was better than nice. We had the best kissing chemistry I've had since TV Tyler (and that was a year ago).
He invited me to stay over. I wasn't going to do it, hated the idea of doing the walk of shame in my miniskirt and boots, but it was nearly 6:00am and I was extremely sleepy. And I knew I didn't have to worry about Paul. I felt safe. He didn't run any stupid routines on me or act cocky or confident in a phony way; he was genuine, playful, nice--but in a good way, not a boring way.
I stayed for a bit, but left in the early afternoon. There was a point where I vaguely felt like I wanted to be in my own bed, but my need for escape wasn't as acute as it was on my birthday. This time, I was sober, very much aware of my decision, and very glad I stayed.
Naturally, considering the circumstances, I don't expect him to call. Still, it was a fun and surprising evening, and the perfect antidote for my recent dry spell.
Plus, I made $100! (um, I could see how that could be misconstrued...)