I guess I should start with Valentine's Day. Willow and I wanted a pretty low key night out. We weren't in a social mood, but ended up in a bar where she was accosted by an over-the-top Irish guy, who was flirting with every woman in sight. I turned to the guy sitting next to me, fairly attractive and there by himself, and said,
"Thank you for not being a loud, cheesy Irish guy."
The guy (I'll call him VDay Vlad) turned to me, we started talking about lord-knows-what (I was pretty tipsy at this point) and we hit it off. Willow went home pretty soon after, but VDay Vlad and I stayed out a few more hours, discussing music and movies (two of my favorite topics), among other things. He was very sweet, and kept buying me drinks and giving me cigarettes when we went outside to smoke. I thought we might end up kissing later, but I drank a bit too much and hopped in a cab before the walls started spinning.
Vlad made it clear he wanted to see me again, so we made tentative plans for Sunday.
Fast forward to last night. Vlad was nice enough to come into my neighborhood for an early dinner (I know I say it a lot, but I love local dates; maybe it's something about a home court advantage). An hour before the date, Polly sent me a text asking if I wanted to go out. I said maybe later, if the date didn't go well.
While Vlad and I had plenty to talk about on Wednesday, last night's conversation was strained. I'm a pretty talkative person, so I was definitely holding up my end, but Vlad was frustratingly reticent unless replying to a direct question (and even then, not the most dynamic talker). There were actual uncomfortable pauses in the conversation, something I cannot remember happening to me on a date in ages. At first, I went into Barbara Walters mode, and asked questions to get him to talk. After a while, I decided that I was making too much of an effort and focused more on my salmon than my date.
Maybe he was nervous, shy. Vlad is a few years younger than me, and though he struck me as being mature for his age, maybe he was still somewhat intimidated. I don't know. It was one of the most uncomfortable dates I have been on in recent memory.
In the middle of the meal, I went into the bathroom and called Polly, then left her an SOS text, telling her I most definitely wanted to go out later.
I returned to the table, praying that Polly would save me, and sipped my second drink. Even the alcohol didn't help the conversational flow. What happened between Wednesday and Sunday? Vlad went from being chatty and charming to unbearably subdued.
My phone beeped and one surreptitious bathroom call later, Polly and I had plans to meet at Bar Z at 9:30.
Vlad asked if I wanted to go somewhere after the meal, and I said I had promised to meet my friend and flaked on her the previous evening blah-blah-blah-please-get-me-out-of-here.
The check finally, mercifully came, and I offered to contribute, but he insisted on paying, which made me feel guilty.
"Would you like to do this again sometime?"
What can you possibly say to that, right after a man has bought you dinner?
"Sure... though this coming week is pretty busy for me." I stared at the table, hating myself a little.
"This week is busy for me, too. But maybe next weekend."
And then it was mercifully over.
I stopped at home to shake off the bad date energy. I knew the best part of the night was yet to come, because Polly and I always have a great time.
We had one drink at Bar Z, but I wasn't feeling the vibe there, so we went to Cozy Bar.
Despite Barman Ben's absence, I have been spending a lot of time at Cozy Bar, visiting the place at least once a week. It's officially my favorite bar in New York City, and I love being a regular there. Friday night, Coworker Chris and I met there, and I ran into my friend Sophie as well as Magazine Mitch, who I hadn't seen since I spent the night interrogating him about Ben. The other main bartender, Cocktail Carl, now recognizes me and also gives me free drinks. Friday, I was even bold enough to ask Carl if Ben was ever coming back ("I hope not!" he replied, then told me that yes, Ben will return).
The second Polly and I walked into Cozy Bar, our spirits lifted. This place felt like home.
Magazine Mitch was there again last night and we laughed when we spotted one another.
"We haven't seen each other in two whole days!" we said, hugging each other hello.
I introduced him to Polly and Mitch introduced me to his friend, Designer Dan. Dan was cute in the semi-nerdy way I like: glasses, blue eyes, big nose, a thin veneer of confidence covering up a core of awkwardness. This was somebody I thought I might be able to make out with.
Dan and I did well flirting. At one point, I had to ask if he was a pickup artist, because he put his fingers through my hair and said,
"Your hair is so perfect. Is it real?"
I laughed and called over to Polly a few feet away.
"This guy just negged me! Can you believe it?"
Ultimately, I determined that he wasn't studying seduction techniques. Or if he was, he wasn't using using the knowledge in any beneficial way. For example, a few minutes after being introduced to Polly and I, he said that he never talks to women as gorgeous as us and made a crack about having a threesome. We rolled our eyes.
"Real original, Dan," I said.
"Yeah, nobody's ever mentioned that to us before," Polly added.
When I was left to chat with Dan on my own, he made a few more "joking" remarks about going back to his apartment to have sex. He was uncouth, but still cute, and intelligent enough that it wasn't boring to talk to him. I wasn't interested in sleeping with him, but I've been in kiss withdrawal lately, so I saw the potential smooch opportunity.
Dan and I ended up talking about sex and threesomes. I said I wasn't interested in having one with two girls, but would consider one with two guys.
"You know, Mitch lives right upstairs," Dan said, an excited gleam in his eyes.
"Yes, I know," I laughed dismissively.
"No, I'm serious. We could all go over to his place. Hey, Mitch," Dan waved him over. "What do you think of me, her, and you, at the same time."
Mitch looked amused. "I'd rather have her to myself, mate. I don't want to have to...for there to be any..."
"Crossing of swords?" I helpfully supplied.
"Yeah," Mitch nodded, "If you could figure out a way that the two of us don't have to touch..."
Dan looked like he was seriously contemplating a way to make it work. I'd be a liar if I said I didn't consider it for a second or two myself. I mean, I'm not like guys are when it comes to threesomes (most of them, anyway), who find it the biggest turn on in the world and absolutely must experience one before they die. Neverthless, given the right circumstances and the right two men... let's just say I wouldn't rule it out.
However, last night did not provide the right circumstances (I was too tipsy by then, not to mention sporting unshaven legs).
Designer Dan was somewhat touchy-feely with me and at one point, we came in close enough that I thought we were going to kiss, but for whatever reason we didn't. Then he went to go flirt with some of the other women in the bar, and by the time he returned, I lost all interest in him. He had a bit of a sleazy streak, which I might have mentioned as he was leaving (though in a cute, flirtatious way--I think).
I don't know what time Polly left, but I stayed behind to chat with Mitch.
Even though I don't consider him a dating prospect, Mitch is a blast to hang out with. He's funny, laid back, playful, and easy to talk to. And yes, pretty cute, especially when Barman Ben isn't around to cast a shadow over all other men with his motherfucking gorgeousness. Also, I am no longer fazed by British accents, but admit that Mitch's is nice on the ears.
"I was so drunk that first night we met. I hardly remember what I might have said to you," he said.
"You said you were still hung up on your last girlfriend."
"Blimey, I really was drunk. I don't know if that's true, though. I was with her for superficial reasons."
"You also tried to get me to come over and smoke pot with you. And it took you about two hours of endless questions about Ben before you realized I had a thing for him. It wasn't until I asked if he was a player that it dawned on you, and then you said you think I could 'get with him.'"
He laughed, remembering. "That's right. I still think you could get with him."
"Really?" I looked at him with all the hope in the world. "Will you go see his play with me?"
"Sure. But we need to find out the details."
"I know all the details," I rattled off the dates, times, and location.
"When do you want to go?"
"Thursday. But if we talk to him, can you please please please tell Ben it was all your idea?"
I know I was putting a lot of trust in Mitch, but--
- I think he's a good guy.
- I am absolutely dying to see Ben's play.
- I was drunk.
I realized when I drink, I talk about the last two things in the world I should be talking about: my secret internet identity and being in love with Barman Ben. I don't think I mentioned this blog to Mitch, but it's pretty impossible for me to talk about Ben without getting all starry-eyed.
It was so great being able to talk to Mitch about Ben, because he's known the guy for a few years (also, I've been trying to discuss Ben as little as possible with my friends, because I can only imagine how tired they must be of hearing about him). Apparently, Ben made a pass at Mitch's last girlfriend ("It's not a big deal, I still think he's a great guy").
Somehow, and I'm betting the alcohol had something to do with it, Mitch and I flirted with each other.
"It's funny, considering we're both in love with other people," I said to him. "I mean, you're still hung up on your ex."
"And what about you?" he rolled his eyes, "Oh right, you're in love with the bloody bartender."
"Let's go outside for a cigarette."
"It's too cold out there. I have a better idea."
Mitch and I waited until Cocktail Carl wasn't looking, snuck into the ladies room, opened the window, and had a smoke. Just as we were finishing, somebody knocked on the door.
"Ha, they're going to think I was in here giving you a blowjob."
Back at the bar, and this is where things get a bit hazy. More flirting and laughing and drinking, and Mitch became more physically affectionate, putting his arm around me, running his fingers through my hair, etc. It was nice. At some point, while we were leaning in to each other laughing the laugh of drunk people, he gave me a peck on the lips. I smiled, turned away, and started chatting with some girl at the bar. Turns out, a friend of hers had a fling with Ben a year ago (I wonder if he was getting divorced at the time). She also mentioned that Ben passed out fliers for his play a couple of weeks ago. Perfect.
It was time for another smoke break, another furtive trip to the bathroom. We opened the window and shivered over our cigarettes.
"This is fun," we said and laughed again.
Mitch got a serious look on his face and came in for another kiss, a longer one. I went along with it. We made out for a minute or two, holding out our lit cigarettes.
I was happy to get kisses, but a nervous feeling told me it was time to go home.
"This is going to be our secret," I said.
I gave Mitch my contact info so that he could get in touch about seeing the play on Thursday. If he doesn't call, I might just go anyway.
I talked to Mom, admitting that no matter what I do to try to distract myself, I can't get my mind off Ben.
"That's because things are still unresolved for you with him. Things are still unfinished."
It looks like this story is going to need at least one more chapter...
[ETA: Not five minutes after posting this, I got copied on a mass email from Ben about the play. Quite the coincidence, no?]