These days, it's not a normal weekend without a visit to Cozy Bar. Polly had other plans after the play, but Willow and I ended up there some time around midnight.
Every time I go there, I see more and more familiar faces. First, I ran into a friend of Sophie's, then a group of people who were also at Ben's play earlier that night, and then--of course--Magazine Mitch. He was chatting with a couple of women and I wasn't about to interrupt his game, so I waved and left him to it.
A minute later, he called over to me and made a motion like he was smoking a cigarette.
"You want to go for a smoke? Sure, let's go." I started to reach for my coat, but he pointed to the back.
"Let's go to our place." He led us to the ladies room.
In the bathroom, I fumbled for my lighter while he opened the window.
"So I was at Ben's play earlier. He gets naked in it. I nearly died."
"Oh yeah, we were supposed to see that together." He nodded, remembering.
"We were, but you never called."
"I know. And I have your number right next to my bed."
"Well, if you still want to go, I'll see it with you," I said, taking his flakiness in stride.
We smoked our cigarettes and before I knew it, we were making out again. There's something about being tipsy that makes me really crave kisses. It may have been a smooch of convenience for both of us, but it was fun, and what I needed in that moment.
"I think I still miss my ex," he sighed.
"So you keep saying. It's funny how we're both hung up on other people."
"Are you going to start going on about Bloody Ben again?"
"No. But you cannot ever, ever tell Ben that we kissed. This has to be our secret. If you ever tell him, I will cut you."
Mitch laughed. "Did you just say you'll cut me? Nobody's ever said that to me before."
I giggled and we kissed again.
"You're a great kisser."
"Thank you," I replied. "You're pretty good, too."
Someone knocked on the door.
"Just a minute!" I called out.
"They're going to either think we're in here doing coke, or I have you bent over the sink..." he got lost in thought a moment. "When are you and I going to get it on, Dolly? We bloody well should."
"I don't think that's going to happen."
"No, really, we should just pick a day and do it... Are you wearing a g-string?"
"Yes... Mitch, you need to stop grabbing my ass."
When we went back to the bar area, Mitch pointed to a gorgeous, Elle Macpherson-looking woman at a table chatting with some friends.
"Ben's in love with her, but she's married. He's got a thing for blondes."
"He does?" My eyes grew wide. "That's awesome!"
Mitch and I went our separate ways. Willow ended up leaving after about an hour, but I stayed and talked to anyone and everyone, including a recent Italian immigrant who works in a nearby restaurant, a couple who owns a shop down the street, and one of Polly's lawyer friends who I met last week. I also spent some time chatting with a young, adorable, but overly cocky Edward Furlong look-a-like, trying to give him pointers on how to be more successful with women (lesson one was to call them "women" instead of "bitches"... yes, it might have been a hopeless cause).
At one point, Furlong-ish was chatting up Elle-y right next to me at the bar. I don't remember what foolish things he said, but she and I rolled our eyes and smiled at each other. I leaned over and said,
"I'm trying to help him, but I don't think anything I'm saying is sinking in."
She turned to Furlong-ish and said, "You should listen to her."
Then the two of us started chatting. As is the case with nearly every female I bond with at the bar, it was a matter of minutes before I confessed my crush on Barman Ben.
Her eyes flashed with anger. "That guy is a player. He knows I'm married and tried to make out with me."
"He what? I think we should discuss this over a cigarette."
Elle-y, her married friend, and I went outside.
"She likes Ben," Elle-y told her friend, who shook her head.
"I know it's not a good idea," I sighed, "But I really can't help it."
"He's a player and he's probably bad in bed," Elle-y spat out.
How did she know?! "How do you know?"
"I can tell, just by looking at him, just by the way he carries himself. You know a guy like that is going to be bad in bed."
Elle-y's friend nodded in agreement.
I asked what happened the night he made a pass at her. Six months ago, she and a couple of friends closed out the bar and they (along with Ben) were all going to share a taxi. She and Ben happened to be in the back room of the bar and he kept trying to kiss her, which pissed her off.
As forgiving and open-minded as I am about some things, going after someone who's married is something I find utterly despicable. This woman really was beautiful, though, and part of me couldn't blame Ben (I'm as straight as the day is long, but another drink or two and I might have wanted to kiss her myself). Still, it was inappropriate of him, and doesn't bode well for his character considering he also hit on Mitch's girlfriend.
"I wish I could forget about him," I told the married friends. "I've tried dating, kissing, even sleeping with other guys, but nothing has worked. And I think I might even have a chance with him."
"You just need fuck him and get him out of your system," Elle-y said. "He's not even that cute."
"I think he's one of the best-looking men I've ever seen. And I don't want to fuck him, I just want to kiss him," I replied.
"I'll tell you what you should do. Wear lots of black eye make-up. He has a thing for Bridget Bardot. The night he was hitting on me, I came from a club, wearing tons of eyeliner, and he kept saying how I looked like Bridget Bardot. Trust me," she nodded knowingly.
Here I was, playing it demure and understated all this time. I'll say this much, though. On Saturday, I was showing cleavage for the first time in ages, and I loved how sexy and confident it made me feel. Yes, I did have to tell Furlong-y to stop staring down my dress and attempt some actual eye contact (that was... lesson four?), but after spending the last two months shedding close to 20 pounds (weight I had put on as a result of the depression), it felt great wearing something more body-conscious. If there's anyone who can rock the buxom, smokey-eyed blonde bombshell thing, it's me. I've played it too safe, too sweet, but no more. Ben won't know what hit him.
At this point, some might argue that I should come to my senses once and for all and give up on Ben. I told my mother about meeting Elle-y on Saturday, expecting her to tell me I can do better, etc.
"I think she's jealous," Mom replied.
"Of what? She's gorgeous and happily married. And Ben wanted her. She could've had him."
"I don't know, there's something about her anger. I think there is some jealousy there."
"Why? Because I'm available? Because her marital status prevented her from doing anything with him?"
"Mom, I'm so surprised you're not trying to dissuade me from being with him. You're usually the first person to tell me, 'he's not for you.' This man made a pass on a married woman!"
She laughed. "So what? Does that mean he doesn't deserve a second chance? Does that mean he's not good enough for you?"
Why is my mother, the perennial voice of reason, rooting for me here? Aren't I sabotaging my emotional health and stability by falling for someone like Ben?
I considered what she said, mentioned Warren Beatty and what a playboy he was before Annette Benning.
"You see? She tamed him," Mom answered.
That she did. But how the hell did she do it?