… because with my recent luck (if this is any indication), I will definitely not win anything. In fact, if my most recent dating misadventures are an indication of my current (un)lucky status, I will most likely find out that the lottery is fake. And that I’d just participated in some kind of elaborate scam.
Like what happened last night.
I was out at one of my usual networking events, and bumped into one of my colleagues. We generally never hang out at work, so it was really great to see her. I had also brought one of my new friends along — my roommate’s friend, in fact — because he is thinking of getting into my field of work, and figured he might appreciate being given better access to some of the more business-related sides of what I do.
After he left to another event, my colleague “Stylish Beret” and I stayed behind, looking at some of the work, making a few connections, and preparing eventually to leave and get a drink on our own. We were having a great time chatting, and we walked to a bar nearby to continue our conversation in more convivial settings.
After about an hour of a stimulating and lovely discussion, a group of rowdy men and a few women decided to sit at the table next to us. They decided to invite themselves over, and, as usual, I started getting hit on by the alpha male in the group, while my friend attracted the eye of a kind-looking, jovial guy. The man who introduced himself to me was the President of the company, and the rest of the people there were his employees. He proceeded to tell me about his bisexual wife, and how they have an open relationship. His manner was one of bragging, essentially, but it shifted rapidly to one of fear when he, after a pause, asked me not to reveal this information to his fellow colleagues. It was clear that he’d had quite a bit to drink and was feeling entitled to the liberties he was taking, particularly to an attractive stranger.
I struck up a conversation with one of the women of the group, too, who decided she’d take it upon herself to set me up with someone in the group. She (ever so kindly) shouted jovially at me, “You’re going to pole tonight!!”
I’d never heard that expression before, and honestly, started laughing. It was just absurd. And a little of the usual human comedy/drama.
The rest of the evening was then spent with me talking to a guy who was trying all of his moves on me, while I gently teased him. It wasn’t that he wasn’t good looking, it was that he was trying too hard. And he was definitely approaching me as someone who might help him scratch an itch. Generally, this is not a recommended strategy for complimenting a woman. Guys, take note: spend the time to try to get to know someone, and treat the interaction with a light touch. Leave the hammer and mallet at home. Especially when you realise you’re talking to someone who is intelligent and strong-willed. Cheesy pick up lines are just going to give her so much fodder for comedy. At your expense.
After “Clumsy Conversationalist” eventually made his exit, it was then time for the third act of the evening.
As with all plays, the third act is generally the one with the most promise: the scene has been set, the characters established, and the situation is now ripe for exploit — either comedic, tragic, or a combination of both. In my case, I decided to treat the eventual outcome as a complete joke, and an opportunity for instilling a little fear. Call it vigilante justice if you will, call it delicious, call it whatever you want.
But I get ahead of myself.
As I’m preparing to leave, feeling not particularly inspired by the evening and missing my earlier conversation with my friend Stylish Beret (who is still deep in conversation with the same guy with the twinkling eyes and kind face), another of the party comes over and sits across from me. This is a man who is considerably older than I am, with gently sagging cheeks, but with a smile that lights up his whole face. It is really his smile which is spectacular: it rearranges his time-worn, serious eyes into dancing sapphires of boyish invitation. His gaze is steady and consistent — engaging, but soulful. There is something warm and inviting about this man, something deeply reassuring. He is generally directing his comments to the clumsy conversationalist sitting beside me (who is no longer trying to hit on me), but makes sure he catches my eye, too. Soon, though, we are left alone, and he turns to talk to me. The clumsy conversationalist had been trying to find his way out of the conversation, and out of the bar, and Sparkling Eyes had provided just that convenient interruption.
Sparkling Eyes turns to me, asks, “What is it that brings you to New York?” I look at him, and, based on the brief fragment of conversation he’d just had with the conversationalist, replied, “Work.” I felt compelled to ask, “And, by the way, are you a writer?”
A look of surprise registered on his face, and he said, “Well, actually, I used to write quite a lot. How– how did you– ?”
I replied, “Because I’m a writer, too. Something about the way you put your sentences together gave you away.”
I smiled at him.
I continued, “And, by the way, is Jack Kerouac one of your favourite authors?”
He looked wordlessly at me, even more surprised.
“How– Well, yes– I love Jack Kerouac– How did you know?”
I smiled again. “I don’t know. It was a hunch.” I continued, “I get the feeling that your approach to life is one of a journey — that the metaphor of the road trip and travel — is something that resonates with you.”
I continued, “And yet, you’re still searching. Why are you searching? What are you looking for?”
He looked, amazed, wordless at me. I heard the words tumble out of my mouth, and I was surprised, too. They didn’t feel like my own thoughts, or my own observations — they seemed to be more of verbal manifestations of instinct. And for once, these manifestations were coherent. And so they seemed magical.
At around this point, I expected him to change the subject; attempt to cover up, try to reach for some kind of privacy, however much he’d have to wrestle for it. I am not usually this straightforward or blunt with someone I’ve just met, but with this man, I was much more intrusive than I’d ever remembered being. Even when I’m my diplomatic straightforward self, it results in younger men generally straining to escape, change the subject, or do what they need to do to avoid being so open.
But not this man.
He just kept looking at me in wonder, mesmerized by my words, his curiosity and his attention entirely held.
And so we kept talking. He told me about himself without restraint or edit, calmly, unhurriedly. As he talked, he struggled to be clear, to be concise, and to be precise. His hands formed rounded shapes in the air as he tried to articulate his feelings of vulnerability. He looked, with furrowed brow, at me as he spoke, choosing his words carefully. And interspersed these moments of seriousness with that brilliant, transformational smile.
I found myself smiling in response to him, easily, unthinkingly, each time he smiled at me.
There was a naturalness to the conversation, and a depth that I found difficult to quantify, and even harder to identify. And even more strangely, that I had no desire, whatsoever, to do any of the aforementioned analytical things. Analysis operated on a different level last night, when it came to him. The world dissolved and we were left in a self-contained sphere. He reached out to hold my hands; his hands were surprisingly warm, and reassuringly rough. He pressed my fingers between his palms, smiling in wonderment at me during those frequent, happy silences.
We parted on a subway platform, he trying to insist on me coming home with him, or coming home with me. I reassured him, telling him not to worry, and not to try to be deterministic. Every time he asked, I smiled, and made no promises. He seemed to understand and he listened. Even at that late hour, even with the heady intoxication of our long, intimate conversation.
We kissed, and we laughed as we kissed. I don’t remember being so happy during a first kiss as I was then. I felt, somehow, that I knew him, on some kind of essential level, and that he did of me, too. I knew it wasn’t possible: I knew the feelings were really strong and were most likely based in the cold science of organic chemistry. And I went home, floating on a cloud.
And this morning, I wondered, smilingly, about this mysterious stranger with the sparkling eyes and the brilliant smile.
And found out that he’s married. With three kids.
And so, when he texted me asking to see me again, I replied simply, bluntly, “No, I don’t think so. Cowards and liars are so boring. Give my regards to your wife.”
He replied in kind, by text message. But I haven’t checked it yet. I’d imagine it’s some paltry attempt at an apology.
And so, life goes on, and dating continues its own twisted journey. And I’m left with yet another amusing, if bittersweet, experience.