A Strange One-Night Stand
By Paul Barker
So I tumble in her general direction and find myself comfortably beside her. She is something like this: 5’8”, 130 lbs (I guess…?), blonde, 35, British, pretty. Immediately we hit it off. Tossing boneless wrists to the rhythm of depression, the false regality of this, and the union of disgruntled singletons – we connect. Maybe it was the Ketel One or her accent or the way her “fringe” fell into her eyes. Whatever it was, I thought she was funny, smart, worth my time. So, it was easy to get lost in conversation. We talk about me. We talk about her. She thought I was handsome, witty, charming. Soon I learn that her friends have all gone home. We have this in common. So we order another drink, devising plans to find me a mate. She being completely out of luck of course – her breed of men don’t come here. Or when they do, its early. They’ve come with their queer friends and long since departed. Foggy flirtations spill from me as she presents a 6’5” pot bellied Def Leppard she picked up on her way back from the “loo” to me. 4th wind arrives, my neck becomes strong enough to lift my head, and I dismiss him. We are deep in the night, and I feel more satisfied with this silly, appreciative, charming woman than I have in many evenings trolling this bar. Sometime soon she tells me about her ex-husband. I look just like him. I’m so handsome. She feels my arms, confirms – I feel just like him. Younger. But so similar. This becomes the central theme to our connection. I am her ex-husband 15 years ago, brought forth this night – his hair and mine, so much alike. I make what I believe to be a smile. In retrospect I probably just shut my eyes 3 quarters and stuck my tongue out while trying to find my shoulder with my eardrum.
1,000 thanks and more, I say – no really, Thank You. Think nothing of it, I’m told. I try, but…I can’t help it. She slides her small arms through the crook in my elbow, nuzzles against me in the dim twilight, and tells me she is a nihilist. The bar is closing, we are “pissed” and wobble to the street. She must walk her husband home, I think this sounds like a good idea. I live 5 minutes away, and do not wish to be alone. I want another stool, another drink – more talk of her darkness and despair. When we get to my door it’s clear. My invitation to her, her ready acceptance. We sit on the turkish rug in the middle of my dim studio and I open a bottle of wine. She opens up her wounds, out comes this nihilist. I fight her wicked misery, I offer meaningful and helpful words. Words that work as soothing balm, quell the ache and restore her to sanity. In retrospect I must have said something more along the lines of – “Itsh nawt thut bahd rully, OOOK?” The alcohol turns on her, on us, she breaks. My golden girl is crying in a ball in the center of my one room apartment, and knocks over her wine. Red rushes, trying to stain my black rug, and sinking into the porous wood. “I’m bluh-ee sari.” Its fine. I clean this mess. As I sit down again beside her, she asks me something I was not expecting. She wants me to hold her. I feel so bad for this woman, who has opened up so deeply to me, made me feel like I was the sane person in the room. I wanted to help her. And I am a wasted mess who can’t say no to anything. So I lie on the floor, embracing her. She cries into me, I get restless. She stops crying. I am restless. She is massaging my powerful arms. I am a waif. “You lurk jush like hum…” she says, as her lips find my skin. I am holding her, fueled by her projections. I am this woman’s husband. I am tired. Its time to go to bed. Over the threshold, onto my sofa-bed. I lay her down. She kisses me. I think, “weird.” She tells me she isn’t trying to have sex with me, as she kisses me again, feels my arms, my chest. I look just like him. I feel just like him. She feels soft, sad, I am tired. I hold her, and soon her mouth just sucks in a slow and even pulse. I guess mine did too.
In the morning it’s the same. I have to be at work. Hurry Hurry, out we go. Remnants of an unexpected night guest, but somehow new…unfamiliar. HER wine glass – stained with lipstick, lying on its side. A foreign cigarette butt crushed in my tray. The familiar sense of dirty shame. But what the hell just happened? I think – Maybe this is my new life. I will run out of this place, find her, tender arms waving for a cab, and sink my face to hers. The scruff of my chin in contrast to her milky blush as I carry off my cougar bride. I will…definitely not do that. I feel weird and vow never to indulge in the opposite sex again. Was it nice to wake up next to someone who I didn’t want to touch? No. But that never stopped me before. In my collection of men, I have done a lot that makes me more uncomfortable than this. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all, maybe she was a lot more meaningful than the dirty boys who find their home in me, and count for nothing. In the end though, after all is said and done…after she is gone and I have bathed, and time has slowly come – this is a story about the weirdest Facebook friend request I ever got.
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