“And can I get you anything else?” he asked, making me stop talking to the rest of the table long enough to look up and acknowledge him for the first time.
Oh, I thought, forgetting the rest of my sentence.
He was my favourite kind of waiter: hipster top-knot and piercings, cheeky, and engaged enough with himself to pass the time by actually being good at his job, because obviously this was just rent money before he got signed/sold his manuscript/got on the plane. That guy.
“Yes, actually,” I said, sitting up straighter and holding his gaze, rearranging my parts into their most seductive, flirtatious version. “You can take our photograph, if you don’t mind. And bring a generous portion of mayonnaise. But mainly the photograph.”
“As madam requests,” he replied, tongue firmly in cheek. He winked at me.
He fiddled with my iPhone and we smiled and posed and he assured us he’d taken several snaps so that we could choose the best, and then he was gone and somebody else took over looking after our table. Idly flicking through my phone before the food arrived, though, there were two extra shots before the group images: selfies of himself, tongue stuck out and all, when we weren’t paying attention. It was dumb and cute and made me laugh out loud.
I’m a sucker for a playful attitude.
At the bar, as I was ordering more drinks, he passed by. I complimented his audacity and in response, he – blatantly, brazenly, with no hint of shame – eyed me up from top to bottom (bottom being the operative word) and carried on walking. He’d undressed me with his eyes and the shock of it burnt at my cheeks.
Shy smiles over the crowded bar, mutual friends ascertained, phone numbers acquired and three pints down, he later pulled up a chair at our table and rolled with every punch I threw, in front of an audience, eyes sparkling and wit razor sharp.
Where would you like to go on Friday, then? he asked, apropos of nothing.
No wasn’t an option. I liked that.
There are two ways, normally, that I fancy somebody: with my heart, out-and-out I’ll do anything for you, here’s my all, let’s be a something, and with my vagina: a.k.a guys I’d like see naked, perhaps on a calendar, or a mug. Wank Bank guys.
If I’m really honest, and I’m cringing as I type this, embarrassed, you can see where this is going, even though I’m twenty-eight goddamn years old, maybe, possibly, recently there was one of the former, wherein my heart got crumpled. Just a little. Almost imperceptibly so.
I’m not excited to say that I’ve been feeling a little wounded. Dented. Bruised. That a hot guy (a hot guy with a wicked sense of humour, no less) would pay me the kind of attention that made me sit taller, enjoy myself in his attentions, feel desired, if only in the moment, temporarily, long enough to forget that I went out on a limb for somebody and the gentle fool didn’t (couldn’t? wouldn’t?) feel the same, was flattering. Of course it was.
It could’ve—should’ve—stopped there.
It didn’t. We met. We drank. We got straight to the point.
I took him into my bed.
I undressed to seek validation. The very last reason one should undress.
Sex with strangers can be so very hot. Sometimes. Occasionally. But you see, mentally, now, in these moments of my life, that’s just not where I am.
I’ve tasted what it is to make love, to really fucking mean it. The kind of glorious, delicious sex that is two very hot, very sweaty, very engaged bodies dancing to the exact same rhythm of touch and taste and magic. The kind that can be slow, or be fast, or can be sensual or can be banging your head against the headboard orgasmic, but the point of it is this: it is good because it is so stubbornly rooted in emotion.
You can’t play pretend with that.
Without it, this emotion, this source, it’s two largely disengaged bodies rubbing up against each other for the sake of falling asleep next to a warm body.
And the thing that bothers me, that is festering under my skin and I can’t quite shake the guilt of, is that he was such a good guy. One of the really, really, lovely ones, who has, for somebody (somebody who isn’t me) “boyfriend material” written all over him. And yes, he played the game too, he was a willing participant, but did he know? I wonder. Did he know that I had no intention of taking it past the morning? Did he? Did we use each other?
Surely he deserves better.
I know I do.