I’ve been crushing on a guy at work for a while. When he finally made a move and invited me to a paint party, I jumped at the chance. I assumed it was one of those paint nights where you sip wine while an instructor teaches you how to paint mountains with a sun in the corner. I thought it was a cute first date idea.
Of course, I was wrong about everything.
When I met him at the address he sent me, he was standing outside a brick building. A nightclub.
“Those look expensive,” he said, looking from my designer jeans to my fuck-me heels. “I thought you knew to dress down.”
“I think I’m going to be fine. I’m not that clumsy.”
He shrugged, led me toward the doors, and paid our entrance fees. They lady manning the door handed us blank, white t-shirts to place over our actual shirts. I asked for an oversized one that draped over my ass, then realized most of the other girls wore skintight ones or tied them over their belly buttons, exposing skin.
The woman handed us squeeze bottles of paint next. My guy got green. I got pink.
When we stepped inside the main room, a DJ was blaring music. Hundreds of twenty-somethings were spraying neon paint at each other. Coloring their shirts. Wetting their hair. Coating the floor. My shoes were going to be ruined.
“Go on,” my date said. He had to scream in order for me to hear him. “You can be the first to deface me.”
“What an honor,” I said, wanting to play the part of cool girl. I stopped worrying about my clothes. I went with the flow. I promised myself I would have fun, even if it meant being slapped with a ridiculously high dry cleaning bill.
I popped open my paint container and tried to draw a heart near his collar. The paint dripped down his chest, like it was melting. When I finished, he spun me around and drew a picture on my back. I couldn’t tell what it was. I didn’t care. I was enjoying the feel of his hand as it cupped my shoulder, steadying his canvas.
After getting a few drinks in our system, we really loosened up. We danced, grinding our hips against each other. We spurted paint on strangers. We even kissed once or twice.
“Do you want another drink?” he asked late in the night, brushing a strand of hair away from my cheek.
Butterflies danced in my stomach. “Yeah. Let me just pee out my last one.”
He laughed and made his way to the bar while I made my way to the bathroom. I fixed my lipstick. Ran my fingers through my hair. Tried to look my best. We were really clicking and I wanted it to stay that way.
When I got back to the bar, a girl bumped into me, spilling half my beer down my shirt. “God damn it,” I muttered, not that it mattered much. I was already covered in paint. What difference did some alcohol make?
She leaned in close to my ear, and I thought she was about to apologize, but she said, “That guy slipped something into your drink. Dump the rest of it. Dump him.”
I didn’t want to believe her, but it was already after midnight and my brain was getting fuzzy, so I decided to call it a night. My date begged me to stay for one more drink, one more dance, which only solidified my decision to leave. I took an Uberpool home so there wouldn’t be room for him to join. Just in case.
When I got back to my apartment, I had a text from him, making sure I got home safe. I was probably worried about nothing. I had a good night. He was a good guy. A sweet guy. A trustworthy guy.
Then I stripped off the shirt and saw what was drawn on the back in neon green. I expected something cute, a heart or our initials, but that wasn’t what he drew.
It was a frowny face. With exes for eyes.