Wow, I haven’t written anything lately. So yeah, I fell asleep earlier this afternoon and took a nice long nap so I got to stay up later — I do my best creative work late at night, so this was a treat.
I’ve been feeling a little low lately, so I decided to try doing a more optimistic piece inspired by a cute tale a good friend told me.
The title for this one is so lame; I might change it later.
I really hadn’t thought much of him until that moment when we mimicked all the other departing dinner guests by pulling each other close, casually embracing and saying good-bye.
The hug lasted only a fraction of a second longer than expected and no one seemed to think anything of it, but both he and I knew something was different about this good-bye when our cheeks brushed, my face fit perfectly in the crook of his neck and we hesitated to part.
We had four mutual friends or “friends.” We met through Ami who was my co-worker and his roommate – as I understand it, she initially agreed to live with him on the condition that he walk around in nothing but his underwear all day and let her cuddle with him in bed when she was lonely. Actually, she was just kidding around when she told me that, which is pretty obvious. The point is, she thought he was an attractive, really nice guy.
There was Nelson, who we both went to school with at different points in our life. Nelson was my first best friend ever; we met in kindergarten. Nelson was his frat brother. “Is he nice?” I asked Nelson. “Yes, but he’s kind of boring,” was the reply. “So much for that,” I said. Secretly, I hoped Nelson was wrong, as he often was.
Gilles played bass in his band Solemates and was my sassy gay friend that I met through a book club I was part of for all of two weeks. I joined for the books, Gilles joined for the wine. He wasn’t the coolest person ever, but he was the only one who really spoke to me. I once tried asking Gilles about him, but Gilles was too drunk to know who I was even talking about. “I’m in a band?” he said incredulously. I just rolled my eyes, knowing full well that I should’ve brought the subject up before Chapter Three (“I was a sad man’s brother”) was discussed.
Then there was Camilla, the one who invited us to the dinner party. She didn’t really care about either of us; we were both only casually acquainted with her. She invited us simply because she wanted as many people as possible to be there when she announced her engagement to her unusually young sugar daddy, K Lawson, a former YouTube child star and recording artist whose career went down the drain when his voice changed and he started growing insane amounts of chest hair.
We were seated next to each other for the affair and exchanged a few remarks about the food, how K and Camilla were surprisingly well-suited for each other, and how nice the other looked. He really did look dashing.
“Do you remember how we met?” he asked suddenly.
“Yes, Ami and I were having lunch al fresco when you happened to walk by.”
“No,” he said firmly. “It was at Toys R Us. You were with a much taller man, dark blonde –“
“Well, I don’t know him. I just know you. You were looking at that weird plush boat with all of the animal heads poking out of it. You guys looked really happy together.”
Was he trying to figure out if Liam and I were together? If he was, I was going to let him do his own detective work. “Noah’s Ark?”
“I guess. And I looked over, wondering to myself, ‘Who is that girl?’ And as I was thinking that, you looked over, straight at me.”
I expected him to say something else, but he didn’t. He was waiting for me to say if I remembered the incident or not. I told him it was vaguely familiar and excused myself, explaining that I had horrible memory. While I do have a hard time recalling a lot of things, I actually did remember the moment he spoke about. But to me, it was nothing special.
Right before I was about to say something, the happy couple caused a stir as K swept Camilla up princess-style and started parading her around the room. The spectacle scared off whatever I was going to say and he spoke before I could regain my thoughts.
“To be honest, I thought you were really beautiful.”
I didn’t know what to say.
“Kind of like right now,” he added.
If I were paler, I think I would’ve blushed.
Luckily, I think I kept my cool until the end of the evening. It was a bit awkward as neither of us was sure of what to say next. Yet when the time came to leave, we were almost professional conversationalists, speaking casually and continuously as we put on our coats.
“Wow, this was such a lovely dinner. They are going to be such a wonderful couple.”
“Oh, really. I hope they invite us to the wedding, it would be at least twice as fun as this evening.”
“Yes, yes! And I would really like to sit next to you again, you make excellent company. No, really, you do. I think I would’ve been bored out of my mind without you. Well, actually, no, everything was entertaining tonight.” I was beginning to ramble nervously, so I took a second to pull myself together.
“But talking with you made everything more exciting.” He finished my thought.
And then we moved closer and hugged.
I flashbacked to a winter day when I curled up next to a bay window under my softest blanket, bathed and pleasantly, lightly toasted by the sun. I felt the same warmth, comfort and relief in his arms.
This near stranger, this acquaintance – in those two seconds when I could feel his breath on my neck, hear his pulse in my ear and smell his aftershave intermingling with my perfume – I wished more than anything else in the world that I could spend every night snuggled next to him and wake up to his weight cutting off circulation from my arm and his mussed hair in my face.
We were perfect.
We went out through separate doors with separate friends and got into separate cars. As I watched him drive off to the opposite side of the city, I felt half of myself drifting away. I reached into my pocket for my keys and found a scrap of paper.
He had slipped me his number while we embraced. He had not bothered to include his name because he knew I’d add him to my contact list right away. Not wanting to seem too eager, I resolved to call him within a week.
And with a good-bye, I started the next chapter of my life.