Storytime: One Romantic Evening

As I battle against my bout of writer’s block–and contemplate how to prevent this blog from becoming a daily exercise in shoddy and dull academic criticism–I’ve been trying to think of amusing stories from my dating past that I might share.

You see, I’ve been single for a long time. Relative to my twenty-six years, I should probably say. Please, do not misinterpret my wealth of dating (mis)adventures as a constant or compulsive habit: the experiences I’ve got have been racking up for quite a while.

Anyway. The one story that keeps springing to mind involves my attending a ball while I lived in DC. This is probably because I wore a little black dress borrowed from my friend A that I believe she and her then-boyfriend dubbed the “sexy dress” because no one has ever felt so sexy as when they have worn this dress. Certainly not me, and it’s a nice moment to recall.

I think that I also keep recalling that night, though, because it may have been one of the most bizarre romantic  experiences I have ever had.

Let me explain.

I attended this ball–maybe it was a gala, actually, if anyone knows the difference I’ll give you ten bucks–with a friend who I had met a couple of years earlier at another ridiculous DC event, that one to celebrate a list of the City’s Most Powerful People. The true measure of one’s power for such powerful types, of course, is being too busy being powerful to show up–and most didn’t.

But, lacking in power as I was, I did show up. And so did he. There was an open bar and extremely scarce hors d’oevres. Before my dear friend D escorted me home in a taxi, I made a brief–and, since we’re indulging the word–ridiculous, stop on his lap.

In the proceeding months of our friendship, I made a few more stops on his lap. Usually drunken, or at least tipsy. Sometimes we held hands. I believe there were a few eskimo kisses. But every time the affection began–often at his instigation–he would take off like a bandit into the night. Our lips never touched.

Until that night, at the ball/gala. He asked if I would go with him and I eagerly accepted, spending the days and hours beforehand accumulating the necessary accessories from friends (like I own suitable shoes? or unripped stockings?) and sitting in the office kitchen with two female colleagues who heroically struggled to mediate between my hair and bobby pins.

He picked me up in a cab and whisked me away. And then, for the night, we were lovers. We clasped hands. We kissed. We danced, cheeks pressed, to Glen Miller and Frank Sinatra. We sat at a table with other couples who inquired what we were going to do when I moved to New York–we gave each other coy glances and smiled as we shrugged.

At one point we stood in a courtyard, kissing. (I just have to note: as a hopeless romantic, it does not get much better than kissing a handsome man in a tux, in a courtyard, at a gala/ball, wearing a sexy black dress. At least in my experience, it’s up there.)

And then, he had to go and interrupt the magic.

“Elizabeth,” he said. “You know I’m not the guy.”

“Huh?” I asked, confused about whether he had heard my thoughts, which I was fairly sure–giddy and confused though they may have been–said nothing explicit about him being “the guy.”

He went on to explain that he knew I was looking for someone to settle down with. And he knew that he did not, ever, want to settle down. He wanted to continue making gobs of money for himself, and only himself, to spend on travel and skateboarding and climbing large rock formations. None of which I, of course, could relate to–but all of which I found, of course, devastatingly attractive.

“I know,” I assured him, this time confused about why our divergent life goals needed to take on such significance in the context of this supremely romantic moment.

We lived out the fantasy for the rest of the night, twirling and embracing and watching Michael Chertoff make a fool of himself on the dance floor.

And then we got in a cab, which dropped us off–separately–at home.

And with that, the night–and the fantasy–was over.

At the end of it I felt a little bit exhilerated and a little bit stunned. But mostly I was gleeful.

I knew before that night that he wasn’t “the guy”–he hadn’t needed to tell me. But it had been so much fun, for most of an evening, to pretend that he was.

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