Upsetting
Monday, December 09, 2002
 
That old Pogues Christmas song “Fairytale of New York” was in my mind as I watched her twirl around the dance floor in her dress. Through the dark haze, I could see her glittering teeth and fine neck. It was the company holiday party, but most folks dispensed with the PC and wished each other Merry Christmas.

It was later in the night when I found my old lover on the dance floor. I don’t know if I chose her specifically to go home with – instead of maybe rolling the dice with that 8 from accounting – or if it was just how it was going to be even before the drunken toasts and wishes of continued corporate success bellowed from the higher-ups. Sometimes the familiar is familiar, and that’s what is so great about it.

She had been drinking, too, and my back was to her when I felt the whisper in my ear.

“I thought these things weren't your style,” she said. “It hadn’t even crossed my mind that you’d be here.”

She smiled a little to let me know that it had indeed crossed her mind. It was playful, and since we’d never hurt each other, we operated in a fairly relaxed way and didn’t try to make each other jealous. I guess that's called respect.

Then that Springsteen tune.

“I came for you,” I said, smiling in the same silly way. “For you. I came for you.”

She spun back to the dance floor and said she had to get her “things.” Women under the influence of alcohol often leave their purses in odd spots, company holiday party or no. Maybe I should be more trusting, but I don’t think so. The cold part of me that I so often try to leave behind tells me that it’s fools who trust strangers.

Those pot-bellied bigwigs watched her glide through the room with her coat and bag. They snickered in that country club way that women say reminds them of junior high. The kind of guys who use the expression piece of ass.
As far as I knew, our thing wasn’t public, and really, it was a thing only if once every coupla months qualifies as such.

Monica was her name, one of the last of the kind. As she neared, she raised her eyebrows slightly. I could tell that she was going to pass, that she didn’t want to give them something to talk about. Complicity in a woman is sexier than dirty talk, I swear.

“Yours?” I asked. Hers was about 15 minutes closer, and I thought about taking a run on the beach in the morning. Her condo had gated access to a great part of the beach. My balls tightened just thinking about how cold the water would be this time of year, but the sea air always helps clear the mind.
Telepathically, I apologized to my dog for leaving him out all night. He’d understand, I hoped.

“I’ll see you there,” she said, trailing just a bit of skin cream or perfume or shampoo or moisturizer.

I didn't even respond.

She air-kissed a couple of people on the way out the door. Maybe they weren’t air kisses, but there was a certain formality to them. For a second, I wondered how she’d do with the drive. Her eyes had beamed almost unnaturally.

Why I didn’t think how I’d do is not clear.

There was no hurry to follow.

They like a little time for set up, maybe straighten some magazines on a table. Perhaps even a few minutes for some “girl stuff.”

There were still some sandwiches on the banquet. Too dark, really, to tell what kind. I grabbed what I guessed was pumpernickel bread and headed back to my table. A couple from legal were leaning in close over the camp disco, possibly establishing complicity.

I had time.

There was no rush.

Nothing was going to pass me by. After all, we’re not kids, no one’s gonna pass out, are they?

I sat down and sipped at my not-cold beer. There was a water pitcher, too.

I exhaled, thinking I was luckier than a lot of the other guys here. It’s only a sandwich, I thought, not nine innings of PlayStation.

I took a bite and sat back.

Brilliant.

Roast beef.
 
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