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(3 of 3) NYT Crossword: What’s 12 Letters for Another Notch in My Lipstick Case

December 15, 2014

Glasses Guy and I stood at the bar closing our tabs. Simon was his name. I looked over to see the the Twins attempting to seal deals with their foreign delegation.

“I know something about that guy,” I said to Simon. “And I kinda want to go over and tell that blonde he’s attempting to take home that she should probably decline.”

“Yeah? What do you know?” Simon asked.

“What’s the worst thing that can happen to a woman when she sleeps with a guy?” I asked.

“She gets raped and murdered.”

“Yeah, ok, what’s the second worst thing that could happen?” I corrected myself, feeling silly for my exaggeration.

“You tell me,” he said.

“Well, let’s just say he had some difficulties.” I offered.

We walked out of the Moon. I think I offered a “Buy Alex,” when I saw him lingering on a front porch chair.

Simon and I made it across Johnston Street and went searching for Liz at Artmosphere. It was late and the Sphere was shutting down. Lights were on. The Josephus-reading door guy was sweeping up and laughing with customers. Liz was standing at a table. Simon asked us what we were drinking. We reluctantly accepted beers. The waitress came over with his card and receipt. “Mr. Simon?” she asked. “I can’t pronounce your last name.”

“That’s ok,” he said. “It’s a 12-letter Romanian name. Not many people can.” I looked at his card. I couldn’t pronounce it either. All I remember is it started with a P and ended in ski.

We talked about dating and living in Louisiana. I told him the Twin story and we laughed. We talked about being divorced. We talked about sex.

Liz kept excusing herself and leaving us alone. She would pop back for a few seconds, then leave again.

I told Simon how hard it seemed to be to date in Lafayette.

“I even tried the Tinder thing,” I said. “But it’s all overweight, white guys with no chin and red faces from too much sun with dead fish or dead animals or LSU and Saints hats.” He laughed. “I just don’t go for the type of guy who is single and age appropriate around here.”

We compared over mutual attempts at dating younger with the same outcome: It doesn’t last.

The staff at Artmosphere was getting antsy. Someone was sweeping. It was time to go. The shark was behind us.

Simon offered to walk us to our cars. Liz was parked by the Moon. I had left my car near Pamplona’s. She was going to drop me off. We crossed Johnston Street and got to Liz’s car. She told Simon goodbye and got in. Simon and I stood there. We were in the exact spot that the feather had returned my “I like you,” with “I can tell.”

“I kind of don’t want the night to be over,” he said to me.

“Well, I don’t know what to say about that.” I said.

“Well, can I have your number and contact you?”

“Of course,” I said.  He handed me his phone and I added my name and number. I said goodnight. He walked away.

I stepped into the passenger seat next to Liz with a sigh. She looked at me with that look of disapproval she has.

“What is wrong with you?” she asked.

“What? What do you mean?”

“Why didn’t you go with him? He’s obviously into you.”

“Uh…..ah….” I stammered.

She pulled into a connecting parking lot and onto the next street over.

“Where is he?” she said. “We’re going find him.”

“But he’s a stranger,” I offered.

Liz has a sort of sixth sense about people. She makes assessments at first impressions and she’s always right. I’ve learned to trust her judgement. We saw Simon walking down Convent Street towards his rental car.

“You’re going to get in his car and he’s going to take you home and you’re going to kiss him,” she instructed.

“But…..uh……really?”

She pulled up next to Simon just as he was starting his car. She lowered the passenger side window. He lowered his.

“She’s going with you,” she called out.

“Get out of here,” she said to me.

“And you……kiss her.” she said to him.

I got out of the car, like an admonished child with a reluctant, “Ok.”

I got into his car and looked at him.

“Can you take me home?” I asked.

“Of course,” he said. I was embarrassed and didn’t know what to do. I gave him directions onto Jefferson Street.

“So, tell me what I’m looking at. Tell me about Lafayette.”

“Uh, well that’s Cedar Deli, a really good Lebanese place and that’s Borden’s Ice Cream. It’s been here forever. And that’s a statue of General Mouton,” I said as I directed him to little No. 5.

“And this is me,” I said as we pulled into my apartment’s parking lot.

“I don’t know what to do now,” I said shyly.

“I do want to kiss you,” he said and leaned over to take my head in his hands and kissed me.

We made out a bit and he said whatever the right thing was to say and I invited him upstairs.

My apartment was a mess. I was completely unprepared for this kind of visitor in every possible way. I moved the coffee table with my paintings on it away from the sofa so we could sit down. He asked about the paintings. I told him of my obsession with the images of Mary and Jesus I had found at one of the museums in D.C.

When he was in the bathroom, Liz called.

“Fuck you. He’s in my apartment.” I texted her.

“You’re welcome,” she replied.

We made out on the couch, the Virgin Mary watching over us and I pulled the clichéd, “I never do this.” I’m not sure I can pull off the shy, reluctant divorcé who “never” has casual sex anymore. But he didn’t know that.

Yada Yada Yada and I had the lobster bisque. (Elaine. Sienfield. Look it up.)

You know I don’t like writing about sex. Ok. The first time was ok…..good…..not great. Better than some. No rainbows and trumpets. The Earth remained on its axis.

He was sweet and attentive and seemed to be enjoying himself. He seemed to be enjoying me, which was nice.

“Where are you staying?” I asked.

“Here,” he said. “I was going to find some cheap motel room somewhere. I wasn’t expecting this.”

“Neither was I.” I said.

We talked a long time. He wanted to go to Zydeco breakfast in Breaux Bridge in the morning so I set an alarm for him and we fell asleep. He held me in his arms the rest of the night.

The morning was better. A lot better. He snoozed the idea of leaving for Breaux Bridge many times as we lingered in bed, talking about our pasts, our kids, our ex’s and getting to know each other physically. It was nice. It was fun. It was sex with a grown man who knew what he was doing. By the third time, we were up to pretty damn good sex. The Earth may have stammered a bit.

He had a lot of scars on his torso. Like small things had been removed. I looked at them and thought, “Reporter? Conflict areas?” No. That wasn’t it. He was a political reporter. I never got the whole story about the scars.

He asked how Liz and I had met. “We were in architecture together. I flunked out and she made it through. She’s a designer now.”

“Why do you say you flunked out?” he admonished.

“Because it’s the truth.”

“That’s just left-over Chinese guilt-ridden, failure-centric thinking from your ex.”

I looked at him with my mouth open. Shit. Wow. Am I that easy to read?

He decided to skip Breaux Bridge and we took Liz up on her offer to meet for breakfast.

He was easy and engaging at the diner bar. He congratulated Liz on her wing-woman skills. She laughed and said it was a reciprocal service. Liz teased me about my messy apartment.

“She’s not messy,” he said. “She’s just comfortable in a certain level of entropy.”

I smiled. “I like him.” I said to her. He talked about being creative in a certain level of chaos. He complimented my painting skills. He let his leg casually rest against mine under the counter. I looked up at him when our legs touched. I really did like him.

We laughed about the night before and finished breakfast. I asked Simon to take me to my car.

“I wish you lived closer,” he said. “I like you.”

“Me too,” I said, looking at his green eyes behind the stylish little glasses.

We stood by my car and hugged and kissed goodbye.

“If you’re ever in New York……,” he said.

“If you tell me that, I will come to New York.” I said and hugged him tightly.

I drove away as he looked up directions to his sister’s house in New Orleans.

Remember when I used to give the post-divorce guys numbers?

Now, it’s just another notch in the lipstick case.

Later, Liz admired her match-making skills.

“Look at that. A smart, witty guy who’s funny and picks on you and embraces your messiness as a sign of a creative spirit,” she said.

“Not bad,” I replied. “Now can you make it one that actually lives here?”

“I’m dialing it in,” she promised.

Maybe the next one.

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From → Rantings

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