Jen and her damn dinner parties, I thought as the drunken husband leaned closer to me. The smell of his boozed breath had me dangerously close to throwing up all over him. I looked at his wife hoping that she would put a stop to it so that I didn't have to - but she was pretending not to know him.
Across from us, James was looking at me as if I were the succulent, melt in your mouth, grilled-to-perfection salmon steak served with crab-meat and shrimp in a brown-butter wine sauce, served on a bed of dirty rice that he had just devoured and wanted more. Spit - I thought it was spit from the blabbering husband landed on my forehead. I excused myself and went to the restroom to wash my face. I could not bring myself to go back to the party right away, so I sat on the side of the bathtub and read Jen's Glamour Magazine for a while.
I should’ve stuck to my guns and not shown up. Tonight, especially, it seemed the humans were draining my energy. "The best thing is to be around people. You need to fuck somebody," Jen said when I told her that I wasn't in the mood to socialize. The thought of making small talk, smiling and trying to figure out and avoid people's sensitivities seemed a painful endeavor that was too big for me. And the last thing I wanted to do was to go fuck somebody. I do not buy into the foolish idea that fucking a man I may not necessarily like will make me feel good about myself as I stumble my way through getting over someone that I like. I did it once and felt more like a slut than anything else. Besides, I didn't feel badly about myself. Sometimes the best thing to do is to find a quiet place to sit down. Chaim Potok said, "I've begun to realize that you can listen to silence and learn from it. It has a quality and a dimension all its own,"
Six couples showed up to the twice a year couples night out shindig that Jen likes to host. I'm not sure why she keeps inviting me because I always show up alone. About a year ago, she blindsided me by inviting James, a co-worker to be my date.
"You're not what I expected," James had said staring at me. "Jen said you show up alone to her couples parties. I thought you'd be one of those women who can't get a date, but you certainly don't need me,"
"I don't," I assured him. He chuckled. "So you're being difficult?"
"The plan is to get her to stop inviting me to these things." I said.
He threw back his head and laughed. It was a dog and cat relationship from the start. He chased. I ran. I flashed Jen a mean look when he walked in that evening with a big bunch of white roses. I'd specifically ask her not to tell him that I would be there.
"You should at least fuck the guy," Jen said when I cornered her to curse her out.
"I will never fuck that man," I said.
"He likes you. He's rich, cultured, well-traveled – he dresses well, and smells so good you want to eat him. Do you know how many women are looking for a man like him?"
"I don't like him." I said.
"He talks about himself too much and his best argument as to why I should date him is that he can buy me anything I want. Besides, I’m not attracted to him,"
"I'm just not. And I'm a passionate woman, Jen. I cannot date a man I have no desire to fuck," I said.
"One day you're going to get too old for the shagging," she said.
"That’s why I need to be with a man whose company I enjoy. Whenever I'm around James, I want to escape him. He seems perfect, but something is off about him."
"Did your little Kitten intuition tell you that?" She asked.
"Yes? And she is never wrong," “
She likes Clark who keeps breaking your heart,” I stared at her.
“I'm trying to understand that," I said. James was standing outside the washroom when I finally emerged. "Wow. That guy is a talker. I don't blame you for hiding out in the bathroom." he said. “Do you want to go somewhere and have a drink and talk?"
I agreed to go with him to get out of playing Charades. I sat across from him in the coffee shop sipping espresso and listening to him talk about all the money he makes - his many conquests - being the perfect man for any woman - one who can buy his princess whatever she wants.
"I would like you to be my princess, Kitten," he said smiling.
"I'm an alpha," I said. But he was too busy bragging about his greatness to hear me. I stared at him thinking that he was a perfect advertisement for a gold-digger. Like love, as in war and business, one has to take the time to study his or her subject. If he had stopped talking and taken the time to learn about me, he would've known that he was selling me the wrong product. In the insurance industry in which I spent most of my professional life, we call it conducting a needs analysis. I don't date men just because they have money. I am seduced by a man's intelligence, humor, sensitivity, passion, integrity, love - I want his fucking heart - all of it.
"I need to get home," I said after a short while. It felt good to step out into the crisp night air. Snow was falling lightly and despite not liking the cold and hating to drive in the slippery mess it makes - I’ve always admired the absolute surrender and effortless grace of falling snow. The sense of peacefulness with which the flakes glide and dance to the end is captivating - as if they know life’s great secret.
I drove home, glad to be alone with my thoughts. I was still going through the process of mourning Clark - We hadn’t gotten deeply involved for me to be heartbroken, yet I felt as if my heart had suffered a terrible blow. I found myself walking the emotional terrain through heartbreak - refusing to change the sheets he'd last slept in so as not to lose the scent of him. Indulged in excessive bathtub boozing, sipping wine and crooning about love and loss with Adele - my body immersed in scented, exotic oils that I blamed for the yeast infection with which I briefly became afflicted. But I woke up one day realizing that his scent was long gone, and I was just sleeping on dirty sheets. I stopped crooning about love and loss with Adele. Thoughts of him no longer made me cry and missing him felt like a dull ache that with a little more time, I knew would find a safe place beneath my skin that I would draw upon now and again. One day, the door would close on us if it hadn't already, or we may stand still in time, untold - Was it love? Hurt pride? I'm not sure. I had stood naked before him and exposed my heart - made it clear that I was not in agreement with our break-up for the reasons he gave me. But he felt he had to go, so I let go. Simply. What else was there to do? Linger in hope that we may have a chance third time around - not knowing when or if life would ever bring us together again? No. I have learned that life does not pause and wait for any man. The only place that one can stop time is in ones mind. There is always a next moment and a next love as long as I don’t close my heart and become cynical. I know that the moment one door closes - another opens. The trick is being able to recognize when an open door presents itself and be ready and brave enough to go on the adventure without worrying where it might take me. P.T. Barnum said, "The secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes."
I went home and lit a fire and curled up with Written in My Own Heart's Blood, from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. I felt at home in my aloneness. Not lonely - just a sense of quiet being that I hunkered into like a warm blanket on a cold day. It would not always be that way - as humans, we are driven by an innate desire to find love and mate. I will emerge again from my safe haven ready to get back in the game. “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.". ~Robert Frost~