In order to provide you, dear readers, with an amusing story and to keep myself busy, I went to a singles-happy-hour-beer-tasting sponsored by DC's own City Paper last night. Other reasons to go: the convenient location and free beer. I figured that a beer-oriented event would draw more men than women and I liked the odds.
When I got off the metro at Eastern Market, Pele called me from the road. She was on her way to Philadelphia for a seminar. I told her where I was going and she said, "Now that's something I would have liked to do."
"I couldn't invite you, though, because we wouldn't have talked to anyone else."
"That's not true! I wanted to go out with you and talk to boys on Saturday, but the you brought Spesh along."
"I'm not saying it's your fault, but I don't mingle well when you're there."
"It's true. But..."
"Well, you couldn't make it anyway. We can try again."
"Ok. I have to go, I'm hitting a scary patch of road."
I walk into the bar and there is a small crowed lingering at the bottom of the staircase, waiting for permission to go up. A young man starts talking to me. He has not signed up for the event and the women at the registration table tells him that he probably can't go up because they are already over capacity, based on the number of pre-registrations. He asks me if I'm on the list and tell him yes. He says, "Are you on Matches?"
"No, I'm not." That's one nice thing about this party, I didn't have to put a personal ad in the paper. If you want to be in the raffle, you have to place an ad. I can't tell you how little I want to deal with having an ad anywhere.
The young man asks me where I work and introduces himself. Then I see Ian, someone I know from work. A nice man, an older man, a man who I assumed (incorrectly) was married. We say hello. Then, to my right, I see a group of women--one of whom says, "Oh! Hi! It's you--how are you?"
I stare blankly, "Oh--hi…kickball, right?"
The other two are also from kickball--from my team in fact. "It's Maggy? Hi." I turn to the other two, "I'm sorry, I don't remember your names."
"Jamy, right?--I'm Pat."
"Oh, of course, I'm sorry! (Maggy and Pat are the two gals from this story.) So, have you been doing any other sports? Flag football?"
We chat idly and smile a lot. I turn to Ian again, I introduce him to the girls and he mentions that we know each other from work. They let us upstairs.
Upstairs, Ian and I have a longer talk. I tell him that I assumed he was married.
He says, "I was. I'm separated."
Yikes, not another one. I say, "I've had bad luck with separated men."
"I get that reaction from quite a few women. The trick to being really separated is to have been married four years longer than you should have."
"I guess that would do it." We chuckle. I tell him a short version of the Tim story.
He says, "You're better off without him."
"You really are. You know you are."
Sigh. I know. We go our separate ways--we must mingle.
I find the kickball girls again and talk to them briefly. Maggy asks, "Whatever happened with that guy?" They were all there when I met Tim. They were all at the restaurant where we ate that day.
I say, "He was rather more married than he thought he was."
"No way! That sucks."
"He was separated…he's a good guy…but it didn't work out."
Then I recognize someone else. It's CfP, the fellow from this story. I couldn't believe it. A while ago, I spotted him on Jdate©, and now I get to see him in the flesh. Double yikes. I hope he doesn't recognize me. When I see him, two of the girls start squirming. Turns out they met him six months earlier at another happy hour and found him equally creepy. I describe his non-stop talking and they nodd. It is the same guy. Oh dear. He is hard to avoid because instead of standing in one place, he walks the full length of the room over and over again. Very odd.
I leave the girls and try to avoid the creepy CfP. I practically hurl myself at two fellows, who appear to be friends, talking in a corner. We have a conversation about the health effects of the Atkins diet. I can't explain why. They say they need refills. "You need a refill too." I agree and I get one. We go our separate ways.
I move to another part of the room and another guy starts talking to me. I recognize him from this night (he's not mentioned in the post). He is smiling and friendly, but not at all interesting or attractive, and after five minutes I move on.
I go to the other side of the room, get myself another beer sample and stand in the middle of a loud, milling crowd. I am next to two other guys, who seem to be friends, and after a couple of minutes, I say hi and they introduce themselves and start talking to me. I looked around to see where CfP is and I am relieved not to spot him. Then, I look to my left and I see someone else who I know. Wait for it. Wait. It's good. Wait.
It is Tim.
Exactly how are you supposed to react when you see your married ex-boyfriend at a singles event? I was speechless. Tim says hi. The two guys who I am talking to stand by silently. I have a visible physical reaction to Tim and these guys know something is up. Tim says, "Hi, I'm Tim. We know each other." He shakes hands with them.
One of the guys says "We can see that."
Tim is holding a beer glass and I say, "Why did you buy a beer? It's free, you know." The samples are poured in small plastic cups.
"It is? I'm going to get one. I'll be back." He steps away.
I feel like the room has turned upside down. Nothing is where it should be. This can't be happening. Why is he here? One of the guys says, "You know him?"
"He's my ex-boyfriend!"
"Oh. Do you want to talk to him?"
"I don't know. I don't know."
Tim comes back and I say, "What are you doing here? Aren't you married?"
"I just came here for the beer."
"What were you thinking? What…I just…this is freaking me out."
"Don't be upset. There's nothing to worry about." I stare at him. "Let's go over there so we can talk." We walk to a corner of the room.
I shake my head and say, "Why are you here? You are not supposed to be here."
He stares my sweater. It is magenta. And tight. Sigh.
He says, "So how are you? What's going on?"
I try to tell him what is going on. I talk about Spesh. I say Pele is out of town. I tell him my back hurts (but it's really much better now, thanks for asking). "What's going on with you?"
"Nothing much. I could tell you about what's happening with my wife. But you probably don't want to hear about that."
"I probably don't. You probably shouldn't tell me."
But he tells me. Just a little. Just enough to burst my bubble. The bubble in which he is happy, working things out with his wife, living with her again. In that bubble it's easy for me to be done. To move on. To count him 100% out. But that's not what he told me. And I say, "Why are you telling me that? I don't want to know that. I don't want to hear that."
"I'm just being honest."
He says, "Let's go over to the bar so I can smoke a cigarette." We stand by the bar and he smokes a cigarette. He gets another beer. He stands between me and a guy on his left. He introduces me to the guy. I say, "He's married! He shouldn't be here." The guy thinks I'm crazy. Tim walks away to get more beer and I talk to the guy, who I can tell is interested. I size him up. He's probably not for me. I look around for Tim. I can't be there. I have to leave. I apologize to the guy. I say, "I have to go, I'm sorry. I can give you my number but I'm no good right now. I'll be right back."
I pick up my bag and coat from where I dumped them when I first came in. I get a pen out of my bag and I go to the bar and write my name and number on a napkin. I look for Tim. I see the kickball girls again. "Was that Tim?" Yes. "Why is he here?" I have no idea. I find Tim. I say, "I'm leaving. I can't be here."
"You're leaving? I'll come too."
"Ok. Let's go."
We leave together and go to another bar. We sit there for an hour or two, nursing one beer a piece. And he says, "I better be careful what I say--just read the blog tomorrow!" Indeed.
He says, "I was wondering something, I wanted to ask you…after reading the blog…"
"Yes? What is it?"
"Well, I wondered, did you really like me or did you just like dating me?"
"See that's why I didn't want you to read the blog. I didn't want you to interpolate."
He says, "I know you didn't want me to read it. But I read it anyway. Even when I said I wouldn't."
"I thought so."
I say, "Look, what did we do most of the time we were together?"
"No, not that. What did we do? Did we go out all the time? No. We just hung out and talked. We talked. So it wasn't about 'dating' you. It was about you. I liked talking to you. Look, you weren't a great choice for a boyfriend anyway, seeing as how you're married and all."
"That would be a problem."
I was talking about Tim earlier that day. Wondering how I would react if he showed up in a few months time, after the holidays, after he "figured things out." I decided I would probably see him again (if I were still single) because I would be curious to see how things would work out. But I thought that I would be angry at him and I would snark at him for a while. A lot would depend on his ability to ignore my snarkiness until I got over my anger.
So I am not surprised when I snark at him in the bar. I say rude, stupid things, like, "Did it bother you that I'm smarter than you are? Were you intimidated?"
Hmm, guess it's not that easy to get a rise out of him. He says, "You're kind of angry at me, aren't you?"
"I'm sorry. I kind of messed up your evening. You were out, scamming on guys..."
" 'Scamming on guys'! No way. That's not what I was doing." Who says that? He's so stuck in the '80s.
"I ruined your swerve."
"You sure did."
I say, "I broke up with you..."
"You broke up with me??"
"I didn't? You broke up with me?"
He demonstrates my breaking up technique by hugging me.
"No! That is not what happened. I broke up with you first!"
Then he kisses me.
Don't fret, I went home alone. I cried for the first time since we broke up and I'm more confused than ever.
[Note: we talked about many other things. I said many inappropriate things. I suppose he did too. We are not getting back together. We are not hanging out or trying to be friends. I am not calling him.]
Grateful for: an interesting life, even if I could live without the drama.