I convince the Reporter on the day after his party to tag everyone in the big photo I had posted to facebook. He’s the only one who can, since I am not friends with this guy. Once he does, I friend him on facebook.
I remember that the seeds of our connection started growing at this first spot, and our coversation had already become rather insular. There was a spark between us, one that was obvious to everyone. Except me. I am always oblivious.
Because he is a friend of the Reporter, I surmise he is young. Their whole group of friends are exceptionally smart, attractive, well-employed 20 somethings from great families. They are like a walking J Crew catalog, except for the beards all of the men wear with their oxfords and jeans, that let you know that these men live here, in this hipster friendly town, where they can hold management jobs with facial hair.
Our friendship on facebook confirms it. He is only a year older than the Reporter, who I loudly proclaim is far far far too young for me. Being a year older than the Reporter means he is 14 years my junior, which is way too young.
I look younger than I am, he looks older than he is, but there is still an obvious age difference between us of at least 5 years, which is not terrible. The reality, however, means that he’s an attractive man in his late 20s and I am an attractive woman in my early 40s . . . and our match is a bit ridiculous.
We chat via facebook on and off all week. Our adventure on Sunday left him hungover and dragging all Monday, and he is less certain that he will be attending C’s birthday party with me. He might roll through, he says, as he lives and works north and this is downtown and he has a 9 am meeting every Friday morning.
I host the dinner for C’s birthday and somehow get everyone to show up a little early at the party knowing let’s call him GT for gin & tonic will be there on the early side. It’s in part a themed party, and I have decided to wear a Carolina Herrera inspired look: a crisp white oxford with a short purple tutu over the skinniest of skinny jeans. The tutu mostly stays in my bag, so of course, I look more like GT and I are the preppiest hipsters in downtown.
It is awkward when he shows up. I am standing at the bar, charging my phone and watching the game, and I see him before he sees me. He heads straight to the bathroom before braving the room to find me. I spot him on his return before he made his way to the bar and the party, so I call him over. We hug awkwardly and I thank him for coming and it dawns on me that this was a really terrible idea.
Also, he smells amazing. He clearly went home from work, showered, and changed before hitting this party. Adorable.
He orders a drink, offers to buy one for me, and I decline. I am drinking water. I walk with him into the party and start making introductions. It’s fine, but he’s my date, and I am not used to having a date when I am hosting, so I have to pay more attention to him than I would like, but he knows no one but the Reporter.
Still, he’s so charming and personable that I am able to leave his side at times in conversations and I am able to introduce him to friends with whom he then has great conversations. The party is bigger and more sprawling than I had planned, and there are people I just never get to see. He is drinking a little more than he had intended. I even grab a drink for him, as he had gotten one for me earlier, and it’s all very nice. I am rarely physically touching him, except when a married guy I know gets a little too familiar in conversation, as GT is behind me, so I place my hand on his very tight abdomen, and make the introduction.
It is clear to everyone at this party, filled with the most social people in the town, my dearest girlfriends, and some of our best friends, that this is “my guy.” It is clear this is a date . . . to everyone but me.
I am just being awkward and uncomfortable because he’s a little physically standoffish . . . which is appropriate in this situation. It’s a huge party and he knows two people. But everyone seems to like him even if they can’t figure out what I see in him.
It’s not enough that he’s handsome and nice and interesting. I am usually seen in the company of rock stars who light up a room. GT is less than that, but his core is so solid that I find him really intriguing.
His parents divorced when he was 4 and he and his lesbian younger sister were raised by their dad, who is a geo-physicist and a successful oil and gas executive. There is so much more I want to know about that because wow. His mom has been married 4 times, but they have become close over time and seem to have a good relationship now that she found herself. She went back to school and earned a masters degree and now has a flourishing career.
So, this young guy, raised by a single father with very high expectations, is on a path he really likes. It’s like managing a puzzle and he’s very good at it. He had always liked swinging a hammer on his maternal grandfather’s ranch where he spent summers and he chose to follow his own path rather than his father’s, even though he trained for it.
The more he speaks, the more I like him.
He decides to cut out a couple of hours after arriving, staying later than he had planned. I walk him out of the place, and about half a block to the corner, where we hug and he kisses me on the neck.
Which is the weirdest thing ever. It’s intimate, sure, but leaves me a little confused.
I wander back upstairs to the party, wondering what in the hell just happened.
As everything starts to wind down, my dearest friends and I take refuge in a super private, secluded vip area and have a blast. We take pictures, we laugh, and they all tell me their impressions of GT, which were not universally positive.
They liked him, they did not like him for me.
Also, he’s really small.
My friends want me to date a more present version of LP: handsome, wealthy, brilliant, blah blah blah. They don’t seem to understand that they can’t get someone who can show up at a party on a Thursday night when he has to work all of the time.
GT reminds me of A, my ex-husband, more than anything else. He knows who he is. He is solid and kind, but he lives deeply inside his own head.
I had the house to myself for the whole weekend, and I thought about inviting GT down, but I chose not to. I did not see him again, which was okay. I did not really do much except sleep. On Sunday, I accepted a date with the older corporate executive I started seeing right before I met GT. GT liked my checkins at the kitschy vodka bar I adore and at a movie. That was how I knew he was paying attention. He was out, too, checking in publicly at the bar we had been at together the week before.
The next week was really busy and really stressful with work and life issues. It was also Memorial Day weekend, and I knew GT would be at his family’s lake house . I went out with the older corporate guy, got hammered because we failed to eat enough though we were at the fancy restaurant at the Chic Hotel, and ended up sleeping at his place. There was no sex, but I spent about 24 straight hours with him. He’s great, I guess, and he spoils me, but I just don’t know.
GT commented on my mid-meal checkin at the restaurant, rather amusingly in retrospect: “That doesn’t look like enough food.” He was right, and I was absolutely destroyed.
My relationship with GT is so up in the air because the last time I saw him, he attended a party with me, and then left after kissing me goodbye on the neck. So weird, so unromantic.
Except a reasonable person would have realized that this guy showed up at a party at which he knew two people out of a hundred, stayed for hours being very engaging, and then followed up that he’d had a great time.
Still, when he messaged me midweek about a movie and concert in the park for weeks from now, I said yes that looks really cool, but still didn’t really think about the import of setting a date for WEEKS from now. It’s an event, it looks fun, it’s basically a giant picnic, sponsored by a local liquor company with a movie and a concert. A perfect evening in this city, though the temperature will be at or near 100 degrees.
It occurs to me when I think through our lives that we all drink a lot. It’s a part of our culture. We are very social, we go to parties and openings and concerts so regularly that a different lifestyle does not make a lot of sense. I don’t know many problem drinkers: FM, my former fling and flatmate, is likely a functioning alcoholic; my former beau the Bon Vivant is an addict — alcohol and coke; and I think that’s about it. Everyone else drinks and parties and does drugs on occasion and then gets up early the next morning, and goes to work, and kicks ass, and lives to fight another day. Is it healthy? No. But, I don’t view it as a problem either.
So, he asks me to a movie concert picnic event for weeks from now and I say yes and yet I still think of that as perhaps exceptionally ambitious, but charming.
I have failed to see the situation from his perspective, of course. He met me, he is in touch with me daily, he is have sex with me, we are seeing each other. My brain has not yet put all of that together.