I had never just walked up to a stranger in a bar before. Not someone I was interested in anyway. I was willing to risk rejection for him, I thought, my heart thumping out of my chest. I knew if I didn’t introduce myself, I’d regret it. Finishing my drink in one quick gulp, I handed my empty glass to my friend and asked her to wish me luck.
Luck! she said, smiling her best – you’ve got this smile.
Lean, fit and tan, his salty blonde hair brushed a solid set of shoulders. With blue eyes and a beaming smile — he was my dream come true. I excused myself as I squeezed through the noisy crowd and held my breath as a dishevelled guy in a shirt showing too much chest hair leaned into me, ‘wanna dance?’ he said through bourbon breath. ‘No.’ I replied, nodding in hot guy’s direction. He was now standing near the bar. “I’m with him,” I said slowly, pointing from me to hot guy. After all, I hoped to be dating him by the end of the night.
Unaware of the elbow ribbing and nods in my direction — from his very rowdy mates, hot guy didn’t take his eyes off me, not even when I stopped and had a quick chat with bourbon boy. I weaved my way over to him, stood in front of him, probably a little too close, definitely inside his personal space and took his hand in mine. I shook it and leaned in to introduce myself.
Our bodies were pressed together by the noisy crowd pushing in to reach the bar — I asked how I knew him. He always maintained I said — why don’t I know you. It would become a running joke.
He steadied me by placing his hand on my hip as another patron pushed past us. Smiling, he told me he was a friend of a friend.
“Come find me later, we’ll have a drink,” I said, letting his hand go. Several songs later, he came across to where I was sitting, carrying two drinks. I asked how he knew what I was drinking. “I asked the barman, apparently you know everyone,” he said, handing me a scotch and coke. “True,” I said, laughing as I raised my glass to his.
We got up and danced until we were glistening with sweat. Michael and Janet Jackson, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and then Silver Chair – before we slowed things down to Brian Adams.
The weather was warm for June, and it was noisy inside. We moved out to the balcony. I was wearing a soft blue midriff top with jeans and a denim shirt tied around my waist. He told me how beautiful I looked as I untied my shirt and put it on – and then he told me again. The conversation was easy between us. I asked if he was single, he said yes. I got goosebumps. I didn’t want this night to end.
I gave him my number at the end of the night, and he promised to call. I looked back at him as my taxi drove away – he waved, smiling back at me. I felt like the cat who found a canary in her bowl of cream. By mid-week, I was wondering why he hadn’t called. My heart paused for a second every time the phone rang and hit the floor hard when it wasn’t him.
Not usually the girl sitting by the phone waiting — that’s where I found myself, often, in the week that followed. I had almost given up when he finally rang.
I answered on the fourth ring and recognised his voice straight away. He had a slow, easy way of talking. He was in no rush. Nor, I imagined, could he be rushed. I was sure the world would wait for him, and I doubt it would faze him if it didn’t. I was happy to hear from him — slow was fine by me.
He didn’t ring to ask me out. He wanted to apologise for lying the night we met. Shit! He felt genuinely bad about it. Shit! There was a girlfriend. Shit! Shit! Shit! He was sorry for not being honest with me. He said it was complicated, and he wished things were different. Shit!
I knew it. It was all too perfect, I thought — Brendan repeated how sorry he was and how much he wished things were different. I believed him. I said he was forgiven and told him he had done nothing wrong — by me. His girlfriend might see things differently. It seems he forgot he had one. I thanked him for calling to straighten things out and said goodbye. Shit! Shit! Shit!
“Well, that wasn’t what I was hoping for,” I said to my sister, Deb, as I walked back into the lounge room. We shared a two-story flat with her boyfriend, Andy. Their bedroom and bath were upstairs along with the living room and kitchen, and mine was downstairs next to the garage. Which meant I got the garage — enough extra space to house at least two and a half extra people if ever the need arose.
“You were talking for ages,” she said.
“Yeah, he’s pretty easy to talk too,”
“He has a girlfriend,”
“No! The little shit,” she half yelled. I couldn’t help but laugh.
“That’s the problem,” I said. “I think he might be one of the good ones.”
I went to the freezer, grabbed a carton of chocolate ice cream and considered going down to my bedroom to eat it by myself – then thought better of it. I handed Deb a spoon, sat down beside her and pulled half her crochet rug across my lap. I then proceeded to shovel several spoonfuls of ice cream into my mouth.
“Where’s Andy,” I asked,
“Band practice,” Deb said, with her mouth half full.
We sat in comfortable silence and watched the end of ER together. It looks like Doug Ross was still my guy, for now anyway. Shit!
The next day at work, two dozen long-stemmed red roses were delivered with a handwritten note that read, to the most beautiful girl to ever walk into my life, sorry.
“What does this mean?” I said to my boss, Trish, smelling the roses as I handed her the card.
“I am not sure, but I think you’ll find out.” She said, giving the card back. I wasn’t so sure.
A couple of weeks passed before I saw Brendan again. I couldn’t stop thinking about him. And felt terrible about it – he had a girlfriend. I wasn’t interested in seeing anyone, no matter how perfect they were for me — if they were unavailable. I felt terrible for thinking about him. Still, I found myself wondering what he was doing, often. I saw him across the road from work one afternoon not long after I found out about his girlfriend. They were together and looked happy enough. I felt a slight twinge of jealousy tighten in my stomach and told myself not to be ridiculous.