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I got home and told my roommate, Johnson, all about the experience. He was a practiced missed connections journeyman, and immediately said we had to check Craigslist. I was doubtful about the whole thing, but there it was:
9pm, F Train to Brooklyn.
“With no expectations, I wanted to say that was the nicest wink I've ever received. I hope you continue to enjoy your award winning book.”
Holding my breath, I emailed the link and set up a coffee date. When we met he was just as charming and cultured as before, except our conversation lasted three hours instead of twenty minutes. We had fancy coffees at Cafe Pedlar, walked around the tiny park on Clinton Street and ended with dinner at my favorite French seafood restaurant. This place has only four tables, is BYOB and has a giant sculpture of a pregnant naked woman that looks exactly like a John Currin painting.
He laughed at all my jokes, teased me right back when I was biting, and asked me about my family. I started to think, “I want to date this guy.”
He poured me the last glass of wine from our bottle and grabbed my hand. “I think I like you,” he said. “I mean I really like-like you.” We both laughed. “But I have to tell you something. I'm married. It's not going anywhere and I think we're going to separate soon. She's in Canada visiting her parents and I'm not sure if or when she's coming back. I felt I had to tell you because I honestly don't want this date to end. But I couldn't go any further without saying anything.”
I was devastated. I just kept thinking, “Well, he said they might separate and that's the same as being divorced, right?” I didn't want to believe he was married. It meant that, best-case scenario, I was the other woman, and we all know how she makes out in the end of the story.
I excused myself to go to the bathroom. I could go home with him, but I would have to have no expectations. Instantly, I was reminded of the first line from his missed connections post, “With no expectations...” I could sleep with him but I had to be realistic that I was never going to be his girlfriend. He wasn't ever going to leave his wife for me. Or, would he? I washed my hands and went back to the table.
He smiled when I sat down and asked, “Do you wanna come up for a nightcap?”
We were in his apartment. Their apartment. There were pictures of them together everywhere. She was pretty—small and pixieish with white-blond hair. I wondered if he secretly had a thing for brunettes. I wondered if she hated sex and cried when he tried to touch her. I wondered if he'd turn to me and tell me how much more he loved being with a woman who was open and sexy and could understand the giving and taking of pleasure. He opened another bottle of wine and went to use the bathroom in the back of his bedroom.
He owned a one bedroom. If we fell in love I could move in and leave all my roommates behind. I could read all my favorite books on his Eames chair, and he'd fuck me on the zebra rug in the living room. That is, unless the zebra rug was hers and she took it when she left.
I just couldn't go through with it. I liked him. Pretending that he was available or that I was emotionally callous enough not to care wasn't going to work. I knew I would end up being the one who was hurt. Ignoring the fact that he was married wasn't going to make him any less so. He didn't wear a wedding ring, but when he grabbed my hand at the table I noticed there had been a faint tan line on his left finger. I heard the faucet turn on and I grabbed my bag to leave.
“Lacy,” he called out as I reached the door.
“I gotta go,” I said. “I'm chicken.”
He pulled the end of my ponytail. It was a gesture I wanted so badly to be a private joke between us for the next few years. “Ok," he said. "I understand. At least we'll always have Paris.”
Follow Lacy Warner on twitter @laceoface