After seven years in New York, I finally had a romantic dalliance with a bartender. I know, I know...how could I have made it through almost all of my twenties without having mixed it up with the most ubiquitous of romantic animals in this urban jungle? The answer? I don't know! Most of the time I'm in bars I guess I'm there with a date, or wind up meeting one of my fellow patrons. No matter the reason, I've never done a bartender—that is until last Sunday night. Except, ok. You caught me. We didn't even have sex! So now you're wondering, well, then, what did we do? Well, hang on to your hats...
So this bartender—let's call him Artie—has actually been flirting with me for three years. Everyday when I walked home from work and passed his bar, he would come and put out the sandwich board and we'd wave to each other. I know what you're thinking—a wave? That's nothing! But this was more than a flick of the wrist! This was a-hold-your-breath-raise-your-eyebrow-half-smile-wave. And that shit's for real. Also, we all have those people who flirt with us in our favorite bar, or coffee shop, or Trader Joe's—it's good customer service and it's nice to get a free drink every now and then. And so for the past three years Artie and I kept up a low-grade flirtation. It didn't stop me from bringing other dates into his bar, which didn't stop him from buying me a whiskey once when we ran into each other at a dive in Brooklyn Heights—when I was on a date! Regardless, we never went past free martinis into free blow jobs territory.
Recently however, I went into his bar with an old friend from England, and Artie upped the stakes on our eye-making game: he touched my arm and gave it a squeeze. Again, I know what you're thinking—so what? But, when you've been doing harmless flirting with someone, and then they make physical contact—even if it's a slight gesture—it changes the nature and re-draws the line in the sand.
So I decided that night that I was going to go back to the bar the next week with all my fabulous friends in tow, and I was going to make out with Artie. He had touched my arm after all!
My two best ladies and I showed up on a Sunday night when I knew it would be dead quiet. We were decked out in wine-colored lipstick, low-cut tops, fuzzy sweaters and Chanel #5. We looked dead sexy. Artie gave us a million fancy drinks, and I flirted up a storm with him—again. He asked to see pictures of my Halloween costume once I told him that I went as a Freudian Slip, because he said, “I've lived my whole life to see you in lingerie.” So imagine my surprise when on our third Manhattan my friend Mary asked Artie if he was single and he said, “No.”
There's two choices a lady can make in this situation. The dignified thing would have been to say, “Thank you for the drinks,” left a nice tip and gotten the hell out of Dodge. But any amount of dignity I had, had been downed with my last maraschino cherry, and by that point I was livid. I know it sounds bad, but I kept thinking, “If you're not available then why the hell did you keep up the sexy chat with me?”
So somewhere between being drunk and not liking to lose I decided I didn't care if he had a girlfriend—we didn't have to tell her. I gave him my number and told him that when he closed the bar he should come over to my house so we could get naked together.
Ten minutes later, once I was back at home, I realized I had become my own worst nightmare: a girl hanging out in yoga pants waiting for the local bartender to give her a booty call.
Then he texted me. He couldn't come over. He was too tired. But if I wanted to send nudie pics? He'd be ok with that. I told him IRL or nothing. He wrote back, “regardless, I'll cum thinking about you before I go to sleep. my cock is so hard right now.”
All I could think was: LAME.
I woke up the next morning half-wishing I took the sexting a little further, if for no other reason than that it's great masturbation material. But also I felt gross. I couldn't help thinking that sexting is the new kind of porn. I don't think this guy ever intended to come over to my house, but I do think its reasonable to assume he thought he could get his rocks off without cheating on his girlfriend. And the way to do it? Sexting.
Let me put it this way: I would be mad as hell to find sexts to a stranger on my boyfriend's phone, but I wouldn't think twice if his browser history had some porn on it. But really, what's the difference? Sure, sure, the thing about sexts is that it's a dialogue between two people, so there is an intimacy established that could feel threatening in a monogamous relationship. But at the same time, what bothered me so much about being sexted is that there was no accountability on Artie's end. He didn't really care about my orgasm, or how I felt, or what I liked. He couldn't even look me in the eyes! So really how intimate is a sext exchange? Do we really live in a world where—because of its virtual nature—even cheating has no consequences?
I know it's perverse to feel this way, but I'm not saddened that this guy sort of cheated on his girlfriend, or that this type of flirting might be his MO as a bartender. What saddens me is how his sexting strategy was so removed in its nature. I guess what I'm saying is, I'd rather be the other woman in the flesh, than a cyber cheater who only exists in x's and o's.
Follow Lacy Warner on twitter @laceoface