I’m invited to a wedding. Former love. Not recently, although that might be fun in a perverse way. For me, when it’s over, it’s over. No looking back.
The day before the event, I find myself with a quiet moment, snapping through the pages of a magazine at a downtown coffee house. Sipping, dreaming. I catch a flash of color and I stop and flip back several pages. A woman. Not a real woman, but an artist’s rendition. Beautiful. I’m spellbound. I’m a dreamer by nature and this is worth a long dream. What makes me notice the curve of her body, the position of the hands, the far away look? Is she a dreamer, too? A fellow romantic?
What’s sexy about the woman in the magazine? She’s not real. An irresistible allure captures me. She’s not naked. Nothing so blatant. I’m romantic, not blurry-eyed. Some have whispered, “foolishly romantic,” behind my back. I hear them. Noted.
The wedding is a glorious success. The weather turns a tad cold for late May, but no rain. After the ceremony, guests retreat from the garden into the spacious, high-ceilinged ballroom. Long tables are laden with noshes. Round tables, white linen covered, are spaced around the room. I scan the crowd and see no one I know. Along the way, I chat with a few guests. Shake a few hands. Compliment the bride and groom. The bride looks at me a little wistfully, or at least I think so. She adores roses. I sent her a dozen yesterday. I like motiveless gestures. Very freeing.
Across the huge dance floor, close to the cream colored wall and apart from the crowd, I catch a glimpse. The woman I spy is something like that magazine drawing. When she cocks her head and brushes back a lock of hair, I notice her slender neck. A body with gracefully soft curves.
Her hair is on the short side, much like the drawing. Just long enough to move a bit when she speaks. She’s chatting with another woman. The red lipstick on full lips carves an image on my tender imagination. There’s a rather suave man standing nearby. Well cut gray suit. Regimental striped tie. Expensive black wingtips, well polished. He’s good looking, but with a stern finish. Power, if I had to guess, which I do. The power of the boardroom. The twin faces of Janus, aphrodisiacs, power and confidence. Half a head taller then I am, yet about the same as my 160, he exudes both. But, the curl to his lips is somehow off-putting. Chiseled features, like a male model, but not quite to that standard. He yawns and doesn’t cover his mouth. Bored and gauche. Now he looks around the room. Our eyes meet briefly in passing.
So much for her date. What’s the first thing I notice about a woman? Her age. That’s not a judgment and not exact. This woman I’d place about mid-thirties. Her escort is maybe twenty years older.
Next? Her eyes. Comes as a shock, n’est pas? Well, ok, I stand corrected. I can’t see her eyes from here, or not the color. But, I can tell they’re lively. And, when it’s a woman whose breasts arrive a couple of minutes before the rest of her, the eyes are overlooked and everyone in the room, including the marble statues gives a stare. But, really, how often do you see that? Anyway, women pay much more attention to their breasts, and everyone else’s breasts, than men do. Fact. Men are simple.
Women seem obsessed with their bodies. Much more than men. I mean it. They know every vein, every bulge, everything that in their eyes shames them with imperfections. This woman doesn’t seem to share that handicap. She’s relaxed, comfortable.
Men are also obsessed, but not in the same way. I find myself noticing bulging waists, sunken chests, skinny necks, anything that could give me a clear advantage in the hunt. But, I’m the first to admit, I could never guess what’s on a woman’s mind, or how she might judge a man. We’ve all seen gorgeous women with lesser partners. My guess is, attraction is seldom as physical for a woman as it is for a man.
The look that gets to me is the promise of surrender, but easy does it. Romance. Don’t be in a hurry. Tease me, please me. The woman in the drawing is like that. Shows nothing. Promises everything.
From across the room, the woman glances my way. Was I staring too much? Bad habit. A stare is ok. A lengthy stare screams perv. I look down at my shoes, then refocus on another part of the room. Nice party. Da. Da. Da. Count of three and I steal another glance. I quickly scan another direction, then down at the empty ice cubes in my glass. They tinkle just a bit when I swirl them.
Time for another bit of Scotland. The ballroom bar overflows with the thirsty minions. No matter. Drink or no drink is all the same. Someone sidles up beside me. I barely notice. I’ve tried the 10 year old unpronounceable. The Scots and the Celts use too many freaking consonants. Don’t even mention the Welsh. It was watery to begin with. The ice made it worse.
“What are you sipping?” the voice beside me purrs. She.
‘Haven’t the faintest. Single malt, or so they tell me.”
“I’m drinking a Gimlet. Ever had one?” Her voice is musical.
“No….don’t believe I ever had…have…no.”
“Gin. Sweetened lime juice. Sugar. Ice. Simple.” She smiles and the stars come out of the dark night. “My mother’s favorite.” She leans forward when the bar keep asks for her order. The bosom of her dress falls ever so slightly forward. I can’t quite see her nipples, but god knows I try. She looks toward me. “Aren’t you going to have anything?” As if she doesn’t know I was looking.
“Another of these,” I say and let it go at that.
“Are you a friend of the bride or groom?” she asks. She’s casually slipped her arm through mine and we’ve moved away from the crowd at the bar, back toward a corner. The good-looking, tall guy is nowhere to be seen. She lets her arm drop and glances around the room, then back at me.
“Groom,” I say. “He’s in the same office and married the woman I dated for three years.”
She laughs. “Really?”
“No, it was closer to two.” She laughs again.
“Looks like we have something in common.” She winks. “My fiancé ran off with his ski instructor.”
“Was she cute?”
“He,” she deadpanned. “Unlucky all ‘round.”
“Well, you’re in luck this time.” I smile. She takes a sip of her Gimlet and I focus on the slim fingers and bright red nails lightly holding the stem of the glass.
“Want to dance?” she murmurs, putting her drink politely on the small, white-linen covered table and reaching for my hand.”
The band, which happily plays everything from hip-hop, to fifties rock, to Mozart’s Klein Nacht Musik, is currently on a waltz theme.
We waltz. We chat. The music changes to a very slow version of ‘ Save the Last Dance for Me,’ and her cheek almost touches mine. I can feel the warmth.
The music stops. “Well,’ she says finally, “This has been nice.”
From behind me I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn. It’s the tall guy with the chiseled chin.
“Oh, hi, darling,” she says. “Time to go already?”
He smiles and nods.
“It was really good to meet you,” she says and shakes my hand, lightly. Her fingers linger just a touch longer than they should. He doesn’t seem to notice.
I watch them leave. Just before she walks through the double doors, she pauses and doesn’t look back, but places her gently folded napkin on the round, waist high table.
The band is playing “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes.” The Platters did it better. There’s ice in my glass, but the liquor’s only a memory.
I wait a decent amount of time, to see if by some miracle she’s headed back into the ballroom. Then, I wander toward the double doors and casually pick up the napkin and put it in my suit pocket without looking.
Tease me, please me.
No wonder she reminded me of the woman in the magazine. Shows nothing. Promises everything.