A Thin Line Between Lovers and Friends
When a guy and girl are best friends and hang out nearly every night they're free, sooner or later one of them begins to question whether or not to take the relationship to the next level. This time it's all me.
It started at Cody's on a Monday a couple of weeks ago. I got there early so I could have dinner and do a little writing before we were to meet and watch the Brian Newman Quartet. I was in the bar area watching the band with my back to the door waiting for Jen to show up. I didn't see her walk in, but I swear that I could just sense her as soon as she walked through the door. It was like the room just got 10 degrees warmer. I still didn't turn around after she sat behind me, but I could tell it was her just by her perfume.
Plus lately I've found myself going to places I would never go just because she asks me to go with her. Last week I found myself at the oxymoron known as Hip Hop night at Longworth's in Mount Adams. Instead of heading to The Comet for Halloween like I normally do, Friday night I went with Jen to Beluga, the sushi bar/restaurant/night club in Hyde Park, for their Halloween party.
Jen went as Jennifer Aniston and I went as a Hyde Park yuppie complete with a shirt and pants from Banana Republic. Not surprisingly, nobody at Beluga realized I was even wearing a costume.
Jen knew just about everybody at Beluga that night, including the staff. Even though I used to live just around the corner a couple of years ago, I didn't know a soul. I was having a horrible time even though there were hard-body women walking around wearing almost nothing for their Halloween costumes. There were a couple of slutty nurses, a slutty witch, a slutty Raggedy Ann, a trio of slutty cops and a near naked wood nymph.
After about two hours there, I just wanted to go home. I went into the front lounge area and sat next to Jen while she was talking to her friends from work. I was just about to say, "Please take me home," when she stopped talking to her friends, put her hand on my leg, looked into my eyes and just smiled.
In about two seconds I went from "Get me the hell out of here" to "Whatever you want to do is just fine by me." That was when I started thinking more seriously about trying to break through the whole "Just Friends" barrier.
About a minute later, Jen quickly introduced me to one of her female co-workers, Tara, and immediately walked away. That's when I realized the "Just Friends" barrier had just been reinforced with a 15-foot thick titanium lining.
I've learned over the years that the quick introduction to a cute girl and vanishing act from your female friend is always a mini-blind date. I could almost feel Jen and her other co-workers just standing around the corner watching Tara and I go work through the situation that we both knew Jen had set us up for.
After a couple of sips of free champagne, which I learned the next morning you should never mix with beer and or Jack and Coke, I decided to try to get to know Tara and find out why Jen would think we'd be a good match.
I have the feeling that if I met Tara at any other moment than when I met her, I would have been totally into her. She was smart, attractive and had a good sense of humor but not a great taste in music, which I could work through by taking her record shopping.
I guess Jen could tell that Tara and I were having a nice time talking to each other but not a great time like she'd hoped and decided that we needed a change of venue. We headed downtown to Jump on Main Street for a little Hip Hop. On the drive down, I actually started to warm up to Tara -- or maybe it was just the champagne bubbles. Who knows? I was looking forward to trying a few grinding moves on her that I'd seen on Soul Train the week before.
As soon as we walked into the club, the DJ started playing "I Like the Way You Move" by OutKast, which just happens to be not only my favorite song of the moment but also Jen's. We both ran to the dance floor and started dancing, totally forgetting about Tara until the song was over.
For my own mental health and well-being, I should do the mature thing and actually sit down with Jen to try to talk about the nature of our relationship. Now I just need to figure out where I can find a little maturity.
Throwing Out the Rule Book
Damn. If I could use one word to sum up the amazement left in my emotional candy bag from this year's Halloween weekend, it would unequivocally be "Damn." Semantically it's that satisfied yet slightly bittersweet utterance of "Damn" when you just feel amazed at the things that fate can bestow on you. The great moments per capita this weekend were off the charts. And it all started one lazy summer afternoon at the Goodwill store.
Back in early September, Jen and I took a run to the Beechmont Goodwill store to drop off some items left over from a yard sale. While there I found a black-and-white striped referee shirt that fit just snugly enough to be sexy without being obnoxious. (I figured I would save obnoxious for the pants.) And there my Halloween costume was born.
I never did find the perfect pair of tight black pants or shorts, so Jason suggested I just wear black boxer briefs, of which I had a nice tight pair in plain black. That idea was perfect because it made the costume shout "sex" just loudly enough for the right people to hear this year.
I bought a whistle, some iron-on letters to spell out "REF" on the back of my shorts, laced up my Skechers, spiked my platinum blond hair and became "The Ref." Now I consider myself to be one who loves getting a little outrageous from time to time, but I never expected the reception I was about to get in this costume.
I joined Jason and some of his friends at the Final Friday Fashion Show on Main Street, soaking up the looks as I walked by the bars. The car full of girls shouting "Woo-hoo! Look at that ass!" didn't hurt, either.
As we left the fashion show I ran into my old boss, Melissa, who immediately joined me in screaming and jumping up and down like schoolgirls because we were the respective last people either of us expected to see. One thing I always loved about Melissa is that she loves to have her picture taken, and since I was dressed inappropriately I was happy to pose with her.
After several photos on and around the random Vespa sitting outside on the sidewalk, it was time to head for The Dock so Jason and I wouldn't miss the costume contest. I got there on time and got my number, then waited for Jason and his crew to show up.
Throughout the evening I was regaled by very kind compliments, which I will confess was the attention I was aiming for this year. I also got three official gropes, one of them frontal, compliments of a sexy young guy who would also factor in later that night. I didn't get past the first round cut of the costume contest, but I got to bump and grind my ass up on the stage to the applause of the crowd. (Keep in mind that this experience was somewhat liberating for me.)
Later on my friend Katie showed up with her roommate and a few other friends and pulled me back to the dance floor. I was up on the platform when the DJ put on Beyonce's "Crazy in Love." At that point it was all over. The beat of that song drives me into another dimension, and I went crazy myself up on the platform, attracting a beautiful, smooth-chested shirtless guy to dance with me.
Turning the other direction for a minute to grind my behind into the Smoothie, I noticed the Frontal Groper dancing down on the step below me. He noticed me looking at him, smiled lasciviously and ran his hand up my thigh. Loath to disappoint, I got a little closer and, to my surprise and skyrocketing excitement, he planted his mouth on the front of my shorts!
Having scandalized the crowd almost enough and not wanting to let this one get away, I dashed toward the door to the front bar when the song was over and followed him up to the pool table, where I introduced myself. This sexy, young boy-next-door, whose name is Charles, had just the right amount of assertiveness to suit my taste.
It was already late and getting later, but it became evident as we talked that he wanted to go home and "break some rules" with The Ref. And believe me, The Ref had the rulebook in his hand, ready to toss it out the window.
At 10:30 Saturday morning, sleepless, euphoric, yet feeling amazingly alive, I left to go home in my costume (a.k.a. the ultimate Stride of Pride). I was, unfortunately, doubtful that Charles was going to call me even though I left him as many numbers as I thought reasonable. I told him I really wanted to see him again (as in "Gee, imagine getting the chance to actually get to know someone you find you really like"). His response was "You might," at which point I figured I shouldn't expect much.
But, in all, I couldn't have asked for a better Halloween. When you feel fantastic, you look fantastic, and it shows. And sometimes you meet that person who turns you on like you haven't been turned on in ages, and you wonder if this seldom-felt connection could be mutual. And when it doesn't appear to be, it's a bit of a letdown -- but you can still be happy you let yourself go crazy. It reminds you that those incredible moments can still happen despite the natural ebb and flow of your faith.
And Charles, if you happen to read this, let there be no mistake that The Ref wants YOU, baby! Damn!
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