I promised myself that I wouldn’t look for a partner at a club or bar or anything like that. I told myself that when it happens I will meet them randomly and somewhere I wouldn’t think of.
“Andrew, you going out with us tonight”? asked Robert, one of my coworkers. Robert is one of the heads of animation at my office. Him and I hit it off from the moment we met each other. I can’t remember how, but within an hour of working with each other we were in tears or laughter about nothing but bull shit.
“Eh…I don’t think so Rob, not tonight” I said. I didn’t even look up from the mound of drawings on my desk. I was working on a new character for the show. We needed a new female character that will move to the city next season and I was in charge of coming up with her. I was really excited too, I love projects but for some reason I couldn’t nail it with this one. I had millions of designs on paper, but for some reason I could not come up with the right girl.
“Oh come on” Robert said “It’ll be fun. You haven’t gone out with us in a while. Stop stressing over that design and chill tonight”
“Yeah, come out” chimed Lauren from behind her desk who was obviously eves dropping on our conversation. Lauren had a thing for Robert, it was really obvious. Anything he said she would agree with him, anywhere he went she would follow. Robert had a thing for her too, but neither of them are man enough to admit it to the other.
“Errrr…fine”. I sighed. Maybe a night out would be good for me. There’s nothing like smoky club air to get your mind pumping.
I left my desk as is, and grabbed my jacket. I threw it in and buttoned the little grey button in the middle. I checked myself in the mirror before I walked out the door. I had grayish purple shadows under my eyes from the lack of sleep I’ve been getting and my hair was shaggy and I didn’t shave the last four days so I was all scruffy. I ran my hands through my mane and shut the light switch on my way out. I even left my bag at my desk. Work could wait til the morning.
“what will it be”? asked the bartender, a tall, young looking guy with a shaved head and a neck tattoo.
“A Jack and Ginger” said Robert
“and for you doll”? asked the bartender eyeing Lauren
“Um…”she hesitated, blinking flirtatiously with the man behind the bar every time Robert looked her way “I’ll have a long island iced tea”
“A coors light please” I told the bartender when he looked at me.
“You know, I went to bartending classes a few years ago” I told Robert and Lauren. “Fran and I did it in college. It was really fun. We never really pursued it, it was just something we wanted to do”
“that’s really cool” said Lauren, twirling her long blonde locks around one finger. “I’m hosting a party next month, you should totally bartend for me”. I laughed. “sure”.
We paid for our drinks and found a empty booth. I took off my jacket and hung it on the coat rack attached to our seats. After a few minutes we all decided that it would be a good idea to order some food. I volunteered to go up to the bar and place our order (and to give some alone time for Robert and Lauren). I got to the bar and placed an order for Fires, Mozzarella sticks, buffalo wings, and potato skins. The bartender told me it should only take a few minutes so I decided to stay up at the bar and wait. I ordered another beer for the wait.
Not wanting to look creepy, I stopped watching the bartender making drinks for the group of girls sitting a few stools down from me. My eyes wandered around the room. First to the window where it was getting darker outside, then to my booth where Robert was making Lauren laugh hysterically about something, then to the TV which was playing a football game. Never a fan of sports I turned my head back towards the bartender who was now serving the drinks to the group of girls to my left. I noticed one ordered some sort of a martini, one had a beer and one a pina colada. I smirked. I loved pina coladas. My eyes traveled up the glass to the girl who was holding it; she was small, on the thinner side, with dark waves falling into her face. One of her friends said something and she laughed. I laughed too. At what I had no idea. They must have heard me because one of the girls looked at me. I turned red and looked back at the tv.
My order was done soon after and I took the baskets of food back to my booth.
“Oh my god I’m so hungry” said Lauren digging into the fries.
“woah, take it easy” laughed Robert handing her a napkin and suggesting she wipe the cheese from her lip.
Lauren blushed and covered her mouth with the tissue which then led to her wiping her mouth every ten seconds to make sure she didn’t embarrass herself again in front of him. I rolled my eyes just get over with it already I thought.
A little while (and two more orders of fries) later, it was time to hit the dance floor.
“You guys go on” I said to Robert and Lauren as I cleaned up our mess “I’ll meet you there in a few minutes”
“what is this”? Robert joked “Andrew not on the dance floor”!? I smiled. “don’t worry, I’ll be there” I said hopefully not alone I thought to myself. It was one thing when you were with a group of friends and you all were dancing together, but it’s another when you’re with friends who are totally into each other and you’re a third wheel. I pulled out my phone and sent Fran a message dude, come to that bar on 23rd street. I waited a little for a response. None. I finished sweeping the left over food into one basket and piling up the empty ones so it would be easier to carry.
“So, you think bleeding all over your bed funny, huh”? asked someone from behind me. I turned around.
“ periods. I heard you laugh back there when my friend said it”
I then noticed who was speaking to me. It was the girl from the bar. She was smiling at me with huge pale eyes. I blushed.
“No, not really” I said, still a bit red in the face. “I don’t know why I laughed”.
“Uh huh” she said. “ anyway, I was waiting for you to see if you can buy me a drink”
“oh really” I teased “what would you have said if I asked”?
“I would have told you that I prefer to make the first move” she said
I smirked. “good because I was waiting for you to buy me a drink”
“you’re funny” she giggled raising a hand and ruffling up my hair
“No, I’m serious. I would like another beer” I said holding up my bottle “mine’s almost done” I grinned which made her grin.
“yeah, I guess it was worth the five years of braces”
“yeah, they didn’t come out half bad” she smirked
“Umm. Thanks”? I asked.
The two of stood there awkwardly for a moment until Robert broke the silence
“Dude, come on this song is-” he broke off. Noticing I was talking to someone he smiled and said “never mind”
“it looks like your friend wants you to go dance with him” said the girl.
“yeah, he thinks he will one day beat me in a dance off. He refuses to believe I was born with the gift of African rhythm”. she howled with laughter
“WHAT”? she asked wiping her eyes
“Yeah…not a good first impression, huh”?
“no not really” she chuckled. “you go. Go have a dance off with your friend”
“or. Crazy idea, you can come and dance with me” I suggested.
“you sure know how to talk to a lady” she said holding out her hand. I took it in mine. They were smaller than mine and warm. We walked over to the middle of the dance floor where Lauren was thrusting herself towards Robert drunkenly.
“Andrew”! she shrieked “finally”
“Yeah, I was er..talking to um..you know what?” I asked looking at the girl who’s hand I was holding. I tilted my head “I don’t know your name”. she smiled. “Hi, I’m Alli” she said waving the hand that I wasn’t holding towards Lauren and Robert.
“Alli, like Allison” Robert asked.
“No, Alexandra, but I like Alli better”
“it’s cute” I said. “I’m Andrew, this is Robert and Lauren” motioning towards my two coworkers.
Alli’s friends came looking for her and joined us for a few songs and a few shots. They left after about an hour (apparently one of them had a kid). They asked Alli if she was coming with them, but she decided to stay (which made me all giddy inside) and the four of us danced and drank the night away.
Before we knew it it was a quarter past four in the morning and the bar was closing up.
“I had fun” Alli said putting on her coat, a cream cropped nautical jacket.
“so did I” I said buttoning up my own coat.
We took each others hands and walked out to the early Manhattan morning where small shops were just opening up for the workers who were to grab coffee or pastries or a pack of cigarettes before they headed to work. work! Shit! I have work in four hours. I groaned.
“what’s up”? asked Alli
I slouched. “I have to be back at my studio in a few hours. Fuck”
“aww. Poor baby” she teased, pinching my cheek. “well, I guess this is goodbye”
“I guess so” I grinned. “thank God, I was getting sick of you”
“same here. I kept drinking in the hopes of you getting attractive”
I pouted, she smiled.
She healed a taxi and got in. “Goodnight, Andrew” she said, closed the door and was on her way.
I replayed the night in my head over again while walking downtown six blocks until I was going the wrong way.
When I got home I kicked off my shoes, stripped off my jacket, flannel shirt and jeans and fell onto my bed in nothing but my underwear, hands still warm from where hers were.