A weekend mixer with dancing in SoHo. I came at the request of some female friends. Well, they aren’t friends yet—more like friendly acquaintances—but they could be my friends if I put in the effort. If I spend time with them. If I let them be.
The event itself was ghastly. I don’t like loud noise and I would rather cut off my own arm with a chainsaw than attempt to dance. I’m too uptight. As you might expect, this can make socializing with my peers more awkward…but one of the true pleasures of being a grownup, in my opinion, is the freedom to be as strict as one likes with one’s preferences.
I found the other girls in the crowded space. They all looked great. The Swede was wearing a particularly impressive pair of black-sequined stilettos. Standing in a circle of other women, I realized suddenly how tall I really am—the others only came up to my shoulders. In my head, I made a conscious effort to shake off the rust. Compliments all around. Questions about wardrobe acquisitions. Discreet comparisons of desirable men.
Eventually one of them, who was volunteering at the refreshments booth, asked me to stand in for her while she went outside for a cigarette break. I ended up working there for most of the evening. It gave me something to do with myself and freed me from the exhausting obligation of socializing with strangers. And I really did enjoy helping out. I like to feel useful.
At midnight, I excused myself and said goodnight to my company. I said that I’d had a great time, which was mostly true, and that I had to get up and go to work early in the morning, which wasn’t.
I collapsed into the back of a yellow cab. Instead of telling the driver to head east, towards my home, I told him to take me far uptown. I relaxed against the leather seat, felt the tension leaving my body. I felt like I was escaping. Escaping what? Who? To go where?
In a hotel room in Midtown East, a twenty-three year old Engineering school graduate was waiting for me. I called him David. The name was a gift I’d recently given to him. Prior to that, he’d been No. 29. He was visiting from Washington, D.C. I’d left him alone in the hotel room earlier in the day. I’d taken his cell phone and every stitch of his clothing in a brown paper bag. His wallet and keys were locked in the hotel room’s safe.
I fished my cell phone out of my purse and called the hotel; requested the room.
He picked up on the first ring.