THE COLDSHOULDER MOVE
As the months passed, I endured working with Robert, by being a bitch. I can’t explain why he brought this bitchy side out of me, but I wanted to make it clear that absolutely NO sign of attraction would sneak out onto my expression. He would walk pass me at work and say, “Hey, pretty lady.” I would sneer back. Every computer station I worked at, he would be there too, and if he said anything to me, I would ignore him. If he tried to jump into a conversation with me and another coworker, I would cut him off by saying, “Married men aren’t allowed to talk about this. Go away.” His response was always a smile and a little laugh, and he would CONTINUE talking with us anyway!
I hated him.
When we were on separate sides of the room, I would glance over in his direction and watch him work. He always had this intense look in his eyes whenever he worked on the computer and his lips pursed in concentration. He had full lips and long black eyelashes, black curly hair cut short, high cheekbones, skin the color of creamy coffee, and these subtle dimples that creased his cheeks anytime he smiled. I wanted to kiss those dimples.
Boy, I hated him!
One night, a bunch of us from work got together at a bar to celebrate an old manager’s visit home. It was hours upon hours of fun and drinks. LOTS of drinks. I had a total of about six vodka Red Bulls, which landed me in the arms of an innocent coworker. I suppose we made out for a couple of minutes, but I wouldn’t find out until the next morning at work.
“Everyone’s telling me that we made out,” I would say.
His young face would turn bright red. It always turned bright red when I talked to him.
“Is that true?” I would ask.
“Yes,” he would say.
“Oh…well, was it any good?” I would say.
“Yes, it was very sweet, actually,” he would say.
“Oh….well, I’m sorry, I was totally drunk. I didn’t mean to take advantage of you like that,” I would say.
“No, don’t be sorry. It was great,” he would say.
“I’m sorry anyway. It won’t ever happen again,” I would say. And it didn’t.
Back to the party at the bar, my massive drunk buzz was finally wearing off and I had returned to a more suitable buzz. Good timing too, because the next thing I heard was…
I turned around and saw Robert walk into the bar, a bright white smile spread across his face as he greeted everyone from work.
As he made his way closer to where I was, I called out, “Well look who’s here!”
He just smiled back and came towards me. But I moved away and took a seat at the bar top, realizing as I was sitting down, my drunkenness was still affecting my thought process so I deemed it wiser to stay away from Robert. Somehow he ended up hovering beside my chair anyway, almost like a protective shroud. The coworker I made out with was close by too. But I distracted myself with my girlfriends, all the while irritated AND smugly pleased that Robert was standing guard.
Soon enough, it was closing time and we were all making our way out of the bar. People were offering me rides home, but I wanted to go to Denny’s to sober up some more. Robert offered to take me and I took it.
As soon as we walked into the old-fashioned diner, my gut twisted in a warning. But I ignored it. We sat down at a table and I ordered coffee and chicken strips. Or rather he ordered them for me, which I thought was quite bizarre. Pssh, I guy ordering FOR me, the nerve…
It was just the two of us. We talked about musicals, history, my life as an actress, his life as a history major, details I would never remember because my head wouldn’t stop buzzing, and because I was too caught up with the fact that I was sitting alone with him thinking how wonderful it was and that I wanted so badly to reach out and touch his cheek, and that this was how it could be…if…
If what? You’re not married, my head would say. Then, but HE is, my other head would say.
We were leaned in very close at this point. I could feel his warm breath on my mouth, and then, before I knew what was happening…
“Well, are you done? Cause I need to get going,” he said.
I blinked and glanced down at my plate of food. Empty.
“Yeah, I’m done,” I said, and that warm feeling I felt inside my gut turned to an icy, numbing pain.
He drove me back to my car in silence, dropped me off and drove away without waiting for me to get inside my car. I remember it was freezing that night too and I only had on a thin jacket. I don’t know why that’s important, but I remember thinking to myself, as I watched his truck speed off, shivering, what an ass…a married ass.
Later, at work, I would ask him, “Why don’t you act like a married man?” But that’s for another story…