So last night I was out with the 'direct guy', Nathan. Turns out we dated a couple of times, not just that time five years ago, but also before that, when I first moved to the city. I have almost no recollection of any of it.
I waited for him at College and Spadina and we went to meet up with some friends of his from law school at Popper's, an Annex pub. I don't mind meeting other people's friends, although I have to be very comfortable before I bring people into my life. I'm not exactly sure why.
Anyway, we got there and it was an L-shaped table with only a small space left for us. We squeezed in next to this kid—and I say kid because he was 7 years younger than me—who was a friend of a friend of Nathan's. He was wearing a navy blue and red striped sweater that reminded me of both Freddy Kruger and Kurt Cobain.
Nathan was a little sullen, presumably from a heavy week at work. He spent the better part of the night listening to me and the kid talk, starring into his double gin and tonics. I started to wonder if petulance was more trait than circumstance. Nathan sipped his drink, interjecting periodically and talking to people he hadn't seen in a while. A few times he left to go outside for a cigarette. Because I didn't know anyone at the table, it was nice to have the kid there. Plus, he's a fitness professional and I'm always happy to get tips on working out. He was also the only person there who wasn't talking law. Why can't I seem to get away from lawyers?
I wasn't sure but I thought the kid might be gay. He was adorable, in the way that my little brother is adorable. In fact I told him a couple of times how much he reminded me of him. We totally hit it off, but as far as I was concerned, in a completely innocent way. Besides, I'd arrived there with Nathan, so I thought he would assume we were together. Later I would wonder if that's the reason I had such an uncharacteristic sense of freedom; from Nathan's mood, from the expectations and perceptions of others.
When Nathan left the table to get the bill, the kid pulled out his cell phone and asked me for my number. I tried not to look surprised. Instead I suggested I take down his email address, "in case I know of anyone who needs a trainer." It was awkward.
Nathan and I walked out into the cold. I kept thinking about the look on the kid's face. I replayed the conversation in my head, hoping I didn't embarass him.
"Nathan, I think that guy sitting next to me tried to pick me up".
He laughed with a hint of acidity that caught me off-guard.
"What? You thought it was obvious?"
"Well you talked to him the whole night. You're a good looking blonde. What did YOU think was going on?", he said, looking at me funny.
"Are you serious?"
He laughed again. There was a moment of silence.
"What did I think was going on? Well, for starters I thought he reminded me of my baby brother. I thought that I was glad he was there since people weren't exactly falling over themselves to talk to me." My voice was getting shrill.
"Yeah, they're a tough group", he conceded.
"What did you expect me to do while you were outside smoking?"
We walked along quietly for a few minutes. He stopped and took my hand and apologized.
"I didn't mean it like that."
Ok, but I was pissed that somehow I ended up feeling like I'd done something wrong. Should I have been less friendly? Should I have acted differently? Absolutely not, and in hindsight I'll take it as a good sign. I'm not changing myself to accomodate other people's shortcomings. I'm not letting this shit slide anymore. If you're an asshole, then you're an asshole. It has nothing to do with me. I am not going to put up with anyone else's shit. I have plenty of my own to deal with [and apparently I'm not doing so bad].