15 Mayıs 2023

Between Friends


“Shit! This wasn’t supposed to happen.”“What?”“Us together. Alone. You know my wife’s always been jealous of you.” You open your mouth to protest, but I cut you off.  “Yeah, I know, I know. It’s not like anything is really going on between us, but she’s just kinda… insecure I guess.”“What for?” you ask, straightening your back. “We’re just colleagues.”“I know. I never thought we were more than that, but… I mean, I don’t know if I should tell you this, but she put on some weight the last couple of years, and I guess she’s been feeling self-conscious about it, so she doesn’t like to… well, you know.”You look puzzled for a second before catching on. “Ah!… Oh, I’m sorry.” “Anyway, she worries that if I’m not getting it at home, I’m going to get it somewhere else. Not that I’d ever cheat on her, but she still worries.”“Sure, I get it,” you say.  “And you’re like my closest friend at work, and I guess that makes her suspicious of us, even though we both know that nothing is happening between us.”“I know,” you respond a little irritably. “You don’t have to keep telling me nothing is going on.”“Sorry,” I apologize. “She actually made me promise before I left for the conference that I wouldn’t spend any time alone with you. Now, look at us!”We laugh together. It wasn’t intentional. We started out as a group of maybe twelve. But as the night wore on, people kept slipping away. Naturally, we ended up chatting, and didn’t notice the dwindling of our group.“I should finish my drink and get going,” I say.You smile and laugh at me.“Come on,” you say. “Don’t be so uptight. Like you say, nothing is going on between us, so why not just enjoy yourself? There’s nothing wrong with that is there?”“No…”“Alright, so let’s get another round.”“Sure,” I answer uncertainly. But I love the way your smile lights your face. How can I say no? It’s only a drink, after all.I watch you walk to the bar in your burgundy blouse, black skirt, and heels. Your outfit is a perfect balance of professionalism and sexiness for our academic conference presentation this afternoon, though maybe a little formal for the t-shirt and jeans crowd in this bar. I watch you bend across the bar to shout your order at the bartender. For a second, I admire the way the fabric of your skirt stretches tight across your buttocks.I feel a buzzing at my hip. Like you, I’m still dressed formally from the conference: A button-down shirt, blazer, slacks and dress shoes. I have, however, removed my tie, and stuffed it in my pocket. Now, I’m fishing around it for my phone. It’s a text from my wife telling me that she’s going to bed. You return to the table with our drinks just as I finish texting her back to wish her goodnight.I watch you swirl the ice contemplatively around your cocktail with your little plastic straw. You pick out the floating maraschino cherry, tilt your head back and let it drip into your open mouth. Then you grip the cherry between your teeth, sucking the remaining sweet liquid from it. You do all of this in a way that is not intentionally seductive, but I’m alerted to the first tingling sensations of being a little turned on.“I love cherries,” you say. “They’re the best part of the drink.”“You can get jars of them at the grocery store,” I remind you. “Yeah, but it’s not the same.” A brightness flashes in your eyes. “Hey, want to see something I learned when I was in my sorority?”I nod. You pluck the stem from cherry, Escort Yakacık and swallow the rest of the fruit. Then, you stick the stem on your tongue. I watch your face as you concentrate, your mouth making different shapes. Thirty seconds later, you stick out your tongue and pick the stem from it, which you’ve tied into a loose bow.“Tada!” you shout. You’re smiling at me, clearly proud of your talent.“Impressive,” I say.“I only know one bar trick, and that’s it.” You respond.“It’s good.” I think for a minute. “Okay, I’ve got one for you.”“Yeah?”“I’ll bet you I can drink two pints of beer before you can drink a shot of tequila.”“Ugh, tequila? Really?” You scrunch your face up.“You don’t like tequila?”“It’s gross.”“It’s just a shot.” You shake your head in disgust. “Okay, how about a shot of whiskey instead?”“Okay.”“But if you were really going to give me a fighting chance at this you’d do the tequila shot. Remember, I’ve got to drink two beers.”“Who said I wanted to give you a fighting chance?”“Fine, alright. Wait here.”I go up to the bar, and order two pints and a shot of Wild Turkey. As the bartender is filling the glasses, I look back to our table. You’re watching me.  I nod, and you smile back. You really do have a lovely smile.  The bartender comes back with two pints and a shot. I tell him to add it to my tab, and head back to the table. As soon as I set the drinks down, you reach for your shot.“Wait!” I shout“What?” you object. “You said I have to drink my shot before you drink your beers, so threetwoonego!”You tip your shot back, and make a grimacing face as you feel it burning down your throat.“I win!” you declare.“You didn’t, you cheated,” I argue. “I wasn’t ready. Anyway, there are rules.”“You didn’t say anything about rules.”“Well, there are.” I stand up, “Listen, just stay here, and we’ll do it again… the right way.”I go to the bar, get one more shot of whiskey, and return with it. I nearly put it down, but as you start to reach for it, I snatch it back. You laugh at me.“Okay, the rules.”“The rules,” you repeat with mockingly exaggerated seriousness.“Alright, rule one: neither of us is allowed to touch the other’s glass.”“Yeah, fine,” you agree impatiently.“And rule two: since I’ve got two pints, you’re not allowed to pick up your shot until I finish my first pint and place the glass back down on the table. Okay?”“That’s it?” you ask.“That’s it. Are you ready?” I ask, placing your shot glass in front of you. You nod. “You can count down.”“Alright… Three, two, one, go.”I grab the first pint and drain about a third of it before gasping for breath and making a show of how hard it is to chug beer. You watch me eagerly, laughing at how poorly I’m doing in this contest, and readying yourself to take your shot. I hold up a finger asking you to be patient as I gulp down the last few mouthfuls of beer.“Remember, you can’t start until my glass touches the table.”“Yeah,” you say. “Hurry up and let’s do this.”“Alright,” I agree.I turn my pint glass upside down, and slam it down overtop of your shot glass. You look up at me surprised.“What? That’s not fair!”“Remember we’re not allowed to touch each other’s glasses,” I remind you. I give you a smug smile, as I lean back in my seat and leisurely sip my second pint.“Alright,” you concede. “You got me. You win.” Then you start laughing. “We didn’t even decide what the stakes were.”“I’m Atalar escort sure I’ll think of something,” I say.Someone starts the jukebox playing The Edge of Seventeen by Stevie Nicks.“Man, I love this song!” you exclaim, standing. “Come on, let’s dance.”“I hate dancing,” I complain.“Yeah, well I still claim that I won the first time, and this is my stakes: You have to dance with me.”You grab my hands, pull me up from the table, and lead me to the small dance floor. Immediately you begin to move your hips enthusiastically. I hear you singing along with the music: “Just like the white winged dove sings a song sounds like she’s singin’ Ooh baby, ooh, ooh.” I settle into an awkward but steady white man’s shuffle, unsure of what I’m supposed to do with my hands. I watch you sway and twirl gracefully in front of me. The way you move is sexy, and you blow me kisses with each “ooh.” I can’t help but think about how much my wife would hate knowing that we were dancing together. But I keep reminding myself, this isn’t anything. We’re just a couple of colleagues blowing off a bit of steam and having fun. Nothing more.I don’t know if it’s the alcohol going to my head, or the infectiousness of your dancing, but I feel the stiffness in my body begin to melt. Stevie Nicks gives way to Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now. I move more freely with you around the floor, and I feel like I’m actually enjoying myself. You look like you’re having a great time, too. And you look beautiful. Your outfit really highlights the curves of your body. For a minute I allow myself to see us through the eyes of the others here on the floor, as a couple, and think about how lucky I would be to be with a woman like you… In another life, perhaps…As Freddy Mercury’s voice fades out, a slow piano figure takes its place, and a woman sings “Turn around…” You move towards me and throw your arms around my neck. Instinctively, I place my hands on your hips.“Turn around bright eyes…” You sing into my ear as we sway slowly in time with the song. I’m acutely aware that I’ve never actually been this physically close to you before. I can smell the apricot and tea conditioner in your hair. As the song builds to a crescendo I feel the warmth of your breasts pressing into my chest as you pull me even closer. I know, it’s just dancing. I know it’s innocent. But I can’t help but feel turned on by your proximity, feeling your breath on my neck. “Once upon a time I was falling in love, now I’m only falling apart.”You pull back from me, looking me straight in the eyes. I can feel the magnetism between us. It’s taking all I’ve got not to lean in and kiss you right here on the dance floor. But I can’t! I’m married. We’re just colleagues.“But there’s nothing I can do, a total eclipse of the heart.”“Come on,” I say, taking your hand, and leading you from the dancefloor. “We should probably go back to the hotel and say goodnight.”The look on your face reflects how I feel in my heart.“Yeah,” you agree resignedly. “That’s probably a good idea.”We settle up our bar tabs, and walk back to the hotel where we’re staying for the conference. It’s a couple of blocks away. Outside the bar, the night is quiet. The air has cooled a little since afternoon, and I notice you shivering.“Do you want my jacket?” I offer.“Won’t you be cold?”“Nah, I’ll be alright. I mean, my shirt is covering more than…”  I gesture to your top, Kadıköy escort bayan which while showing a tasteful amount of cleavage is still leaving you somewhat exposed to the elements. “Besides, it’s just a couple of blocks.”“Thanks,” you say as I shed my blazer and drape it over your shoulders. You pull it tight against the chilly breeze.We carry on for a minute before you break the silence again.“You know how you were saying what you were going through with your wife and all?”“Mhm,” I acknowledge. I wish I hadn’t said anything about that. It was too personal. Now I feel embarrassed.“It sucks,” you observe.“Yeah.”“I mean I’m going through something like that, too,” you confide.I look at you with a confused expression.“Well, not exactly like you’re going through, but… it’s been a long time since I’ve been with someone.”“What?” I ask, sincerely shocked. “You look amazing, you’ve got a great personality, you’re fun to be with. You probably could have had your pick of any of the guys in the bar, except they all probably thought you were with me.”“It’s not that easy for a woman like me.”“What do you mean?”“I’m educated and intelligent. I make my own money and speak my own mind. I have standards and expectations about how I want to be treated. And yeah, I mean, I don’t want to sound conceited, but I know I’m not ugly. A lot of guys are intimidated by that. And the ones that aren’t intimidated tend to be full of themselves or just gross. And the older I get, the fewer good guys there are left on the market. They keep getting snatched up and married. And the ones that get tossed back in the pool are usually broken. So, dating is hard for me.”“I never thought about it like that,” I respond. I speculate what it would be like to get back on the dating scene at this stage in my life, and don’t envy what you have to go through just to find a decent partner. “I mean I guess you could hook up with someone, you know casually. According to the social research, that’s what a lot of the kids are doing these days. I’m sure there are lots of guys at this conference who would be glad to oblige.”You make the same face you made when I suggested you do a shot of tequila.“With a stranger?” you ask. “I can’t even imagine how weird and awkward that would be. Especially with someone who is in our own field. God, you know how word gets around at these things. Besides I don’t know where these guys have been or what they’re into.”We reach the hotel. I use my keycard to unlock the front door, and hold it as you pass through.“You two have a great night,” the clerk at the front desk says to us as we pass on our way to the elevators.“For me to be with a guy, I need to know and trust them,” you continue to explain. “… at least a little.”“Yeah, how well do you need to know them?”“Well not just going to walk up to some random dude in a bar, and be like ‘hey you, let’s bone!’”I break into laughter.“Let’s bone?” I repeat. “Is that what you call it?”“Well… I mean…” You stumble.“Like is that the line you use to let guys know it’s on?” I continue teasing you, “Hey baby, it’s bone time.”You giggle and slap me on the arm.“Shut up. You’re an idiot.”The elevator arrives, and I push the button for three. Our rooms are booked next door to each other.  Just as the doors start to shut, another older couple joins us.“Five please?” the guy asks.“Sure,” I say.We ascend in silence for a minute, exchanging goofy looks with each other, but just as we reach our floor, I yawn and stretch, and loudly proclaim, “I’m bone tired.” You fall into hysterical laughter as we get off the elevator with the confused couple watching after us.“I really am tired, though,” I admit as we walk down the hall to our adjacent rooms.

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