If you have ever lived in Astoria, Queens, you know that getting people to go there at the end of the night is like asking a stranger for a ride to the airport. Brad was going to do for now. I was young and dating and independent, and I had highlights in my hair.
The conversation at dinner was dull but he laughed at almost everything I said, so for a comedy narcissist like me, he was an ideal companion. As we ate, my Nokia flip phone started ringing. It was my sister, Julie.
I declined the call. My phone was new and I was still getting used to it. I didnât love that people could reach me whenever they wanted. I preferred calling my answering service, which made me feel like an old-time movie star. My father had shown me Doris Day movies when I was young, and she was always checking her service for messages from suitors or Hollywood producers.
After dinner we went to a gay bar packed with other gay people on dates, because whatâs more fun than trying not to look like youâre checking out other people while learning about your dateâs siblings?
Brad and I drank our Cosmos (it was 2001, and if Carrie Bradshaw was doing it, so was I) until his eyes looked less soulless and we started kissing.
My phone vibrated again. Different sister. Becky. I ignored it.
Another round, more making out, another call, Julie again. My drunkenness, mixed with my desire to be present for Brad, made the calls easy to dismiss. Our making out turned a corner â we were now prone on a banquette â and I had just enough sense left to suggest a cab.
Feeling like a high roller, I offered to pay. En route to Astoria there was more groping, more kissing, more picturing him as Paul Walker. At my apartment we went straight to the bedroom. It lasted longer than it needed to. And then there was the cuddling and holding and sweating and panic and the falling asleep next to a basic stranger and waking up and thinking: âDo I like…