When we met, we met at the restaurant I had picked. She came, braving the blistery winter evening and the possibility of an encounter with a psycho to dine with me in a corner booth of my favourite steak place.
She came dressed in a low cut sweater that hinted at her cleavage like a promise and a skirt that clung to her hips like second skin. When she had turned around upon her arrival, to maneuver herself out of her thick but fitting coat, I had got an eyeful of her derriere and I envied her chair because it enjoyed having that warm thickness pressed up against its face. I tried to focus on our conversation.
We had met blogging. She came on my blog with an attempt to express a difference of opinion which resulted in her insulting my choice of mine. I had tracked back to hers and it was not hard to return the favour. We were too dissimilar and yet the same. She was a gifted writer and she told me I was one too. We became regulars on each other’s blogs. One day, I received an email from her. The body of the email said simply “Hello”. I responded in kind. Two weeks later, we had graduated to a full sentence. We had been playing this game of words for almost a year. She had come to London on business. I invited her to dinner.
I don’t know what I had expected to come out of the meeting. All I knew was that for three hours, I had laughed the hardest I had ever done in all of my thirty-three years; I had listened the longest and tried most unsuccessfully not to stare at her rack. At one point, she offered to detach her bosom and give it to me if it would help me focus. I was glad I was not of a race where my skin would show my blush. I stared even harder.
We talked. We talked and we talked. She made fun of the menu. I had taken her to the swankiest place I knew. She ordered the fish and I watched in near mortification as she instructed the waiter to inform the chef that when her meal was presented, it was his duty to see to it that the food had come in contact with salt, pepper –the hot spick kind and not the one for scents-curry and fire. She got what she asked for. I was surprised but not brave enough to dictate the specifics of my own order. She did not drink and so neither did I.
We talked. We talked and we talked. I tried to explain what I did as an investment banker. I lost her three sentences in. She tried to explain what she did as a designer/ developer. Immediately she opened her mouth, I settled my gaze on her full lips and wondered away. We talked about other blogs we liked and the many scandals, issues and forums that we had been audience to. She told me which bloggers she had met. I had met only about two others and one of them was my cousin whom I had introduced to blogging. She was surprised at that. She told me about the rumours that were circulating on the blogs that I was seeing a certain blogger because on occasion, we exchanged endearments and innuendos. I was subtle but emphatic when I told her I was single.
She broke my heart when she tried not to tell me about the one she was seeing. He liked his private life private and so, she did not say much besides the fact that she was happy. I wished she wasn’t. Then maybe, if I pushed a few buttons….she reminded me without reminding me that she lived across the ocean and that in a few days, she would be on a plane back to the life that was hers…and his. I changed the topic and kept it there by talking about how my job allows me to travel and how often I actually go to the states. She told me that if I came over, they would take me to their favourite spots. I knew she meant her and him but I made my own interpretation to be her and me.
I watched her hands which she used a lot when she spoke, even when she was holding a glass. Her fingers were not slim nor were they chubby. They were just right and one of them carried the weight of huge ring she explained was Venetian glass. I did not care. I was just glad that THE finger was bare. She commented on my watch. She loved it. It was big, like hers. We exchanged watches and I watched with satisfaction as she put mine on and admired her wrist encased in my accessory. I wore hers. She wears men’s watches so I did not look like I had crossed over sexual preferences.
We even talked about family. I found myself, telling her about my father and how I felt about him; my mother whom I did not know, my step mother who had taken her position and was doing it very well, my siblings whom I loved to death especially my sister whom I was planning to shoot for what she did to my car and my God daughter, Vivienne, whom I was raising while her father was in jail and her mother in rehab. I explained Vivienne was at my sister’s for the night. She was impressed and I was glad.
She told me she had been pregnant once. She was too young and could not go through with it. It did not belong to the one she was with. He knew and did not care. I knew and did not care either and I understood. Raising a child is not easy and not something you go into without thought. That’s why Khalil and Tori got on my last nerve with the way they treated Vivienne. I was thinking of filing for adoption. I was more a father to her than anyone else. I expressed this to the woman across the table and she told me to pray about it because if my decision was born out of irritation at Vivienne’s parents and not about the needs of the girl and my love for her, then the idea was not right. I sat there and marveled at their wisdom. I was irritated at Khalil and Tori and I was enthralled by this woman from the world where we use no names and yet can say all.
It was time to go. Our magical night had come to a close. I walked her outside and waited to call a taxi. We talked some more and let about three taxi options that were called up for us go to other people. I asked her where she was staying and she told me. It was too cold and so we bundled ourselves in the next taxi that was called.
The ride to the hotel was in surprising silence. She was exhausted. She rested her head on the window with her body turned away from me. Her hand rested on the seat between us. I sat there in silent dialogue with myself, whether or not to take her fingers in mine. They lay there, just warm and inviting. I knew she would know what holding her hand meant. We were not children and she must have guessed that all night I was reacting to her and headily too.
We arrived. She got out and quickly went to the front to pay. I had handled dinner, she was taking herself home. I got out and signaled for the taxi to wait. We stood in front of the hotel with the bellman watching us to see if he needed to open the door for our entrance. She thanked me for having had fun and promised that she would have a post up about the dinner on her blog and I was to watch out at the onslaught of reactions from others on our circuit. I was known for being notoriously private.
When she leaned in for a hug, I went in for a kiss. I captured her lips deftly and pulled her in with one hand. She did not pull back but she did not return the kiss. Her lips stayed imprisoned against mine but they did not move in response. My kiss was not just a manifestation of where my thoughts had been all evening, it was a question. Her response was the answer. If she had responded, I might have lost control and mauled her on the sidewalk. She did not respond.
Releasing her was wrenching. Her hand came up to wipe away what I assume was the stain of her lipstick. I moved out of her reach, I was keeping this stamp with me if that was all I could have. Her smile was apologetic and my heart ached. Why could I not have her and her loyalty?
We were going to be friends. When I went over on business, she was going to take me around her favourite spots. I was going to take her sightseeing before she returned home. The kiss never happened. The dinner did but the kiss didn’t. And neither did the night spent lost in the sheets of the queen bed in room 3405.