Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Past Perfect

It wasn't until he suggested a second pitcher that I realized something maybe was happening. Years of platonic dinners hadn't yet dimmed my crush, but I'd made peace and figured that discussions about Batman over burritos was nothing to complain about. He asked me if I was seeing anyone, and I said no, I asked the same in return and his face told me he was embarrassed before he'd even said anything.

He was sort of, occasionally seeing this girl, he said, but couldn't be serious about her, since she's in her early 20s and, he cringed, an intern at the same company. She's great, he said (and I believed him) but they were "definitely not B.F./G.F.." I remember that moment because I remember thinking that a man closer to 40 than 30 was describing his romantic status to me in such terms.

He suggested we go to a second bar, and we did and then he suggested we go outside and kiss and we did. I slept alone and bought flowers for the table the next day.

Nearly a week later when he wrote to say how horribly guilty he felt, especially because his girlfriend had a troubled past, I felt a peculiar, short pang. Then I remembered how a teacher told me once that sometimes, on winding roads, you can tell how you should steer the car forward by only looking in the rearview mirror. I should never try it though, she warned me, because it's too dangerous; I could really hurt myself.