How many of them are a “one who got away?” Probably none of them.
We met at a bar, as all successful relationships begin. But this was a special bar. It was the bar of Billy, the Bad Ass Bartender. The bartender that made me want to be a bartender. The Martini King before being a mixologist was a thing.
And one night there was James. James heard me mention the symphony in conversation, and so James interjected and we started talking. Soon enough he asked me on a date to see the symphony. Apparently his parents had season tickets he could use. Whatever, he was cute. For once, I didn’t take him home for a good romping.
Fast-forward a week and he is picking me up at the Concordia house. He brings flowers–not roses, no, he had remembered I’d mentioned daises. He is in a suit and I am in an evening gown. Rewind a few days and I’m buying my first evening gown.
I started where I knew – JC Penney. Like where I had shopped for prom dresses. But the prom dress selection wasn’t going to work this time. I needed something long, and heels that were high. Cue my life-long obsession with high heels. But, like most everything in this story, that’s another story.
Roommate and I went on a dress safari and I tried everything from it’s-too-short to I’m-too-short, from I-need-a-loan to hell-fucking-no. Two malls and six stores later, I swore I’d never shop again. I still own that dress: black lace florals over a red satin underlay, low back, like waist low, high neck, like collar high, and a maze of thin black straps that perfectly framed the tattoo on my back. That was the first night I ever wore a thong. Or successfully navigated city streets in stilettos. We owned that night.
Young. Attractive. Lights shone on us.
James opened the car door for me, and helped me back out. James gave the attendant our tickets, who handed me our programs. James let me in the aisle first. James paid for dinner and drinks. James took care of me in a way I hadn’t experienced since the mandatory chivalry of prom.
The hours passed in minutes.
“How was the date with Symphony Boy?” Roommate asked after I came in, tossed my heels, and plopped on the couch to take a hit from the bong.
I was in love. Oh James. James the Adorable. James of the Fancy Dinner. James of the Symphony. James of conversation and culture. James, whose father was an aficionado of WWII and would be interested in the stories I’d heard and books I had read while visiting Pearl Harbor. James, whose mother, like my own, had taught school until she raised children, then made her way to successful in business. James who was funny, and thought I was too.
James kissed me goodnight and left me at my door as wet as a porn star and begging for a second date.
That was at the beginning of Autumn. It was a beautiful Winter.