Someone taps my shoulder, and I start. More specifically, I choke on the sip of iced tea I'd just taken. The tip of the straw scratches the roof of my mouth.
I turn to see a strange man's grinning face, somewhere between a smile and a leer. He stares at me for a second too long, holding my gaze.
"I'm sorry?" I half-ask, half-apologize. Women do this. Apologize when there's nothing to apologize for. Once I apologized to a closet door when I bumped into it.
He's not unattractive, this man. In fact, he's pretty good-looking. Perhaps a bit north of my current age ceiling (31), but he has an intriguing grin and fierce eye contact. I'm a sucker for men who aren't afraid to meet my eyes.
"Will you join me?" he asks.
It's a cafe at 4 PM on a Sunday. I wonder to myself, "join me for what?"
"Join me for a drink." The man actually answers the question I haven't voiced. Still kneeling on the floor behind the sofa, at my shoulder, he gestures to the bar behind us. "I saw you reading and you looked fascinated. Would you tell me what you are so interested by?"
I gesture to my book and say "I'm sorry, but I have to finish this for class tomorrow. Thank you anyways."
A total lie. If I were in fact reading The Black Atlantic, as I should be, then it would be true. Instead I'm reading The Man of My Dreams, the newest book by Curtis Sittenfeld, and have been having a three-hour-long panic attack because it is essentially the novelized account of my entire romantic history. He smiles ruefully and pats me on the shoulder. "Next time." Five minutes later he's bought some other girl a very fruity looking drink in a martini glass.
If I had a fairy godmother, this is the point at which she would flit into Tryst and smack me around a little. "EJ," she would say, "is not this this reason you tried on, like, five different shirts before you came here? Do you not want exactly this to happen-- a cute, slightly dangerous stranger showing interest in you?" She'd gesture to my top, which admittedly is both new and makes my boobs look really excellent and my hair, which I actually did in preparation for the unknown but possible. She's be spot-on, that nonexistent fairy godmother of mine. Not that I'd ever give her the satisfaction of ever telling her so.
I'm not sure why I felt the need to lie to him.
I'm not sure why I didn't join him for a drink.
I'm not sure why I'm thinking about this so much.
I pass up opportunities like this more than I should admit. If the moment isn't right, if I don't feel a tug of something new, provacative, I just can't muster the energy. I'm too busy treading the fine line between idealistic and all dead inside.
It's Sunday and it's hot and I can't stop listening to my "room chill" playlist, a playlist that includes songs like "Evaporated" by Ben Folds and "Gorecki" by Lamb and "Nobody Knows Me Like My Baby" by Lyle effing Lovett.
And I'm caught between pity and envy for those people who have it all figured out.