All women have that boy they regret. The one who took them to prom, promised them forever, and then disappeared.
That boy—that man—changed my life.
The first time was the night of my senior prom. I’d been mooning over Mike Hubbard for months, hoping he’d ask me to prom. Even I, despite my besotted state, knew it was more than unlikely.
I was cute but Mike was the school god. Unlikely didn’t come close to describing my chances.
His first three choices turned him down. Should that have been a clue? No shit, Shakespeare. And I was stubborn. Too stubborn to take even the most obvious of hints—still am, for that matter—and when he asked me, I said yes.
I lost more than my virginity that night. I lost my heart and my innocence and my faith in the intrinsic goodness of human nature. At least for a few months.
I spent several weeks—okay, sixteen to be exact—after my deflowering weeping in the shower or the stairwell of our apartment building so my mother wouldn’t hear me. But then I met Jim, and then Darryl, and then Tom, and my tears dried up.
* * * * *
Why am I thinking about Mike Hubbard twenty years later? I had an email from him a couple of months ago. Not a word, not a sighting, not even a Did you hear what Mike’s doing now? phone call from anyone in the past twenty years, and now this. It was as if he’d vanished right off the face of the earth only to appear again in my inbox.
Maryalice, I’ve been thinking about you, the email said. Found your address on Classmates.com. Thought I’d check in.
And I wrote back.
Mistake number two.
Not because there’s anything wrong with this Mike Hubbard, but because I’m not sure I’m ready for a relationship. And it’s clear this is what—sight unseen—this Mike Hubbard seems to want with me. Almost too weird for words.
The fortunate thing is that he lives seven or eight hundred miles away so I have time to think about it, the it being whether I want to see him at all. And if I do, what restrictions I want to put on the meeting.
We can spend time talking to each other, getting to know each other—which, not surprisingly, we never did back then—before I commit to a face to face.
I’m not gun shy, at least I don’t think of myself that way. But I like being single. Relationships mean complications. Single means I can date when I want—or not. I can have sex when I want, with myself or with someone else. Or not.
The sex part is crucial.
Being single means variety. But even more than that, it means newness. I love having sex with strangers and, really, first dates are the best time to do that.
It usually goes like this.
I meet a guy at a coffee shop or in a grocery store or through work, often a supplier or a courier or an on-call IT guy. I never date anyone who works with me—something always goes wrong. We make that particular kind of eye contact that says, do you wanna?, with a response that says, absolutely.
So we go for a drink, then dinner at a hotel. They almost all have those lovely old-fashioned dining rooms. Low lighting. Booths. Older, very discreet waiters.
I always suggest a restaurant in a hotel so it’s natural to get a room there. Never my place—too risky—or his. The odds are he has a roommate or his place is a pigpen, both of which are guaranteed to spoil the mood.
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