I lived in Austin for most of my 20s. Austin is a great town. Well, it used to be. In the late '80s and early '90s, it was a great place to be. I would stay up late. Primo should have met me back then. Staying out until 2:00 a.m. was nothing. Nothing! My friends and I would close the Sixth Street bars down. I'm not a drinker and never have been,* but I did like hanging out with my friends and dancing. I was young enough that I didn't care that I had to pay for my nights with my days. Sleeping until noon on a Saturday or Sunday? So what. I had no responsibilities.
One night, we met two pilots from Randolph AFB in San Antonio. I got the leftover guy because I have always been the sidekick friend. You know: the chubby, not as attractive but sassy and loveable one in the movies who plays next to Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan, only I was tongue-tied and muted around men. The Greek chorus. The friend who offers wisdom that is usually ignored. The friend who is there to make the main character look good.
But whatever. My bright, flirty friends drew men to them as flames draw moths. There are always extra moths who can't make it to the fiercest glow to settle for the dim, low-burning flame.
My friend got the outgoing, fun pilot. I got the redheaded pilot who also seemed fun. We danced, we chatted, we had a good time.
The next day, I thought, I should see that guy again! Being impatient and remembering he had not asked for my number, but not letting that stop me because I was independent and liberated, I tracked him down, which was as simple as calling the base locator at Randolph and getting the guy's number.
"But I'm only here for a month," he protested.
"That's OK!" I chirped. "I just want to have a good time!"
I meant I wanted to go out and dance.
Perhaps "I just want to have a good time!" means something else to a single man in his 20s.
He came up to Austin. We went to the Oasis, a bar perched on Lake Travis, to watch the sun set. He wanted to get something to eat. I advised him that the Oasis was not known for its food. When you have a fabulous view and booze, who needs a decent chef?
"Good food, bad food, it's all the same to me," he said.
Yes. Those were his words. I still remember them after 20 years, so shocked was I. I have never been indifferent to food. I might, out of desperation, eat bad food, but I never do so deliberately or willingly.
"Do you want to go dancing?" I asked.
No. He wanted to go back to my place. He was sullen, unresponsive, not the chatty guy I had met the week before. Perhaps he needed liquor to release his personality. Sober, he ranted about "Ivan" and "the Russkies" in a way that I had never heard my dad, who had been a history major with a concentration in Russian history, who had been to war and who was a career officer, talk.
We returned to the house I shared with my friend Rebecca, who, alas, was out.
Should we watch TV? I suggested.
No. He wanted to neck.
Which I did not want to do because I was no longer attracted to him. I kissed him for a little bit because I didn't know what else to do, then stopped him from going any further, which ticked him off.
I turned on the TV.
He fell asleep.
I went into the kitchen and read the paper for an hour, then returned to the living room to wake him.
"You have to leave," I said.
He did. Uncomplaining. He understood that he and I had different ideas about what constituted a fun first date.
I never heard from him again.
When I told the story to my friend Lenore, who was a human resources director at a large food company, I mentioned that this guy said his dad was a bigwhig at the same large food company. Oh yes! She recognized the name. The dad had had sexual harassment charges pressed against him. He's a jerk, she said.
I wasn't surprised.
* I've been drunk twice in my life. Two hangovers, plus acting like an idiot during the drunk part, were enough to convince me I never wanted to repeat the experience.