September 17, 2016 — When he walks in the room, I started imagining him in bed with me. He’s tall and strong. Smile (with dimples). Gray checked button-down shirt with the sleeves rolled up exposing some tattoos. Glasses. His eyes sparkle. Game on. I’m overly confident from a half-glass of scotch, so of course I start flirting with him, trying to figure out: do horses get divorced (and more specifically, was he divorced)?
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Context: last May, the news went out that my 20th High School reunion was happening in September. “Great,” I thought, “Well that’s a mandatory life event.” This is a milestone. Who would be there? Where were we at in life? How would my more conservative leaning friends deal with my raging liberal feminism and my Hillary Clinton tumblr?
Around that time, I happen to take one of those social media quizzes — you know, answer five questions and something ridiculous is generated (while they mine your personal information for advertisers; yeah, one of those). This one is based on the movie “The Lobster,” a dark comedy with the premise that guests at hotel have 45 days to find their soulmate or they turn into an animal. In the movie, guests get to choose their animal fate, so Colin Farrell picks life as a lobster because “they can live for over 100 years, are blue-blooded like aristocrats and stay fertile all their lives.”
My friend Neal takes the quiz. His Facebook post teases that he would be a “Water Bear” (an animal that “loves space travel and lives for 100 years without food or water” but, the catch: apparently water bears feel very, very small). “WTF,” he posts. Curious, I take the quiz. My result: an Owl.
Of course, Owls get divorced. Perfect. Then, a guy from high school — a cute guy from my art and french classes — comments: “I got a horse,” he says. Mario. Mmm. Oh, I remember Mario: his football uniform; tall and lanky; super skinny. Glasses. Soft-spoken and popular. Thoughtful. Funny. One of his paintings matched with a poem I wrote for the literary journal. At the ten year reunion, he seemed so happily married – with kids. So I respond: “Do horses get divorced?” Not missing a beat he says: “They seem to get stuck in limbo trying to find a good lawyer.”
Does that mean he is looking for a divorce lawyer? Maybe he is just thinking about divorce — you would probably not be surprised at how many people message me with questions just thinking about it. But he hasn’t messaged me. I stalk his FB page a minute: damn he’s still good looking. No signs. Sometimes I’m not an Owl, just an ass. With that in mind I don’t reply. Besides, he’s coming to the reunion. Guess I’ll find out then.
Cut to Mario, walking into the bar as the reunion starts. My brain jumps: “Yes, please. I’ll have some of that,” I think. We chat at the bar as more people arrive. Old friends and classmates say “hi.” Mario walks off a bit to make some room for newcomers. No one is standing with him and I’m in a small crowd. “Where are you going?” I say loudly. “Come back here!” Yes. In front of everyone. With no qualms. He looks pleased as he saunters back and we talk more.
As the photographer makes rounds, we squeeze closer for pictures. He says he tried to ask me out in high school but I shot him down. “Wait, what?!” I’m incredulous. My younger self was a moron! We share more scotch, navigate conversations with old classmates and eat dinner. At some point after dinner, Mario and I exchange a look then simultaneously stand and walk back to the bar. He offers me his arm.
We discuss our failed marriages, my alcoholic ex-boyfriend, our kids, our businesses. Everything with us feels harmonious, like we are two best friends who haven’t seen eachother in a week. We miss the class group photo. We miss the dance to our class homecoming song (The Four Seasons – December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)).
Now it’s getting late. The bar is getting crowded again. “We could go to my hotel room,” I awkwardly gesture. “I mean, it’s a suite so there’s a sofa and tv.” I feel exposed and vulnerable. Then he sticks out his arm, and I hold onto it. We swing around towards the elevator. He’s quiet. Contemplative. Smiling. I’m chattering. We get to the room and I ask if he wants to watch tv. He says “I kinda want to kiss you.” “Ok,” I breathe, “You can kiss me. I can’t figure out how to turn on the television anyway.”
Hot, mind-blowing and perfect.