He sat two bar stools away while I killed time between an afternoon media event and an evening holiday party. It was in a bar/restaurant where I am friendly with some of the staff and, on this particular day, was in a passionate discussion with both the bartender and the waitress. A mutual friend had discovered that the guy she had been sleeping with was married. As the three of us discussed what we called his “cowardly” and “appalling” behaviour, the man two bar stools down looked straight ahead but could clearly hear us. I asked the bartender if she thought I should run to get a manicure as my nails were looking a tad too rough to hit a work event, plus, as I pointed out, at this age people notice your hands in their scan for a wedding or engagement ring.
After his second glass of wine, the man finally spoke. It turned out he lived in New York, but would be in my city for the next year for work, predominantly Monday through Friday. We chatted about our respective careers and ways in which we could work together, him the head of a major lifestyle brand. At first, it was all business. During a pause in conversation, I noticed something; his left hand was in his pocket as he sat there… and for a good chunk of time. Although the conversation had yet to take a romantic or even flirty tone, I made note. You’re being weird because of all this wedding and ring talk, I thought; yes it is kind of unusual to sit at a bar, one hand in pocket, but don’t be so damn paranoid.
He decided to stay, though he had already paid the bill for his two 9-ounce glasses of red wine. He ordered another, and one for me. The banter became comfortable and organic, an unexpected change to the job interview-esque dates that we are all too familiar with these days. He seemed cool. It was nice. The manicure didn’t matter now, and I would rather stay with him. He asked me if I had dinner plans and I invited him to come along to the party – it could be a good networking opportunity for him as well, I said.
At the event, we sat and chatted, him now clearly flirting with me. I asked him (in a way that could be perceived as half joking) if he had a wife or girlfriend. Let’s just say that I have learned to ask –and that day was no exception. Then again, maybe, with his slightly receding hairline and his preppy, conservative look, he just looked married. He told me he had never been married and didn’t have a girlfriend… but once had a very bad one. Haven’t we all had that one bad one, though? No biggie. We chatted where we went to university, about our parents, and goals for the future, ignoring the party around us. I dropped him off in the cab and he kissed me goodbye. It was a “random night, but refreshing,” as I told a girlfriend the next morning.
He texted and called me later that day. These days, a phone call doesn’t go unnoticed – even if you don’t pick up. In the week that followed, we went to dinner, shared oysters and laughed like teenagers over a game of shuffleboard. We talked about his family and our plans for the upcoming holidays. At a bar for what was in theory a nightcap, he pounded back his beloved red wine. He said he wanted to date me, and that it was probably a good thing that he was only here half of the time so we could both focus on our careers. I was intrigued, but not sold.
What followed was a series of sweet texts and phone calls (from both his local and NYC phone) and a general interest in me on his part. He wanted to see me again, he said. As always, the holidays were a busy time, and there were a few other individuals on my radar, so I didn’t overthink anything with him the way I sometimes rush right in with some, with fairytale hopes of the future. And something still felt off. At the time I thought it was my lingering suspicion that he was an alcoholic, given the way he guzzled wine like a frat boy would beer at a keg party. Or maybe it was the fact that he would surely move back to New York in a year. Either way, I didn’t see him a few times in favour of holiday parties with friends or even sushi and sweatpants at home. He still tried. And I heard him out. There was talk of New Year’s Eve – through texts he suggested being crazy and taking off to the Bahamas or even France. He sent me links to the hotels. As much as I craved the ocean or a European adventure, I didn’t see him until the New Year. Something held me back (and, in retrospect, held him back too).
After a particularly bad day early in January, I reluctantly agreed to meet him for dinner despite the hours of work that lay ahead. Five minutes in, I found that I instantly felt better, and it wasn’t from the wine he insisted we order. I had missed him. Maybe that meant something. He invited me to Whistler a few weeks from then. I was into it. Still, after dinner, I wanted to go home. Normally, if I’m into a guy, I am known to stay up all night working just to get another few hours in his company. Not this time. He hailed me a cab and when we kissed goodbye, it felt better than before. He would call and text and want to meet in the days and week afterward, but it somehow wasn’t high on my list of priorities. Maybe I would have seen him more if he didn’t leave for the weekends. Probably not though.
He sent me a text one evening to say that he wanted to come to town just to see me even though he was supposed to work from New York, but because he discovered my schedule was packed all week, he had not boarded on a plane. I didn’t reply. I woke up at around 5am, unable to sleep and anxious to get started on my morning deadlines. During a moment of writer’s block, I scrolled my phone, eyeing his unanswered message. Coffee within reach, I Googled his name.
At first, nothing came up. Then I added his home city. And there he was, in a Twitpic from just months before, smiling with his very blonde and lovely looking wife, thanking her publically for supporting him during his political campaign. Yep, his campaign. He failed to mention that one. What ensued were a few witty texts on my part (if I do say so myself) and a long, super serious voicemail left by him when I ignored his call. There was a lot that I didn’t know and that he planned to tell me, he said. He reminded me, as he did that one drunken dinner, that he had a bad year.
“Let me guess, you’re going to tell me it’s complicated?” I texted. Followed by a well-deserved but admittedly immature jab of “no wonder you lost” (his campaign). I was mad. I was mad that I was reminded that men like this exist, that I wasted two seconds of my precious workweek listening intently to bogus stories, and mad at myself for not trusting that voice in my head that lingered in the beginning; that gut feeling that something was wrong. Days later, after I refused to call him back, I sent a text of eight words: are you still with your wife or not? Silence. After weeks now, I guess I have my answer.
But I should have known from the start. Through this, I was reminded, once again, of the power of women’s intuition. It is almost a sixth sense for us astute and emotionally in touch females. It is that feeling that something is wrong, and that feeling inspires us to research and pursue suspicions further. Our women’s intuition has helped me bust a lie or two in the past… and once we have that feeling, it’s always right. I wonder if his wife experienced her own women’s intuition when she kissed him goodbye as he headed away for the week. Or when he sat texting away to me on Christmas.
There is a logical explanation to this secret weapon called women’s intuition. Research on nonverbal communication skills demonstrates that women are collectively better at reading tones and facial expressions of emotions than men, and are more likely to pick up on the subtle emotional messages of others. I am still not convinced there is more working than that. Either way, lessons were learned: upon that feeling, act. I should have researched earlier to save myself the time, energy and even mounting cost of long distance texts. Remember, however, that intuition can be mistaken for insecurity or paranoia and you need to be able to tell the difference. Don’t go looking for things to add up, but don’t ignore that voice in your head either – even if he says all the right things. He may be saying all the right things to someone else this very moment.
#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)