He finishes his cigarette and kisses you. You are so pretty, he says. He’s very attractive, and you thought so even before the whiskey started talking to you, so you know it’s real.
Before the two of you came outside, you sat at the bar amidst friends old and new, talking about tattoos and children’s books, what you do, who you are and whom you want to be.
You tell him you’re living at home right now, that you don’t live in the city — not yet. Now that you’re outside, he brings it up again, asking if you really are going to crash on your mutual friend’s couch that night. He stares at you with a subtle smirk.
You know what he is asking. This is the moment.
This is the moment that determines whether he will call.
It’s hard to meet guys, ladies always seem to say. It's an echo that’s been happening for ages. There are no decent, single men in New York, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Chicago — anywhere. We sigh at our predicament, and woe is us.
What about all the men we’re sleeping with though? Aren’t they single? We’re finding men — single ones even; we’re just not finding the right ones. Whatever that means.
Are we looking in the right places? I guess love can be found anywhere. There are certain circumstances that make it more difficult to locate though. In a bar late at night, love and lust look almost like twins.
He was watching you from the bar earlier. He’s very cute. His eyes are dark and his smile says he’s done this before. You tried not to stare, but you weren’t doing anything else except noticing him noticing you, so it was hard.
He hadn’t even met you yet and he came right up to you, confidence unwavering. He told you he and his friends were going into the other bar and you should come. He is bold.
If you’re out at a bar, it’s late and the drinks are flowing; one could argue that no one is looking for anything except someone to go home with. Your good judgment was clouded hours ago, and no one is in any state to think about the future. But, you never know. You could meet someone with whom you could really hit it off. If a connection is there, then it’s there.
But, if you decide to go home with someone right when you meet, does that connection stand a chance?
Well, maybe he’ll still call, we think, but there are signs. There’s an art of knowing when he won't call.
You are in the process of trying to be unbroken. You have no job, income, person or solid sense of self. You’re solidly in a transition phase and you’re trying to find your way out.
You traveled into the city from your parents' house (where you’re currently living) to see your friend’s show. Said friend is also the ex over whom your heart is broken, and the ex who has a new girlfriend. The two of you vowed to be friends again, like you always had been. Your brain agrees but your heart objects.
This will be hard, your heart says, and you know it will be. You go to see his show because you want to support him and because you are going crazy. Maybe a night out will slow the process.
Instead, a night out presents you with a guy... a guy who is staring at you, waiting for your answer.
You stare back at him and smile. He smiles.
After that smile, you know he is not going to call.
You try to convince yourself otherwise. He asks you questions about yourself, meaning he’s at least interested in who you are. Sure, he’s drunk, his hand is on your leg and his lips are constantly finding their way to yours even though you’re sitting at the bar. He’s drunk, okay, yes, but not that drunk. He thinks you’re pretty. He asked what you believe in. That counts for something, right?
Sometimes, it seems like all the signs are there. His charming, gentlemanly and caring behavior seems like it should lead to more than never speaking again, right? If he gives you his phone number and he takes your phone number, doesn’t that mean he's interested? Why exchange numbers if you have no intention of ever speaking again?
Is it so naïve to think that if someone takes your number, it means he wants to see you again?
In the taxi on the way back from the bar, he puts his arm around you and pulls you into him. It feels good. He feels good. It’s 3 am. Relationships never start at 3 am, do they? Maybe they could.
The whiskey has made you naïve. It’s happened before.
He pops some gum into his mouth — his smoker’s mouth. You can smell his lifestyle. It reminds you of when cigarettes smelled dangerous and forbidden. Now they just smell tired, like something everyone knows is bad, but keeps coming back to. It's something that’s getting old, just like one-night stands.
He offers you some gum too and you take it. You don’t chew gum.
He asks if you remember the first thing he said to you. He calls you beautiful. He says he’s not good at stuff like this. He says things that suggest his heart is bigger than that smile. You don’t want to believe him, but charm can seem so genuine.
You fall asleep with whiskey breath and a faint sense of hope.
In a lot of ways, how we look for love is backwards. We meet a guy, let him take us home and then hope he’ll call. He should call, but usually he doesn't. The way we’re going about it isn’t necessarily wrong, but maybe we’ve forgotten that we can be courted.
We can go home by ourselves and leave him hanging. We can leave him intrigued. We can up the odds of having him call.
"I have a headache," he mumbles to you the next morning, and you latch on to that. He has a headache. People always seem detached when they have a headache, right? Wrong, probably, but it’s a comforting thought.
He’s hungover and tired, but he still makes a big show of giving you his number. He puts it in your phone. He texts himself from your phone something witty and cute. He kisses you goodbye, more than once. He smiles that smile again, that smile that you knew meant he wasn’t going to call.
And, he doesn’t call. You’re not shocked, but your heart sighs.
If you told him you were going to crash on your friend’s couch and left it at that, it might have been different. If you had gotten his number at the bar before the bedroom, and then not gone home with him, he might have been intrigued. He would have known just enough to find you interesting. Maybe.
He might have texted; he might have flirted. He might have wanted to see you again. You might have seen him over coffee or lasagna, and he would have talked to you without the aid of a few gin and tonics.
He might have realized that you come from similar families and both love working out and both love working with kids. He might have noticed the way you do something that he didn’t notice before and find it alluring. He might have wanted to take you home still.
He might have not, yet.
You wonder when you will learn. You wonder when you will stop being the girl who they take home and start being the girl they call after they go home. You knew he wouldn’t call. You wonder when somebody will.
He never accepts your Facebook request, and he doesn’t text back.
More often than not, we know when he’s not going to call. We hang on to the hope, but we still know. We put it all out there. We let him have everything, and so he didn’t feel the need to call.
Sometimes a call is worth going home alone.
You need to know what you want and hold on to that idea. You need to take care of your soul.