His longish dark brown hair lay in a perfectly disheveled mess while his dark chocolate eyes pierced mine with an unexpected intensity that I had never experienced in my twenty-one years of existence and his smile – *heavy sigh* Dear Lord, that smile! Well, suffice it to say that his smile could kill.
As he extended his rugged, firm handshake to introduce himself, I placated his gesture with my manicured, not so rugged hand, taking odd pleasure in his calloused palm. Admiring the alluring smile that once again followed his verbal introduction, I found myself lying at the sound of my name rolling off my tongue, “My name is Paloma.” What the hell, I thought to myself. A friend of mine had recently nicknamed me Paloma, meaning “dove” in Spanish, due to my current obsession with birds and I had just told this extremely, should-be-illegal-handsome specimen, standing in front of me, that my name was Paloma. Really, Linds?
The truth was that I was in a committed relationship at the time of our meeting. After almost two years of the same guy vying for my affection, it was frightening to realize that there might be something else out there for me – something better. And I use the word commitment lightly since the other half involved had denied cheating on me in the near past. The proof I had was in his deliverance of a, thankfully curable-by-handful-of-pills, sexually transmitted disease and a supply of condoms that was arbitrarily low in stock. I knew we weren’t having that much sex! It hadn’t been the same since and I was severely unhappy, hence why I found myself out on the town for a ladies’ night complete with a scrumptious dinner and thirst quenching alcoholic beverages.
What was not on the agenda for that night of female revolution, however, was meeting a man that would enter my life and become “that one” – the one we always return to, the one we don’t ever quite stop thinking about, the one that always has one foot in your door and a piece of your heart that is non-refundable, non-returnable – some might refer to him as, “the one that got away.”
With a puzzled expression, he asked me to repeat my name. “Paloma,” I enunciated all three syllables without an ounce of hesitation. By this time, my girlfriend switched her attention from the jerky bartender to the serendipitous encounter that was taking place right next to her. I introduced them and as bartender in training, he enthusiastically offered to prepare a special beverage to please our palate. I dared him to surprise us. What followed were strawberry flavored cosmopolitans, welcomed conversation and a white napkin with my girlfriend’s number scrawled across it in heavy, black ink. For the next hour or so, he desperately tried to obtain my digits scrawled across that napkin but I told him that he could reach me through my friend. This inadvertently led to his inviting us to come out with him after his shift was over.
I was sitting at the bar of a hole in the wall spot coined “Little Bar,” near La Brea and Wilshire, excitedly conversing with my girlfriend about this elusively handsome stranger that would shortly be meeting us for drinks. As a bit of liquid courage did me a solid, her eyes darted toward the door and she frantically whispered, “He’s here.” I spun around to see him standing at the entryway, his own enchanting eyes patiently scanning the room for mine. As he caught glimpse of me, he smiled that heart pounding-inducing smile while making his way toward the seat next to mine.
As the seconds sped by, we conversed over a couple of import beers, the mutual attraction so undeniable, it was palpable. I politely excused myself to seek out the ladies’ room. As I made my way toward the facilities, I couldn’t find the women’s restroom so I assumed, in my bladder’s desperation, that the first door I found was the community, co-ed toilette. Just my luck – the lock wasn’t working. I quickly pulled my panties down to pee and merely ten seconds later, the door swung wide open. Much to my embarrassment, he was standing there. He courteously closed the door offering up a smug chuckle as I exited. Apparently, I had entered the men’s restroom in my haste.
As the bar made last call, the three of us walked outside into the cool, July summer air. He informed us that he was traveling home to Washington for his twenty-third birthday and would be returning to Los Angeles in a week. “I hope to see you again,” he said sincerely while gazing into my soul with those eyes – Oh, those eyes! We never exchanged numbers that night or any contact information, for that matter. We did exchange a hug, however – embracing as if we’d known each other for years – an affectionate hug that I would soon grow to know like the back of my hand.