May 23, 2011
Club 41 on King Street West
Monica's hand slid across the back of my neck, causing me a chill, and she drew me towards her. I inclined and our lips met, first, tenderly, and then a little more insistently. I felt the velvet softness of her tongue slide past my lips.
"Wow," I commented, savouring the lingering sensation of her lips. "What did I do for that?"
"You had better be careful, buster," she informed me, severely.
"Careful or what?"
"Careful, or else I might have to fall in love with you."
"Now I've done it," I quipped but, by her glance, I knew she was not quite so nonchalant.
"What did I do?" I was having trouble locking onto what was specifically on her mind.
"You are just being you," she said and then she was kissing me again. My hands closed around her waist and I drew her closer.
Things do get serious - they do get more complicated.
It was already unusual for us to be out on a Tuesday night but, she had things going on at work which were driving her crazy. As more often than not, I was a train wreck waiting to happen. We decided spontaneously to blow off a night. Sometimes the situation calls for it. If it required calling in 'sick' the day after - then so be it.
Her face was still dangerously close to mine, her eyes misted and heavily lidded. My fingers, through the supple fabric of her blouse, pressed into the flesh over her hips. In the moment, I couldn't have imagined any greater contentment or peace.
"Do you want to go home?" My inquiry was a typically flubbed male response although, in truth, even the traffic noise on King Street had faded away while, so close, we risked passing out from breathing each others exhalations.
Monica poked me in the ribs to get me back on track.
"No, I want you to buy me a drink," she said. She brushed her body, briefly, against mine and then took my arm.
"You can pretend that you're leading," she quipped and I grinned.
We were, in fact, standing in front of the stained-glass accented doors of Club 41, a place that had become so familiar to us that, really, we couldn't think of other places to visit. What was also unusual was, aside from our presence on a Tuesday night, was Monica's effusive affection - a quality that was not common to her but in more private surroundings, like, the bedroom of my apartment where, to my delight, she was often more affectionate than I knew what to do with.
I disentangled her arm from mine and took her hand. Turning our attention to the front doors of the club, we found them open and the owner standing there with his arms folded and a silly expression.
“I was about to tell you two love-birds to 'get a room',” he joked with a lop-sided grin. “I was also wondering when you were going to surface to breathe.”
“Don't blame me,” I said, blushing slightly and shaking his hand vigorously. “It's Monica's fault.”
“It...,” began Monica but, instead, I got another poke in the ribs. I began to worry about the long-term effects of the repeated trauma to my rib cage.
The owner of Club 41 held the door open with his foot while dispensing a brief hug to Monica.
“You look lovely, Monica,” he offered.
“Thank you, sir,” responded Monica, smiling, and mock-courtsied. Then, trailing me behind by the hand, we passed in, guided by the welcoming arm of the owner. Moments later, I was installed at the bar and Monica had slipped off to the ladies' to check her makeup. The barman – a new fellow called Alphonse – quickly served up our usual order and I sat, lost in my own thoughts.
Something had happened which was niggling in my mind but, the more I tried to identify what it was, the more it seemed to evade inquiry.
There had been Monica's 'threat' – that she might fall in love with me and, then, there was something that had passed through my mind.
What was it?
I sat at the bar, sipping my drink and waiting for Monica to return, fussing inwardly about my failure to be able see something that was evidently in plain sight. I looked over my shoulder toward the hallway leading to the washrooms but, Monica had not yet reappeared.
It was interesting, on reflection, how our relationship had developed. I knew that I had been interested before she had and, despite my, probably very evident, crush on her, I had kept it to myself in favour of our friendship. She, on the other hand, had been more covert – attentive to my behaviour toward her and toward others and, once she showed her intentions, there was little that I could do. From there, we had quickly developed the closer bond which, for her, had burst over its banks in her affectionate display previously on the street in front of the club.
'It shouldn't have been so difficult to get there,' I scolded myself.
She was just telling me what I should have already known and what, subconsciously, was already in my head when I joked to myself about 'long-term trauma'. The fact of the matter was that Monica and I were already in a stable relationship and, barring catastrophe, there was no particular reason for it not to continue. I suppose that, considering the very casual way that we started out, it was just a matter of time before the reality of it became self-evident. I looked over my shoulder again and saw Monica weaving her way back.
“Sorry,” she began, slipping onto the high stool beside me and composing her skirt over her thighs. “There was a line-up.”
“It's not a problem,” I said, swiveling slightly toward her. “I was just sitting here and thinking.”
“What were you thinking?” She lifted her glass and took a sip. My fingers played on the bar near my own glass.
“About some things I should be doing...”
“Like what?” She turned her attention to me.
“Lots of stuff. I've got a painting to finish, writing to finish... telling Monica how I really feel. It's quite the list, actually.”
Monica looked at her glass. She smiled.
“It does sound like a lot.”
Her fingers, damp from the sweating glass, closed over mine on the bar.
“I know,” she stated and looked up at me, still smiling. “I already know.”