“Wanna grab a drink after work tomorrow?” read the text message from Jessica.
“I’ll be in Pittsburgh for the day but should be be back in time. Can we say 7pm, but in pencil rather than indelible pixels?” I replied.
I returned to DC a little later than planned; Jessica worked later than she anticipated so we skipped drinks and went straight to dinner.
She walked into the restaurant in a navy blue pencil skirt with big brass buttons on the back, and a lacy, racy top that I know she didn’t wear at work. The peep-toe platforms probably weren’t standard 9-5 issue either. Her make-up was perfectly applied – striking a balance between effortless, displaying effort, and it’s Friday night.
I stood to greet her and for just a moment, had a flash of awkwardness – it’s not supposed to be a date, but we’ve already been pretty familiar – wondering about the appropriate level of physicality in our salutation.
Where I had doubt, Jessica possessed absolute certainty. She sauntered more than walked towards me, dropping her work bag from her left shoulder as she went. She leaned forward on her toes and placed her right hand against my cheek guiding my lips towards hers for a hello that was two beats too long to be friendly.
“I thought this wasn’t a date” I stated in a whisper just loud enough to be heard over the bar’s iPod playing a Latin version of Take 5.
“It’s not” she countered as we released our hug. “This is a ‘I’ve had an incredibly shitty week so I decided to wear something really pretty and have some escapist fun with a man I’m not supposed to like.’”
“You practice that on the way in?” I teased.
“Yeah, you wanna make something of it?” Jessica shot back with a mock tough-girl look.
Our night of escapism unfolded as expected. We didn’t talk about her suburban lifestyle & desire to have children. Nor did we discuss my night-owl nature and its incompatibility with her early rising.
A few days later I sent Jessica an email asking her to have drinks with me in a couple of days because I had a meeting with a restaurant in her neighborhood. Her reply came quickly and in the affirmative, but with some caveats.
I would love to have drinks with you, especially since you’ll be just around the corner. But just to be clear: I won’t have shaved my legs for two days, and I will most definitely be wearing granny-panties.
Fair enough, I laughed/mumbled to my computer.
The universe has a really strange sense of humor.
Reader Question: assuming you are the kind of person who places oneself in situations where one must actively avoid, *ahem*, entanglements, what steps do you take to avoid such things?