Tuesday, August 22nd 2017

How I flirted with temptation . . . and embraced monogamy forever

GUEST COLUMN: Beverley Wood

All of the guys I’ve ever been in love with have always said the same thing. I have one eye on the door even if it’s just out of the corner of the eye — like I’m waiting for someone who I know is coming, someday.

It disturbs me when guys point that out while we’re still at the intense romance stage. I don’t notice it myself until much later.

I believe in fate. I don’t know what it holds in store for me, but I believe in it.

The trouble with the door thing is the timing. When a significant other accuses me of staking out the door, I’m usually perfectly content. Until they point out this trait, I forget that I do it. And then I start wondering who it is that I’m waiting for. If I knew, I could take my eyes off the damn door . . . and get down to business.

So, the other day, I was actually in a bar:

I had detoured in to let an innocent summer squall pass. I was watching the rain hit the windows and sipping on a Heineken, feeling all neon warm and cozy, just thinking about life and how good it all was.

The door opened and in walked this guy — and my heart stopped. I struggled to regain control, and I struggled hard. Who was he? Where did that ton of hot bricks that landed on my chest come from? What was happening? Why did his eyes pierce through mine like that? How could this be so intense and why did it scare me so much? Why was I so sure that this could only happen once in a lifetime?

I wondered if I’d lost my whatever-mind.

He eased onto the stool at the end of the bar. He wore faded jeans with cowboy boots and a time-worn chamois shirt. It was the outfit I dress all my heroes in when I create their characters. This simply could not be happening. I wondered if I could be hallucinating. I prayed that this was a flashback from the hippie days. That would make it so easy – a few months in the hospital and I would be fine.

I was madly and happily in love with My Other who, conveniently as far as the devil was concerned, wasn’t present to save me from myself. Someone who was good and kind and honest. Someone who had shown me the glory in commitment and trust. Someone who had never asked why I cover the door.

I did not want to meet Mr. Destiny today. Or tomorrow, for that matter. I wasn’t officially available.

The angel and the devil who live inside of each of us went at it big time with me, and went the full 15 rounds. I’ve never seen a knock-me-down fight between those two like that before. It was very hard to sit still on my barstool while they were rolling around in my belly. I blame them for the nausea that came next. There was no other explanation.

You can’t feel that way about someone that you’ve never met. You just can’t — its stupid and it only happens in the movies. But it was happening all right. My gut ached and my heart hurt. I knew in the pit of my stomach, where the angel and devil were still sparring, that this was the moment that had made so many so nervous over so many years. And I couldn’t believe that it was happening now. There were many times in my life that I had dreamed this scenario, times I had prayed for it. But never in my life had I been so far away from those fantasies as I was at that moment.

Meanwhile, a winner had yet to be determined in the mental boxing match of my life. In this corner we have love and strength and honor. And in this corner we have the moment you have always waited for. Call the fight before Someone gets hurt.

This was plain silly. I was just having a beer in a bar. It was a safe harbor until the rain eased up. But why did it feel like the eye of the storm, and why was the hair on my arms standing straight up? The angel kept harping at me: What was I doing? What was I even thinking? I was thinking, very wisely, that I’d best fall back and regroup.

The angel felt that while she could live with that plan of action, it would be smarter to pay my tab and saunter off into the sunset. The devil wanted me to send him a drink. Have you ever sat at a bar with your magazine open in front of you, staring at the pages and even remembering to turn them in due time, but not actually understanding a word? My head was spinning and my knees were weak. I still didn’t know what to do. Or what not to do. And the clock was ticking – so I bought some time in a green bottle.

After a few more magazine pages and a stern talking to myself, I dared to look down the bar. It was nothing but my imagination. This would prove it. He looked right through me. I felt him read my soul as if it were a favorite paperback with dog-eared pages. The kind you savor again and again. I felt him studying every line on my face, trying to remember me. I saw, in his eyes, the ghost of every man I’ve ever loved. I jumped back into my magazine.

I saw him motion to the barkeep. Please God, don’t let him be leaving. I kept my eyes on the glossy pages. After a moment or two, I felt the bartender move toward me behind the long polished mahogany. He poured me a shot from a bottle of tequila and indicated that it had come from the gentleman in question. The only thing I drink besides beer. And my brand too, a Reposada Sauza. Life had just crossed over to the far side.

The devil and angel went at it again and I thought I was going to throw up right in front of him. Hard to manage those two and my dignity at the same time. The devil kept warning me that if I didn’t just do it, whatever it was, I would never stop wondering. The angel was disturbingly silent after awhile. I contemplated briefly whether she had conceded gracefully of whether the devil had tied her up and stuffed a sock in her mouth again.

With a deep breath and the sum of all the courage I’ve ever possessed, I turned with my lime and shot to acknowledge my benefactor. At the same time, he got up and went to the men’s room. I knew that when he returned, it would be to the barstool beside me.

You know, it was funny what happened next. The angel must have slipped her ropes. I left the bar while he was gone. I left my magazine. I left my tequila. I left too-big of a tip. I walked out that door, and walked home in the rain.

I don’t watch the door out of the corner of my eye anymore. It’s odd that I’m so aware of not doing something. I miss it sometimes, although it’s just a vague rumbling, like thunder in the distance.

I’ve never been back to that bar. I carry an umbrella now.

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One Comment on “How I flirted with temptation . . . and embraced monogamy forever”

  1. This is a great scene. It's like that movie by John Dahl, Red Rock West. Thank you! It really does happen in real life

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