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Sarah’s Story: The Politician

Most women I know have had one of those moments when it’s all over with the guy we’re seeing.  Well, at least when we’re being totally honest. That moment when everything you felt for the person lying in bed next to you vanishes in one instant, as if it had never existed. My most recent experience with this phenomenon was with The Politician. I call him that because he once ran for office in his home state. I’m thinking he didn’t win, but I can’t remember for sure. But he did tell me he ran, and I Googled him, and there he was, his name and a picture.  From that point on he was, simply, The Politician. He was a Republican, that much I knew. He also told me, within just a few minutes of meeting, that he wasn’t into kids or dogs. I have both, and I’m a Democrat, but those minor demographics immediately faded. I was blinded by the physical attraction we had for each other, the dizziness I felt in his presence. All the other stuff didn’t matter. What mattered was the way he smelled, his hand on my lower back, his blue eyes.I need to back up, because it sounds like I picked up some stranger in a bar, and while maybe it’s happened at some point in my life, it’s not really the whole truth here. He did walk up to me, and it was in a bar, and I’d never met him before.  But I’d met his friend, Purse Man, so I felt like I sort of knew him.


Purse Man I’d met a month or two earlier when I was playing pool with a couple of my married mom friends who needed a girls’ night out.  Who better than me, the single mom, to use as an excuse to get out and ply up on margaritas? It seems I’m always that person for married women. I bring something out in certain types, and I end up feeling like a terrible influence because they go wild and get very intimate and vomit out stuff about their lives.  Then their husbands sense that I’m some kind of threat, like their wives are going to want to go out every night, and then their families will fall apart, and it’s all my fault. I tell my married friends who might have an itch or may be complacent and slightly bored, that they truly wouldn’t want my life. Being single, this age, and a mom — it’s just not that easy and certainly not that fun. I should have that house, the one that looks like the 2nd floor of the Ralph Lauren store.  And I should have a man that looks like the man on the 1st floor of the Ralph Lauren store but is also the perfect step-dad to my son (with season tickets to the Lakers) and is kind and understanding and funny and loves me.I shouldn’t be playing pool on a Friday night because that’s what I do on Friday nights; I should be playing pool on Friday nights like they are playing pool – because it’s that once-every-few-months night out with the girls.  Their great husbands are at home putting the kids to bed and waiting for them to come home. That seems so normal yet so unbelievably impossible to achieve. Even when I had it, I didn’t have it. I had some fake play-acting version of that, two people trying to be grown-ups who didn’t understand the life or each other. Ick. Yuck. Sad. Don’t want to go back to that.  But I digress.Back to Purse Man:  My friends and I are playing pool, and in walks this super tall guy carrying a helmet, a purse and wearing (egad) designer jeans. I don’t know why, but that’s kind of a thing for me. I don’t like guys in designer jeans or any of that post-1999 nouveau denim. I’m a little strict about it – Levis or Diesel, for men. That’s it. Period.  That’s probably a little shallow, though I will allow for Wranglers on a cowboy, a real cowboy like Jewel’s boyfriend who rides bulls or my friend Barry who used to wrangle horses. But designer jeans?  No.I take back what I just said. Gay men are allowed to wear whatever kind of jeans they want – studs on the pockets, chains dangling from the belt loops, swirly patterns as accent. That’s fine. They’re gay. But a straight guy trying to get my attention? Again, it’s Levis or Diesel, or if you’re a cowboy, Wranglers. Done. Just one of my quirks, but admittedly a big one.So Purse Man’s got the jeans with the jeweled bird or whatever on his pockets, and he’s carrying the purse and the helmet, and he’s totally focused on me. From the moment he walks into the room, it’s as if he’s decided I am his. If it had been a movie, he would have been a real biker and I would have been like Cher in Mask and it would have worked out. But it isn’t a movie, he certainly isn’t a real biker, and I just want to play pool with my friends. His looking at me is annoying me.  


Sadly, when I ignore men like that it fuels their desire, so of course he approaches me. I’m sitting waiting for my next shot, and he comes up and sits next to me and asks me to watch his purse while he goes to the bathroom. This was out of line. I was in the middle of a game, I didn’t know him, and now I’m responsible for his man purse and brand spanking new helmet? I don’t like it, and I tell him so. This seems to charm him even more, which makes me dislike him even more.  Oblivious, he laughs and leaves his purse with me. If I were really an asshole, I’d have hidden it somewhere and let him think it was stolen.  But I’m a straight shooter and I don’t like to lie or make people feel bad. So Purse Man returns from the bathroom, my having delivered on watching his stuff to the detriment of my pool game. Now I have a resentment, an unwanted suitor, and a bad pool game. I decide to gather my friends and leave. They of course have husbands and a warm house to get home to. I have some leftover wine and a DVD of “The Wire” – both more appealing than a lonely, bejeweled guy in a dive bar on a Friday night.Back to The Politician: There I was, two months later at sushi happy hour at my neighborhood place in Venice. My friend Denise had cancelled just as I was leaving the house, and since it was my weekend night out, my big Friday night, I of course couldn’t bear to stay home. I’m two personalities that way, and I needed my single, still-warm-if-not-hot, hanging-onto-the-last-vestiges-of-fun, cool girl while I could get it — which, by my estimation, wasn’t going to be much longer. During the week, I am Mom; I help with homework, run to sports practices and doctor’s appointments, cook dinner, make lunchbox contents, do the laundry, and watch American Idol on Tuesdays with my son. That’s who I am. Most days. But that person evaporates on Friday evening and re-materializes on Sunday afternoon.  In between, out comes a vivacious adult. Or, at least, that’s what I’d like to believe. I can honestly say I was a vivacious younger adult, but I took all that energy and applied it to the wrong places, which is what has led me to where I am, wondering if I’m an older vivacious adult.I don’t mind sitting at a sushi bar and eating alone. 


Actually, I kind of like it. This night, I just wanted to have some sake and sushi and go home early. But then this good-looking guy walked in and my night was over. He didn’t know my night was over, but I did. He was wearing khakis, and the blue oxford matched the eyes that were already brought out by his silver hair. None of this is what I’m ordinarily drawn to, but there was an electric connection. He saw me too but joined his friends, and when I took a closer look at his group, I saw – can it be — Purse Man. I tried to hide, but it was too late. Purse Man whispered to The Politician, and the next thing I knew, The Politician was standing next to me. My body was certainly happy to feel him near, but I was onto the fact that his friend, his cowardly friend, his stupid friend had sent him over. Given the effect of Purse Man, I gave The Politician what I consider to be my stony demeanor, though it probably wasn’t. He tried to talk, and I did my best to be indifferent – as indifferent as I could when my hormones were screeching and I could feel myself wanting to fall off the bar stool into his arms. He seemed to know this, because he brushed his arm against mine; I inhaled lightly and we exchanged looks. It was established. The problem of course was Purse Man, because as I’d suspected those months ago, Purse Man somehow thought I was his girl. It didn’t matter that I’d all but been mean to him, never told him my name, hadn’t seen him since. Nope, I was the girl in his fantasy and now here I was, across the room from him with his friend’s hand brushing against mine and sending crazy thoughts to my head. Not only was I hot for the Politician, I was annoyed by Purse Man’s declaration of ownership. Well, maybe not “ownership” per se, but it was that feeling. The Politician told me — before we even made it back to their group, before we’d really said more than a few words to each other, before we’d even kissed — that we were in trouble. Naturally, that turned me on. It turned me on that this guy I knew I needed the minute he walked in the door was feeling the same thing I was, and now there was a little mess we had to take care of. The mess part I could have done without, but it was pretty hot that we had a mess as a result of this…this…crazy passion.I’m not young but this is exactly how I acted when I was young. And, by the way, every time it happens, I tell myself that I’ve never gone through this before, this is different, something new. Maybe not “love”, but a “connection”. It’s such bullshit in broad daylight, but I believe myself every time. Every single time. And in the midst of it, probably as if an interventionist were trying to stop a gambler from throwing the dice, there is nothing anyone can say to me to remind me of the past, that this isn’t the first time, that really their names and faces change but they’re all the same guy. I won’t hear it, not between Friday evening and Sunday morning. By now it was obvious to most people around us that there was something going on, and even Purse Man sensed it and stormed out of the restaurant. It upset The Politician, but not enough to stop himself from kissing me that night, or calling me the next day, or seeing me the following evening. No, sometimes physical chemistry outweighs a guy’s stupid friend and his stupid fantasy. And sometimes physical chemistry outweighs a girl’s better judgment (duh). I found myself the following night, after all the ceremonial pretenses of a “date”, bringing The Politician home with me. This man who’d already told me he wanted nothing to do with kids or dogs (though he managed to eke out in conversation that for me, he’d probably do anything), this man who was a…a…Republican, who’d voted for George W. Bush — all of that was shoved to the back of my mind because he made me weak in the knees. I didn’t want to think; in my head was ringing “la-la-la-la-la” so I wouldn’t hear all the warning signals.  I wanted to respond to my physical needs because I just hadn’t done that in so long.So that’s exactly what I did. That first night was a blur of need and desire and craving and collapsing into oblivion. The following days brought some guilt, because he’s Catholic, and he had left some short-term girlfriend (“girlfriend”? at his age?) behind in his home state, and he hadn’t “quite” broken up with her. I wasn’t much interested in the specifics. I knew he wasn’t my future, but when the day came that we had bike-riding plans and I didn’t hear from him, I was hurt. Rather, my ego was hurt. When I tried to call him and his number had changed, I was outraged. I told all of my friends that this guy had changed his number to avoid me (it actually is all about me), and I came to believe it. It became my “story”; and after awhile, it was a funny story, a great anecdote to tell at parties. My ego isn’t so terribly huge or unhealthy that I dwelled on this faux rejection, so I went on and soon enough forgot about The Politician. I admit, there was a lingering question — confusion as to why a man his age just wouldn’t be able to tell me that he couldn’t be involved any further. After all, I’m not exactly the stalker type.  But whatever; I let go. And then came the night I ran into him again. A friend was visiting from Austin, and we went out for sushi. 


When I walked into the same restaurant where I’d first met him, there was The Politician sitting at the bar. Not only was he not appalled at seeing me, he immediately approached and was hugging me and kissing my neck. It had been nearly four months since we’d seen each other, and by the feel of it, nothing had changed for him. He tripped all over himself to let me know that he’d lost his phone the day after we’d last seen each other, and that was all I needed to hear to justify finishing dinner quickly, grabbing The Politician and heading back to my place.This time, though, the rose had lost some petals. Not all its petals, as I was still physically attracted to him. It’s just that I noticed certain things I hadn’t seen before. For instance, he was very tan. Now, I know people love to tan and I certainly did my share of it when I was a teenager, before I knew better. These days, I kind of see it like smoking without the cigarette. Also, it seems so…so…egocentric. Not that we don’t all act on ego occasionally. I mean, I’m guilty of that sometimes — I’m the one that thought a lost phone was about me; hell, I’m the one who even believed there was a lost phone. It’s just that there are some things that fit for me and some that don’t, and a man in his late 40s with a deep tan just doesn’t click. Also, and I’m sorry to admit this, his muscles were just…too big. Or, rather, they’d once been too big and now had that worked-out older guy thing going on. I may seem like the most rotten girl on the planet, but we all have our types. For some girls, this former body-builder would be the be-all to end all, and my skinny, preppy rock-and-roll East Coast guy would be repellant. But different strokes, and all that. Having said that, the chemistry was still there and I have an amazing capacity to deny my brain when I want something, so I welcomed him into my home. I also really loved hearing all of the things he said to me, such as, he’d thought about me every day since he lost his phone; he dreamed of me, missed me — all of those things that, had it been the right guy, I’d have married by now. Given that he wasn’t, it was still fun to hear, and that was all it took to end up in bed.But then it happened. That moment, the moment that ends it all, that makes one wonder what on earth she was thinking. The moment in which one questions her judgment, her motives, her life. The moment in which I ran my hand over his chest and discovered…stubble.  Stubble? He…shaved…his…chest. This was more than I could bear. My hand froze, but he was talking and while he was talking it also occurred to me that he’d never really talked to me, simply at me — which somehow connected the stubble to the Republican thing, the muscles, the tan, and all of it. I was simultaneously mortified and filled with guilt that I could be so shallow as to feel all this while lying naked next to this otherwise nice man.  (Although, if we’re counting, a global- warming denier and a war monger.) And so it happened: it was over.  There’s no way…ever…period. All in an instant.  And at last I’m totally done, now and forever, with the after-dark insanity of the way some guy smells, his hand on my back, his whatever-colored eyes.  I must have done or said something to turn him off (maybe he’s clairvoyant), because the ambiance noticeably cooled.  We both made it through the night, if painfully, and when dawn came, it was a race to see who could get to the door faster – him, or me walking him there. A perfunctory kiss, an “I’ll call you”, and he was gone.  And my walk on the wild side was over. For that weekend, anyway.

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