Update 9/10/16: I realize that those of you that are just now joining the Terrible Poker Face story, you know Romeo/David and I for my Facebook post that went viral. I meant every word I wrote in that post. I also meant every word that I wrote in these next four posts. Even though I was living a lie, I had no idea. I did love him with all my heart and believed him when he said he loved me too.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a hot minute, you know that Romeo is the man I was dating when I first started this blog. He was the someone special from my first post; he was the man that made me realize what everyone was talking about when they talked about finding their person; he was the man who broke my heart into a million little pieces.
I’ve realized though, that most of you only know me through the lens of our demise. I’ve been dragging my feet on writing a Romeo entry for the Little Black Book because those are the men of my past, and until today I haven’t been ready to relegate Romeo to those ranks. I couldn’t bring myself to do the post-mortem because I was still trying to resuscitate Us; frantically pounding the chest with desperation that went full circle from gut-wrenching to a practically comical fervor of “DON’T GO INTO THE LIGHT!”
But we are done. Our Us deserves more than a thousand words or less than the others have gotten, so I’ll be breaking this down into a small series. I’m sure I’ll say too much, but I can’t help it – or maybe I don’t want to help it.
Here is us when we were us.
Timing is absolutely everything.
The odds of me meeting Romeo were one in a million. He was in town for a wedding that he almost didn’t go to, came in on Thursday when he almost had to work Friday, staying with friends that almost didn’t go out that night, at a bar that none of them even wanted to be at, and were literally chugging their beers in attempts to wander on to the next best thing.
I was dragging myself to a dinner downtown that I was dreading because of the four girls I was meeting, two were pregnant and I was sure the night was destined to be painfully uneventful. Work had been a nightmare that day, and I looked the part. I was actively talking myself out of going and actually turned the car around at one point to go home when I couldn’t find parking, but went back because my best friend that was attending and I had been in a terrible fight for the last month, and I didn’t want her to think I was avoiding her. I also maybe didn’t want her to think she “won.” Who says being a stubborn asshole doesn’t pay off?
The two non-pregnant girls – both of whom almost never get a wild hair to “go out” talked me into staying out for drinks after we finished dinner. For the first time ever, there was a band at the next bar and the guitarist, who looked like what I imagine the love child of Jim Morrison and Joe Jonas would look like, was maybe a little bit falling in love with me because I was chain smoking and not bothering to lower my voice while recounting a story to Katie, Grace, and their husbands that had come to meet up about the night in college when Katie had come home wasted and proceeded to hilariously fellate every object in our sorority dorm – including a blow dryer, a TV remote, an extension cord, and a dirty sock.
Jim Morrison/Joe Jonas told me I looked like an angel and couldn’t get enough of my “beautifully foul mouth,” and since my fourth glass of wine told me that was basically the most charming thing I had ever heard, I let him talk me into going for a drink at this super divey place next door.
As soon as we walked in, Jim Morrison/Joe Jonas snuck off to the bathroom (I’m assuming to do drugs because when we wandered out ten minutes later, he was no longer a functioning human) and while I sat alone at the bar, some asshole started chatting me up and made fun of me for being a teacher.
“Fuck YOU,” I enthusiastically replied. “I bet every single person in this bar will tell you what an utter piece of shit you are for bad-mouthing teachers. We do God’s work.”
Sometimes I get an over-inflated sense of pride in my profession, but in this case it’s more that I truly despise when guys try to hit on me by insulting me. You are not an 8 year old on the playground that can try to woo me by pulling my pigtails. I am not a 21 year old with daddy issues that will be charmed with negs – the lowest form of flirtation. I’m a grown ass woman with daddy issues that has spent a small fortune on therapy and now will confidently tell you to go fellate a dirty sock. (Which is only awesome when Katie does it.)
I then proceeded to go from table to table, getting the entire bar riled up to to tell this guy what he a douche he was.
Right when I had the bar on the brink of a full coup, I decided I needed a break from my role as The Malcolm X of Drunk Teachers and went to hunt down a cigarette.
“Can you believe this asshat inside told me that teachers should make minimum wage?” I started in on the only guy I saw with a cigarette outside. Clearly I felt I had done a disservice to the smoking crowd out front that didn’t know that The Revolution was upon us. “I mean… teachers are awesome. Do you like teachers??”
“I love teachers,” chimed in a guy standing a few people over. “All the women in my family are teachers. They do God’s work.”
“THAT’S WHAT I SAID!” I exclaimed, turning to look into the brightest blue eyes and the most arresting shit-eating grin I’ve ever seen.
Holy shit. Fuck The Revolution. Who. Is. This.
“I love that you’re a teacher,” he said. “I was always the trouble maker in school, but there were a few teachers that knew how to keep me in line, and I can’t help but love them for it.”
“The trouble makers are always my favorite,” I replied; both of us appreciating the dual implications of that statement with sly smiles and eyes that had locked in on only each other.
“What do you do?” I asked, hungry to know everything I could about this stranger that was, in my opinion, way too good looking and charming to be flirting with me in my current state of crooked top bun, 18 hour old mascara, orthopedic work shoes, and ridiculous role as the instigator of a now leaderless rebellion.
Pause–> No but seriously, I was a hot mess, minus the hot part. Literally the first way I ever described Romeo was to my roommate the next day when I told her, “Yeah I was all over the place last night and some guy that maybe I could normally see hitting on me is just in town trying to get his dick sucked for the weekend and decided to slum it with me last night.” Imagine if we had worked out – that’s a story for the grandchildren if ever I’ve heard one. –> Play
“I’m an Air Force pilot,” he responded, clearly very proud and passionate about his work.
“Top Gun. Hot. But I voted for Obama twice… So… this has been fun,” I started to turn to leave. The last THREE guys I dated, including Not The One whose wounds were still all too fresh, had cited our wildly different political stances to be a large factor in why they didn’t see us working out.
“I think I can handle a contentious November every four years,” he winked non-nonchalantly, “Can I buy you a drink?”
We sat at two facing barstools, while the rest of the world disappeared. My knees perched between his, his hand unconsciously playing with the hem of my dress as if we had been together for years, my hand finding every excuse possible to rest on his arm or emphasize a point by pressing to his chest. He told me he lived in San Antonio- about three hours from me. “I could live there,” I thought entirely too prematurely. When I met him I was in the early stages of planning a year long trip to go teach in Australia and started to tell him about my impending journey.
“That’s the one continent I’ve never been to!” he said like a kid in a candy shop, “I guess going to visit you could be a perfect excuse to finally go.”
Talking. Smiling. Flirting. Bantering. Laughing. Touching.
“You have really pretty eye lashes.” I told him at one point.
“Thank you. But you mean eyes,” he said casually correcting my compliment and taking a swig of his beer. He was right. I did mean eyes, but clearly he’d heard this countless times and I wasn’t trying to feed his ego; I was just being a shameless flirt.
I should have hated him for this totally unabashed confidence that bordered on cockiness, but this is exactly the kind of way I respond to guys all the time when they give me recycled compliments, and all I could think was “Holy Hell. This is finally a man that will keep me on my toes; Thank God.”
The rest of the night becomes a bit booze soaked and hazy, but we exchanged numbers and I made my way home.
The next day I woke up to the text:
“I hope you made it home okay. And I’m 100% serious about Australia.”
I almost didn’t respond. “You’re not looking for a hook up and what are you going to like actually date some guy from out of town? You learned your lesson after The Psycho. Get serious,” I told myself.
…But he was just cute enough. And I was just hungover enough to decide to work from home/eat breakfast tacos in bed and text all day…
The next thing I know, we had been texting literally nonstop for the entire Friday without once coming close to running out of things to say. I was smiling at my phone like an idiot and actually laughing out loud, not just LOLing. I hadn’t clicked with someone like this since… ever?
Like I said, timing is everything. All of the puzzle pieces had to fall into place just for either of us to even consider seeing each other again, much less unbeknownst to either of us that first night, eventually fall in love.
Our meet cute is a mouthful. In the months that followed, when people would ask us how we met, we eventually started to just smile at each other like it was a secret only we could understand the importance of. “Fate and cigarettes,” we’d say.
To be continued in Romeo: Part 2.