Sunday, August 14, 2005

Is It Your Fifth Martini Or Are You Happy To See Me?

In New York City, it’s difficult to discern if you’re dating an alcoholic. Manhattanites drink any time, any place, any occasion. A “Balthazar” lunch with two carafes of wine? Five ‘Happy Hour’ gin martinis at the “Biltmore Room?” A Bordeaux AND a Malbec with an expense account “ Peter Luger’s” steak dinner? A bottle of champagne at “La Goulue’s” noon Sunday brunch?

Good livin.’

“’Nother round over here, bartender,” Steve says, with a sweep of his arm.

I beam. I touch my neck. I lean in closer. My date's so handsome and he loves my company, I think. He just ordered two more martinis because I’m so damned fascinating—and pretty. My skin looks great, so do my newly whitened teeth…


I could have the conversational skills of Anna Nicole Smith and the body of Starr Jones and he would still be on the bar stool next to me.

His cheeks didn’t flush from desire. The hands didn’t shake because I reminded him of Sharon Stone. The brow sweat wasn’t caused by a rush of testosterone. It had nothing to do with me and everything to do with a half a bottle of Kettle One circulating in his blood stream.

Alcohol is cupid; it puts us, and keeps us, together.

Problems arise, however, when there is the U.S.E.—Unexpected Sober Encounter.

Random time and place—say, lunch hour at the organic market in Union Square—I spot a version of Steve. We’ve been out four times and yet… is that really him?? Shit, he sees me looking. He lifts his arm in a gesture of recognition. He’s walking toward me. He’s close. He, too, looks a little let down by my noon-time appearance. At least he’s speaking, trying to be cordial. Somehow, I can’t concentrate on his words when, for the first time, I’m seeing his mottled, red nose, wrinkled jacket, nicotine-stained teeth and wide, oddly feminine hips. Had I actually sat across from this man in a restaurant? Multiple times?

I gulped my bottle of Poland Spring.

Cupid retracted her bow.

My subsequent two-week relationship was with a tee-totalling Equinox trainer--dumb as bricks.

He looked good at high-noon, though.

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