Just a Mess, Really
"So then, my VP becomes really furious, and I mean, you can see this guy's face turn redder and redder, and he picks up the printer and hurls it at Earl. No joke, he actually physically picked up the thing from the table and throws it at Earl, who ducks and watches it smash against the wall. Man the entire room was silent, we had no idea what to do."
I stared, a little in shock at the guy sitting across the table from me, partly because of the story he had just told, and partly because I just didn't really know how to respond to any of the stories he had been telling all night.
It was a good thing that he was so talkative.
Marina had set me up on a blind date. After I called her up and told her everything that had happened, everything that Abigail had said to me, Marina had pushed for me to stay away from Andrew.
It had been rather unexpected.
Throughout our friendship, Marina had always been the more adventurous one. She was the one pushing me to take risks, to ditch school to go to concerts with her, to tell people how I really felt. The advice I had been expecting from her was somewhere along the lines of her demanding me to go talk to Andrew and to clear things up. To demand answers and hear his side of things.
But Marina's advice had gone in a completely separate direction.
"This entire situation is a mess," she had declared, sounding exasperated and angry, although I knew her anger was not directed at me. I could hear her tone and imagine her rolling her eyes on the other side of the line. "I don't know what Andrew is playing at with rejecting you, and then trying to kiss you, and then making you wait, and then stringing this Abigail girl along, and then bringing you to his brother's wedding, and then placing himself on an assignment with you and trying to intrude into your life when you already told him you didn't want anything to do with him. I mean, the guy is hot and everything, but just what is his problem?"
"Uh…" I had not known how to respond at that moment. To be fair, right before I had called her, I was sure she would convince me to seek Andrew out and get some sort of clarification from him, and I thought after my call with her my biggest debate would be whether or not I could work out the courage to go and find Andrew, but this had thrown me in for a loop.
"You know, who cares," Marina had exclaimed over the other side of the line. "Who cares about stupid Andrew Williams and his stupid photographs? People don't really care about photographs, I'm sorry I ever connected you with that job!"
She was even more incensed than I was. I had been relatively calm when I had picked up the phone to call her.
"Who cares!" she had kept going on, her voice growing more indignant by the second. "You know what you need to do? You need to get out there and date other people!"
And that's how I got to this point, sitting here, at this restaurant in Midtown, on a date with a virtual stranger who regaled me with stories about what went on at his work.
"Have you seen Wolf of Wall Street?" he asked me now, and then just when I had barely got a nod in there, immediately went on. "Man, people always say there's some crazy shit going down in that movie, or they think banking is a lot tamer these days, but let me tell you, it's not." And then he nodded sagely, lifted his wineglass up to his mouth, and drained the rest of the glass in one gulp.
I had to say, it was pretty apparent that I had no chemistry with this guy. He was a friend of Marina's from work. Well, sort of. She had consulted for the company he worked for. He had hit on her, and she had turned him down because she was dating Blake.
But she still thought he was a catch. She had emphasized to me that if she wasn't dating Blake, she would have given this guy a chance.
I remembered snippets of our conversation from when she was trying to set this up. He was from Yale, he was working at a prestigious hedge fund. He was funny.
I couldn't remember much else, because my lack of enthusiasm for going on this blind date even as my best friend was trying to set me up had prevented me from paying that close of an attention.
Maybe Marina found him funny, but I certainly didn't. I felt that nothing about our personalities clicked. He was probably looking for a different type of girl as well.
I wondered this as he went on with his story, the one about how The Wolf of Wall Street wasn't that much different from the actual Wall Street experience, and I wondered if he felt that we didn't click as well.
I had no idea. We barely had anything in common, but the conversation kept flowing, mostly because he was so talkative.
Shawn. His name was Shawn.
I had to keep reminding myself of that throughout the dinner, had to keep reminding myself to smile and nod here and there so it seemed like I was focused on the conversation.
Was it just because I was not ready? Maybe under other circumstances, maybe if I had actually been really, really single over the last few months, then I would have found him quite attractive. He was actually decently handsome, just as Marina had promised, but meeting him wasn't like meeting Andrew for the first time.
Oh God, was I still so hung up on Andrew Williams that I would miss any chance of dating anyone else, even if they went to Yale, had a prestigious job, and could keep a conversation going?
I thought back to my lack of interest even when Marina had first mentioned the idea of setting me up on a blind date and checking with her and Blake's single guy friends.
Ugh, I really needed to snap myself out of it.
And it was along that line of thinking that when dinner was over, and Shawn asked if I wanted to go to a bar with him afterwards, I agreed.
I wasn't really the type of person to go to bars, and more often than not on a Friday night, I stayed at home, but that didn't mean I didn't find the experience enjoyable in small doses.
And tonight, I actually did find the experience rather fun.
We went to one of those new bars that just popped up in Koreatown, and it wasn't even too crowded when we got there. Shawn bought us drinks, and as I sipped on my mojito and he drank his bourbon, I actually found that the whole thing wasn't too bad.
For one, we were able to find a seat, because we had come relatively early. And for another, as time went on and the amount of alcohol in my glass went down, I actually found that I thought of Andrew less.
And I was beginning to become more interested in this conversation with Shawn. I knew nothing about the banking industry, and if half the stories he was telling me about tonight were true, then it was a very chaotic place to work indeed.
About three drinks in, I noticed that Shawn had slid considerably closer to me, to the point that our legs were touching. He had done this so subtly that I didn't even notice throughout the course of our conversation that he had even moved an inch.
About three drinks in, I could also feel myself getting buzzed. My tolerance wasn't that high, and I rarely drank. I wondered if I should stop somewhere at that point, but when Shawn suggested we get another round, I readily agreed.
"So, what about you?" Shawn was asking once he had finished telling me about his family. "Any siblings?"
I laughed, although I had no idea why really. "Yeah, a brother and a sister. A twin sister actually."
"Oh?" Shawn seemed intrigued. "You're a twin?"
"Yeah," I said, laughing again for no reason. I thought about being a twin, thought about Josephine, and then immediately said, "But let's not talk about that."
I had to shout the last bit because the bar had gotten really crowded from the time we had gotten in to now. I could barely hear myself talk.
At my comment Shawn laughed, but he didn't press on. "Yeah, I mean, I don't always get along with my siblings either," he said gamely, and then, quite smoothly I might add, he put his hand on my leg.
Marina had cajoled me into wearing a dress today. In fact, she had lent me one of hers. It was something that she wore for holiday parties, a shiny, silvery dress that draped quite nicely on me and fell to my knees, although it lifted up a little bit when I sat down, so that Shawn's hand, resting above my knee, was making skin to skin contact.
I was a little too buzzed to have much of a reaction to that. I wasn't surprised by the move, and I didn't exactly mind it. He left his hand there, and I didn't do anything to dissuade him.
Instead we talked more, about friends since I said I didn't want to talk about my family. He told me stories about his pals from Yale. They were mostly from his fraternity, which I could have guessed, but he had some rather entertaining tales to tell.
Throughout the conversation, he had moved closer and closer to me so that our bodies were pressed against one another's. And then, when there was a lull in the conversation, he leaned over and kissed me.
I didn't mind his hand on my leg. I didn't mind him sitting so close to me. I didn't even mind the fact that he leaned over to kiss me.
But as soon as his lips touched mine, I knew it was all wrong.
It was warm and wet and tasted like alcohol. But that wasn't the reason why it felt so wrong to me. I couldn't even pinpoint what I was thinking exactly in that blurry minded state of mine, but all I knew was that the kiss repulsed me more than anything else.
I turned my cheek away from him.
"Violet?" Shawn drew back, unsure.
I didn't say anything. For a long time, we just sat there, our bodies pressed against one another's, but our heads far apart.
"Vi?" Shawn tried again when I gave no response. He made no move to lean in again, but his hand was still on my leg and he gave me a gentle squeeze.
And at this, I actually pushed him away from me. Put both hands on his chest and nudged him farther from me.
He took the hint. He may have been the typical Ivy League frat boy, but he was not crass. He backed away from me so that we weren't touching anymore.
"I'm sorry," he said, and I knew he meant it. "I'm sorry, I must've been reading you wrong, I thought…I'm sorry," he repeated. He was quite at a loss for words.
The thought that he might have been forcing himself on me must have crossed his mind.
I quickly shook my head. "No, no, don't apologize, you did nothing wrong," I said.
Then, I stood up suddenly. And the suddenness had quite a dizzying effect on my mind. I felt the need to hurl. Whether that was from the alcohol or the kissing or the whiplash, I had no idea, but I knew I wanted to get out of there.
Shawn made a move to support me, but he paused right before his hand reached my arm, almost as if he was afraid to touch me.
And I knew, right then and there, that nothing was ever going to happen with Shawn. That I had blown a date with a perfectly nice guy, albeit a guy I had nothing in common with, that Marina had set me up with.
"That's okay, I think I'll just go home," I said very quickly. I wanted to get the words out of my mouth as fast as possible, fearing that if I talked any longer than I already had, I would throw up or something.
"Yeah, that's not a problem," my poor date replied, and here he seemed quite relieved, which I couldn't fault him for.
He walked me out the bar and called a cab for me. He offered me his jacket as well, but I refused to take it, as I was fairly sure I would not be seeing him again anytime soon.
"Where are you heading?" the taxicab driver asked as Shawn helped me slide in the backseat.
"The Upper West Side," I told him.
That wasn't where I lived, but I was feeling a mixture of drunkenness and repulsion and sudden anger, and the Upper West Side was where I wanted to go.
"Sure thing," the driver nodded, as Shawn closed the door behind after me.
I watched him from the rearview window, watched as he stared bewildered out on the street as we zoomed farther away. I watched him all the way until he disappeared from my view.
"Where exactly in the Upper West Side, miss?" the driver asked again. From my vantage point in the rearview window, he was raising his eyebrows in questioning.
I gave him the address of Andrew's studio without hesitation. For a brief moment, I wondered what the taxi driver thought of me. I was clearly inebriated, but then again, he must see a lot of drunk people stumble in and out of his car.
I didn't have time to give it too much thought, however, because the next thing I knew, we were in front of Andrew's building.
Taking out the cash from my purse and pulling out a ten and a twenty to hand to the driver, I got out of the car and slammed the door shut.
It felt like an eternity since I had come here. It felt even longer since I had come here every day to work.
I didn't check the time on the elevator ride up, but it must have been close to 2am.
Once I got to Andrew's door, I stared at the number on the door for a good 30 seconds. 17B. How familiar and how hateful.
I raised my fist to knock.
Bam, bam, bam!
In my anger, my knock was a pounding.
There was no noise and no light from inside the apartment, and for a moment I wondered if Andrew was even here, or if I was just banging angrily at the door to an empty apartment and disturbing everyone else in the hall. I had worked here for long enough that the rest of the people in the hall knew me, and they would undoubtedly gossip about what was going on.
And then I saw the light streaming from under the doorway.
And Andrew's voice, saying 'What the—' as his footsteps got closer and closer to where the door was. I could tell, from the way his footsteps sounded, where he was exactly in the apartment - when he had gotten out of his bedroom, and when he had crossed over the middle of the work area. I was so familiar with this place.
Andrew wrenched the door open, a rather angry expression on his face. "Who in the world—"
He stopped when he saw me, standing there in the doorway clutching my purse and wearing Marina's dress.
"Violet!" he was truly shocked, and all the anger disappeared from his face. "Violet," he said again, as if unsure about what would follow after the exclamation of my name.
"You!" I yelled at him instead, spitting out the word like a malediction as I marched into his studio uninvited, pushing him out of the way in the process. "You!" I shouted again at him from the middle of the living room where I was now standing. I watched as Andrew shut the door behind me, watched as he turned back with an expression that had not abated in terms of shock level.
"Violet, what's wrong?" he asked. And then he frowned, and a look of concern mixed with annoyance appeared on his face. "You've been drinking, haven't you? Why didn't you call me? What if something like the last time—
"Don't mention the last time to me!" I shouted at him, even though at the same time, memories of the last time I had gotten really drunk flooded my brain. That last time, the guy had been a lot less gentlemanly than Shawn had been tonight. That last time, Andrew had been there.
"Why should I tell you?" I demanded, and then I laughed for no reason, a humorless laugh. I glared at Andrew. "You think I need you to rescue me? I don't! I don't need you," I finished particularly viciously.
Andrew was still frowning. He took a step closer towards me. "Violet," he said, reaching for me.
I folded my arms and took a step back. "I don't need you," I hissed. "You stay away from me."
It was a rather odd thing to say, given the current situation. Andrew had not actually sought me out today. He had not sought me out since that trip to Tennessee. In fact, the only reason we saw each other at all today was because I had demanded to be let into his apartment and then barged in uninvited.
It wasn't an appropriate comment given the current situation, but it seemed to sting Andrew nevertheless.
He reached out a hand towards me, but before he could touch me, I reached out both my hands and gave him a hard shove on the chest.
Andrew stumbled backwards in the living room. He was much heavier than me, but I think the push from me was so unexpected that he fell back half out of surprise.
"I deserve so much better than how you've treated me," I said, and to my horror, I could hear my voice cracking. Alcohol did make me more emotional. "So much better."
Andrew looked stricken. I knew the shove didn't really hurt him, but it was as if my words were a physical blow. He looked at me, and I couldn't stand the way he was looking at me.
"I know," he finally said, very quietly.
And for a long moment, we just stood there, breathing.
I was angry and confused, attracted to him and drunk. The next thing I knew, I had taken two steps to close the gap between us, cupped his face, and pressed my lips against his.
It felt so different than my kiss with Shawn had been.
And Andrew kissed me back, instinctively, passionately. He wrapped his arms around my waist, pulled me closer, and parted my lips with his.
But after a moment, he drew back, breathing heavily. "Violet, wait," he said breathlessly, and I knew that he was trying to gather his thoughts.
The kiss, however, had the effect of making me drunker than I already was, and Andrew's reaction made it apparent just how much he wanted to kiss me. It had taken him a lot of effort to draw back, to draw away from me.
I turned his face towards me and kissed him again.
This time, it lasted longer. His hands wove into my hair and our entire torsos were pressed together and I hadn't felt anything so satisfying in a long, long time.
But after another moment, Andrew drew back again. "Violet, you're drunk," he said, very quickly and breathlessly. His breathing was heavy, as if he had just run a marathon. I could tell that it took even more effort on his part to stop it this time than the last time.
He was right. I was pretty drunk. And that's why I couldn't care that much right now.
I frowned at him. "Just stop talking so much," I said petulantly.
And before he could protest, I stepped forward and kissed him again.
Andrew couldn't stop it this time. His hands slid down to my dress and he lifted the hem up, sliding his fingers up my legs as we made out with one another.
His touch made me feel even more reckless. I wrapped my arms tighter around his neck and we stumbled towards his bedroom, and once we were inside he shut the door behind him.
There had been no one else in the apartment to begin with, but now that the door was shut it felt even more private.
I slid my hands up under his shirt, and even in my drunk state I felt impressed.
He was unzipping my dress, and I let it fall to the floor. We only broke from the kiss long enough for Andrew to pull his shirt off above his head. I then tugged at the belt buckle at the waist of his jeans, and the next thing I knew we were tumbling into bed in our underwear.
Andrew was on top of me. He had unhooked my bra somewhere in the process but I couldn't remember when, and I eagerly slid the straps off my arms and dropped it over the edge of the bed, on the floor.
Our hands were all over each other. I knew what was about to happen. I could actually feel the temperature in the room rise, hear the rushing of my blood in my ears.
And then suddenly, and quite, quite unexpectedly this time, Andrew broke free from out make out session.
"We can't do this," he said, his breathing labored, his head turned away from me, towards the wall on one side of his bed.
"What, why not?" I protested drunkenly, my speech sounding blurred even to my own ears. I reached out a hand to turn his face towards me again.
But Andrew refused to turn his head. "Violet, you're drunk," he repeated the words from earlier tonight. He sounded pained. "Do you really want your first time to be like this?"
I blinked, staring at him. I could barely believe that this was happening while he was lying on top of me and we were both half naked.
But the effect of his words was akin to having a bucket of ice cold water poured over me. It doused whatever drunken desire I had to keep going at it with him immediately.
My first time.
He was right, it was my first time. But I don't remember telling him that. Or maybe I did, and I just could not remember because I was not sober.
It made me feel ashamed, embarrassed. Embarrassed at the position we were in, embarrassed at my actions tonight, embarrassed that he had turned me down.
I turned away from him, curled up in fetal position at my side, sliding out from beneath Andrew and tucked with my back towards him now, unsure of what I should do.
I felt paralyzed and speechless. Should I get up and leave? I had no idea. Even if I wanted to, I felt too paralyzed by the embarrassment of the entire situation to move right now.
Andrew said nothing. He seemed to realize that nothing he could say in this moment could really make me feel better. Instead, he reached over to tuck the blanket around me, and then reached his hand across my stomach to pull me closer to him.
My back was pressed against his chest as he spooned me, and it was in this position that we eventually drifted off to sleep.