Monday, December 03, 2007

Your Cheating Heart

After weeks of slacking off on my partying, I got back down to business the other night. Despite the line and the smokers outside polluting my hair (not to mention the lungs of course), it was a nice night to hang out with some friends. We all managed to work on our drinks and our two steps.

Girl time was great, but of course we were all also watching out for potential dates. I noticed one guy lingering a bit in his glances. I assumed at some point he might make the approach, especially when he was within arm's length. He bided his time, but when I cautiously turned to check where my feet were in relation to a step he gave me some reassuring line like "Don't worry, I won't let you fall." Score 1 for a line that didn't feel like one at the time. Conversation started up shortly after that. I'd checked out his outfit though, and the cardigan he wore gave me pause. A sweater in a bar/lounge/club makes me think you've been married. But I'm not against dating a divorced guy (although my early 20-something self can probably be heard screaming in horror somewhere), and he seemed personable and very decent.

In one of his conversation starters--because when you're in a noisy place it seems you always have to restart conversations and my 5'3 to his 6'2 didn't make it any easier--he mentioned how much easier it is for women to go out. We, he said, can dance with our friends or dance by ourselves and not feel awkward or strange about it. Men have fewer options. What straight guy wants to dance with his boy? I added that men probably also feel awkward because they may be plotting on approaching a woman. He said, "Oh, I wouldn't know about that I'm married."

He'd never said he was single and he hadn't said anything that necesssarily indicated romance, and yet most women know when a man is at least interested. The cardigan had incorrectly set off my divorced man radar rather than my married man one. He told me about his wife never wanting to go out with him, how she didn't trust a babysitter to take care of their 9, 11, and 13 year olds. I listened because we all need an ear sometimes and maybe tonight had been a way for him to de-stress. I had no desire to excoriate him, until he asked for my number. He was in my part of New York sometimes to visit a friend of his and we should all go out for drinks, he suggested. I took his number knowing as I did that I would never call, and that I had no interest in doing so.

Months ago, a guy friend and I debated what constituted cheating. To him, physical contact seemed to be the line. For me, opening up the possibility of cheating is enough. You haven't done it, but you've pursued or created opportunities for it to happen. I can sit in judgement of no relationship, especially in my current state of unattachment, and I don't know personally how hard it is to sustain a marriage. We all like to know that we're attractive to someone and maybe those moments give enough validation that they need never be pursued. I do wonder though if that guy's wife, tired from struggling to get the kids in bed, loading the dishwasher, and checking the clock to wonder what time he might be back, would feel the same way.