Thanksgiving started off innocently enough. One of my oldest and dearest friends, Erin, was sweet enough to forego Thanksgiving with her own family and drive all the way up from Philadelphia to help keep me sane and stress-free, at least for one day. We explored the ghost town that is Boston on a national holiday, watching a trainer work with the seals at the aquarium. She threw them fish from small buckets on her utility belt, making them dance, kiss, wave their flippers and perform all manner of adorable gesticulations. During the afternoon we grabbed a beer and took in a matinee. Later, the post-dinner hours found us dancing, drinking, and getting high in the loft apartment of a professor of Cambridge's most ivy-league of insitutions.
What? You mean that isn't how everyone celebrates Thanksgiving?
I should clarify by saying we weren't actually dancing, drinking and getting high with a professor of Cambridge's most ivy-league of insitutions, but rather with one of said professor's grad students who is loft-sitting for the next few months.
It started at dinner, at one of the few restaurant/bars open in Cambridge on Thanksgiving. He was sitting by himself at the table next to us, and he started talking to Erin while I was in the bathroom. I came back and introduced myself, and we talked about our grad programs, teaching, and how good the roasted beet and frisée salad was. He excused himself to the bathroom, and Erin and I held a quick conference.
"I think he's gay," she said.
"I know, I do too," I said. "But you don't know what guys around here are like. You never can tell, with them."
"I still think he's gay," she said.
"Yeah, probably," I agreed.
He came back, and said he liked my watch, its blue face. "That's so funny," I said. "Someone said the same thing to me earlier today, in the exact same words."
"So do I have to think of a new compliment, then?" he asked. "Since someone already told you that one?" He looked at me evaluatively, contemplating my face.
"I got a great compliment the other day," I said. "It would be really funny if you told me that one, too."
"What was it?"
"No, I want to see what you say."
"Well, I'm thinking of like, three things. But...no. I don't want to say the same thing as the other guy and sound really unoriginal."
The conversation turned to other topics then, and we continued to eat, drink, and chat.
"Hey," he said. "I have kind of a crazy idea. I mean, I don't know what you guys have planned for the rest of the evening, but do you maybe want to hang out? I mean, it is Thanksgiving..."
Erin and I looked at each other and shrugged. "Sure. Ok, why not?"
"Ok, great. I don't know what else is open, but I'm house-sitting for my professor, and he has a pretty nice loft. We could go there?"
"Ok, sounds good."
"So, are you ready for your compliment now?" he asked me.
"Of course," I said.
He leaned closer, raised his hand to my face, touching his finger to just above the corner of my mouth. "Here, this part right here. I love this."
I raised my own hand, touched the skin where his hand had just been. "This? You like...?" I mumbled in confusion.
"Do you not realize? You have a beauty mark there. It's adorable."
I might have blushed, and tried to signal "possibly not gay?" to Erin with my eyes.
Shortly thereafter we found ourselves chez le professeur, fresh drinks in hand. It is possible that shots of tequila were consumed. We discussed music, art and Mallarmé. It is quite possible that I didn't understand a single thing that he related on any of these topics. Not for any chemical reasons, mind you, but in the way that it seemed like I could almost see the ideas he was constructing fly by in the air above me, ten feet over my head. They were all so nearly accessible, and yet I was unable to grasp onto a single one of them. We eventually gave up on deep conversation, and smoked instead.
Now, I don't usually smoke anything. I'm not against it, per se, but it's just not something I usually do, even if the opportunity affords itself. I tried it a few times in college with no real results, and I've seen enough people get freaked out or sick from it that it never looked very appealing to me.
So, when he sucked a mouthful into his lungs and leaned towards me, gesturing for me to breathe the smoke from his curled hand poised against his mouth, I shied away warily.
He exhaled in a loud burst, disappointed. "No, it's ok," he encouraged me. "This is how people do it."
I looked at Erin. "This is a real thing?" I asked suspiciously. "This is how people smoke?"
"Yeah," she assured me.
"Well...ok," I said. He went through a dry-run with me, made me exhale all my breath, place my mouth against his hand with his mouth on the other side, inhale. Then we did it for real.
"Hm," he said. "I'm not sure you really got the full effect there. We may have to cut out the middle man."
"Hm," I said.
"I mean, the other way is to do it without the hand," he said. Then he inhaled another lungful, and pulled me into him. No middle man.
He turned some music on, and he and Erin got up to dance. I just watched, mostly. He came over to me, massaged my shoulders. "So, Rachel, we should hang out again. When should we get together again? Sunday night? I'll cook for you."
"Ok," I said.
"Or, hey, why not Saturday night? Yeah, let's get together Saturday night."
"I think I'm busy," I said.
"Ok, well, Sunday then."
He took my hand, pulled me out of my chair to dance with him. He put his hands on my waist and pressed his mouth to mine, no exhaling this time. No smoke, and no middle man either. After a little while I broke free. "We should probably stop," I said. "My friend..."
"Well, we could all three of us kiss," he suggested.
I didn't respond, I didn't have time to before he, perhaps noticing my lack of immediate enthusiasm for the idea, started frantically back-pedaling.
"Oh, no! Rachel, that's not what I meant," he said. "Now you think that that's what I'm into, and it's not at all what I'm into. I was just joking... heh."
At that point he excused himself to check his phone. He had been on his phone all night, tapping out messages on the glowing screen. He went upstairs and was gone for quite a while, this time. When he came back down, "So, are you guys heading out?" he said.
"Um, yeah," Erin said, looking at me. "We are."
"No, I mean, you can stay...it's just..."
"No," I said, "we should get going."
We exchanged numbers, he escorted us out, and with that, our Thanksgiving adventure came to a close, not with a bang, but, much like a fully-cooked turkey hitting the kitchen floor, with a resounding thud.
Cordially escorted out to make way for someone's Thanksgiving night booty call. Indeed.
Still, though. I wonder if he'll call?