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Posted on July 9th, 2019

The Geography of My Mind – Lessons I Should Have Learned

“I was sitting in the Hollywood Hawaiian Hotel; I was staring in my empty coffee cup. I was thinking that the gypsy wasn’t lyin’. All the salty margaritas in Los Angeles, I’m gonna drink ‘em up.” Warren Zevon, Desperadoes under the eaves

There I sat, minding my own business at some once-great hotel bar that was now a shell of all the “progress” and development the city had taken on of late. My weekend had worn itself down to the nub, and while typically not one to tack on another day of drinking, I was bored, restless, down on my luck, and frankly still had the itch. It would be a while before I had to catch my flight, and adding a few more hours into my day at the airport sounded absurd. I’d already checked out, my friends had already left, I was too crosseyed to read, and too fidgety to sit quietly. I guess the liquor would calm some of that anxiety, maybe. I don’t usually drink liquor either. I’m a beer guy. Vodka when I have to; typically if I’m tired or have a long day of drinking ahead of me. In this case I didn’t, but for whatever reason on that day I craved some booze. So, I indulged myself. There was one guy sitting at the opposite end of the bar, mesmerized by his phone; the bartender was generally aloof – must’ve not cared too much about getting tipped well; golf was on the TV – and I hate golf; and about 15 minutes into that first drink (yes, others followed), an attractive 50-something woman without a wedding band sauntered up to the bar and sat down two seats from me. I looked over at her, and she at me, we smiled, said hello; then I turned my attention back to my drink while she ordered hers.

After the barkeep set her gin and tonic down in front of her, she turned to me and said, “What’s your story? Why are you sitting at a hotel bar by yourself on a Sunday afternoon? Waiting for a date?” I responded, “That would be nice, but, no. I’m flying out later today, just killing time. You looking for a date or something?” She smiled, and said, “I could be. But I think I’m too old for you.” I laughed and replied, “Don’t be too sure.” She blushed confidently and slid one seat over next to me: “What time is your flight?” I replied, “About four hours from now.”

It starts well, doesn’t it? Well, don’t get your hopes up. That was the peak. From there it unraveled quickly; not in a bad way, per se, there just wouldn’t be any casual fling to come of it. You see, there are a lot of lessons I should have learned a long time ago; I simply didn’t have the people to teach them to me, and when I tried to figure out all the answers on my own, well, I got them all wrong. And then I didn’t learn from those mistakes – ever. So, while I tried to flirt with her – and get her to do the same back at me, somewhere along the way it turned into me wondering how my life got me to the point of sitting at a dodgy hotel bar in ____, playing my way out of a “sure thing.” Story of my life.

I guess you could say it all went wrong when she asked me about my latest/current girlfriend; I said I didn’t really have one. Then she asked me about the last one. I said, “You mean, like serious one? That was about two years ago. Lots of fits and starts since then. I seem to rub ‘em the wrong way sometimes.” Her facial response signaled the lost opportunity. For her, it would seem, I had now just become an item of curiosity, no longer a potential fleeting affair. I noticed that right away. I had a minor case of frustration set in alongside a minor panic attack because I was trying to figure out how to salvage this thing. I happened to look at the barkeep – now he was paying attention – and he, too, knew I’d blown it. Now we’re in triage. The only direction this was going now would be a half-interesting conversation that I’d forget in a week. What could’ve been, maybe…

As she slowly picked away at me like I was some half-dead roadkill and she a bird of prey, scavenging on my near lifeless body, her occupation came to the surface without her even saying so: a relationship psychologist. Great. I’m not even in a relationship and I’m about to have my head shrunk. Well, at least I had booze and I wasn’t paying her for the attention. Silver linings, I guess…

She asked me to recount every woman I’d been out with in the last three years; how I met them, how long the interactions lasted, what I liked and did not like about each one, and why I thought none of them “worked out.” The last two were still positioned in my mind the most, so I shared a little more on them than I probably should have; maybe I actually wanted to talk about this with someone…?

We spent the next 90 minutes – and three more vodka sodas – on this topic, and she never really tried to offer any advice. She was a good listener. She asked probing questions, but did so respectfully. She asked me about my friends, my job, my interests, all the while tying it to my luck (or lack thereof) with the ladies of late. She asked me for my excuses for things not working out and my inhibitions at trying harder. She peeled back all of my layers and exposed (what was left of) my soul and left the heart there in the open, beating, at a frenetic pace and at its most exposed. Then she took a turn I didn’t see coming.

She grabbed my hand, and we both grabbed our drinks, and we moved to the couch, about 20-feet from the bar. I looked over my head at the bartender; his smug look was gone, and the drunk at the other end of the bar raised his glass to me and gave me a “Go get’ em, tiger” kind of look. I wasn’t sure what was to happen on the couch, but she lightly pushed me down with her, plopping right next to me. She was wearing a skirt that came down to just above her knees with a slit up the left side, the side pressed against me. Her blouse, a burgundy button-up that was silky looking, hung loosely off her neck, and as she leaned into talk to me, her cleavage was in full view. I tried not to stare. I was like a schoolboy stunned by the class beauty, not knowing what to say. She said, “How much time until your flight now?” I looked at my phone: I would have to leave for the airport in 30 minutes. I responded, “I gotta go pretty soon, unfortunately” She looked at me with a very subtle smile, brushed away her dirty blond hair from her face and said, “Well, we’ll make the most of the last few minutes we have then,” pulling back the slit on her skirt, exposing more leg, and then slowly sliding that hand on to my belly, which by this point, was tightened up from all of the unsureness and anxiety that was rushing through my blood and muscles due to the quick change of events. That might’ve been a good thing, though, as it probably felt like I had a 6-pack (I don’t), but you could tell that’s what she sensed, and she looked at me, closed her eyes, leaned in and began to whisper into my ear through a misty, hot breath that felt more like an effervescent breeze, slowly and softly saying, “When I saw you sitting at the bar, I thought to myself how I wish I were 15-20 years younger, because I would have made it my mission to take you home.” I was frozen, and was only able to eek out a “Yeah?” She continued to play the dominant role and replied, “Yeah. In fact, I didn’t actually care that I was 15 years older than you, that’s what I still want.” Jesus. I turned to her, thinking I should/could kiss her, but she was looking down with her eyes closed; I snapped my head back as slowly as possible, somewhat perplexed by what was going on. She leaned back from me, grabbed her drink and slammed it, paused, then put the empty glass back to her mouth, carefully letting an ice cube slide into her mouth. I looked at her, she put her hand on my chest, gently pushing me back into the couch and then leaned in one last time, clenching the ice cube between her teeth, with just enough sticking out that it cooled the air around us. She moved towards my ear again, and then quickly down to my neck, sliding the ice cube from my collar bone up to my ear. She pulled my shirt collar back and dropped the ice cube down the front of my shirt: it was freezing – and sexy – and I sat at full attention. She kissed me briefly, but passionately, on my lips, got up and walked out of the hotel. I never saw her again.

Marco Esquandoles
Cougar Bait

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