James Peter Alden supped tentatively on the sharp beer and coughed. It wasn’t the best ale he’d encountered on his travels, probably as a result of the establishment. There was little else to do on a chilly midweek evening but attend the debaucherous shenanigans kicking off in a local student bar. It was the kind of raucous environment he outwardly condemned, but perhaps conveyed a love for, not as clandestine as he would have liked. A last grasp at youth. There was no lock on the toilet cubicle and your shoes stuck to the dance floor. Someone was dribbling on the carpet. Push up bras and checked shirts at every turn. Old men on their own. The perfect locale to meet someone new.
He’d done the relatively easy part. Diverting his friends amorous attentions from their only female companion, he’d strategically positioned himself between the two, in spite of vague protestations. Although he felt a pang of guilt, if you’re not fast, you’re last, and he’d recognised his type early. Seizing on the opportunity to instigate the manuvre and noting a look of disappointment adorning his friends’ bearded face, James expertly slid next to his quarry and into a conversation about dancing.
“I’m learning to Tango”, she smiled playfully.
“I’ve been trained in it” James shamefacedly lied. He felt he could come clean later if it got him anywhere and she wouldn’t have minded. Perhaps she would even think it cute. Recently being in Argentina he could claim knowledge of steps from a Tango show he was too hung over to attend, just as much as he could speak Spanish by proxy. What the remainder of the discourse regarded he would later not remember, but that was to become a moot point.
She had a quirky, almost bird-like inquisitiveness in her beauty. Her bright, dark eyes shone under the kind of garish light you hide from if you have blemishes, and indeed James was eager to elope to the corner, his imperfect skin in danger of betraying a schooled confidence. Nonetheless it wasn’t long before she’s suggested they get out of there, and take a midnight stroll in the park.
Kissing and laughing in the glow of the spherical lamp and James felt a giddy childhood he’d never had. The grass was cool in the dark, but it didn’t matter to the couple wrapped in each others probably misplaced affections. Paying little attention to the charmingly shadowy foliage, they spun to a worn bench and fell into each other, elated at what could surely only be a one night affair, fueled by cheap beer and hollow words. A poorly rolled cigarette momentarily interrupted their passions, and James drew the smoke at length. Hardly a word was spoken. There wasn’t any need.
“I hope you treated her well” demands a friend as they return to the bar a short time later. “Now give her a goodbye kiss as we need to go”. He didn’t need telling twice and enfolded her in a last embrace. He’d only the nonchalant promise that she would contact him tomorrow, which he’s never had much luck with in the past. Still, turning to walk on air back to his apartment, he felt that this was one such meeting he could give to the night, a perfect collision alluding to a pseudo, serendipitous romance. Hollywood be proud; he clicked his Converse heels together and danced in the direction of home.