Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mr. Robinson, Part II

We left the restaurant and I was struggling to think of a bar we could go to. On a Saturday night most of the bars between the restaurant and my apartment became pretty fratty. These weren't the kinds of places I wanted to go with my 41-year-old former professor in tow. I also didn't want to go anywhere too far away. The closer we were to my building, I reasoned, the easier it would be for me to end the night.

We ended up at a bar/restaurant very close to where I live. It's usually pretty tame, at least on the restaurant side. As we walked in, I fished my wallet out of my purse as he strode right in and up to the bar. He must have forgotten that at my age, I still get carded. It was loud and I was noticeably uncomfortable even though it was him that looked out of place. I scanned the room for familiar faces and, fortunately, didn't see anyone I knew. Tequila for him, Miller Lite for me. We took a seat at the restaurant, at a small two-person table.

The lighting was much brighter here than at the previous place, and we were also sitting much closer together. I found myself regularly glancing at his wedding ring, not because I needed to be reminded, but because he did. He asked me to tell him the story of a romantic relationship I had in (and out) of college. It was something I had briefly touched on in one of my stories and he was curious to know what had happened since I had graduated.

But I was sick of talking. I caught myself trailing off at the end of sentences, feeling awkward. Staring at the table, my hands, or my beer bottle. Like before, I drank slowly, and when he asked if I needed another I quickly told him no. There was music on and he sang out loud once in awhile. I was slightly embarrassed. He asked me if I liked to dance (was this a proposition?), and he was sure that I was a very good dancer. Somewhere in the middle of all this, he asked me if I wanted to get stoned because he had some pot in his car. I declined. Every time I looked up at him, I saw this goofy look on his face. There was something in his eyes that seemed an inappropriate stare for anyone but his wife. It was as if every word that I said was amazing. Since I felt strange talking and simultaneously avoiding his face, I asked him to tell me a story.

"Did I ever tell you my Mrs. Robinson story?"

", I don't think so."

"Well, I was a freshman in college and it was my first time back home. I was at a party in the neighborhood, lots of family friends, and there was this woman who took a liking to me. Her name was Celia. She was stunning, absolutely beautiful woman. We talked at the party and she asked if she could call me sometime. A few days later, the phone rang and my younger sister answered, telling me a girl was on the phone asking for me. Quietly, I took the phone around and around until I was alone. Celia asked if we could go out sometime. I suggested that we do so alone. I would feel uncomfortable going with any of her friends (who were, coincidentally, my friends' parents)."

It was at this point in the story, that I sensed something change. Telling me I was beautiful or that my former lover was an idiot were nothing compared to this. Here he was, eighteen years older than me, telling me his own story about being seduced by a woman fifteen years older than he had been.

He continued his story, describing his date with Celia and how he couldn't believe someone like her would be interested in a young man like him. He laughed and his left hand stopped briefly on my right knee. There was some talk of romance on the beach, but I had already started tuning him out until...

"Have you ever had an affair with an older man?"

Affair. That was the exact word he used. Had I? No.

I laughed nervously. "No, uh, I've always stayed within a year older or a year younger." As I said this, I made a chopping motion with my hands to indicate the age boundaries of my lovers. I don't think he got it.

After refusing his offer for another drink (and noticing that they were chasing us out of the restaurant), he asked "Shall we go?" Sure, I said. But we weren't going anywhere. I was going home and he could walk me there if he liked. This was the end.

When we walked into the lobby, I expected some sort of awkward embrace and goodbye, thanks for dinner, etc. Instead, he asked if he could use my bathroom.

"I guess so", I replied. What else could I say? There was no restroom in our lobby and he had a long drive ahead of him. And how could I say no without being rude?

The elevator ride was silent all the way to the fifteenth floor. My apartment was locked, meaning both of my roommates were gone. Damn. If I had wanted this to be as undatelike as possible, I wasn't doing too well. In fact, everything was going perfectly for a date. But why did it have to be my married, former professor?

A light was on in the living room and I didn't bother to turn on any others. I pointed to the bathroom at the back of the apartment and sort of shooed him in there. I didn't take my coat or scarf off, and I listened to my voicemail messages to distract myself. As I waited for him to walk back out, I mentally prepared my goodbye. I would give him a hug, thank him for dinner, and shuffle him towards the door. Maybe even throw in a fake yawn or two.

But when I hugged him and received my usual kiss on the cheek, he asked me something else.

"Can I kiss you on the lips?"

His face was close to mine and I turned my head so that I was staring at the wall behind our couch. What??? Had he really just asked me that? I was totally unprepared for something like this.

"I don't think that's a good idea." I kept my face turned away until I felt his retreat. Slowly, I looked at him.

"You know that I'm very attracted to you."

Uncomfortable pause.

"I'm sorry, Erin. I shouldn't have done that."

Now he felt bad. Now I felt bad. But I needed to get him out of my living room. "It's fine, really. Don't worry about it", I said as I started pushing him towards the door. As soon as I pushed the door closed behind him, I quietly locked it and started pacing around the entryway. I couldn't make any noise until the elevator came and I knew he was gone.

A million thoughts were racing through my head. A married man had just made a pass at me (these were the words I used to describe it on the phone that night. It sounded old-fashioned, but he was old so it fit). A married man with children. I knew his wife and daughter. I had been in his house before. Was this his intention all along when he asked me to dinner? Or was this something that sprang up out of our conversation and tequila? What if I had said yes and gone along with the kiss? Would that have been the only request? Had he done this before with former students? Has he cheated on his wife before?

I retold the story to a few of my close friends, not as juicy gossip but out of a need for advice and consolation. I needed to be reminded that I had done nothing to provoke this. That I had acted appropriately and that it was he who had crossed the line. How should I react? What was my next step? I realized that some balance between the two of us had shifted. I lost some of my respect for him that night. How was I ever expected to return to our relationship without thinking about the night he tried to kiss me? The one good thing to come out of all this was that he provided me with some fantastic material.

I told my friends that I expected some sort of apologetic email on Monday. When I got into work, sure enough - he had already written me. But I was nervous and still unsure of how I felt about the situation, and I waited to open the email for awhile. And when I did, there was no mention of what had happened. Only a thank you for a lovely evening and a reprise of how beautiful I had looked Saturday evening.

Now, as my friend said, the ball is in my court. How do I respond? I have to let him know that what he did was inappropriate without jeopardizing the relationship even more. He needs to know how I feel, even if it was just a kiss.


Me said...

So many things to say in response to your entry, but this is your blog not mine so I'll try to be brief. I think you should have shagged him (do I have to say I’m kidding?). If I were you I would be very disappointed that Professor Adultery went to such great lengths to insult your intelligence and character. I mean, you know this guys wife right? It is apparent that he misjudged your character and his influence over you. You did, however, let him control every aspect of the evening, except your blood alcohol level, up until the time you denied him the chance to ruin his marriage. From a guy’s perspective, he had this little move in mind way before he met you in the lobby. I am sure he didn’t know if he would have the b@lls to go through with it, but that is why bars have Tequila. As for your next move, if you ever want to be comfortable around him again, you should mail him a pair of your panties…or not.

Sub Girl said...

you should definitely let him know how you feel, in a polite but firm way, if you intend to keep the friendship/relationship. What he did made you uncomfortable, and he should know that so he doesn't try to do so again. I had a similar experience when I was still in college and it gave me the icky creepy crawlies. ugh,