He finds me at my bar. Which was sort of the point of the bar. Great in concept. High design, wonderful food, cocktails even better than bug juice. Even the one called bug juice with the floating gummy worm is better than the bug juice of my early camp days. It is late at night. I have been in for inventory at eight AM and am sort of half asleep at the drink rail. I have done opening sidework for a server who was running late, hosted and schmoozed. The high has passed and my lids are lowering.
I am not drunk. I have not had anything to drink. When he stands next to me I see he is not drunk. Maybe it is just we two now. The kitchen is closed and the staff has dwindled to bartenders. Also not drunk, but separated by the local granite. We are on the floor. Everyone else sways and screams. Drunk people don’t hear well so they whoop and yell over the whooshing in their heads.
“I was watching you” he tells me. This is an echo of a line I have used in the past and I try to put it to a name but it is impossible. I focus on his face. This is not a line. He is still watching me.
“Come over to my house. I will cook for you.”
So I do. I barely know his name and his house is perfectly and ominously out in the country. In the restaurant world date nights are most people’s TV nights so I drive out with Buckley on a Monday. The puppy will love it he explains. Meadows. Dogs love meadows.
We arrive with wine plucked from the wine cellar. He is making steak. So I bring a big cab chosen by my bar manager even though I don’t drink red. I wonder if he drinks at all.
After Buckley frolics through the meadow as predicted, plunging his brown nose into the weeds and tearing huge looping circles we approach the farm house. There is a note on the rough stairs. “Out to pick up a few things, dog is Lila, make yourself at home.”
Buckley seems to like his date who at least has the advantage of being present. I walk around the small place. Two rooms really so more than walk I look around. I try to figure out the right level of looking. What is taking an interest and what is snooping. I lean towards privacy and flip through a cook book, it is annotated in thin pencil the writing both crisp but somehow personal. It has more flourish than I expected for a place scrubbed down to its basics.
He is back. We have steak. Just steak.
Afterwards he plays me acoustic guitar while I sit on the handmade quilt on his bed. The dogs snooze in a yin yang of medium brown and creamy fur. We make plans to go to Boston that week. He will call to figure out the exact time. I sneak in an extra trip to the dog park to tire Buckley out before the drive. Within the chain link fence a friend of his rushes towards me. She somehow knows who I am. She has heard of me, and I am a minor dog park celebrity, having served everyone from Rob Schneider to Mark Messier in my restaurant. I am dating her friend she explains, she has never seen him like this about anyone, she hears we are going away together.
But I never hear from him again.
Now I know the term ghosting. I bet I am not alone.
What about you? Have you made a connection and had it severed permanently with no word?