My colleagues had me hanging out and drinking (something I hadn’t done for about four months) until the wee morning hours of day two. I still got up early to participate in conference activities, and had every intention on attending a presentation that Douglas was giving. I did not make it to his presentation, but still had a full day. Thus, I was too tired to do much of what I’d planned that evening. Even though I was tired, I still wanted to muster up the energy to go out. I knew Douglas had the low on late night events, so I texted him.
Me: “Hey. Anything going on tonight? What are people doing?”
Doug: “I’m just out with some people having a few drinks.”
Me: “Oh ok. Enjoy!”
Doug: “Let’s hook up. What are you doing?”
Me: “Nothing. In the hotel lobby on the Internet.”
Doug: “What? I will be there in 30 minutes.”
After half a cup of tea and a few emails, he showed up. This was the first time I’d seen this man since he disappeared six months ago. He looked nice, but I was not intrigued on first sight of him. In fact, I did not know how to feel about him. It was like seeing an old friend, but rather than excitement to see a friendly face I had a desire to run the other way from this very married man. Conversation with him always led to me throwing morals to the wind, but I was determined that this evening would be different.
When he made his way across the lobby to me, he gave me a quick hug and a kiss on the forehead. I understood that the brevity of the embrace had to do with the fact that we were in a lobby crawling with conference attendees, many of whom may know him and could be paying much closer attention to our interactions than they were letting on. Oddly, the possibility of wandering, interpreting, judging eyes all around us made me much more comfortable…as I was very nervous about saying ‘no’ to this man and sticking to it.
We settled into a conversation, hitting the highlights of the missed months. In between updates of professional accomplishments and upcoming events, he inserted the usual compliments and comments that normally landed me in deep water: “I love your eyes and your lips. I love them” and “I’ll come visit you this summer if you let me” and “My favorite conference experiences involve you”. It was all very flattering, but then he snapped me back to reality when the flattering comments became forward comments, and much too forward for where I was willing to go. It began with the suggestion that we go to my room. I thwarted that advance. I guess he was able to see my concern, because he quickly assured me that we could just talk and he wouldn’t try anything. Even though past actions wouldn’t confirm this, I know better than to fall for that okeydoke. So, I fled the conversation by telling him that I was sharing a room, people were asleep in my room, and my only plans were to go take my shower and go to bed. Not deterred, he fired back with an offer to join me for a shower. I gave him the “I know you know better” eye, and he retorted with the face he makes best—a sly grin. That was pretty much the end of that topic of conversation. We talked about what day 3 of conference life held in store for both of us, shared a hug and went our separate ways—me, proud of myself for being headed to my room alone and him (most likely) defeated for having struck out with me for one of the first times ever.