I don’t remember the nature of the event, but I went to a local bar where all our friends would be in attendance. I walked in and it was packed. Maybe it was karaoke? (Not that it matters, because I cannot and will not sing!) I was greeted by a few friends, we had to speak loudly over the noise of the crowd. At one point I lifted my right arm, and ZOOM, Karen popped under my shoulder. I rested my arm on her before I realized what had just happened. I looked down to see her smiling up at me. I hesitated to leave my arm where it is for very long, because I know G is in the next room. I lift my arm to motion towards the bar, and offer to buy her a drink.
We stepped up to the bar and placed our orders. We started to speak, just pleasantries… then we trailed off… stopped speaking, and just stared into each other’s eyes. I don’t know how long this went on, but it felt like way too long, and I was the one who forced themselves to look away. I would try to maintain a respectful distance from her for the rest of the night.
In the days that followed our chats were becoming more personal and probing. Sex was now an open topic, likes, dislikes, ‘have you tried this’ sort of thing. Then the big question: “I don’t mean to pry, but… have you ever been unfaithful to your wife?”
That was a full stop right there. I couldn’t respond right away. Throughout this entire time I’ve been extremely drawn to her, but I couldn’t say with 100% certainty what she felt about me. Were we simply kindred spirits? I’m a good deal older than her, what could she possibly see in me? We were chatting like we were best friends. I was afraid I was reading too much into things… but the question made me feel like I could take a little leap.
“I am going to say that… I don’t think we can chat on this platform anymore. By that, I mean Facebook. Is it okay if we move to another platform?” I asked. She agreed, and I gave her the name of the app, and the account to contact me through. Facebook connects to too many things, you see. We’d been using our personal accounts. I’ve been guarded with my communications as a rule, but it is way too easy to make a mistake the way devices and services connect to each other.
We moved over to the new app, and resumed conversing.
Me: Go delete the other chat
Karen: Okay. Done.
Me: Thank you
Karen: Are you alright?
Me: I’m not queasy. Just… Mindful
Karen: Mindful of… ?
Hi. My name is Karen, and I like making you uncomfortable.
Me: Mindful of the fact our chat was already grounds for a big fight
But this is a safe space
Karen: I don’t want you to fight.
And I will say one final time, you are always welcome to tell me to shove it.
Me: To start this new chat, we shall change the subject, and dial things back
Me: Um… Cold out, huh?
Me: Global warming? Ha!
Karen: It’s a helluva thing, amiright?
How about those Dodgers?
Me: Oh, my favorite sports ball team!
Karen: I’ll give you ten dollars to name two current players.
Me: Fuck… That would have been two pints!
Now we are on a closed system. Now we are really private. It would be a while before I answered her question, but we were by then calling each other ‘dear’ and ‘sweetie’. Then she got sick with the flu. She would miss days of classes and work, stuck at home, feeling terrible. I kept her company online, and we talked all day for days as she started to feel better. At one point at the end of her convalescence, she asked me for an opinion on a fashion choice. I said sure, although I’m not one for fashion.
“How does this bra go with my hair?” Karen asked.
“…” I replied.