Saturday, May 16, 8 p.m.
I try to really get to know someone before clothing becomes optional.
Living in a tourist town does not help matters: a long string of chaste goodbye hugs and promises of future business trips that eventually end with a disappointing text, IM or e-mail. I once received such an e-mail from an army wife inquiring about the “amazing weekend” to which her husband had referred in our many flirty e-mails exchanged after his quick furlough in Vegas just before his deployment to Afghanistan. “But he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring!” I was aghast and guilty for months.
After my long Friday night conversing with every Jewish American princess’ dream (“single, straight, employed, articulate,” I wrote last week of my hero), I awoke Saturday afternoon to the news that that night, Hero and his cadre of aging bachelors (on a covert bachelor party, no less) would actually be straying from their alley-catting around the Palms to join me at the Downtown Cocktail Room. “10 p.m.?” I asked casually. “10 p.m. works,” he said. I instantly shot over the moon like a rubber band in heat.
Since Hero had seen me in jeans and T-shirt the night before, I figured it was time for a little damage control. Time for the big guns: new clothes. A delicious air of commitment settled over me as I clipped the little tags with the big numbers off a gorgeous lime skirt and flowy, braided black top.
I arranged for two girlfriends to fly standby. If called upon, these fearless wingwomen would dive kamikaze-like into DCR to take out the friends, leaving nothing between Hero and me but a couple of drinks and a few inches of airspace. I would lap up his attention like a kitten for as long as he was in town and let the rest take care of itself. And for once, the feminist in me was silent; she too was putting on lipstick and fluffing her curls.
It was at 9:18 p.m., as I sipped a fine pinot noir in the Lexus VIP Lounge at Rock n’ Roll Wine’s poolside reggae bash, that disaster struck. “The guys are punking out on the Downtown Cocktail lounge …” he texted. “They’re exhausted, so I think we’re just gonna go to Moon.” I swirled, sipped and swallowed hard. Let me see if I got this right—they’re tired, so they’re going to the big fancy mega-nightclub instead of having a few casual cocktails at a bar? I read and reread it, noting also that he did not say, “Why don’t you come to Moon instead?”
I went into mourning. I texted Cindi to abort the mission and slid into a cocktail at the bar, flanked by regulars and fellow casualties of the war of the sexes. I allowed one day to beat myself up for getting excited, and after that I forgot about it.
“What are your thoughts on … bald?” Bill inquired the following Saturday. Why did I get the feeling we weren’t talking about cocktails anymore? We were already a little tipsy from a Memorial Day weekend blender-bender by the pool. But stopping in to Double Helix Wine Bar sounded like a great idea, too. The Wingcouple, Bill and Shalom, and I were working our way through the entire Winetails menu when he popped the question, suggesting, I suppose, a particular friend for me to … um, have “play dates” with. I squashed it like a bug.
Crawling gratefully into bed at 10:30 p.m., I sobered up during my disco nap. Back at Artisan Afterhours by 3 a.m., everything was just as it should be, just as it should have been a week ago, just as if I’d never met Hero. Jeff Retro was spinning; bombshells and notorious 40-year-old playboys were all in attendance. Casablanca played on the TVs. With no one charging at the door and the late-night menu already on hiatus, only the $10 water and the guy using his cigarette and iPhone as glow sticks gave this away as an actual afterhours party. Really, it was just another Saturday night in Vegas.
Wide awake at 5 a.m., I hesitantly logged into my Match.com account. But it was inexplicably down. “Even online dating has its difficulties,” the error message taunted. Those techie bastards have no idea.