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Missed Opportunity

It’s one of those hot, muggy Florida nights where you can’t just stay another minute in your tiny apartment watching reruns of The Millionaire Matchmaker. You have to get out there. Be around people. Hear some music. Feel alive again.

You’ve been inside all summer, hiding from that infamous orb in the sky. It’s finally set for the evening. Maybe a breeze from the ocean will make being at the open-air tiki bar bearable. The band playing there tonight, one of your favorites, will definitely help.

You wear a black top that dips low between your surprisingly (still) pert breasts, then flows out away from a not quite as flat anymore tummy. You’re really short. Five one and a half, but you always say you’re five two. Despite your insufficient stature, your legs are long and look even longer when you’re wearing those dark wash flared jeans and four-inch platform sandals. Your hair is feisty with bangs and layers and streaks of blonde. It’s dark outside. That always helps. From a distance, in the dimmed lighting of the bar, you could be a decade or two younger. You could be almost any age. You’ve been so many already.

At the bar, you order pink wine, because you’re not exactly a connoisseur. For you, it’s not the quality, it’s the quantity. You’re feeling confident enough to be there alone because of the wine hitting you so fast.

A man a stool away at the bar, wearing a blue denim button-down shirt and white jeans, slides over. He’s next to you now. You can tell he must have gotten here much earlier. You can smell his beery breath and musky sweat and your nose can’t help but scrunch up a little.

“You ladies have it all figured out, don’t you?”

You have no idea what he’s talking about. You’ve been to this bar several times, live only a few miles from the place, and still have to rely on a GPS to get there.

He grins.

“You don’t need us men.”

You shrug. You don’t need them maybe, but could use help with your computer and your car, someone to call when your heart’s beating faster than a hummingbird’s because you’ve heard a noise in the middle of the night. But mostly you long for the company of an additional revenue stream. You’re working two jobs and are still in debt. Both of your girls are in college on scholarships. They’re on the Dean’s List and everything. Why aren’t you smarter about your finances?

He keeps looking you over, all over, and it makes you uncomfortable.

You take a sip of wine, but there’s only a drop or two left in the plastic cup. The man leans over close to you and you see his eyes are thoroughly bloodshot. You realize that the charm on his necklace is in the shape of a leaping dolphin. At first glance, you thought it might be a penis.

He points to your empty plastic cup.

“Can I buy you a drink?”

You shake your head no, lean forward, and ask the bartender for another wine, tipping him two dollars. You’re never going to be able to save up enough for a house, anyway.

The man keeps looking at the side of your face and you keep looking toward the stage. The band is setting up. The lead singer looks wasted already, but damn, he’s cute.

The man with the red eyes, silver dolphin, blue shirt and white pants brushes his knee against yours. He pats your leg, saying, “Sorry, sorry, excuse me.”

You feel mildly superior and tolerant. You know he’s probably been here since Happy Hour and should not be operating heavy machinery or anything, so at first you just ignore him. He’s a bit older than you, not exactly Matthew McConaughey, your dream dude, but still somehow the attention from a male, no matter how many times they have hurt you in every way possible, is not entirely unwelcome.

The band’s sexy lead singer mesmerizes you. It’s nighttime, and he’s wearing sunglasses, moving around like he just woke up and has no idea where he happens to be. Or maybe he just can’t see where he’s going. A metaphor for your own life.

You feel the hand on your leg again, this time lingering, then he leans against you.

“Are you married? You’re not wearing a ring.”

You say, “Stop touching me, please.”

The man doesn’t move his hand. You slide over on the stool, partly hanging off the edge of it. His hand slips off of you, his shoulder is not making contact any longer. You give the bartender a look, cock your head toward the “handy” man. The man doesn’t take a hint, leans even closer to you. Now you can feel his breath on your face.

He says, “I don’t mind if you’re married.”

Again, he puts his hand on your leg. You stand up and move to another stool, lean over the bar, and whisper to the bartender, “That man keeps touching me.”

The bartender looks like he’s heard this before. He goes over to talk to him. You can’t hear what he is saying, but the man turns toward you, frowns, then gets up and staggers toward the exit.

When the bartender comes back, you thank him, shuddering. “I hope he’s not driving.”

The bartender shakes his head. “He walks here. Lives in a penthouse down the block. He’s probably the richest man in town.”

You imagine the man, showered, sobered up, on the beachfront balcony of his luxury condo, pouring you a glass of wine.

You sigh. “Now you tell me.”

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