Once upon New York last night, I went to an Irish pub in midtown.
Somehow, some of the best places to go in the city are unknown establishments who entertain great prices and even better company. The only way to find such hidden locations is to stumble upon them, unexpectedly and without scouting the best, the trendiest, or the hippest places listed on New York magazine’s picks of the week. For my friend Cat and I, who simply wanted a glass to celebrate the fact it was almost Friday, a tucked away bar on 54th and 7th, seemed to do the trick.
After attending an event where champagne, celebrities, and mini-burgers were plenty, we braved the winter and ice with cupcakes-to-go in tow. Never ones to shy away from foreign affairs, when we noticed shamrocks and happy hour specials, we gleefully agreed to grab a glass (or two) at this unknown pot-of-possible-gold that would free us from the unbearable cold.
Luckily, we found seats to give our high-heeled legs a rest and to even more of a surprise, an authentic Irish man with pretty blue eyes and a crooked smile, greeted us merrily. Me being the undeinable flirt and confident lady I am, requested a Merlot and Cat decided upon her signature drink, a ginger ale and vodka. Partly because it was his duty and mostly because he found my panty-hosed limbs sexy, this could-be leprechaun watched me as I sipped my vino while he paced the bar, waiting on an opportunity to integrate me.
That chance came when he so cleverly asked, “If you give me what’s in that box, the drinks are free.” Not one to submit to plays-on-words or pickup lines, I let him know the cupcakes in my “box” were mine, and I’d be damned if he had one of my precious baked goods. After all, I did decorate them myself.
He looked disappointed, but still took the round on himself.
Still not cured from some of my love addict qualities, I decided a sly 20-question game wouldn’t be too ridiculous. Perhaps, I’d be super smooth about the whole see-if-you-meet-my-non-negotiables test and he wouldn’t even notice my journalist attributes. Even amidst my random questions while he was serving the other patrons, he always made a point to stop by and see how we were doing. And of course, to give the rhyme to my latest riddle. Once we were half-way finished with our first drinks of the evening, the Irish man decided to start asking questions for himself.
In a cupcake and Merlot haze, I somehow managed to tell him I was not only an editor and a writer, but a blogger about the three words every man seems to be intrigued by: love, dating, and sex. Or possibly, just the latter.
Suddenly, this man was full of perplexities himself – what do you write about? Do you call guys out for being bad in bed? Do you talk about your own experiences or just the general experience of being a single person? Have you ever had sex with a man who wasn’t American? Would you?
Maybe it was his rather cute dimples, the insanely sexy accent or the fact he has a tongue piercing (oh where the mind will go…) – but I replied with class to each question, never lying, never exaggerating, but only answering with as much dignity as I could. Once he seemed satisfied with my words and I gave him the URL to the site, I asked him what brought him to New York, my favorite destination on the planet.
With a michevous grin, he simply said, “Well, my wife.”
Flabbergasted and attempting not to show it, my friend and I swallowed our sip, turned to one another, and strategically raised an eyebrow. I smiled and said, “How lovely. Now, what does she do?” He told us she was in fashion but didn’t get specific, and thus, I became suspicious. He couldn’t sincerely be married – he was far to charming, far to susceptible to blushing when he looked my way, and too, well, available to be…. unavailable. After all, I do know what a Mr. Unavailable looks like – maybe a little too well. Not to mention – he wasn’t wearing a ring and his fellow co-workers were smirking while toasting.
Determined to get to the root of the lie I was convinced he was telling, I questioned: “Well, I’m in magazines and pretty familiar with the fashion industry. Who does she work for? What does she do?” As his Irish cheeks started to match my red coat, he stuttered, “She, uh, designs clothes. Ya know? She cuts them out.” Instantly catching on to his trick, Cat and I grinned towards each other and waited for the moment where this man, in his many mysterious ways, admitted he wasn’t in fact married, but as single as a New York late 20-something male gets.
Impressed with my ability to call him out on a game I’m sure he’s played many times, he filled up my wine glass (much to the dismay of my perfectly-planned-out self’s ways) and asked if I loved my city and if I was satisfied with my life. Becoming more and more tipsy and less and less inhibited, I started not only giving him The Look, but accepting the red, red, wine he was pouring, and the more personal questions he was proposing.
I wasn’t assured he was exactly my type – or at least the sort of man I usually agreed to date. From what I could tell from his location behind the bar, he wasn’t very tall, but taller than me. He obviously didn’t have an typical career, but was living by the hours of drinking and partying as a bartender (this was later soldified, when I asked him what else he did and he responded with, “This.”). And of course, I’ve never actually been serious with an European or anyone from another country, though I’ve always been romanced by the idea of courting one.
With this Irishman, nothing was certain and without knowing much about him – anything seemed plausible. Due to his charms, his careful way of never letting my drink be less than half-empty, his clever wit, and piercing blue eyes – I decided he’d be Mr. Maybe. He could be my type, or not. His accent could make my panties drop, or not. Our shared admiration for baked goods could be a flirting component, or not.
Nevertheless – I realized that for once in my life, I was okay with the uncertain. With the potential, with the things I couldn’t predict, with the pressure I refused to place on myself, dating itself, a stranger, or with the relationship I’m finally not desperately wanting. I’m okay without having a “yes” or a “no” – and dwelling in the maybe seems like an opportunity I’ve often passed up. The gray may be hazy, but sometimes the things you can’t see or define are the very things you end up needing the most.
And so, when Mr. Maybe asked how a man could make it into the inevitable life and blog of Ms. Tigar (or Mr, depending on which post you read), I gave him a hint of the sincere smile that’s somewhere rooted inside of me and said, “Take her out for a cupcake, since she doesn’t give away ones she gets for free?” Obviously interested in the prospect of icing and baked flour, Mr. Maybe let me know his day off was on Wednesdays. I returned by offering I got off work at 6 p.m., and gave him my card. Just in case, you know.
Once I paid my tab that didn’t even come close to reflecting what I consumed, locked eyes again with Mr. Maybe, and cheek-kissed my friend good-bye, I walked to the subway with a little extra step. I’m not sure if it means I’m at a new step or I’ve unfolded a new chapter in my journey but something about a simple evening with careless flirting rejuvenated my spirit. Perhaps it was the sight of a new possibility or just the pleasure of being a lady who knows what she wants (and how to get it). Could be the joy that comes from prancing through the city, even in negative degrees, and loving it just the same. Or even the warmness a great glass of wine gives you – especially when it didn’t come out of your tiny paycheck.
Or it could be the easy and simple feeling of knowing that your life is no longer dependent on finding all of the answers. Of defining the exact right path, the next move that’s planned and mapped out. But rather, it’s finally not about existing and waiting for the next love, the next chance or the next opportunity, but more about living and taking all the comes (or doesn’t) with acceptance and stride.
Or perhaps, being thankful for the luck a cupcake can sometimes bring you…or the Irish bartender that you hope actually does put your number or email to good use. And who takes you out for something frosted and delicious? Maybe, just maybe.
P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year. We’ll make it more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.