Pretend You Don’t Know Me
Like many couples, my girlfriend and I agree that Valentine’s Day is a commercial holiday. Last year neither of us wanted to do anything traditionally romantic, like go out for a fancy dinner. We wanted, instead, to do something scandalous.
We had a wish list of activities we’d been gradually checking off, and talked over a few possibilities. We settled on one of my suggestions: We would go to a bar that neither of us frequented, best moncler jackets pretend to be strangers, and I moncler outlet store would try to pick her up.
We had been dating for eight months, long enough to get comfortable with each other. Getting comfortable is one of the pleasures of being in a long term relationship: not having moncler outlet online to put up a first date front, getting takeout and watching TV, being boring together. It’s a relief not to have to be “on” to feel free to be in an unattractive mood or display one of your weird neuroses without worrying the other person will finally realize the truth about you.
But this is also a hazard of relationships: You moncler sale can take your partner for granted and quit trying to impress. Couples forget how to flirt, or that they’re attractive to anyone else, and get bored with each other, and themselves. Until the day it emerges that one of them has a whole secret life: an affair or erotic correspondence, a hidden kink, an ex of some unexpected type or gender.
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Neither of us was practiced at role playing; we’re not into elaborate schoolgirl/professor, applicant/employer, or slave cheap moncler coats mens princess/Hutt scenarios. We weren’t going to pretend to be other people; we were going to be ourselves in a parallel reality in which we hadn’t met.
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We both worried that we might just feel stupid and want to quit. cheap moncler jackets womens There was some last moncler usa minute waffling. She was having a bad day and discount moncler jackets I told her we could postpone if she wasn’t in the mood, but she decided to rally. We established some code words: one as a warning and another to call the whole thing off.
Walking to the bar that night to meet my own girlfriend, I was nervous. I had freaked out over what to wear. Choosing a bar stool moncler online store felt as fraught with possibilities and drawbacks as an opening chess move. In the end I settled on a stool two away from a guy at the end of the bar, leaving my girlfriend the choice to sit beside either him or me. I took out the book I had brought, Nabokov’s “Pale Fire” (whose narrator is also pretending to be someone else), and waited.
When she arrived, she wounded me by taking the stool next to the other guy. “I couldn’t take the one next to you,” she later said. “That would have been too easy.” She said she had even considered sitting on the other side of the bar from me, making eyes at me from there.
I have no idea how to pick someone up on the other side of a bar and would certainly have failed and disgraced myself.
It’s relevant to mention here that my girlfriend is, um, voluptuous. She tired long ago of men staring at her cleavage and moncler uk outlet now dresses in severe black clothing with high necklines and austere copper accessories that look like machine parts or totemic objects. moncler outlet woodbury So when she slid onto her stool in a tight sleeveless shirt that clung to her breasts and bared her midriff it had roughly the same warm, disorienting effect on me of half a uk moncler outlet Dilaudid, chewed. Her skirt, with an angled hemline that showed off her thighs, only added to the feeling.
She took a book out of her purse and opened it also “Pale Fire” (we were reading it together as a winter project). The other guy was also reading a book.
“It’s the end of the bar book club,” I said as an opening moncler outlet sale gambit.
“Hey,” Other Guy said. “Did you know you two are reading the same book?”
We both feigned surprise, and the three moncler sale online of us got into a conversation. Other Guy’s book was a collection of essays that sounded pretty good. Alarmingly, he turned out to be smart and well read, because of course New York is full of smart, well read people vying, with their formidable educations and charm, for mates.
He was a lawyer, and not even a boring lawyer but one who did something interesting and cool. It seemed to me that my girlfriend was talking with him more than me. It began to seem as if Other Guy might be doing better moncler outlet with her uk moncler sale than I was, and that it was by no means a foregone conclusion that I would win her.
I had begun to both like and feel sorry for this guy (since he had no idea he was a supporting player in our private game and, I hoped, had no actual chance with her), cheap moncler jackets mens but also to hate him and want to best him in combat.
My girlfriend and I had once seen two male Canada geese monclerdownjacket fighting over a female goose, squawking furiously and beating the water with their wings and grappling at each other’s snaking throats with their bills. Because (no offense) all geese look pretty much alike, it was hard to say which goose won, the attacker or the defender, but I knew that I wanted to be the goose that ended up with the girl, not the one who flew cheap moncler jackets off honking in ignominious defeat.
Thank God the guy’s wife eventually showed up, with a colleague of hers. They were all interesting people; we liked them. But we also couldn’t break character.
We had felt self conscious and uncertain about this plan to start out with, but now that our private game had become an uncontrolled experiment, involving other people, we were committed. It had gotten real.
Having to maintain our pose of being strangers in front of a third party also forced us to reintroduce ourselves to ask each other, “So, what do you do?” and “What neighborhood do you live in?” And we had to try to answer without being boring, moncler outlet and to listen to each other’s answers anew.
My girlfriend said later that she was sure she would have moncler sale outlet dropped the act 15 minutes in if not for the presence of these strangers. It also kept our role play tethered to reality; she was forced to be more realistically flirtatious, treating me like a stranger at a bar, with some wariness and respectability, instead moncler outlet prices of just inviting me back to her place moncler womens jackets after one drink or having sex with me in the cheap moncler sale bathroom.
Just before our three new friends left, the lawyer gave us each his card and said, “I’m here every Tuesday, if you want to keep our book club going.”.