"Laurie, this is my friend Rob," Deb said, pushing her pal in my direction. "Rob this is Laurie, the one I told you about."
She'd told me about Rob, too. The party she was throwing turned into a convenient vehicle to play matchmaker. She told me Rob was good looking, sweet, thirty-six, and interested in settling down. "If it works, it works. If it doesn't, it doesn't. But I want you guys to meet, because the both of you are such great people. It could be something special." Ah, but in my experience, the hookup rarely turns into anything special.
"Hi, Rob," I said, extending my hand for him to shake. "Nice to meet you."
"Now mingle," Deb said to Rob with a playful pat on his back. "I'll see you around," she smiled, then turned to walk away.
Rob was left with Nancy, Alex, and myself, the four of us standing in an awkward circle. Conversation turned quickly to weather and the deer that always find their way into the roads and how nicely the party had turned out. A chilly breeze swept through the tent under which we stood, and I suggested to the group that we go inside and get some drinks.
Wanting to give this guy a chance, I bellied up to the bar with him, waiting for the bartender to take our orders.
"So, how long have you known Bill and Deb," he said, referring to the throwers of the party and the masterminds behind our hookup.
"Only a few months, I know them through Nancy and Alex, who you met outside."
"They're great, aren't they?"
"I can't believe they have grown children. They have three who are all grown up, and I don't have any." A strange moment of silence passed between us. "What about you, do you want kids?"
I was caught off guard. Weren't women supposed to ask these kinds of questions? And even if they do, don't they save it for the third date?
"Uuuuhhh, yeah. Eventually."
"I don't know. I'll figure that out later."
"I want three."
I fully expected him to tell me their names, but the bartender caught him before he could go any further into his desire for children.
He ordered for the two of us and was grabbed by Bill to meet some friends. He assured me he'd meet back with me later, and I made my way over to my friends.
Pollo and Nancy and I danced for what felt like hours before Rob reemerged, grabbing me by the hand and pulling me, mid-dance move, from the floor and outside to the patio.
"You look so hot," he said, edging me away from the building into the darkness of the vacant backyard.
"I know, I've been dancing," I said, tousling my sweaty hair and fanning myself with my hands.
"That's not what I meant." He gave me a look that seemed to imply I want to eat you up, and pulled me close to him.
I backed away, stepped closer to the building where we could be seen under the floodlights. "Well, thanks." He pulled me close again, his hands pawing at my waist, my shoulders.
Once more, I backed away, putting my arms out straight so that he could not come closer. "You know, I think I'm going to head back inside."
"Wait just a second," he said, grabbing my arm and pulling me again into him. He brought his face to mine, in a sloppy attempt at a kiss.
"I don't think so, Rob." I pushed his face away and turned to walk inside.
"Am I being inappropriate?" He asked.
"Yes," I said over my shoulder as I walked through the sliding glass door and back into the party.
Two drinks and twenty songs later, the packed dance floor parted, giving way to three strippers. They had been hired by the owner's son to "get the party started," or so he said. But since the party was already in full swing, they headed straight for the two stand-alone poles in the rear corners of the room, immediately stripping down to bikini tops and G-strings. The crowd that had, not five minutes ago, been dancing themselves into a frenzy, turned to gawk at the strippers. I grabbed a dollar bill and headed for the stripper nearest to me, dancing with her for a moment before shoving the bill in the skinny strap of her panties.
The strippers danced for roughly half an hour before they were tired and required a break. They all stepped out back, their bare asses perched on lawn furniture, smoking cigarettes they carried in their teeny-tiny purses. From my vantage point inside, I could see all three strippers. And Rob. Whose lap was functioning as a chair for one of the gals.
"Gross," I said to Nancy, who was standing next to me. There's nothing wrong with strippers. But he had already skeeved me out with the premature attempt at a kiss earlier, and now he had pounded the second nail into his coffin with this shenanigan.
When breaktime was over, two of the strippers filed back into the party. Rob and Stripper #3 were nowhere to be found. Rumor begins to circulate that they were off somewhere together. Which was fine, and somewhat of a relief to me. He wasn't required to like me, and I took his romp with a dancer to mean that he didn't.
A half hour later, I stood at the edge of the dance floor, watching all of the bodies on it move to the music, and I felt a hand on my back. It belonged to Rob.
"Now, where did we leave off," he said, tugging me toward the door.
"Oh, I don't need to go outside," my voice was firm as I freed my arm from his hand.
"But I can't talk to you in here," he leaned in close, I could feel his breath on my face.
"What do you need to talk to me about?" I asked turning my face away.
"I want to get to know you. Bill said you're a really great girl, and I think we should get to know each other." His hands found their way around my waist, his fingers clutched my sides. His unwanted and overzealous advances made my skin crawl, turned me off of him even further.
"I'm fine right here," I said, taking his hands in my own and removing them from my body.
"You're not interested in me are you?" He asked, his words sloppy and wet.
His face morphed into what I can only assume was his best puppy-dog face. "But why not? I think we could really get along."
"So," I said, taking a step back from in order to reclaim some of my personal space, "where did you go with the stripper for all that time?"
"Nothing happened!" he said, jumping straight to the defense. He pointed over his shoulder to the stripper, now writhing on the pole. "You can ask her."
"I don't want to ask her. I don't care what happened. You can do whatever you want with her. I just don't want you to think I'm still interested."
Pollo, sensing my need to be rescued, grabbed me by the hand and pulled me onto the dance floor. I danced until I was covered in sweat again, then went outside with a friend to get some air.
In the middle of our conversation, I happened to glance in the direction of the sixty or so cars parked along the hedges of the yard. And, there, walking through the grass, was Rob and the stripper. I saw him open his car door, help the young stripper in, then follow. My friend and I laughed. "At least someone's gonna get action tonight," he said.
Much later, back inside the party, Rob found his way to me again, his breath on my neck, his body in my space, his hands all over me. "Would you like to dance?" He slurred into my hair.
"No, I'm fine right here, thank you."
"I blew it, didn't I?"
"My chance with you?"
"Were you trying for a chance with me?"
"Well, yes. You did blow it."
"You hate me."
"I don't hate you. I don't even know you. But I'm not interested in you."
"Don't hate me. I'm a great guy. I promise."
"I'm sure you are. I'm sure the stripper thinks so, too."
"Nothing happened! I swear!"
"Are you talking about the first time you disappeared with her, or the second time when you disappeared with her into your car?"
"Bill made me go with her! I didn't want to, but he told me to."
I shuddered, appalled at his choice of an excuse. She needed mouth to mouth. She asked me to help her mend her G-String. She had to make a call and I offered her the use of my car phone. Any of these, although absurd, would've been preferable to hearing over the lame line that someone else forced his hand.
"I'm sorry," I said, not even able to look him in the face, "but are you or are you not a big boy? I think you're capable of making your own decisions. You're a little too old to blame your stupid move on someone else. And you don't give me nearly enough credit if you think I'm going to fall for it."
"You're right," he said leaning into me, wrapping his whole arm around me. "Bill's right, you probably are too smart for me." He was trying to be playful, flirty. Cute.
"Yeah, probably," was my response. Not flirty at all. Once again, I twisted myself out of his grasp, only to be corralled again. His hands were everywhere, impossible to move.
My friend, Sam, chose this moment to walk by and give Rob the international sign for "Loser." He held his thumb and forefinger up to his forehead and said "Rob, get off her. She can tell you're a loser."
Rob obliged, but put his face next to mine to whisper in my ear, "Sam hates me."
"Sam hates everybody," I said, moving my face as far from his as possible.
"Oh good," he sighed, relieved and resting his head on my shoulder.
"Well, sometimes, it's warranted." I moved my whole body away from him and concentrated on not being near him for the rest of the night.
"I'm sorry Rob's such a dick," Deb whispered in my ear later that night. "I saw him go out to his car with one of the strippers, and I was like 'No way!' I'm just so sorry. I was really hoping there'd be a match there."
"It's fine, Deb, really. How would you know if you'd never tried? It could've been a match...It just didn't work out that way."
She laughed and put her hand on my shoulder. "I guess I know now why he's still single, though, huh?"