"You wanna get a drink while we're here?" Billy said, adjusting his coat. I glanced over at the bar, at the one chair at the end.
"Sure." I was unsure, uncomfortable. Being in big cities always makes me feel like a country bumpkin. Like I should be chewing straw and missing my teeth.
Billy ordered for us and excused himself to the restroom.
"Is this seat taken?" I asked softly, placing my hand gingerly onto the back of a vacant chair next to a man with his back to me.
He turned around, looked me over. He smiled and pushed the seat toward me. "It's all yours. But I'm warning you, if you sit in it, I may ask you to marry me."
I giggled and sat in the chair. "Well, I'll take that chance. I'm short on marriage proposals these days."
"God. You smell terrific," he said, his hands around his small glass of dark liquor.
"That's horrible." I said, my voice disappointed. "'You smell terrific'? Can't you come up with something better?" He laughed.
He was much older than me, probably in his fifties. "Nah. It's the truth. What is that?"
"Well, it could be the perfume I put on at eight this morning, about twelve hours ago. Or it could be my apple gum." I wasn't shutting him down, I was engaging in banter. It felt good.
"What's the perfume?"
He considered it. "I don't know which one it is. But you smell great. And you're so beautiful. God. Your boyfriend is a lucky man." I laughed and accepted the glass of wine the bartender placed in front of me. "And look at that smile," he said. He slapped the much younger man to his left on the arm. "Great orthodontia."
"Or orthodontics," countered the new stranger.
"Nope. This is all natural, baby," I said, circling my mouth with my finger.
I learned that the two men were father and son. They were funny. They were good conversationalists. While Billy spoke with a waitress about her art, I spoke to the guys, trading jabs and sipping my wine, delighting in the attention from strangers.
And it was peculiar, how wonderful I felt about myself. A little bit of attention and I'm off and running. Suddenly, I didn't feel so countrified. So hopelessly outclassed. I felt desirable and good.
And the weird thing is, it doesn't matter who the attention comes from. Sometimes, a girl just needs to feel wanted.