march 9 2012

Leif Bunting

Eagle Rock, California



It was an urban LA evening for me, a Friday night and my good friend Benny was in town from New York. He was staying at The Standard hotel downtown, so after work was over I went to meet him and his other LA friends on the rooftop bar amongst the heat lamps, swimming pools and stylish patrons.

It was the first time I had been to The Standard since my wedding night six years ago and I had mixed feelings riding up the elevator. I was happy to see Benny and his friends but sad to be back at that hotel. It happens that Benny was my ex-wife's boyfriend before she met me and as strange as it sounds we became steadfast friends. He even became ordained over the Internet and performed our wedding ceremony. Now, however unintentional on his part, he was bringing me back to a place that I had tried to avoid, where I once celebrated my marriage that had since been destroyed by infidelity. It seemed like the universe was intent on making me recall events that I had spent a great deal of time trying to forget. It did not help things that unlike me Benny was now happily married and just had a beautiful son.

But I am not one to feel sorry for myself, so I put on the brave face of the happy-go-lucky bachelor and regaled Benny and his friends with tales of online dating and drunken one night stands. In fact, one of the girls I had slept with was in a band and she had a gig down the street later that night at Casey's Irish Pub!

Oh I was a hit with Benny's friends who all happened to be married; at my advanced age of 40 it seems like all of my friends are married with kids now. They loved my stories though and were living vicariously through me. It must be so cool to be out at clubs and bars all night instead of going to bed early and having a predictable schedule. Of course it was all an act, I would gladly trade places with any one of them. Being single can be exhilarating and exciting, there is always the chance to meet someone new and the nervous energy of a first kiss is unlike anything else...but aside from those brief and all too infrequent moments of bliss, being single at my age is generally depressing and celibate.

Benny had to leave the bar early to put his new baby to sleep and tend to his wife so it was time for me to go back down the elevator and walk to Casey's. Oh good, she was there! My one night stand that I wanted to be more than a one night stand. This was the first time I had seen her since we had spent the night together the weekend before. She was beautiful, sweet and talented. Damn, maybe being single is not so bad after all! I mean there I was, out with an amazingly hot girl who was 10 years younger than me! We talked, I bought her a drink and all was well... until he showed up.

You see, my one night stand had a boyfriend and that was why she was only a one night stand. I thought he might not show up, but he did. So I watched her play, remembering the night we had spent together while trying not to make eye contact with her boyfriend. When her set was over I made my way up Bunker Hill to my car. This is how the other woman feels, I thought to myself, as the loneliness of the empty city closed in around me.


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