It wasn’t long after I returned to work that I was back out on Thursday nights with ‘N’. I had left my heart back with Dragosani, and I went out looking for a way to drown my sorrow or find something to take his place. Every Friday morning my mother made comments about the ‘smell’ that came off ‘N’ and me. She claimed we smelled like booze and cheap women. Some Fridays we came in hung over, but we always denied her claim that we were cheap. We had our price. ‘N’ had a definite price when she went out looking on Thursday nights. She wanted a man with money who could give her the life she had missed with the doctor.
One Thursday night turned out different from all the rest. As we sat with our free drinks and yelled at each other over the noise of the music, we saw two men enter and head to the bar. They stood there chatting with their boots resting on the rail while they casually checked out what Ladies Night had brought in for their perusal. One was obviously a real cowboy while the other was a ‘Thursday night only’ cowboy. They don’t call bars ‘meat markets’ for nothing, and sitting at our tables with our free drinks felt like we were cattle waiting to be culled.
‘N’ had noticed the tall cowboy as soon as he entered the bar and she made sure he noticed her. Her beautiful smile and laugh rang out loudly – like a siren’s call – and it drew the two men closer and closer to our table. Soon ‘N’ was up on the dance floor with the cowboy while the wannabe hovered for a minute and then moved off. That was the beginning of a new life for ‘N’.
While ‘N’ was falling in love with her cowboy, I was still trying to carry on a long-distance relationship with Dragosani. I accompanied her every Thursday night so she could be with her new man, while I ended up spending some time up on the dance floor with the wannabe. Dragosani would laugh as I described my attempts at two-stepping or recalled something stupid I had done after my five free drinks. However, as time slipped away and I watched ‘N’ falling in love, I became aware of how lonely I was. D seemed like another lifetime when I thought back to those two weekends. I wanted someone in the here and now instead of years down the road.
The Saturdays with Cid didn’t help either. I yearned to be more than friends with him. But my yearnings left me empty and Cid didn’t notice how I longed for him to see me as more than his friend. I had told him little about my trip east and I told him even less about my Thursday nights.
One night, as Garth Brooks sang “If tomorrow never comes” and I danced with the wannabe, I felt something different in the way he held me. Because he had taken dancing lessons we usually joked about my technique. This time, as we slow danced, he held me tighter and cupped my hand a little more protectively in his. Looking up, I saw a soft look come into his eyes as he bent his head and kissed me. My heart hurt as I thought of Dragosani, but my mind kept reminding me of all the lonely years ahead. The next time he kissed me I blocked all of those thoughts and gave in to my loneliness.