Sunday, August 17, 2008

BEAUTIFUL STRANGER

My memory is so not what it used to be. I'd like to blame age, but I'd say the culprit is more likely whiskey. Or more accurately, too much of it. Friday night, I went to a club called Angel's. It's not a place I go to often, but whenever I do--especially with my friend Jeffrey--I always have a crazy time. The place is a little tacky, a little trashy and quintessentially Argentine. Unlike any other club I've been to in Buenos Aires, there is an entire dance floor on the lower level dedicated to Latin jams.

Shortly after I arrived, I walked over to the bar and ordered the first of three whiscolas (whisky--the cheap national stuff--and coke). As I waited for my drink, a tall, handsome guy started chatting me up. "Hablás español?" he asked. "Sí," I responded. We didn't really talk much. We just kind of stared at each other and smiled. Once I got my drink, I tore my eyes away from his and went upstairs without pursuing anything further.

Stupid me, I thought. Why didn't I talk to him? Why didn't I stare at him some more? Why didn't I ask him to dance? Why this? Why that? Being the shy type (yes, I am, although most folks who meet me wouldn't know it because I put on a killer social-butterfly act), I decided that going back to talk to him--or stare at him--was out of the question. But I had a plan. I wrote down my phone number on a piece of paper with the following message: Querría conocerte mejor! (Translation: I would like to get to know you better.) Then I went back downstairs and stood within his eyeshot. As soon as he saw me, he walked over to me. Rather than picking up our non-conversation where we'd left off, I handed him the piece of paper and went back upstairs.

Stupid me, I started thinking. Were we in high school or what? The sad truth is that I kind of get off on this juvenile kind of mating dance. I figured that if he followed me upstairs, it would be a match made in...um, heaven? We were, after all, in a club called Angel's. Moments later, he appeared and introduced himself properly as Hernan. We talked some more, and then he floored me. He told me that we'd met about six months earlier in an after-hours club (no doubt Jeffrey and I had gone there to cap off one of our famously debauched nights out), and we'd spent some, ahem, quality time together.

"En serio?" I asked. "Sin duda," he answered. (Translation: You bet your bottom peso!) My first thought was to wonder how many whiscolas I must have had that night to not even remember our not-so-brief encounter. Yes, I thought he looked a little familiar when I first saw him in Angel's--but more in that typically handsome Argentine way. (That's not him in the photo, by the way, but you get my drift.) My second thought was at least I'm consistent in my taste.

We ended up spending some more quality time together between the lower-level bathroom and dancefloor (it's not the Eiffel Tower, but this wasn't exactly An Affair To Remember) before parting ways with the promise to see each other again, maybe even go out on a proper date. As I headed to the dancefloor where I spent the next hour or so with my friend Ricardo, burning off my whiscola buzz and all those alcohol calories, visions of Hernan's tousled curly hair were dancing in my head. I wondered if he'd actually call. I'm not holding my breath. And even if he does, Argentine men don't really do dates. But I'm sure I'll see him again. One way or another. And next time, he won't be just another beautiful stranger.
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