I Finally Started Flirting!

One woman tells her dating tales to MarieClaire.com.

So on Thursday night, I finally did it! I talked to not one, but TWO strange men! Woo-hoo!

The plan for the night was to meet up with one ex-boyfriend — just for thirty minutes — at a gallery opening for an artist we both like; and then to move on to have a drink with a second former BF. Ex Number One and I hadn't seen each other since we broke up, over a year ago, though I HAD cyberstalked him plenty — on Facebook and through his Flickr page — so I knew he had a serious new girlfriend. What I didn't know was that she was going to be in tow on Thursday night. Or that she was going to be so much more hot in person — and so much skinnier-looking — than in her pics.

Tempting as it was to be jealous of her and to feel upset, I managed to talk myself into taking her attractiveness as some kind of compliment: My ex happens to date sexy women, like her. And me! (Plus, I got the distinct feeling she was not happy I was there, so there was some petty satisfaction in that, too.)

It was nice to see him, if only to be reminded of what a sweet person he is. My nose was dripping a little (from biking over on a windy evening), and he immediately offered me a tissue, for instance. What was even nicer, though, was realizing that I didn't feel a single bit of anguish or longing over him. He's really smart and kind, and I could always make him laugh, and we had great sex ... but we never really had much in common. He and his new girlfriend, on the other hand, are visual artists and computer geeks whose lives were incredibly similar even before they met. So while they yammered away about the "intertextuality" of the exhibit, I walked off to take it all in. For the exhibit, French artist Sophie Calle — who inspired the address-book-stalker in Paul Auster's novel Leviathan — invited 107 different women from all walks of life to "interpret" a break-up note she'd received over e-mail. The show included framed representations of their "interpretations" — for instance, a rifle shooter took a copy of the note and shot it full of holes, while an origami expert turned a copy of the note into a crane — as well as lush pictures that Sophie had taken of each of the women.

Ex Number One and his GF left a little early, so I had about 20 minutes to myself at the gallery. The room was packed with hot dudes. I kept saying to myself, "Talk to one of them, you idiot! Just make a comment about one of the photos! Come on!" But they were all so hot, and I was all so chicken. So I went off to meet my second ex, Jake Stein*, who was waiting for me up the street, at a little French joint called Le Deux Gamin.

It was great to see Jake who had been one of my best friends before we started dating a few years back — and luckily has become one of my best friends again, even after a period of post-break-up tension and distance. (The whole mini-saga with Jake is another story for another day.) We had an interesting conversation about what my major dating problem is — again, a story for another day — and also talked about his job as a political reporter and his current girlfriend — who recently moved in. Things are going really well between them, and it's amazing to see Jake, a former toxic bachelor, so transformed by love. His GF is up for a great job at a TV news show.

We hugged good-bye and after Jake walked off towards the subway, I'd just finished sending a quick text message and was about to unlock my bike when I noticed a groovy-looking man whom I recognized from the exhibit. "Hey," I said to him. "Weren't you just at Sophie Calle?" We were shaking hands when a tall, thin woman with the coloring of a sparrow walked out of the bodega behind us and strode up. His girlfriend, of course. I chatted with both of them — they're photographers who are going to shoot Sophie for a Brazilian magazine cover — and the girlfriend and I hit it off. She gave me her card and asked if I'd like to get together sometime soon to visit some other galleries in the area. Hey, why not? A new friend isn't such a bad consequence of living flirtatiously.

Then I moved on to the gym. (Yes, I'm one of those crazy people who will hit the gym at 9:30 at night.) There, lying in a corner of the free weight area, I saw a Russian novel called Master and Margarita lying on the floor. I've been wanting to read it for a while now, so I looked around to see whom it belonged to. There was only one guy within spitting distance, so without thinking twice — without even realizing I was flirting — still a little high, probably, from the excitement of talking to the photographers — I went over and said, "Are you reading that book?" He wasn't, but he wanted to ask me about some of the stretches he'd seen me doing. He was pretty adorable — with exotic dark skin and dark twinkling eyes, clearly from a Spanish-speaking country — but English seemed to be his second language, so I didn't talk to him for as long as maybe I should have.

Also ... truth be told ... there was another reason I'd rushed off. That person I'd sent the text to? Another ex. Although he never quite reached boyfriend status. So, ex-lover, I guess? Although that makes me sound more Parisian and sophisticated than I am. Anyway, I'd texted my ex-something-or-other and suggested that I stop by his place on my way home that night. Of course, though, I wanted to get in a little work-out first. So by the time I was at the gym, I was in a rush to get through my exercises and go see Mr. Jonas Singer* ....

Well, this is already way too long. More tomorrow. But before I go, I do want to give all my commenters (and readers) a shout-out: Thank you! Starry3, BlackGirlSuperstar, Sasha Victory, Neil from D.C., and all the rest — please keep reading and letting me know what you think. And to my own loyal pals — like Dan, SN, Beth, Gwyn, J, Fance, etc. — thanks for tuning in.

*Jake Stein and Jonas Singer are pseudonyms.