I rode the subway home

Yesterday when I left work, a colleague told me to have a good night. I told her I would, and I did.

First stop: happy hour, where we said farewell to someone whose new employer is lucky to have her. My friend and I got there later than the rest. Soon it was just me, the going-awayer and one other person. The latter got a call from two of his friends and insisted we join them at a different place in the Financial District.

For the sake of semi-anonymity, I won’t tell you these two blokes’ names, but I will say that was the second time in one day I’d crossed paths with someone with a viking name. One was in his 50s and wore man-braces, which was awesome.

Someone suggested we all head down to SoHo for dinner at some place I’d never heard of. We agreed, even though I was a bit worried about my attire. Next to my petite, impeccably dressed friend, I — in my ponytail, old pants, comfortable shoes and gray T-shirt — felt more than a little like G.I. Jane. Everyone assured me I’d be fine.

The driver wouldn’t take five, so three of us hopped in the car and drove to SoHo. As we stood outside waiting for Viking and Man-Braces to arrive, someone yelled to our third party. I turned and saw an early cast member of ER and her busband strolling over to meet us. I believe the words “what the eff?” came to mind. Nurse X introduced herself to me: “Hi, I’m Nurse X.” And though I suppressed the urge to babble, I thought to myself, “Hi. You are beautiful.”

We chit-chatted a little, and then Husband of Nurse X walked his tired wife home, with the promise to return and join us at dinner. So we entered the restaurant, and our third party got a warm welcome. “Who IS this man?” I wondered. We ordered drinks, and I thought perhaps Husband of Nurse X might decide to stay home (after all, he gets to be roommates with Nurse X!!). I was wrong, though. In he walked, and the four of us proceeded to drink things and order food. Viking and Man-Braces had gone home, apparently.

Our third party and Husband of Nurse X talked to each other most of our time there, which was fine by me, for I was getting to know the going-awayer better — and wishing we’d hung out much sooner than this. Time passed, and I had to visit the ladies’ room, the quickest route to which involved climbing a treacherously narrow spiral staircase.

I got to the second floor and after congratulating myself for making it up the staircase without breaking any bones or yelling any obscenities, I looked in the bathroom mirror to see how the hair — which the going-awayer had graciously freed from its ponytail holder and arranged for me — was holding up. And then I saw it: a giant, round stain of indeterminate origin on my chest. It was conspicuous.

And then I laughed. I was having dinner at a swanky restaurant with Husband of Nurse X and two other people I was only just getting to know, and I looked like a slovenly frat boy. It was too perfect.

I donned my cardigan, and of COURSE the stain was too high up for my sweater to conceal completely. I told myself it helped, at least, and descended the Staircase of Doom, again without incident. Yay me.

Dinner continued, and eventually it came time to go home. Husband of Nurse X went his way, and the rest of us went ours.


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