Same night, different bar, similar throng. The usual staples, dark corners, mirrored walls, Cher pumping out, Gin and Tonic fluorescing, and there at the far end of the place, the cute guy from earlier.
Except I was drunk. He might have been a different cute guy. He might even have been the Chinese guy that we saw out and about every so often, comedy knitwear and a man with a bank account next to him, someone old enough to be his grandfather. But I didn't really care. This guy I was looking at was cute, whether or not he was the cute guy from earlier.
I said goodbye to Michael. I told him I was going for a walk, which was my code phrase for "I am going cruising". Not much of a code phrase, but we didn't need a code. He knew what I was like. I watched the room as I walked, predatory. Hard to believe now, but back then I had a healthy amount of arrogance about me, an attitude that said that I was a man who could afford to pay half the cost of a taxi, and who liked poached eggs for breakfast. Either that or it said I was easy.
And there was the cute guy, walking straight towards me. Straight in the sense of "directly", not in any other sense. And he used the world's best chat up line on me. "Hello," he said. And it would be nice to say that he had me at "hello", but he didn't. He certainly had my attention. We chatted. We danced. We did things that are probably best done in private, but we were young and pretty and didn't care. He was there with someone else, someone who probably thought he might have been in with a chance. That was a little bit of a problem.
We held hands as we left, giggling. Nervous and excited and exhilarated and with nothing except innocent fun on our minds. And then the yell came and the mood changed. In the hot heavy night with the threat of thunder looming, we turned to see his "friend" standing at the door to the bar, looking less than pleased. We giggled like schoolgirls and ran away, also like schoolgirls. Along Hollywood Road, down a narrow rat infested stairway, up a narrow lane between two buildings, scared and excited and chased and still holding hands until eventually, certain we had lost our pursuer we collapsed in each others arms in a doorway. I reached over to brush his hair out of his face, and we kissed, sweet and tender.
And then he changed my life. But that's a different story for a different time.