15 | The Hair: Part I

My first foray into online dating was on a website called Nerve. I refused to even entertain the idea of Match, because hello I was not a 50 year old nerd. A friend of mine had tried Yahoo’s dating arm, and like, are you kidding? Yahoo? That was just asking to get chloroformed. I had heard about Nerve from a friend in one of my grad school classes. I was HIGHLY suspect of online dating because when she first told me about Nerve, it was like 2005 and just no. But, Grad School Friend had killer bangs and awesome shoes, so I trusted her. She assured me online dating was not scary (it was) and that it was fun (it wasn’t). I dabbled apathetically in the mid-2000s, but didn’t really commit to online dating until I moved back to the US in 2009.

Online dating was not A Thing when I lived in Ireland, and I really had no overwhelming interest to date while I lived there anyway. Yes, duh, had a strapping rugby player Beckett scholar with an incomprehensible brogue chatted me up I would have immediately become an ex-pat. But, dating, as Sport, wasn’t really on my radar at that time. For me, dating was still very much random, haphazard and based upon meeting people in bars and class or willing the dreamy guy in the coffee shop to come over and ask what killer song I was listening to as I drafted my stunning paper on Anglo Irish Ascendancy. Sure.

Sometime in the fall of 2010 I decided I was over The Lawyer (good riddance) and Ready to go ahead do it: Get Out There. So I signed up for Nerve and filled out my probaby trying too hard to be way too cool and drop obscure music and literary references (N.b.: I for sure dropped Animal Collective in there, like, okkk Erin reeelax) devastatingly charming profile and began winking my relationship-hungry little heart out. The wariness and embarrassment I harbored toward online dating was somewhat assuaged because Nerve was, according to moi, Edgy. They wrote about sex and relationships and all sorts of hipstery Brooklyny things. My bangs and penchant for obnoxious allusions were all set to wiggle their way into the hearts of tattooed boys with skinny jeans and shitty Bushwick walk-ups.

No matter the vehicle and no matter the year, online dating is a lot like throwing spaghetti at a wall: it all feels very random and you are, more often than not, left in a daze wondering, “Wait, why am I doing this? This is stupid. I’m going to stop doing this. Ok. Fine. One more. Gawd, this is stupid right. Oh. But wait. That one almost stuck. Ok. After this next one. Then I’ll stop.” And then you don’t stop because you’re just so very sure that the next wink, the next email, the next abs-for-days selfie, that one that’s gonna be the one that sticks. And who can blame you? It’s only love and companionship and your heart on the line. NBD whateverrrssss.

Wading through a sea of dudes, it becomes easy to gaslight yourself. People you’d never consider in a million years become possibilities because of a stylized black and white photo or a bio that describes the perfect day as just “listening to Tom Waits and wandering around looking for Old New York, then maybe popping into a record shop and finding some vintage vinyl to listen to later as we drink two buck chuck out of chipped coffee mugs trading Foucault quotes kill me now.” (We went on a couple dates. It’s fine. Ugh.) Anyway, being spoiled for choice leads to some out-of-character winking. The sober vegan photographer might be like a good influence or something and think of how much weight I’d lose and we could be super intellectual together over our macrobiotic tea and he won’t be at all pedantic, condescending and humorless right? The hot I-banker with the NSFW towel selfie and aversion to ‘fatties’ is like totally just keeping his standards high? Right? Somewhere underneath all that Brooks Brothers, coke dust and self-loathing there’s Patrick Bateman an altruistic heart of gold? I’m like totally sure of it.

And while there were so many (like just so many) obvious red (neon, flashing with glitter) flags in so many of the profiles, it was all too easy to get wrapped up in the What Ifs and Well Maybes and try on different futures for my single self. Being professionally lost and unfulfilled, having just quit a PhD and feeling like a failure, being broke and wanting MORE… well, it was easy to stumble blissfully into the morass. It was all one big Well Why The Fuck Not. Plus, it becomes its own vice. The dopamine hit of someone winking back. The thrill of logging in to see a message reply from the latest Possibility. It’s a weird land of mostly make-believe, because, as if the carefully curated profile isn’t enough to contend with, there’s The Banter. 

Early online dating was a minefield of meticulously crafted witticisms and quips painfully tailored to invoke each other’s carefully curated biographical blurbs as if to say, See, I’m paying attention. For funny, smart, women, The Banter was (and still is) Heroin. Because all of us were a little iffy on the whole meeting strangers on the internet thing, The Banter could go on for weeks. WEEKS. And, if it was good immediately start smiling when you see their name in the inbox banter, well forget it. Hours of your day were lost to drafting replies and rereading responses in an attempt to glean every last morsel of connection and hilarity and devastating urbanity. Listen to this prog rock playlist you sent me, over and over on my commute, so I can slip in some little known fact about Spacehog on our first date? Will do! Scour every inch of the newspaper so I have a supes timely and searing insight to throw into the mix? On it! Good thing I was only an adjunct professor at the time. I’d never been able to hold down a full time job with all the research flirting I had to do.

Banter was the way we began to feel safe. It was absolutely a false sense of security, a false sense of intimacy and, more often than not, a warning flare of what would become anxious attachment, but The Banter made online dating feel less sterile, less desperate and more like you were meeting people instead of potential psychopaths. So, when The Hair messaged me with the very simple (and elegant, yet slightly unctuous), “Forgive me for being so forward, but I’d like to meet you. Have a drink with me?” my first thought was: “This guy is 100% a murdering sociopath.” There was an audible record scratch in my brain. NO BANTER?! What kind of lunatic was this?? At that time, this just wasn’t done. Sorry, wait, forgive me. It was done. 

By murdering sociopaths. 

And sex weirdos.

However, after much crowdsourcing (screenshotting his profile, his message, Googling for his dental records and pre-school diploma and sending to approximately 5-10 friends), I decided to reply with nary a banter in sight and say: Yes. Although, I’m sure it was something attempting to match his ingratiating tone. So, I decided to reply with a smidge of nary a banter in sight and say: Well, that does sound quite lovely. Have you a day in mind Hup, hup, raather raaather cheerio my fine fellow. Or something toats chill like that. Much to my horror The Hair responded like right away and suggested: How about tonight?

Pretty sure I turned my phone off and hid it under the couch cushion.

If I had been talked off the ledge of thinking he was going to dismember me and dump my body in the East River (N.b.: single women who live alone should never ever EVER watch Law & Order SVU.), then the prospect of not having AT LEAST 24 hours to agonize, do more Googling and also try to bully this sociopath into *some* banter, put me right back out on the ledge with one foot dangling. 

Finally someone convinced me to say yes because they were tired of draining their phone battery replying to me knew it would be fine and some spontaneity would do me good. So, I found myself agreeing to meet up with him in a few short hours, sending my customary “This is where I’ll be, this is his name and phone number and shoe size” texts in case I did in fact get kidnapped, and traipsing off into Manhattan.

At this time I was living in a delightful little studio in the still old-school Italian, not yet uber hipsterfied corner of Williamsburg. The BQE was so close to my window that there were nights when the air brakes from 18-wheelers would have me sitting straight up in bed, heart racing, only to have to remind myself that a Mac truck was not, in fact, barreling through my wall. I could barely afford it on my adjunct salary, but it was my first real apartment on my own and I never saw a roach or a mouse there, so basically it was paradise.

It was New Year’s Eve Eve. The Hair suggested we meet at Lillie’s in Union Square. I agreed but wondered if it wouldn’t be too boisterous for a first date. It was. An ornate Victorian bar, with elements sourced from Belfast churches, Lillie’s is a beautiful spot, but when I arrived there wasn’t a seat to be had. It was wall to wall with revelers in the full swing of the Bermuda Triangle of indulgence and sloth that is the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. First dates are awkward enough without having to shout, or issue I’msorrywhat’s over and over. I stood there, nerves mounting, wondering what I should do when he walked right up to me, ran his hands through his hair and said, “Well, this won’t do.” 

I’ve always known, before any of the dates even opened their mouths to utter Hello, if This One could possibly be a fit, or at least a reoccurrence. Romance, infatuation at first sight, these things are not written in the stars, they are written in stature, in sartorial nods, in chivalric gestures, in bald looks in the eyes. They are written in our primal, gut reaction to the other’s all of a sudden presence standing in front of us in a crowded bar.

My eventual relationship with The Hair was far FAR from perfect, but in that first moment, as the cold rolled off his winter coat when he leaned in for a half hug and kissed me on the cheek, I felt instantly comfortable, instantly safe. I knew the New Year would have his mark on it. And, that he probably PROBABLY wasn’t going to murder me.

14 | The Lawyer: The Break-Up

There isn’t really much to say about The Breakup, except that The Lawyer was a real POS about the whole thing. For two weeks he ignored me. For my birthday, which fell somewhere in those two weeks, he did absolutely nothing. Oh wait, nevermind, jk, he called me at like 9:30 pm the night of, and left a ten second voicemail that said, “Happy birthday.” My heart exploded from the warmth. Just, really, overwhelmed.

During this time, which could only be described as a term of punishment, I lived in a state of anxiety, holding onto sanity by obsessively going to yoga. While I had forsaken veganism, I had held onto the yoga as a form of exercise, sure, but mainly as a way of coping with feeling lost and stressed the F out. So, for a couple weeks, The Lawyer and I had sporadic and sparsely worded contact that was completely noncommittal on his part. I was still in the process of finding my voice in romantic relationships and was, thus, too chickenshit to flat out ask WHAT IN THE ACTUAL HELL WAS GOING ON.

At the end of this two week purgatory Lucifer The Lawyer asked me to have dinner with him. At that point I didn’t know which end was up. Were we together? Were we broken up? Would it be possible to salvage a relationship with someone I didn’t even really like that much who had treated me with such an alarming lack of respect? I had absolutely no idea what to expect walking into Landmarc, except white linens and overpriced steaks. 

When I walked in he was polite and complimentary, but reserved. We made small talk about work. It felt more like a halting first date than interacting with someone who I had known for over a year, dated for months and, you know, who had like seen me naked but whatevs. Until the second the waitress put the steaks onto the table, we continued this little dance of Everything is Fine Except Oh My God Do You See That Huge Elephant Sitting at the Bar Drinking a Martini and Laughing About What a Stupid Sham This is Is. (I think ABT is performing that this season or something, right?) The Lawyer seemed to take the food arriving as a signal to blow the whole thing up. Which honestly was like a little dangerous because I was holding a steak knife and like WHO KNOWS.

The actual words he spoke: That thing you’re supposed to feel when you’re with someone? That spark? Yeah, I don’t feel that for you.

The actual word I spoke: Huh.

When I didn’t stab him with the steak knife react, he kept talking. 

Him: You know, I keep expecting you to harpoon this conversation. You’re unbelievably calm. That’s actually one of the things I like about you — how not crazy you are.


My monosyllabic responses either unnerved him or signaled assent because he persisted: I mean, I like spending time with you. We have a great time together. I still want to hang out with you, but I just, I don’t want to do it at the same frequency.

Frequency. So this is like a physics test or nah?

As someone who likes to eat, let me just say that being broken up with over dinner is just the absolute worst. It’s only happened to me twice and that is twice too many. Everything turns to glue in your mouth and your appetite vanishes along with all the iterations of your potential future together. So I abandoned my steak and watched him devour his. Now unburdened with the nasty little matter of breaking us up, it seemed his own mood had improved. I think I mumbled something about wishing I had never started dating him to begin with not wanting to Just Be Friends (because ew gross, NO ONE WANTS THAT) and then blamed catching the ferry for my needing to leave the millisecond he was we were done eating. 

I don’t remember how we said goodbye, but it doesn’t really matter. I wouldn’t end up seeing him again for at least a year. He did end up texting me in October because he thought he saw me on a street corner in Williamsburg. (“Well, you know, I was in a cab and there was this brunette with bangs in a leather jacket on the corner.” Because there are NONE of those in Brooklyn. Get out of here and lose my number.) For more time than I care to admit, however, I slept-walked through my days. I didn’t leave the house, I had lost interest in eating (which, like not to court heartbreak, but could that happen again maybe?). I felt entirely numb. I’ve handled worse breakups, the devastating ends to more meaningful relationships, better than I did that one. But, I think my reaction to being broken up with by The Lawyer speaks not to the depth of our connection, but to the extent of his coldness and controlling behavior, that spell being broken when it was all done and finally coming to the realization afterward of how Wrong we had been for each other, how much I wanted to truly Connect with someone.

That’s the thing about Heartbreak, though: You can never predict how it’s going to hit you. When The Lawyer and I broke up I was in a messy place in the part of my life that had nothing to do with him. I was transitioning jobs and struggling to find my foothold in academia, after what I considered to be huge failure, quitting the PhD in Ireland and all. At the time I was also living with my parents and trying to get back on my feet. After three weeks of moping about The Lawyer, however, I did rip the bandaid and start looking for my first Living on My Own apartment in The City. Heartbreak is depleting, but Heartbreak is also galvanizing. 

Heartbreak is a lot like the worst hangover you’ve ever had. 

You know the one: the one where you think you might actually die of dehydration or have done irreparable damage to vital and unsuspecting organs. The night starts off well enough: well attended, well intended. It’s all fun and games, blur of beautiful mayhem and tequila shot? and oh I love this song and let’s get pizza wait just one more bar I heard they have the best jukebox um did you see who is here I can’t believe she told him where we were going I need another margarita are we ever going to find a cab roll down the window I might be sick text me when you get home safe.



A YOUNG GIRL is in bed, obscured by covers. She appears to be dead, but we can hear faint murmurings as though she sleeps restlessly. The room looks as though it has been ransacked. An almost empty glass of water, a pizza box and a cell phone are on the nightstand. She stirs.


I am… What. Where. Bed? Bed check. Alone. Good. Alive? Maybe. Eyes. Wait do they open? Stuck Ugh. Do I have conjunctivitis? It’s black. Black conjunctivitis? Dead? Maybe I am actually dying from oh congealed eyeliner. Oof. Ugh. Oil can. Water. I need water and a lobotomy and a saline drip and a coffee and maybe chicken and waffles. Let me just sit up. Oh dear Lord.


The reality of the Devastation and Disaster, well it all just comes hurtling down around your nauseated, dizzy ears. You curse The Lawyer tequila to high holy hell. You will never love drink again. That’s it. Today is the first day of the rest of your life sans The Lawyer booze. You will go to yoga and relinquish all earthly vices. Ha, what fools you all are, with your coupledom bars and your making out margaritas. You think to yourself, I am sad wise, I see blinding pain all. Once you can move without wanting to vomit, you will be a new woman! But, then, Then, wait! Hmm, you think well maybe I’m going about this all wrong. You think — miraculously! shockingly! — maybe, just maybe, a New Guy margarita will help out this here dire situation. Hair of the dude dog, right? So you proceed on this seemingly ill-advised new escapade. That first date margarita is rough business. There’s a chance you may hurl. There’s a chance you may be instantly hammered again. 50/50, really. But there you are, playing with that straw, licking salt off your fingers and flirting your way into a Whole New Bender.

And that Bender turned out to be 9 years of online dating. 


13 | The Silver Fox: Part Two

So there I was sitting in my hobbit hole cubicle, tap tap typing away at some fucking binder index gloriously urbane and erudite treatise when my phone rang. Instead of it being one of the lawyers I worked for or Paralegal BFF asking me if I wanted to go for lunch, it was The Silver Fox. Calling my line. Directly. Just to say hello and see if — WAIT. WHAT.

I’m pretty sure I blacked out for the first two minutes of the conversation, and even if I didn’t it wouldn’t have mattered because my heart was racing so furiously I wouldn’t have been able to hear anything he said anyway. When I came to and realized that this was in fact Happening, I also realized he was not asking me about anything case related, rather what had I been reading because, you know, he had just finished reading a biography of Andrew Jackson and had I read it because it was really amazing because he was such a controversial figure because lololol WHAT. Are. You. Doinngggg married fancy lawyer who is 15 years my senior and calling a paralegal who works on the case that you supervise in order to make sure everything is HANDLED ETHICALLY. Like omg this is the literal exact opposite of what they said to do in the OSHA or whatever sexual harassment after school special training video I had to watch at new staff orientation. 

Clearly unconcerned about all the any potential lines he was crossing, The Silver Fox banged on about Andrew Jackson for a spell and what could I do but listen, because really, what could I do but listen? Established, important to the case, possessing enough influence to jeopardize my job, did I actually have a choice when he telephonically held me hostage just called to chat? After a lot of blah blah Horseshoe Bend and yadda yadda 1812, The Silver Fox deigned to ask me about my time at Trinity. Did I write my MPhil thesis about Joyce? (Why? Because that’s the one Irish author you can pretend to know?) No, as a matter of fact, using both Lacan’s theory of scopophilia and Burke’s philosophy of the sublime as lenses, I wrote about how a male protagonist is driven to insanity and murder when his male gaze is challenged and he becomes the object of the female gaze and scrutiny. 

So, like, any more questions or nah? 

Having committed to the ruse of calling to discuss literature, The Silver Fox asked me for some book recommendations, which I gave, which he never read. He was saying his goodbyes when he said the thing that I thought maybe he might be calling to say but hoped that he really definitely didn’t say: Next time I’m in town, we should grab a drink. 

Ugh, gawd, duuuuude. Seriously? Did you just ask me on an affair a date?

Yeah, yeah, no way definitely, I said. I’m sure the firm will get something together for you. Well So and So and all those guys are great, he said, but it’d be nice to have a change of company, you know, just you and I. We’ll talk books. 


I managed to hang up the phone promising only vaugeries and letmeknows. I naively assumed that he would realize that he was fucking married and this was a terrible fucking idea come to his senses between that moment and the next time he was in New York.

We soon found out The Trustee was throwing a holiday party for everyone working on the Lehman matter. The Silver Fox would, naturally, be there, but I hoped visibility and overscheduling would keep him from pursuing our Questionable Morals Book Club. Surrounded by garland and fairy lights, we sipped bubbles at the Yale Club. It was très fancy. Like most institutional functions, however, we followed the rules of the jungle and stayed with our own kind. The Silver Fox caught my eye a few times, but was surrounded by Big Deal Partners and I was in my little paralegal nook. From the Yale Club, a smaller group of us migrated across the street to the Campbell Apartment. There I actually spent some time talking to The Lawyer, who I still had no interest in (and should have kept it that way) but conversation with him was at least giving me the opportunity to break out of the paralegal caste corner. 

That evening I hovered on the border of Intrigue and Horror, one toe in each disparate land. Nothing transpired between us except, perhaps, a Happy Holidays and a knowing smile. This left me feeling relieved and disappointed. Because as inappropriate and anxiety-inducing as the whole situation was, it was also equally that thrilling. I was working in a job I felt was beneath me. Most days, I did not feel anyone I worked with recognized that I actually had above average cognitive functioning, two Masters degrees and a desire to do more with my life than make deposition binders. So here was this fancy, older, hot dude paying attention very specifically to me. But the reality of it, or actually acting on it, gave me a gnarly pit in my stomach that couldn’t be denied.

In February he emailed to say he was sorry to have missed me the last time he was in town, and also to ask about our rendezvous. Whilst it was all v v juicy to tell BF and My Cousin, it made me so SO nervous because duh I am a nerd and I was never going to do it. Yet, I still felt the need to like Be Cool, or whatever, and not bruise his clearly fragile male ego or get him in trouble or GOD FORBID flat out reject him. So I feigned illness and being too busy on the case and pushed him off. I mean not only gawd gross, an affair, but as much as I loathed the job, I also needed it and would not be shamefully dismissed because it came to surface that I was sleeping with one of our key lawyers. And, let’s be honest, I was expendable and he was not. UGH gender and power imbalances, The Worst, amirite?

For most of the year I was working at the firm, I was also trying very actively to not work at the firm. I applied to about 4000 jobs and 300 PhD programs. Tragically, I did not get into any of the PhD programs I had applied to GAWD RUDE. I had been waitlisted at two schools but at that point did not have the energy to grovel court them with supplementary material to prove my worth or whatever. Besides, like, ugh, winters in Iowa, no thanks. I also did not get any of the publishing jobs I had applied for because I, well, had no nepotistic connection experience. So, I applied for adjunct jobs in attempt to usher my career back toward something resembling anything I was interested in. One degree mill university hired me to teach some online classes and that was enough for me. 

In June, I quit. Somewhere in there, around May, The Lawyer and I had started dating. Once I quit, our dynamic shifted. No longer did we need to play Boss and Underling, keeping our relationship a Secret from those we worked with. Now I was an independent person with a job unconnected to He Who Wrote My Performance Review. This meant I no longer needed his approval. HOW DARE I. Jeez, chicks, amirite? When The Lawyer and I started dating, I had told him a watered down version of The Silver Fox and his shenanigans. He seemed to think it was amusing in that Oh haha the girl I’m dating is desirable to other men but I’m also a little insecure but he’s also a big deal so it’s kind of flattering way. You know, that way.

It was customary to send a firm-wide email upon departure for an equally frustrating and low-paying job bigger and better things. Now. Did I NEED to include The Silver Fox on said email? Mmm, probably not. But did I because I was curious how he’d respond and also got a charge out of being wanted? Yes, 100% absolutely. Did he respond? Yes, of course, duh. Naturally he once again tried to convene the Questionable Morals Book Club because if I’d be so “inclined to alert” him “to the finer points” he was sure he’d miss “in Banville, Joyce, etc., that would be nice.” (omg dude just let it go with the Joyce already) Not wanting to be rude and clearly some sadistic part of me wanting to poke the bear, I responded but brushed him off. A man like him does not get to where he is without persistence, so obviously he wrote to me again and this time closed with, “So, what you do not say is whether you would like to meet. Comcert, [sic] dive bar, etc. … your choice.” Man, what sketchy ellipses. 

I did not respond, full stop. Flirtation and innuendo were one thing. Suggesting  you take me to my favorite dive bar, etc. … is an entirely different thing. BF and I laughed it off. I did not tell The Lawyer about the newest development. He still had to work closely with The Silver Fox and I sensed his ego could not withstand The Silver Fox’s unabashed pursuit. So, I began “teaching” college courses online and spent the summer denying the anxiety I felt had anything to do with how not right The Lawyer was for me. 

In August some client or another hosted a big party for anyone who had ever worked on Lehman, so Paralegal BFF told me I should definitely attend. The Silver Fox would be there, he joked, may as well see what happens. The Lawyer wouldn’t be able to make it because yawn work, but I said I’d go to the party and then meet up with him after he was done with work. Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to a corporate cocktail party HOWEVER it needs to be mentioned that booze circulates freely whilst actual sustenance in the form of FOOD requires a wilderness survival guide foraging badge to locate. This is a bad combination for most people, but particularly for your dear heroine who believes her alcohol tolerance to be much higher than it actually is. Blah blah blah, wine wine wine, by the end of the evening I was a skosh sauced. 

Along with spending a few hours drinking, I also spent that time avoiding The Silver Fox. In the midst of goodbyes and deciding what was happening next, I momentarily got separated from the pack. Sensing I was defenseless, The Silver Fox pounced sidled up to me and claimed his prey suggested him and I go out to another bar for another drink. Ambushed but still having at least one wit about me, I played dumb and invited everyone because you like totally meant squad hang, right? At this point most of the people I had worked with or knew me through The Lawyer knew that The Silver Fox had made a form of overture or whatever. I pointedly invited The Lawyer’s Work BFF and made sure he’d promise to stick around until The Lawyer could actually meet up with us.

As we ambled over to Ulysses, it could not be more apparent that this particular grouping of people was absurd and that one of these things was not like the other. I told The Lawyer where to meet me. The Silver Fox ordered a Guinness and tried to talk to me about Joyce (like seriously enough bro). I tipsily prattled on about god knows what, refusing to be engaged in one-to-one conversation with him. As soon as The Lawyer arrived it was clear he didn’t want to be there. He ordered a beer and immediately texted me to make my exit, he would follow in a bit. I thought like oh super controlling and disrespectful of the equity in our relationship ohh cute and sexy secret exit. I said my goodbyes and honestly was just relieved to avoid an awkward moment with The Silver Fox. I walked over to the Whitehorse, bc obvs I needed to go to another bar. In my defense, I didn’t know how long he’d be and it was now late. This was ten years ago and, before it was FiDi, the financial district was DEAD at night and kind of scary tbh. About a half hour later The Lawyer barely walked past the threshold, said Let’s Go and hailed a cab. 

The second the cab door slammed, The Lawyer lit into me: How DARE I put him in that position. He didn’t want to hang out with a client, I should have told him The Silver Fox was there, he didn’t want to have a drink, I should have just stopped drinking and gone home, he didn’t want to be a nice human being or communicate like an adult blah blah blah. I tried to talk to him and explain, but he dismissed me as having had too much to drink and not worthy of conversation. I got the silent treatment for most of the ride back to his apartment in Brooklyn. I tried to make nice before we went to sleep, but huffy and self-righteous, he turned his back to me in bed. 

The next morning he woke up with a god complex and I woke up with a heinous hangover. Barf, booze, amirite? Ugh, anyway. I apologized profusely (although for what I was still relatively unclear), The Lawyer treated me civilly and we both went off to our respective jobs. I spent all day at work trying not to yak and digging myself out of an emotional sinkhole. I knew he was mad so I wanted to make a peace offering in the hopes we could talk it out and move on. On my way home from work, I stopped by his office to bring him a coffee and doughnut because whatever my faults may be around drinking and shenanigans, I am still a nice fucking person. He accepted them cordially and made some vague mumblings about doing something at the weekend. I went home feeling slightly better, but with the anxiety from the hangover still coursing through my veins. I assured myself that it was fine and he’d get over it.

And then The Lawyer refused to speak to me. For two weeks.

12 | The Silver Fox: Part One

The Silver Fox was (and still is) the General Counsel of a Major Government Agency. He had oversight power, or some other like big deal gig, for our case. Even then I really couldn’t have told you his specific role, but I did know that the firm went out of its way to wine and dine him whenever he was in town. My early interactions with The Silver Fox were being introduced to him and then subsequently saying hello to him when I was dropping boxes of binders off at the depositions he was required to be at. So, like, none interactions. 

At some point, whilst waiting for one meeting or another to start, The Silver Fox started pursuing conversations with me that went past “Great, thanks” when I handed him a binder. He started asking about me, my life, if I wanted to be a lawyer  — because if you are a paralegal it is assumed you want to go to Law School but yeah, no, hard pass — and so on. When I worked at the firm it was very important to me to tell anyone that would listen that I was educated and applying to PhD programs and this was not my real job so like when I deliver sandwiches to your meeting I am not a servant I am just a victim of the global economy who can’t find a better job that uses my stunning intellect so like no I don’t know if there’s mustard on that OK. Or, you know something along those lines. So, when The Silver Fox actually started to treat me like a human and not a binder bot (like all the other lawyers did RUDE), I was totally flattered. He made me nervous and shy, of course, but it was gratifying. He was Handsome and Charming and a Big Deal. (Because never in the history of the world did that combination lead to disaster. Never.)

Sometime in October, someone at the firm sent an email around advertising four Bruce Sprinsteen tickets up for grabs. I had been working at the firm for five months at that point and I barely knew The Lawyer. I knew that he was an associate and that we paralegals thought he was kind of a dick because he always assigned us the worst work. (Foreshadowing, much?) Hot Scottish Partner, on the other hand, I had a HUGE crush on. HSP was one of the more senior partners on our case and just, yes, please. I snatched two of the tickets for My Cousin and I, and later found out that Hot Scottish Partner had grabbed the other two. So there went I tripping tipsily into the evening with those baby butterflies and the hope that maybe (possibly!) with the help of bourbon and “Thunder Road” (or a totally spontaneous not at all practiced Courteney Cox “Dancing in the Dark” moment) something might kick off with Hot Scottish Partner. I did not know until we got to the seats that HSP was actually “working” and entertaining none other than The Silver Fox. That The Silver Fox was there was incidental for me, however. Over the previous months, The Silver Fox had been mildly flirtatious, but it was a nonstarter in my eyes. One, he didn’t live in New York. Two, he was at least 15 years older than my 28 year old self, so like, Ew No. And then, three, there was the whole issue of HIS WIFE. But like details right?

The Silver Fox had a flask of bourbon. Because of course he did. My Cousin and I had done what all good concert-goers do and tailgated in the parking lot of Giants Stadium, before the show. Hot Scottish Partner and The Silver Fox had been getting after it at dinner. As the four of us unlikely concertmates converged on our terrible seats and the lights went down, a double aged oak barrel tempest kicked up out there in section 128. An inexorable momentum of Oh hey hi, this is my cousin, nice to meet y— wooo Bruce! bourbon? we’ll get us some beers omg it’s Born to Run wait have you ever seen Bruce before where’s the flask, you guys we should totally plan another concert together but like wait we should have more beers before last call right, um ugh is this a Pete Seeger Session song Ima use the ladies, here’s the flask, Bruuucccceeeee.

The four of us were, in a word, boisterous. The couple behind us was, in a word, livid. At the time I was self-righteous and like OMG suburbanites stop shushing us and telling us to sit down this is a rock concert we are v kewl rock and roll chicks do not be laaammeee. Looking back, it’s possible POSSIBLE we were not paying attention and very a skosh obnoxious.

Two pictures survive from that night. One taken by My Cousin: The Silver Fox is in the foreground in profile. I am the background, looking straight past him, directly into the camera, and making a face that can only be called I’m at a Rock Show and I’m So Drunk Having So Much Fun That I Need to WooHoo and Scrunch My Hair at the Same Time. The other is from after the show. We had continued to tailgate in the parking lot. Well three of us continued while My Cousin drank water because she was the DD. The Silver Fox and My Cousin, who was in law school at the time, leaned against her trunk and chatted about Law Things. Similarly, Hot Scottish Partner and I, upon finding an abandoned shopping cart filled with soft pretzels, decided to have a pretzel fight. This consisted of running around the now empty parking lot of Giants Stadium, shrieking and hurling stale carb at each other. In the middle of our mayhem we must have asked some poor unsuspecting soul to take a picture of the four of us: The Silver Fox, mid-sentence, has one arm tightly around my waist and the other loosely draped around My Cousin. Hot Scottish Partner is peeking over our shoulders like a delicious Gaelic Elf. I am gripping a pretzel in my left hand. I’d like to say I didn’t take a bite out of it before unceremoniously chucking it at HSP after the shutter snap, but like WHO KNOWS OK.

At some point in the parting of the ways, The Silver Fox promised to take My Cousin and I out for steaks in the near future. He was gonna like hook her up with law stuff and him and I were gonna taste bourbon. Lolol ok. Being an excellent travel companion, I promptly passed out on the car ride home and then somehow managed to stumble into work hungover AF the next morning. My Cousin had emailed me the pictures from the evening (haha Shutterfly album wuuut), but as we cured my hangover over pizza at Adrienne’s, Best Friend and I decided that I shouldn’t send the pictures to The Silver Fox because like what if his email got subpoenaed omg that would be supes awkward. And also maybe MAYBE not pics a wife would like to see? BF and I talked bemusedly about such unexpected shenanigans, tickled at having seen two Adults, our superiors really, schmagasted at a rock and roll show. While Hot Scottish Partner had already emailed to say he was deathly hungover and Oh Boy What A Night, we laughed at how The Silver Fox might behave the next time I ran into him at a deposition because surely SURELY his flirtations and promises of steaks were entirely induced of a bourbon and Bruce high.

The Silver Fox was definitely not going to, about a week later, call my work line directly and ask me to go out for drinks just, you know, the two of us. Surely, that was never going to happen.

Narrator: That is exactly what happened.

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