Thursday, November 04, 2004


I feverishly emptied the basket on top of my dresser. It was here. I knew it was here.

Concert tickets, safety pins, old photographs. I tossed all of them aside until I found it.

Yes. There it was. I knew I hadn’t thrown it away. A business card:

Sean O’Malley, State Trooper.

Last December, Emily, Heather and I went to a Christmas party at our favorite local dive after a play we had attended. “Just for a drink or two,” we said.

Jerry, the bartender, had other plans. As soon as he saw us, he lined up three plastic shot glasses and began pouring his signature ‘red shit.’ Five or six shots of red shit later, we were the life of the party.

Everywhere we turned, men were talking to us, hitting on us, offering to take us home. Emily was smitten with Bob the D.J. Heather was chatting away with some blond guy named Michael.

That was when Sean spotted me.

He was standing near the end of the bar with a friend, looking casual but oh-so-cool in snug (but not too snug) jeans, a button-down shirt and a baseball cap. He stopped me and said hello.

“I couldn’t let the prettiest girl in the bar leave without talking to her,” he said.

I blushed. Or maybe it was just the liquor. “Bust a Move” pounded in the background.

We talked for a few minutes, and he asked if he could take me out sometime. I apologetically told him that I had a boyfriend.
“You do? Where is he?”

“He lives in Rochester,” I said.

“And what’s he doing in Rochester when you’re here?”

I tried to explain our situation. I was still in school, working on my master’s degree. He had just graduated from law school.

“A lawyer? Oh, come on. You don’t need that. I’m here now.”

He had a good job, he told me. And a house.

“Tempting,” I lied. “But I really am happy with my boyfriend.”

“Okay,” Sean half-shrugged in defeat. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a business card. He handed it to me. “Here, take this. Call me if you ever change your mind.”

Fast forward ten months, me standing in my apartment, holding the card. Well, now that I had it, what exactly was I going to do with it?

I pondered this for a moment, and the phone rang. It was Emily.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

“Um, nothing.”

“Liar. What are you doing?”

“Okay,” I said. “Remember that state cop I met at Molly’s, at the Christmas party?”

“Yeah, vaguely. What about him?”

“He gave me his card. I kept it.”

“You did not—“

“I did.”

“Oh my God.”

“I know.”

“What are you going to do?”

“I don’t know.” Oddly enough, it hadn’t occurred to me to wonder what I would do if I actually found the card. “Should I call him?” I looked at the card again and saw an email address. “There’s an email address. Maybe I’ll do that.”

“Yeah,” Emily agreed. “Email him.”

I rewrote the email three times, explaining our meeting, and pretending that I had just “happened upon” the card while cleaning.

Several days went by, and I imagined that he either didn’t receive the message, or deleted it, thinking me a crazy person. But then, his name appeared in my inbox.

Hey, it was great hearing from you. I think I remember you. We should definitely get together for a drink sometime.

He left his cell phone number and encouraged me to call.

A few weeks later, he was picking me up for drinks at one of his favorite haunts. He looked different, I thought. Probably the absence of the baseball cap. He looked older without it.

We arrived at Route 66, bringing the bar’s total clientele up to five. That was including the bartender. The bartender immediately started pouring Sean’s beer and asked what I’d be having.

“Smirnoff Ice, please.”

“And quarters,” Sean added, handing the bartender a twenty.

He handed me a dollar in quarters. “Let’s play some music,” he said. “You pick three, and I’ll pick three.”

I waited for Sean to make his picks and then put my quarters in the jukebox. I flipped through the choices, debating about what to play. Genesis? Springsteen? Eminem? Hey, they had Lowest of the Low! My favorite Canadian band.

I made my picks and walked back over to the bar, where I noticed that Sean had already finished his first beer and started on a second.

“I can’t believe we finally got together,” he said. It had been a bit of a struggle, mostly because of his work schedule.

“I know,” I said.

“I’m glad we did,” he said, gently touching my knee. “So tell me, what happened with that boyfriend of yours?”

I made a face. “I don’t want to talk about that,” I said. “Let’s just say it didn’t work out, and leave it at that.”

”Okay. That’s cool.” He took another swig of his beer. “How long ago did you split up?”

I offered a sheepish grin. “About a month ago.”

“A month? And it took you that long to call me?” he joked.

I laughed, and the opening beats of “Caress me Down” pounded from the jukebox. I started swaying on my barstool. I’d finished my first drink and drunk about three quarters of my second, and realized that my tolerance was nearly nonexistent.

“You know who this is?” Sean asked, clearly expecting me to say no.

“Sublime?” I ventured.

He raised his eyebrows. “Okay, I’m impressed.” He stood up from his stool and offered his hand.

“What?” I said.

“Get up and dance with me.”


“Sure. Why not?” He glanced around the bar. “Not like anyone’s going to see us. It’s just us and Charlie over there.” He nodded toward the bartender. The other two people who had been in the bar when we arrived had left.

I downed the remainder of my drink and stood, let Sean pull me in close to him and press my body to his. He moved his hands down my back, resting them in the curve at the bottom, and squeezed. He brushed his lips against the side of my head, near my ear, and whispered.

“God, do you know how sexy you are?

I blushed.

“Do you want to get out of here?”

“Sure,” I whispered.

I couldn’t believe I was saying yes. Clearly, the reasonable part of my brain insisted, I was rebounding. Maybe even looking for a little revenge fling. But I didn’t care.

We left the bar in a rush and went back to my apartment. Suddenly, I was terrified. The buzz I’d been working on was starting to wear off.

“Can I get you a drink?” I asked him.

“Sure,” he said. I knew I had a few beers in the fridge from the last time Em had been over. I checked the cupboard to see what I had for myself. Rum. That would do, I supposed. I did a quick shot, then mixed myself a Rum and Pepsi and returned to the living room.

I handed Sean the beer and sat down next to him. He took a swig, set it down on the coffee table, and started massaging my thigh.

I’d only been with two men before. Dan and Alex. Both of them had been long-term, monogamous relationships. I’d never had a one-night stand. Never had a “fling.” I didn’t think it was in me. Just a few days earlier, Emily and I had been talking about this.

“I don’t think I can do it,” I’d said. “I think I would be the girl who cried afterwards, because I’d feel all hollow and empty inside.”

And yet I’d shaved my legs that morning. No hasty little ankle-to-knee job, either. The whole thing, bikini line and all.

“You okay, baby?” Sean murmured, running his hand up and down my back.

I shivered. “Yeah. I’m fine.”

“Then kiss me.”

I leaned in to him, and he met my lips in a crushing, probing kiss. He leaned back on the couch and pulled me on top of him. He moved his lips to my neck, caressing, licking. His hands reached under my shirt and found the clasp of my bra.

I think I must be crazy. No, I know I must be crazy. I’m almost 30 years old. 30-year-olds aren’t supposed to be doing things like this. Well, maybe on Sex and the City, but that’s not real. That’s TV-pretend. Real 30-year-olds are supposed to be responsible. Respectable. They’re not supposed to be bringing home men they met in bars.

Okay, so it had been ten months since I’d actually met him in the bar. It wasn’t as if I’d just met him.


“Why don’t we go in the bedroom?” he murmured into my cheek.

I panicked. Suddeny, I’d never been more sober in my entire life.

“I don’t do this, you know.”

“Do what?”

“This. Bring men home. This really isn’t like me at all.”

“I know,” he said. “I could tell that about you.”

Now, what exactly did that mean? Was it a compliment? I decided it didn’t matter.

He pulled up my shirt, closed his lips around one exposed nipple.

I shivered.

I knew it was against everything I’d ever thought I believed, but I needed it. Desperately needed it.

I needed to feel.

I needed to feel sexy. Desirable. Wanted. God help me, I just needed to feel something. Anything.

I needed to feel.


Next thing I knew, Sean the state trooper was snoring away. On my side of the bed. With all the covers.

I’d had the side of the bed conversation with Emily, and she didn’t quite get it. “What do you mean ‘your side’? How do you have a side?”

“I just do,” I told her. “Everyone I’ve ever been with. I’ve always slept on the left side of the bed. It’s just a thing.”

I sighed. There was no waking or moving him. I grabbed an extra blanket and crawled into the other side of the bed. I curled up into a ball and glanced at the clock. 2:30 a.m. thank God I didn’t have to work in the morning.

I flopped onto my back, staring at the ceiling, registering the reality of what I’d just done.

Congratulations Kate, I thought. You’ve just survived your first one-night stand. I giggled. Oddly enough, I wasn’t plagued by any of the horrible feelings I’d expected to feel. No Catholic guilt, no remorse, no soul-crushing loneliness.

I drifted slowly off to sleep.

When I woke, I found him curled up into my back like a spoon. I raised one eyelid to look at the clock. 8:30. The evil eye doctor who owned the parking lot where we’d both left our cars would be opening soon.

The evil eye doctor was a fascist about his parking lot. I’d already received threatening warning messages on my car. I didn’t see what the big deal was, not if the car was moved before they opened.

They had to be moved.

“Hey,” I nudged Sean gently. “Sean. Wake up.”

“Mmgrph,” he said.

“Seriously. We have to get up. Our cars have to be moved.”

“Oh come on, baby,” he murmured sleepily. “Just let me lie here a while longer.”

“Fine, but don’t blame me if you get towed,” I said.

I didn’t really think they’d have the cars towed. They’d threatened before, but I didn’t believe they’d actually go through with it. But I have to admit, I wanted Sean to go.

Don’t get me wrong. It was fine. I mean, it wasn’t bad. But I didn’t feel the earth move or anything, and it wasn’t exactly like I wanted more.

I took a deep breath and closed my eyes.

When I opened them again, it was 10:30.

“Shit,” I bolted upright. “Sean, Wake up. Now.” I pulled on a pair of sweatpants and ran to the front window, grabbing my glasses on the way. I peered out the window, across the street to where we’d both been parked the night before. I didn’t see either of the cars in the tiny lot.

“Fuck. Fuckfuckfuck!”

“Everything okay?” Sean emerged from my bedroom, lazily zipping his jeans.

“Does it sound like everything’s okay? They towed our fucking cars.”

Did I mention that I just wanted him to leave?

I looked out the window again, then back to Sean. He was dialing his cell phone.

“Who are you calling?”

“My sister-in-law. She works the desk at the impound lot.”

Last night, Sean had been bragging about his various connections in city law enforcement and government. Then, I’d thought it was slightly irritating. Now, I could have kissed him.

Well, you know…

I gave him the make, model and year of my car and the license number. An hour later, we were claiming our cars at the lot.

Colleen, Sean’s sister-in-law, took care of the records for us.

“You are so lucky I like you, Sean. You know that?” Colleen tugged on one of her dangly gold earrings.

“I know. You’re the best, sis. I mean it.” He leaned in and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek.

I stood quietly aside while Sean talked to her. The last thing I wanted was an awkward introduction.

“Tell Patrick I’ll call him later, and give my beautiful niece a kiss for me.” He turned around and walked toward the door “All set,” he grinned.

We walked outside to our respective vehicles.

“Well, thanks…” I said.

“No problem,” Sean said. “Sometimes it’s good to be connected, ya know?”

“Right.” I laughed. I shivered a little. The wind was chilly, and the sky looked like it was threatening to snow.

“I’m kinda hungry,” Sean said. “I could go for some breakfast.”

“It’s lunchtime,” I pointed out.


“Well, I’d better get going. Lessons to plan and all…”

“Sure,” Sean said. “That’s cool. You have my number. Give me a call if you ever want to, you know, hang out.”



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