When I lived in northern New Jersey in my youth, I’d go into the City (that’s New York City, generally Manhattan, for anyone who has never lived in that metropolitan area) often for grad school classes or to see friends. The train schedules and bus schedules were made more for daytime commuters than nighttime revelers (or students), so I’d drive my little red Mazda Miata and find parking on the street in the West Village. I only got towed once, and I was never late to class because of parking, so I was pretty lucky.
One buzzy Friday night I got dolled up and went into town to visit Theo, a guy I’d been seeing for a few weeks. We had gone to the same high school but didn’t know each other until we were both living in/around NYC. He was a grad student in philosophy (you’re right, that should have been a red flag) and he was also very emotionally volatile which, well, I was too. I have always had this insufferable fantasy about falling in love with a “hometown boy” that I had everything in common with but had gotten out to see the world like me, so he scratched some funny itch. He was also tall with broad shoulders and nice eyes, which helped.
We had a casual relationship at the time, but were definitely romantically involved. He had come out to visit me in New Jersey several times. My friends had run into us at a bar once and one woman had pulled me aside to say, “Are you boning him?” I had shrugged. “Well you should be,” she’d said, eying him like a side of beef.
I can’t remember what Theo and I did for the evening – probably had dinner or drinks. The night was young and so were we. Or so I thought. You can imagine my surprise when he walked me back to my car at something like 8pm and said goodbye without so much as a kiss goodnight or an opening of the door.
All I remember is that I was extremely disappointed. I’d made the trek all the way into the City, on a Friday (a prized possession for single girls in their 20s!), in the cold, shaved my legs (probably), and left my bunnies at home… for this??
I sat in my car trying to decide if I should text other friends to see if they were out and about or take myself out for a drink or something. I was absolutely not going to text Theo to see what was up. That was bait. He didn’t want to talk about his feelings? Fine. I wasn’t going to beg.
It was 2008 or 2009 and I did not have a smartphone, so it wasn’t as easy to find things to do as you might expect. I’d have to use my GPS to get around almost anywhere, which was annoying. I knew I could go back to my neighborhood bar with my tail between my legs and probably have a few drinks with my best friends if I wanted to, but I wasn’t ready to admit defeat. As I was sitting in the little red Miata, punching in directions to my home on the other side of the Lincoln Tunnel, a young man and his giant Bernese Mountain Dog on a leash walked past the car.
I saw the giant beast out of the corner of my eye. It was cute. Bernese Mountain Dogs are always cute. They’re like giant teddy bears. They’re sweet and floppy and enormous.
The dog was apparently invested in sniffing every inch of my car. I thought it was odd, so after a few moments I opened the door and got out.
The dog basically leapt into my arms (because: Bernese Mountain Dog) and demanded pets, which I obliged wholeheartedly. I started chatting with her walker.
He was a few years older than me, and probably a lot more well off, based on where he was currently walking his dog in Manhattan. He explained that he lived in the building just behind him.
I confess, it’s been a few years, and I don’t remember what we were talking about, but eventually, he invited me up to his place. Probably because it was cold, and the dog was impatient, and we were young.
The dog was named Missy, I think, and I have no idea what his name was, but we’ll call him Jonah. We talked about music and wine and we both agreed that Gruet sparkling wine from New Mexico was a surprisingly good sparkling for the U.S. (I believe my exact words were “THE BEST IN THE WORLD!!!” and his were “surprisingly good for being from New Mexico”.) We opened a bottle of sparkling wine, and another, and the night got progressively louder.
He was in real estate. Or his parents were. Or he worked for his parents’ real estate company. He was, obviously, wealthy.
We made out on his couch (of course) and listened to music and eventually I fell asleep. When I woke up in the early morning, I gathered my things and crept out to my car and left. (No ticket! Go team!)
I never saw him or spoke to him again. We didn’t exchange contact details or find each other on social media (although I definitely did figure out who he was on LinkedIn briefly – he wasn’t lying about being in real estate). I wonder what happened to Missy more than anything else. She was a great dog.
VERDICT: Gruet Sparkling is the best IN THE WORLD. Theo and I still follow each other on social media but it got a bit more complicated. Jonah is lost to the ages. Missy is and will always be a very. good. girl.