In Other News, I Met A Painter.
Two months ago, the Wedding Date was entertaining clients in a Times Square hotel bar and asked me to join him.
It would’ve been our second date.
If I’d actually met up with him.
I arrived at the address of a slightly seedy hotel with a very closed lobby bar just as he texted me his room number.
Um, not what I signed up for.
I replied with a dismissive text—enjoy the minibar but I’m out like trout—before jumping on the downtown E train.
On the subway, the intercom announced that, due to construction, there would be no 23rd Street stop: passengers have to transfer to the C train at Penn Station.
I do as I’m told but as usual, the signage for the A*C*E in Penn is a practical joke: sure, go ahead and follow the arrows to the C Downtown but when you arrive on the platform—surprise!—it’s actually the C Uptown.
Last summer, I spent 10 minutes in this same maze, hauling a suitcase up one flight of stairs and down another only to give the fuck up and take a cab.
So tonight, when I find myself—again!—on the uptown C platform, I scoff and turn on my heel in disgust.
And nearly bump into a handsome, 6-foot-twelve tall man with a shaved head and sport jacket.
A man who’s asking me if this is the downtown train?
Not so much, I answer. You followed those stupid signs too?
We laugh and fall into step together, bonding over the lameness of post-midnight transit.
It occurs to me that at 1am in Penn, it’s not such a bad idea to keep walking with someone who’s tall enough to scare away the riff-raff.
We find ourselves exchanging names and following the same exit signs.
When we reach the sidewalk, I announce that I’m walking home.
Where you headed? he asks.
Well then, I say.
He starts walking east on 34th Street.
Hey Six Foot Twelve, I say. Chelsea’s the other way…sure you actually live there?
He laughs, mumbles something about having a few drinks and a bad sense of direction.
Five blocks later, I learn that he’s a 30-something painter from the West Coast who once toured apartments in my building with an ex-girlfriend. He learns that I’m a writer living in her late husband’s place.
Three blocks later, we part with a handshake and a card exchange.
A day later, he Facebooks me.
Five days later, we meet for a drink.
Three dates and dinners later, he surprises me with a shockingly aggressive kiss.
I say yes to the fourth date.
And the fifth date.
After which he walks me to my lobby door and lifts me into an embrace that makes me not care if any of Alberto’s neighbors—technically, my neighbors—see us.
Inconveniently, I am scheduled to spend the next month in California.
Conveniently, The Painter texts me a week before I return to New York.
Books me for the Thursday after I return.
After wine and gallery-hopping on our sixth date, we go to his place.
Where he whips up homemade pizza.
And shows me his art.
His incredibly technical, beautiful art.
Until 2pm the next day.
Over brunch in bed, we survey the damage:
A chair is broken.
My socks are MIA.
Tufts of my blond hair are strewn across his studio floor like souvenirs.
We laugh and eat and kick our brunch plates off the bed.
Work up an appetite for dinner.
Or whatever the next meal might be.
When I finally find my jacket and exit his building, the air is as brisk and lamp-lit as it was when we arrived last night.
My Walk of Fame is just three non-avenue blocks.
No train required.
No Penn Station.
The walk is just long enough to keep me smiling.
Not long enough to dwell on other shaved heads or sport jackets or chance meetings.
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