I had gone down to Philadelphia to visit a friend for her birthday, but she had Law School plans the first night I came into town so I made plans to go out with Richie and some of his friends instead. Then Richie had said it was okay for me to stay at his place after and I’d go over to my friend’s the next morning.
Everything sounded innocent enough. I was single but Richie had a boyfriend, the one who had bookended our relationship. I didn’t think anything would happen. And his boyfriend was one of the people coming out with us – the DD for the night, there to keep a watchful eye on everything.
As it turned out, that night Richie wasn’t the one I needed to worry about. It was his boyfriend.
We went to this piano bar and listened to people sing show tunes for most of the night. Not a wild evening, but fun considering the people we were with. We sat and listened as we drank and hung out. I didn’t know any of Richie’s friends, so I tried to make small talk and when that ebbed I focused on whoever was singing. Richie’s boyfriend disappeared for a while. When he reappeared it became evident he’d sneaked upstairs to have a few drinks. Richie was pissed and said as much to him. His boyfriend was supposed to DD for the night and was getting drunk instead. I gathered this wasn’t the first time they’d had this argument. That’s when things got uncomfortable.
I was minding my own business, sitting on one of the bar stools as I listened to someone butcher a song from Les Miserables or Cats or something along those lines, when Richie’s boyfriend came up and started talking to me. He had that uninhibited quality about him – the way he stood so loosely and the way his words fell out of his mouth – that comes a few drinks in. I talked with him friendly-like, hoping to defuse whatever awkwardness still hung in the air over his and Richie’s little tiff. Also, I didn’t want him to feel threatened by me in any way. I mean, I had no intentions of making any sort of move on Richie that night, but that didn’t mean that the boyfriend believed that.
And then, midway through our conversation, the boyfriend laid his hand on my thigh, squeezing it a little.
Talk about uncomfortable. First off, I had about zero attraction to him, and that’s not even taking into account the fact he was currently dating my ex and had also dated my ex before I’d dated my ex. Second, Richie was sitting like five feet away from us. (I don’t think he noticed, thank God.) I thought maybe it was a mistake and I was reading too much into it. I mean, I get touchy-feely sometimes when I drink. But then, Richie’s boyfriend put his hand on my other thigh and also leaned in so he could reach around to my ass and feel me up there.
This wasn’t some coincidence. It was either actual flirtation or an aggressive attempt to establish dominance and make me feel uncomfortable. Either way, I wanted no part of it. But I also didn’t want to make a scene. (You know how I hate doing that.) So I bore it and eventually the boyfriend moved away. The whole interaction couldn’t have lasted more than five minutes. But it left me on edge and a bit disgusted. I made sure to keep my distance from him the rest of the night, and also a little from Richie. I didn’t want to give off the wrong impression, because really, I didn’t want to start any drama. I’d come down to Philly with no intention of making a move on my first ex. We had never had a really strong sexual spark, so why go through the trouble of causing a scene or breaking up a relationship?
For their part, Richie and his boyfriend continued to quibble throughout the night. I wonder now if it was just about the drinking or maybe partially about my being there. I can imagine how bad inviting one’s ex out can look, especially if you’re in a relationship that has its fair share of problems already. (I wouldn’t invite you out if I had a new boyfriend. Maybe five years from now. But not anytime soon. Right now, I wouldn’t trust myself around you. Especially if I’m drinking.)
If only that awkward flirting from the current boyfriend had been where the night ended.
At 2AM it was time to go home. (The bars in Philly are lame and close two hours early. New York really has spoiled me on this front.) So Richie and I hopped in his boyfriend’s car and he drove us to Richie’s place. I assume the boyfriend had sobered up enough by now. He’d certainly not been falling over drunk or anything, and Richie had relegated him to water after his first escape to the bar. Richie lived outside of Philly, in a South Jersey suburb, so it was about a twenty minute drive from the bar. I used the time to sit in the dark backseat and zone out, closing my eyes to take a quick rest.
It turned out that Richie’s boyfriend had to work the next day so he dropped Richie and I off and then made his way home.