Sex was an evil, dirty thing and because I had so much of it with Geoffrey the Waiter, I knew I was going straight to hell. To make matters worse, Geoffrey was only nineteen, a sophomore at DePaul University (a Catholic school at that) and lived in a dorm room, which is where the immoral act took place. Of course I didn’t know any of this when I left work and jumped on a bus taking me south on Michigan Avenue.
As promised, I met Geoffrey at five o’clock. He walked out of the restaurant through the revolving door. To his misfortune, he saw me standing on the corner beneath the yellow blast of a street lamp. I stood there, surrounded by a buzzing swarm of hungry and overstuffed Christmas shoppers who continued to flow in and out of the restaurant like cattle. Despite the fact he was wearing a thick winter parka, a cow-patterned scarf, a knitted black hat, and matching gloves, he was still sexier than I’d remembered. He stood there for a second, just staring. It was at that moment I realized I was still wearing the ridiculous Santa hat.“Merry Christmas.” I felt my chest tighten. I sounded way too enthusiastic. My loathing self-critic began its usual mantra in my head: Oh God, he thinks I’m desperate.He took a long deep breath, as if he were standing on the edge of a pool and had no idea how to swim. He moved toward me slowly through the crowd. I could see his hesitation. There was dreaded fear in each step. His cheeks were flushed pink from the cold. His hazel eyes held reflections of streetlights and neon signs.
“I didn’t think you’d show up,” he said.
“Sorry to disappoint you.”
He offered me a soft smile. “No, I didn’t mean it like that.”
Nervous, I looked away. A woman with blonde hair was dragging her crying child down the street by the arm, swearing profusely. I turned back to Geoffrey and strands of my hair flew into my mouth, nearly gagging me. I brushed them away and tried to smile. “I made a horrible first impression on you and I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay,” he decided. “I forgive you.” He smiled again. His dimples practically radiated, warming a frozen spot inside of me. He brushed at a few flakes of snow that had fallen on my cheek, stuck there like wet pieces of tissue paper. He wiped them away with his left index finger. I shivered when the knitted fingertip of his glove made contact with my almost frostbitten skin. “You’re cute.”
I knew I was blushing. “You don’t have to lie.”
“Why would I? I hardly even know you.”
“We don’t have to do this. I mean, if you want out…” I shifted in my heavy black snow boots. I shoved my hands into the pockets of my old winter coat that was missing a button.
He looked at the top of my head. “Nice hat.”
“I was forced to wear this and I’m having a bad hair day.”
“Where do you wanna go?”
I shrugged. Then, like an idiot, I giggled. “I don’t know.”
“Are you hungry?”
“You want to get a drink?”
“I’d settle for some hot chocolate.”
“I think I can arrange that. I have some hot chocolate back at my place.” He reached for my hand, which was numb from the cold, and he held it in his. The softness of his glove rubbed against my palm.
He signaled for a cab. We were on the curb, directly across the street from the massive Art Institute. Beyond that I could see the cold, silver surface of Lake Michigan. “You have beautiful eyes,” he said. His words and breath fell onto my lips in a small blast of warm air.“Thanks,” I replied. My teeth began to chatter but I knew it wasn’t due to the temperature. I was filled with a sudden flash of anticipation.