Thinking ahead, I tell my girlfriends The Rule: I don’t dance with strangers. If you see one approach, rescue me. Thanks.
Fortunately — and unfortunately — for most of the night, The Rule doesn’t come into play. My ego takes a bit of a hit. But then, it’s too dark and crowded for me to see anyone, much less for them to see me. I tell myself this is a good thing. The night’s not about me anyway.
Later it’s a different club, a different crowd. Brighter and more spacious, but now I’m tired. Too tired to care about the dance floor. I park it at the bar and ask for water. I watch my girlfriends have a good time.
One or two guys give me the eye. I do not engage. I’m not in the mood for a conversation, or anything else they might be looking for.
A bachelor party comes up to get more beer. The guy closest to me smiles to acknowledge that he’s encroaching on my space. I smile back to acknowledge that he doesn’t have much choice. No worries.
Then somehow, he gets the timing right. Or maybe it’s the wording. Or maybe it’s just that he looks cute and friendly but not too pushy. I don’t know, but somehow, he finds an opening.
He asks me questions and seems genuinely interested in my answers. He tells me a funny story. At some point I mention my boyfriend. At some point he mentions his wife. That’s when I realize I never looked for a ring. For some reason I haven’t trained myself to do that. I guess I still don’t think of myself as old enough to be married, even though everyone around me already is.
We talk for half an hour before he asks me to dance. I decide, Why not? He’s earned it. We walk over to the dance floor, and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long” is playing. I laugh because I can’t dance to that.
It’s still awkward, as these things always are, but for once I don’t feel dread, panic, or the instinct to flee. When my friend comes over to check on me, to follow my Rule, I tell her I’m okay. And I think, Why can’t all guys go about it this way? Wouldn’t that be nicer for everyone?
Over his shoulder, I see his friend elbow their other buddy and point. I can read lips. The guy says, “No way!” and they chuckle. I tell my new friend that his buddies are talking about us. He says, “Well, then we better give them something to talk about.” He turns around and jokingly booty-bumps me. I laugh again.
Soon the night ends and we say goodbye. That’s all there is, and that’s all there needs to be. For every rule there is an exception. This weekend I met mine.