After three too many martinis and coming to peace with the fact that I had no other option for picking up men in Manhattan than in a bar, Alejandro had whisked me off my staggering feet to a bar in Murray Hill. The bar was (predictably) a stone's throw away from his apartment--the very same apartment where he was currently housing a leather-rocking Russian and God only knows how many tonnes of enriched uranium. Yet, I was so smitten (and perhaps somewhat unsober) that the sixty blocks between me and my bed and the looming hangover between now and tomorrow morning didn't phase me one bit.
As Alejandro, the Russian, and I gathered around a small outdoor table piled with bread, olives, various tapas, and pitchers of sangria, Europeans suddenly flocked from all directions. One from behind a set of burgundy velvet curtains, another emerging from behind the bar, and yet another from the depths of the kitchen. They were all speaking in tongues with arms flailing and wine glasses clinking (ok, so they may have been proper Romance languages such as French and Spanish, with a little Russian here and there, but tongues nonetheless to the girl who could hardly speak English at this point in the night).
Should I Purell my cheeks? I wondered to myself. The European from the kitchen smelled of Grand Marnier, curry, and mutton--who knew what he was gnawing on back there that could have now transplanted itself on either, if not both, of my cheeks. It was a wonder that Europe hadn't seen a bubonic plague, Black Death-style, since the fourteenth century based on all of the cheek kissing that these people partook in with complete strangers.
"Would you like to have a cigarette with me?" Alejandro offered, diverting me from my thoughts of pandemics and sanitizer.
He pulled out a pack of Nat Shermans from the inside pocket of his suit jacket as the Russian pulled out a pack of Marlboro Reds. I was impressed by Alejandro's classy tobacco preference and was surprised when the Russian didn't light two cigarettes at the same time--there was no way that Vladimir didn't have a black lung.
I was also relieved by the fact that Alejandro hadn't offered me a "fag" as many an Englishman from across the pond would have. Ask any of the NARS make-up artists at Barneys what smoking a fag is in this town and you'd never venture past Splash in Chelsea after dark or remotely think of a cigarette ever again. I mean, if I ever wanted to hear about fags, loos, and shopping trolleys, I could just turn on the BBC, for John, Paul, George, and Ringo's sake.
Alejandro was not only charming and handsome, but completely intriguing and unlike any other man I had ever met in New York. He was in high-end real estate and spoke more languages than Jason Bourne and The Pope combined. With a Belgian/French father, an Italian/Czech mother, born in Spain and brought up in London, Alejandro was a bona fide European mutt.
My Ohio roots paled in comparison. Brie and pinot noir were as far as I could get in French and my Spanish consisted solely of requests for condiments, garnishes, and alcohol that I had developed through my interaction with Mad River's bar backs over the past four years. Hell, I couldn't even find Belgium on a map.
Alejandro extinguished his cigarette and stepped closer. "I'd really like to kiss you right now, but I'm not sure if I should," he said with asking eyes.
"Well, I think you should," I replied, holding his gaze. I had kissed both an Englishman and a realtor before, but they paled in comparison to this Second Avenue lip-lock.
The imaginary fireworks that lit up the East side's skyline and the oh-so-real fireworks below my belt during Alejandro and my's first kiss were a reality check that my American girl ass needed to call it a night before my vodka hallucinations could continue--or worse, before I decided that I wanted to see the nuclear warfare bunker otherwise known as Alejandro's apartment in search of some European lovin'. I wisely hailed a cab and said goodbye to Alejandro and his international crew of chain-smoking Russians and mutton-eating Moroccans.
Only time will tell what Alejandro will bring for me and Sex & the Upper East Side...but for this week, Mission Man-Picking was officially accomplished.