Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chocolate Kisses

A bit more than two years ago, Crazy Neighbor Teri and I realized that both of our birthdays were just around the corner and we'd grown weary of our relatively mundane lives. Over dinner one night, we declared the following June to be "Birthday Month" and agreed step outside of our old lives -- if only for 30 days -- and experience a few new somethings.

At the same time, I recall seeing pictures and updates (on MySpace -- don't laugh) from friends who had enjoyed May's First Friday in downtown Kansas City. We both admitted we'd never attended and decided that would be as good a way as any to kick off our month-long celebration. Weeks later, the day was upon us and I was giddy. I got a call mid-way through that special day from Teri reminding me that a Match.com acquaintance of hers was going to play tour guide. They'd made this arrangement a few weeks prior, and though there was no great love interest between the two, they both agreed to keep the date.

And I was incensed.

I thought she and I were going to be strong, smart, adventurous women and undertake this first experience on our own. But I didn't fuss [out loud]. I'd still find a way to make the best of the evening.

Because my kids outnumber hers 3:1, we decided to have the whole crew hang at my house. I'd also agreed to provide the meal, and since her son takes the sport of finicky eating to a new level, I stuck with pretty standard fare. I made bread and homemade chicken fingers. All the while, I was getting dolled up to see (and be seen by) the revelers of KC at one of the most popular monthly events in the city.

Teri's son and mom (babysitter bonus!) were there before long and I started dishing up dinner. The bread was hot from the oven, so that was by far the most popular item, and I busily sliced piece upon piece for the kids. Shortly after, Teri and our tour guide arrived. He was a charming and handsome man who immediately made me feel comfortable that I would not be playing "fifth wheel" for the evening. I offered him a slice of bread, which he graciously accepted and before long, we were on our merry way.

As we arrived downtown, I felt overwhelmed by the crowds and found some relief in knowing we were in qualified hands. We toured various galleries, stores and coffee shops, enjoying the art and the energy (and a complimentary glass of wine or two). The Guide and I kept the conversation moving, while Teri drifted in and out of the evening.

Before leaving, we stopped at a bar for a drink. The three of us sat on a couch, The Guide comfortably sandwiched between two lovely women. Again, Teri was hardly present, so he and I happily chatted about this and that, exchanging the vaguest of contact information (MySpace monikers) even though he was more of a facebook guy.

By evening's end and he dropped us off at my house, I felt strongly compelled to go for the goodbye hug, but assumed Ms. Manners probably frowned upon blatant acts of affection toward a friend's date, regardless of their lack of interest in one another. I did, however, scurry the kids into bed then quickly began searching for his MySpace page. I was unsuccessful, but about 15 minutes later, a new message popped into my inbox. He'd found me.

We traded It was really nice to meet yous and some nervous banter. Several messages into the silliness, he cautiously asked how appropriate it might be if a gentleman found himself attracted to his date's best friend. I probably squealed, but because I was typing and not talking, I was able to calmly respond that it would be just fine with his date -- and his date's best friend.

I went to bed with quite the smile on my face. The next morning we exchanged a text or two before our schedules found their way into full-swing. And a few responsibilities were shuffled to manage a lunch the following day. Just the two of us.

I didn't know myself to be much of a "public display of affection" kinda gal, but as soon as he walked into the restaurant, we locked lips. This was chemistry at its finest. And although making out for two hours had a strong appeal, we opted to have our meal and share Reader's Digest versions of our marriages and their subsequent demises.

We then took a drive to a local landmark where he presented me with dessert...but first I had to close my eyes. He then gently placed upon my tongue a square of rich dark chocolate with black sesame seeds, ginger and ...wasabi.

Two years of interesting twists and turns later, I still kiss him as soon as he walks into a room. Some things are best left unchanged.

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