It was after midnight. I sat at the counter of an all-night diner in South Jersey. Next to me was a woman in a red dress who looked tired. The counter guy called her Lydia.
I said to her, “Don’t I know you?”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, I think I do.”
“I think you’re just saying that.”
“No, no, I remember the sorority party.”
“Sorority party. The University of Maryland. I had a couple of drinks, but I remember you … I’m guessing, ten years ago. You went there, right?” She looked around like she was looking for help on what to say.
“Oh, I went there.” I thought she was going to smile, but she didn’t.
“Well, it was a great party, that was quite a sorority, beautiful old building, and I remember you. You were looking around. Like the way you are now.”
“A lot of people look around. I’m not sure I like what you’re doing. I’d like to finish my dinner.”
“Of course” She looked puzzled. My goal, my only goal, was to disarm her.
She blurted out, “What is it with you guys?”
“Look, I’m one guy. I’m not all those guys. I’m just me … And I met you … once, really, I wanted to dance. You looked at me, you looked me over, you didn’t want to, you said you didn’t want to. I didn’t push it.”
“That’s it, you wanted to dance?”
“That’s what I wanted. That, and your name, but I was too shy to ask.”
“You remember that?”
“I don’t know if I believe you, but everybody should have a chance to dance. So, I’m sorry if I said no.”
“It’s ok. You want to, now?”
“Yes, but don’t bend your knees and twist. You did that last time. It was … embarrassing.”
“I wish you had said something.”