By Carrie Thompson
I zipped up my low rise Rag ‘N Bone jeans and looked back at my ass in the mirror — perfection.
I barrelled my way through Koreatown onto Melrose. I texted my beautiful South African mate to let her know I was on my way to West Hollywood for bottomless mimosas. It was her going away party and I couldn’t risk looking shabby, as this particular girlfriend has a diaspora of hot successful males within her contacts.
A small railroad car on the corner of Crescent Heights at Santa Monica boulevard called The Hudson, filled with well-dressed ingenues. My eyes searched the room for my herd of thirsty day-drinkers.
I kissed and hugged the South African Queen and scooched into the crowded booth next to a dead sexy, bearded brunette. I couldn’t help but wonder if I met him before. I moved on and exchanged updates with my WeHo crew. But something about this gent kept prodding me.
European? Was his accent, not Scandinavian… Belgian? Could it be, was it, Lars? Who spent the night in my arms and bed a few months ago? It couldn’t be. But, he was, everything he wasn’t when we dated… He was now so trim and fit, perfectly coiffed. I went in for further analysis: he was wearing the same Prada boots and Diesel jeans that were once strewn across my carpet. Lars refilled my champagne flute with a smile. It was him. Fuck.
I grew short of breath, and blind with fucking rage as he leaned over and kissed the Korean girl next to him. With deep tongue. I couldn’t breathe…
Rewind to early summer of 2017, Memorial Day: I was at a friend’s backyard BBQ celebrating his first role as a stuntman in a Netflix film. Microbrews and shit talking. I texted Lars as agreed. We met at a bar in West Hollywood the night before, where he asked to buy me a shot or two. I said “or two,” I drank both and walked away.
Lars proceeded to sit at my table and we laughed all night. I noticed he smoked, a lot, like two packs a night. Which is very gross, but I quit smoking so who was I to judge on our first meet? And Europeans don’t look at alcohol nor tobacco the same as Americans do. I exited the macabre atrium, Lars literally chased me out of the bar and then asked me for my number. I agreed to call him after my BBQ and he agreed to shoot pool with me after his friend’s BBQ.
He never called. Never replied to my text. I was done. Done.
Until midnight, on Memorial day, when my phone rang. WTF was this? A booty call? Straight to voicemail bitch. I yelled curses in my mind, “You’re not even that cute. He has a gut, I have a six pack, this is what happens when I try to see past physical flaws! I hate men! Shallow for life!”
But I’m a gummy bear at heart so I listened to the voicemail the next day. Lars said he got too drunk and fell asleep at a friend’s. He apologized and begged to make it up to me. That voicemail was deleted promptly. I had learned my lesson giving men too much consideration.
Throughout the week he called me once here, once there. I didn’t let his third attempt go unanswered. “Hello Carrie, I sincerely apologize, I fucked up, bad. I understand if you don’t want to see me again but I just wanted to apologize to you, perhaps in person. But if you would allow me, I’d like to take you to any restaurant in Los Angeles. Any. Pick.” Aww shit. I caved.
A fabulous rooftop, Takami and Robata, 21 stories up, overlooking the glittering grunge of Downtown LA. Our arms intertwined as we threw our drinks back. We spat out our patte, and fought over the last spicy scallop handroll. It was one of the best dates I had been on, ever. First time I had ever been outdressed by a man! But after all, he was an interior designer for every hotel you could think of. He made me feel beautiful and special. He laughed, he called me on my bullshit, and we complained together. He felt like family.
Later that night we dropped to my sheets, kissing, his hands roved my curves. But. I didn’t feel that fire I once had for other men. There was something amiss. Maybe it was me? We slept side by side in our clothing.
Fast forward a month, one week before my birthday. I sat in my car outside Honey’s Kettle Fried Chicken in Downtown Culver City snacking on my two piece. Lars on the other side of the bluetooth, coughing and hacking syncopated his apology. He was sorry that he had to cancel but couldn’t risk getting me sick.
Bullshit. I asked what was the real problem, through the phlegm I could hear despondency. Then there it was, “Carrie, I’ve been having suicidal thoughts.”
Daniel was the first guy to ever tell me about his suicidal thoughts and I didn’t react in the most responsible way. I replied, “if anyone ever claims they haven’t had a suicidal thought, they’re lying. Please tell me everything and I’ll just listen.” But he wouldn’t open up. I told him that I would come over, but he said he didn’t want to be a burden. We hadn’t seen each other since the sushi date, so I didn’t have much agency to demand anything, I was still fairly new in his life and he in mine.
One week later, I sent Lars a Facebook invite for my “29 and fine as boxed wine” themed birthday party (all attendees were required to bring a box of wine). No reply, but I understood. When you’re depressed or even having one bad day out of the week, you don’t feel like being around anyone, wishing them well, you just want to eek through it.
Back to present day, The Hudson, last week. Lars clearly regained his lust for life. I had to take a minute to myself. He’s skinnier, like 30 lbs lighter, and he’s wearing thick framed glasses. I have a weakness for fine men who wear glasses. It’s my kryptonite.
I walked to the bathrom and ducked in a stall. I wanted to run out on my tab. I wanted to scream. But most of all I wanted to know, why did I still care? I hadn’t seen Lars in 5 months. How could I have so many emotions about someone so absent from the picture? I had not even thought about him. His mental state was a hot mess and he suppresses his emotions. Suicidal thoughts aren’t a weakness, but you don’t need to be dating anybody until you clean that shit up. I did the right thing by allowing him to heal apart from me. Maybe he found a woman that was willing to pick him up off the ground? I needed this stream of consciousness to STOP!
I applied more undereye concealer and walked out as fearless as I entered the restaurant… As soon as the restroom door closed behind me, Lars’ eyes met mine. He was turned all the way around on the bar stool facing the bathroom, as if awaiting my return. His eyes didn’t waver as my heels clicked closer. I returned to a table where only he and I sat. Just us two. I sat, then refilled Lars’ mimosa then my own.
“How was your trip to San Francisco? Designing the Google Mountain View expansion, was it fun?” My lips were smiling, but my heart was just trying to get through the splitting of the 10+ person check. He replied, “Google was hectic, but afterward I went back to Brussels to see family so it was well worth it. But it’s good to be home.” There was something he wanted to say, but couldn’t. There was so much I wanted to say, but wouldn’t.
From her smoke break, Miss Korea returned to the table, not at all secure about Lars and my speaking alone. He turned his shoulders toward her. They kissed slowly. There it was, that static electricity. A fire. That same fire that I didn’t feel when I shared that sexless night alone with him. I arose from my booth. I realized that whomever’s plan it was, it worked. I was jealous. Why did he make me watch the fire he ignited with another.