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I met Cole IRL. That’s right, you’re reading this correctly, I actually met a suitor in the wild sans Bumble.
My girlfriend invited me to a concert last Tuesday night. I know, concert on a work night. Reckless.
I picked up a bottle of vodka and a large diet Pepsi on my way to the venue in Hollywood a la high school house party and greeted Sofia on Sunset Boulevard with a giddy buzz. I had two hard-boiled eggs for dinner. Hard-boiled eggs are by far the most underrated on-the-go food. That is irrelevant to the story, just wanted to keep you informed.
Anyway, Sofia introduced me to her friends. Most of them were colleagues of hers, plus a few friends of friends. Cole was the last to arrive. When we went inside, he ordered a beer and introduced himself to the group. He was a musician because of course he was, and had a thick head of dark hair and a beard to match.
Sofia nudged me immediately.
“Get at that, or I will,” were her exact words.
“Go for it,” I replied. “I’ve got to take it easy.”
I had a special friend coming back into town for Thanksgiving and was kind of all wrapped up in him. Plus, I’ve been dating a lot and I thought it prudent to lay low that evening.
It’s amazing how quickly that logic evaporated, however, the minute Cole turned to me and we started chatting. You know when conversation flows so naturally that you have no choice but to swoon? Well, by the time we had made our way towards the front of the stage, the mosh pit fully activated, I turned back to Sofia and made an uh-oh face.
“Dude, get it,” she said without prompting. Sofia’s known me for a while, we have each other’s types down to a science.
Cole and I spent the next two hours jumping around and sweating our asses off. During lulls in the music, we told each other about ourselves and explained who we were. It was like matching on Bumble – those first few text exchanges when you start to piece together someone’s life – but this time it was in a dark arena, strobe lights pulsing around us. It felt good. Cathartic.
I caught him looking at me a few times, even as everyone else’s eyes were glued to the stage. I don’t blame him, I couldn’t stop looking at him either. I liked the way he smiled at the band as if he were just happy to be alive.
Our fingers brushed as the music got more intense, I leaned into his shoulder a few times during particularly memorable sets. Otherwise, neither of us made any advances.
When the show wrapped, we streamed outside with the masses. I grabbed his hand using the flow of traffic as an excuse to touch him.
“Let’s meet them outside!” he yelled.
I pulled us towards the open doors until the cold air hit me, sobering us up and demanding we unlace our fingers. We walked in silence towards the meeting spot and he was still looking at me, just like inside.
This guy was cool. He was soft spoken and laughed easily, there was a kindness about him that was comforting.
We stood there just the two of us for a whole five minutes, the tension so palpable I was afraid to move. I wanted to touch him. I wanted to lean in and kiss him.
The show was incredible. I was still high off of the experience and our unexpected connection. My heart was beating fast, but I couldn’t discern if it was the residual endorphins from the music or my wanting to wrap my arms around this complete stranger.
I could have stayed in that moment all night, but just like that, it ended.
“Victoria!” Sofia called from a few feet away as the group walked up to join us.
I smiled at Cole then turned to my friend. I wondered if this was totally one-sided. Maybe it was just wildly presumptuous for me to assume he also wanted to smash his face into mine?
“That smells incredible,” Sofia said, pointing to the hot dog cart we were standing next to.
The group said our goodbyes, sweaty hugs to strangers that all the sudden felt like family. A good show will do that to you.
Cole pointed down the street, the opposite direction we were headed.
“I’m this way,” he said. I think I sensed a twinge of disappointment in his voice.
“Let’s be in touch,” I said, putting my number in his phone.
As I walked away, Sofia broke into hysterics.
“Let’s be in touch,” she giggled. “Are you guys doing business?”
I couldn’t help but laugh too. I don’t think I could have been less smooth. As we piled into an Uber, I fully accepted that I would never be hearing from Cole again, considering he probably thought I was insane.
Then, the best thing happened. Two minutes later my phone buzzed.
“Hey, stranger, that was fun tonight.”
“OKAY OKAY OKAY,” I thought. Pull it together, Victoria.
“I should have kissed you by the hot dog stand,” I responded. Pressing send and locking my phone before I could chicken out.
Yes, it was bold. Yes, it was presumptuous. And yes, thanking my lucky stars, it worked.
“Well, there’s plenty of hot dog stands around Hollywood. Come see me this weekend, we can test a few out.”
“How is Sunday night?” I responded.
“Seems like a perfect night for kissing to me.”
I haven’t been this nervous for a date in a long time. .