The night was warm and the air felt soft. Joey and I decided to have a drink at the Chocolate Bar before dinner with Brian and Jamie. I was happy Joey suggested it, happy to be on a date, sort of, in that married way.
We drove the mini van.
We were stressed about the yard, stressed about his work, my work, when to have more kids. Before we left he put on a new, brown plaid shirt with jeans. When I saw him in his new shirt I thought I'd better freshen up just a little, but didn't bother to change out of my work clothes because I thought, what the hay, I'm just going out with my husband.
We sat outside and ordered our drinks, a white wine for me and a dark beer for him. Our waiter was a guy from Spanish class years ago, and we laughed remembering our crazy old teacher, who we called, Gooey-elmo.
I saw her out of the corner of my eye, tan, petite, tight black clothes. Cute as hell. I tried not to stare at all, but it's hard to keep your eyes off people who are working a room with looks and charm. She was. You could tell she always did.
And that was that. Cute waitress. Whatever.
And then I saw Joey catch a glimpse of her, and I thought, what the...and then I saw him smile shyly and wave to her.
I don't remember what happened immediately after that, but I knew like a mother knows her child who she was. She came over, all bubbles and smiles, and immediately all feeling dropped out of my legs. She said something absolutely amazing about noticing Joey only because she first noticed me, and how cute my haircut was, and I thought, you are gooooood. You are really good. I wanted to kick myself for not putting on some super sexy outfit.
I plastered a smile on my face as quickly as I could while at the same time trying to not look like I just plastered a smile on my face. As she talked, all I could think was, man, she's got white teeth. And perfect boobs. And her hair. How does she get that body in her hair? She's beautiful. She's a freaking snob. She must take hours to do her hair and eye make-up. But dang she's beautiful.
And of course I was thinking about them doing it.
It made it hard to follow her conversation.
Also, I felt suddenly five months pregnant. I swear.
Somehow we got through a polite little conversation, and then she said, "I'll say bye later, " before she turned around and bounced off.
"AWKWARD," I said.
Joey just shrugged and said I did fine. (What the heck is that supposed to mean?)
As we finished our drinks, I thought about all this. A growing feeling of incredible ownership was talking over my body. He's mine.
All of a sudden I realized I had just witnessed, for the first time in years, the boy I fell in love with. Ironically, I saw him when he was talking with her, his sweet quietness, his irresistible smile, but I didn't care. I was just happy to see that side of him return, like something coming back from the dead, or a very long vacation.
I was happy that he looked so good when he saw her, happy he had put that new shirt on. I was proud when he told her he was a deputy. I was proud I had the flipping ring on my hand.
Joey seemed totally cool and unscathed by the whole thing, but I noticed when I brought it up again at dinner with Brian and Jamie, that same wonderful smile return to his face. I really miss that smile.
It's not that I am worried he still likes her, or wants her back, or still thinks about her. I'm sure he does to one degree or another. What makes me somber, sad even, is how our life together doesn't include that smile anymore. Instead it includes a day to day grind that sometimes seems to have no end.
Still, the way I got out of that mini van that evening was not the way I got back into it. I got out of it a tired, working mom. I got into it Joey's girl, my love for him renewed suddenly and surprisingly in a way I had forgotten existed, my body so full of emotion for him I felt lightheaded. He didn't notice, and I didn't, and still don't know, how to tell him.