This is the story of one of many crushes. I’ve been having a bit of a lonely time lately, so no judging. I’m going to start sort of in the middle because that was the night that I’m still pretty sure I could have gone home with Ezra if I’d had the guts to ask. I had planned to spend the evening face down on my bed, but my roommate Caroline woke me up after only a half hour or so, dangling a sequined top in front of me, saying, “We’re going out.” I just grunted. The trouble with living with your best friend is that not only can she understand your moods with psychic precision, but she can and will call you on destructive or depressive behavior well before you have had the time to properly wallow or bridge burn, as the case may be. “Get up,” she said, poking me with the hanger. It hadn’t been the worst day ever, but it had not been a good day, and I was content to wallow in the self-pity of the twenty-something career-less single. “Why?” I asked, closing my eyes. “Thursday night, Laragh. Comedy. Eighties night. Dancing. Boys. Gin-and-tonics. That is why.” She was right about those things. I got up. We had about an hour before we’d be fashionably late for comedy, so we hustled into something danceable and headed down Congress Street into town. I wore the top Caroline had chosen for me, sequins like fish scales, with a possibly-too-short black skirt and black flats to hide my height. I’d bumped my blonde hair into a pompadour with a high ponytail and ringed my eyes with black liner. My lips shimmered not unlike the lips of lip-shimmer models. Caroline looked better than me because she wasn’t trying so hard. Because no one had dangled a sparkly top in front of her and told her to jump. She wore a sort of drapey shirt over black skinny jeans, cuffed above kitten heels to borrow some of my height, and hardly any makeup, just a little eyeliner, mascara, and dark maroon lipstick. Because it was a special occasion, me being miserable and all, we splurged on a couple baskets of little tacos at Taco Escobarr before scampering down the street to Slainte (if you’re saying something that sounds like “cilantro,” that’s close enough), a cramped little bar that looked homemade by really well-meaning teen-agers. We always came here if my brother was doing a set, but really we each had a crush on one of the comedians and we were lucky that we had an excuse to be there because no one went to these open mics besides the other comedians. I didn’t think we were that late to comedy, but the last person was finishing when we got there, a short, dark-haired girl who always told these hilarious hallucinatory stories when she was up. It was just before ten—way too early to go dancing—so we each sipped at a beer, trying to get close but not too close to the comedians we were into. On a good night we could usually get them to follow us to the Asylum. That was a good night. I’m not 21 anymore, and I honestly don’t understand why people have to wait until it is so late to start dancing, especially in a town where the bars all close at one o’clock. We got to the Asylum a little before eleven, and after flashing our I.D.s to the man on the ground floor, we tramped downstairs to the dingy, loveable hole of a basement that houses 80s night every Thursday. The place was still empty, aside from one guy chatting with the bartender and two anxious young girls sitting in a dark corner. The music however, with the encouragement of the dance-floor lights, was doing it’s very best to be energetic. Caroline and I armed ourselves with cheap well gin-and-tonics and were prepared to do a bit of waiting, until Michael Jackson’s “Want to be Starting Something” came on and, to hell with it, we were the first ones on the dance floor. I like to play a game where if you are the one dancing on the star painted on the middle of the floor, you’re winning. This game is most easily played when the dance floor is nearly empty, so at least I had that going for me. We had managed, by this point, to lose our comedian escorts, which was all part of the plan—we didn’t want it to seem as though we had come there with them, just that we happened to be in the same club. My memories of the rest of that night come in ripples. The room filled to brimming over the course of the next hour. I know that the dancers we had a crush on were there—the blonde girl who only dances with the wall or the pole, all hip and hands, doing her best to pretend there isn’t anyone else around; the tall girl with crazy ringlets, a ton of energy in her willowy body, and bone-crushing hugs for anyone she knew (we had seen her walking around town with the blonde girl before and thrilled at the idea that they knew each other); and the petite girl in a mud-colored leotard whose dance consisted of spins and cat-like leaps around the room. I know I saw Ezra early on in the evening, like a curly-headed tree. I didn’t know him well, but we’d hung out a couple of times after work, and I couldn’t help my heart beating a little faster upon seeing him. I had to get another drink. Caroline was within arms reach, but that song “Laid” came on, and Caroline is obsessed with singing along to it, even though she only knows one line, “she only comes when she’s on top.” One time, a week or so before, Ezra and I and another one of his friends had had a couple of beers and then, after the bars had closed, we walked along Commercial Street, along the waterfront. Ezra’s friend encouraged us to climb up on top of a small shed near where the cruise ships docked, but Ezra said he knew a better view. We walked out to the end of the Maine State pier and before I knew what was happening, I was watching Ezra disappear over the edge. I was wearing a skirt and the worst shoes, but was still game. I followed him over and then under, inside the pier, and the three of us crouched-walked back the way we’d come, but now inside a man-made wooden cave, complete with ominous dripping water and the potential to bump our heads on unknown outcroppings, keeping our eyes peeled for the occasional dart of one of the warf cats. The problem was that he was so cool. About all I could do was dance with the comedian. I liked him a lot too—the season for crushes is ripe, but as for reciprocation, I’ve been in a bit of a drought. I had gone home with this particular boy one time before. It was after dancing, of course, and when we stepped outside, we’d ended up kissing for five or six minutes, right in the middle of the crowd that always forms outside at one o’clock. It was great. Then he walked me home, and I remember he came upstairs, but we were too drunk to do anything besides lie on my bed clutching each other. Actually, I can’t even remember for sure if he stayed the night. I guess I could ask Caroline. But I do remember him in my bed, but not his penis, because I’m pretty sure I didn’t see it. It wasn’t until after midnight that I finally sidled over to Ezra. He was a great dancer, and he dipped me several times in just the one song. When it was over, he said, “When we do that I feel more special than everybody else.” “That’s because we are,” I said. And he said, “I know.” But then he had to go home. I had already caught Caroline’s eye and she had given me secret-roommate-permission to ditch her. I told Ezra I was going to go home too, hoping we’d have a walk together at least, but when we got outside I learned that he was going the opposite direction from me. I tried to think of an excuse, some reason to go the same way as him, and then he offered me a cigarette. I accepted, thinking, anything for another minute. It took him a long time to roll two, fumbling a little with the tobacco on the first and then holding that one awkwardly in his mouth while he rolled the second. He lit mine for me and then bowed a good night. I think we hugged. The cigarette hurt and tasted bad. I threw it away when it was only half gone. I don’t actually smoke. It was another couple of weeks, and another few awkward exchanges before I asked him out for real and he let me know I had gotten the wrong impression.