One Saturday afternoon in January 2018, I was taking a selfie in front of a Robert Indiana LOVE sculpture in a Chelsea gallery when my friend Nancy called.
“You want to go to Cafe Wha? tonight?” She asked. “They have a house band and people dance in the aisles. It’ll be fun.”
I looked down at my leggings, oversized sweater, and sneakers. My three-day hair was wrapped on top of my head in a sloppy bun. I wouldn’t have time to get home to my house in Westchester, change, and back downtown in time.
“I’m sure you look fine,” she said. “Be there by 8. Show’s at 9.”
My friend Sonia was with me and we were up for the adventure. I had spent the last year newly single pushing myself to do new and uncomfortable things, and this time, I wasn’t particularly comfortable going out dancing in NYC this underdressed.
Sonia and I joined Nancy and another friend, Gilda, on the line. They were dressed casually but more made-up than me. No amount of finger-combing improved my hair so it went back up into the bun.
The low-ceilinged club was tightly packed with booths and tables fanning out around the small stage. The host directed four young guys who were ahead of us in line to climb into the banquet bench right in front of the band, and then pointed out to us the four chairs opposite them. I was sure the guys weren’t thrilled to be seated with four single women old enough to be their moms, but they turned out to be friendly and happy to be seated so close to the stage.
“The one in the plaid shirt and scruff is cute,” Nancy said into my ear.
Another guy across from me had longer floppy hair and looked like he didn’t shave everyday day yet. We shared snacks and clinked our beer bottles as we all sang along to the band. The boys knew all the words to songs that were played decades before they were born and they were the first to jump up and dance—pulling us up from our seats. Plaid-shirt guy dipped Nancy, and my floppy-haired partner twirled me in place. The club was so tight, there was no escaping some bumping and grinding. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much.
Eventually the band wound down with a slow song and us middle-aged moms and our new young companions, raised our beers and swung our hips until the very last note. My floppy-haired boy brought his lips to my ear and asked, “Can I kiss you?”
Huh? Here I was, sweaty from dancing, in dirty hair, leggings, and sneakers, and this man-boy wanted to kiss ME?
“You’re so cool, and beautiful, and sexy,” he said.
Although I couldn’t believe that he was choosing me, I thought, ‘why would I disagree with him?’ Maybe I didn’t need to be young and dressed-to-impress to be cool, beautiful, and sexy.
I had just enough bravery beer to kiss him while the crowd of people moved around us to the exit, like water around a stone. An old Journey song came on the PA system transporting me to a time when I used to kiss boys in bars, me casually wearing jeans, t-shirt, coat of mascara, ponytail, and high-top Reeboks.
While on the street, the guys invited us to join them for a friend’s party. My girl friends grinned at me like I might consider joining my new paramour.
“Noooooo thank you,” I said. It was time for this adventure to end. After they left, I laughed, “imagine the four of us showing up at some 27-year-old girl’s birthday party?”
Someone said, “We have to do this again.”
But I knew, this was one of those adventures that could never be replicated. I would savor it as a wonderful memory when a very young guy thought this middle-aged mama was a hot one.