Over the course of the months between my Las Vegas trip and my first San Francisco trip, I had made some small changes which my wife did not approve of. I began dressing more stylishly and youthfully, and I changed my hair style to a “short messy”. I sometimes even used a little product to give it a spike. And by stylish, I mean tucking the front end of my shirt loosely into my pants, wearing boot cut jeans, and in cooler weather a corduroy blazer from the Gap. I dressed, in part, after the manner of my best work friend, Tareq, who was a very stylish young Bengali man.
In preparing for this trip, I had resolved something in my mind. I’d flirted around enough to know what was next for me. My relationship with my wife had become increasingly strained. Our sex life was worse than ever, and I resented her for it. We were beginning to fight more. I sat in my cubicle studying my session schedule for the San Francisco conference, and I resolved that if the situation presented itself, I would take it.
In the previous week, I’d consulted an online psychic I had encountered on a pagan spirituality website, and she had said that I would become involved with a woman while on my trip. I believed her. I knew that if I met this woman, that I would be open to whatever kind of relationship she would have with me.
The conference was for software developers. I had attended one already by myself. I had fallen in love with San Francisco and I was eager to share it with Tareq.
The flight was an early one so Tareq and I met at the airport at 6:30. I was wearing a new t-shirt from Aeropostale, boot cut jeans, and brown Sketchers shoes. New sunglasses hung from the front of my tee.
Tareq had jet black hair cut short into a bit of a spike. His clothes were casual, and effortlessly cool.
“Hey!” he said. “You look like you ready for some San Fran, baby!”
He was bright and cheerful given how early it was.
He chatted as we waited in line with our luggage. I noticed a man far ahead of us. It was the father of one of my daughter’s friends. He did not see me. He was busy chatting with a lovely woman who must have been a coworker. They were dressed for business.
There was something about the way she moved and the way that they laughed, that I wondered if they realized the obvious attraction between the two of them. I’d never seen him this way. I’d only seen him as a dad. A dad’s dad perhaps. But here he was, about to get on a plane with this woman. Perhaps he had the same plan I had.
I moved different, walked different, stood different. Me, who had never cared about ‘cool’, was doing my best to practice it. I had been watching other men to learn how to become attractive to women. Not just women who wanted to sell me something, but women at the conference who might just be attracted to me for attraction’s sake.
After getting through security we stopped, as was my custom, at a Cinnabon for a cinnamon roll and a coffee. There was something thrilling to me at having cash for my whims. I rarely had spending money in my home life.
“Just wait, Tareq. This will be one of the greatest cities you’ve visited. It has everything, ” I chattered, excitedly.
On the plane, we took some preliminary pictures of each other in our seats. Tareq was photogenic. He did not smile. His face was thoughtful and anticipatory. Mine was radically gleeful.
I took the position of the experienced guide for this first day of the trip. I had planned the day in a way that I believed would be the essential first day in the city by the bay. We would arrive a day early to see the sights.
My seat was a few rows ahead of Tareq’s. Once we were in the air, a flight attendant took drink orders. He was a well-groomed man. By his speech and manner, I guessed he was gay. I ordered a vodka and cranberry. I never drank in the morning at home, but something about the timeless dimension of a plane trip made me feel ok drinking in the morning. I wanted to start out the trip with a little bit of fun.
The cocktail costed 5 dollars. I handed the man a ten and told him to keep the change. Although I didn’t realize it, I extended a very small amount of sexual energy to him and he returned it in his eyes.
He said, “Well aren’t you sweet! That’s not necessary. We can’t keep tips, but he leaned in conspiratorially and said out of the side of his mouth, “But I will give you another bottle of vodka.”
I knew that this would happen. I’d done it before, but it never hurt to garner favor from an attendant. I sipped my drink and looked out of the window. I’d always taken pleasure from plane trips. I pondered the improbability of flight in such a large collection of metal, and I never tired of notion of being above the clouds.
After a few minutes, the attendant returned with a smile on his face and stopped at my row.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” he said, addressing my row. “Because you’re sitting on the same row as the most wonderful man on the plane, I’d like to offer each of you a free round of drinks!”
He gave me a smile and a wink and began to take orders; otherwise, the flight was uneventful.
On the ground, I guided us to the airport tram and to the MUNI train that would take us to the Union Square stop. I eagerly awaited Tareq’s reaction to coming out of the station and seeing the Three Twist building which towered over the Powell street trolley turnaround.
“That’s nice,” he said, only glancing at the impressive building. He was scanning the crowd. “Any hot girl in San Fran?” he said, characteristically dropping his “s” on plurals.
Once, at a party of his Bengali brothers, I challenged him on the issue when he introduced me to someone as Daniel Robert.
“It’s Robertsssss.” I said, and everyone laughed.
He said, “There’s no plural in Bengali. 3 chicken. 2 girl. 5 cow.”
“My name is not plural. It is my name! And even if it were plural—”
Immediately, three Bengali men rushed him in their mother tongue. They were laughing and teasing him, I could see. One of them was kind enough to translate.
“He’s wrong! It is the same in Bengali. There are plural nouns,” then he turned to Tareq and screamed in a fit of laughter. “He speaks poorly in two languages!”
The men erupted in laughter, punching and pushing Tareq, who laughed along with them.
I scanned the crowd with him. “Hey,” I pointed, “Over there.”
In the line for the trolley was a tall, slender blond college-age girl.
He grinned, and nodded. “Dass what I’m talking about.”
We flirted with the girl as the trolley rushed us up and down the streets until her stop came. We let her go without harassment. We’d had our fun, although Tareq talks about her to this day and how he wished he’d gotten her number despite the fact he is also married.
I thought about how easy and social I had been with the girl. This talent was still new to me and I wasn’t sure what my limits were. I intended to find out.
When spent the afternoon at the piers and on Sausalito where I puked over too much beer, too much cigar, and a tiny bite of escargot. I puked many times. It was so violent that a couple of homeless people peaked in the park men’s room to make sure I was ok. Tareq took care of me. He got me back to the hotel on a bus instead of the ferry where I took a couple of Dramamine and slept it off. I hated to be that guy.
We met in the morning, bright and early, to walk down to the Moscone Conference Center for the opening key note speech. The key notes had become my favorite parts of the conference. This is where the visionaries shared their ideas of the future of technology and demonstrated prototypes for new groundbreaking devices.
Conferences, until Vegas, had been strictly about learning and ideas. I had received my best ideas for work at conferences. New systems, new automation, new technology. My employer was eager to send me. But I knew now that a conference could be more than that. There was a nightlife aspect that had previously escaped me, or perhaps I simply didn’t know what to do with it. But I was changing. I was bolder. I was more aggressive.
On that first day, I attended a lecture by a trainer who I’d known for a few years. I was eager to connect with him. He might be a key to the conference social life. He was an ebullient gay man a few years older than me. He was a good acquaintance by now, and would soon become a dear friend.
I noticed that his technical assistant for the lecture was an incredibly sexy Asian woman with long jet-black hair. She passed by me once to check the sound in the back, and we made brief eye contact. I looked back at her as she walked by. She had one of the most beautiful asses I had ever seen. That just happens to be my favorite curve on a woman.
Afterwards, Tareq and I went up to the front to surprise Jason and congratulate him on an excellent lecture. I was a little worried he wouldn’t remember us, but his face lit up when he saw us. I asked questions about the technology and held up the line. But before I took off, he took down my phone number.
“Daniel, some of the instructors are going out tonight. If you guys aren’t doing anything, why don’t you join us? I’ll text you!” he said, with nearly overwhelming enthusiasm.
As we were leaving I was hoping to catch the eye of the Asian woman again. She’d been handing out cookies and I had an idea that I could sweet talk my way into an extra. I found her in the back, gathering up materials.
“Hey, look,” I said approaching her with my backpack slung over my should. “I’m a friend of Jason’s. He said if I was real sweet, you might give me another one of those delicious cookies,” I said, making unflinching eye contact as I had never made before.
She grinned, but did not show her teeth. She could not hold my gaze for long. She said, looking away and then back at me, “Well, let me see what I can do, ” winking.
She returned and held it up and said, “But you can’t tell anybody I did this, then everyone will want one.” Then she handed it to me.
“Thanks,” I said, and I stuffed the cookie in my mouth right then and there and walked off without saying a word. It was an inspiration that I did that. Normally, I didn’t have good instincts with how attract and woman. But had the instant notion that this exit would leave a stronger impression than a polite thank you and goodbye.
At the end of the conference day, Tareq and I both got texts from Jason. We were to meet him outside of the main entrance. Tareq and I chatted over the day’s learning as we headed up the escalators to the ground floor.
When we found the group, it was sunny outside, unlike the gloomy cool morning. There was Jason and five or six other trainers, one of which I knew.
“He Craig! Wassup?”
“Danieeeeeeeel! I didn’t expect to see you here.”
I shook the hand of skinny, 40-something man with rust color hair bound up in a long braided pony tail. He wore a mustache and goatee which had a few white hairs mixed with the rust. He was my very first Java Web Development instructor years before down in Dallas, Texas. He was musician like me and we had bonded over it.
Jason introduced us to the rest. “Guys! This is Tareq and Daniel. They’re my former students and now that they’ve graduated, they’re going to hang out with us. Are they sweet? My little Java babies have grown up!”
There were words and nods of approval. Some came up to introduce themselves.
“Hey, boys,” came a deep feminine voice from behind us which sounded vaguely familiar. “I was worried you would leave without me.”
I turned around, and there was the extraordinarily hot Asian woman. Our eyes met.
“Hi, I’m Julie.”