A few years after I graduated college, one of my former sorority sisters got engaged.
Ergo, I was obligated to embrace my role of Jillian’s bridesmaid wholeheartedly — and for her sake and that of our friendship, I wanted to. So I went along with all the “bride, bride, bride, blah, blah, blah,” “saw this on Pinterest” bullshit. But really, I wanted to roll my eyes to the back of my skull and disappear.
At that point I was even more cynical than usual due to a rough breakup with my longtime boyfriend. A subsequent slew of bad rebound dates with losers only added insult to grievous emotional injuries. Still, I think happiness is contagious, and I was delighted for my friend to have found someone who treated her right. I also believe in the power of positivity and all that New Age jazz about manifesting your own happiness. However, I also have no problem making an exception to all of that for anyone who is dealing with being in a wedding party post-breakup like I was that summer. Such a situation should at least merit a warning label like “this might sting a little bit” or “contents under pressure.”
Still, even if I felt rotten on the inside, I took a deep breath, put on my sexiest black cocktail dress, and got a cab to meet my girl posse uptown at the little martini bar where Jillian was having her bachelorette party. Unlike my last dates, these ladies were worth the makeup, and it would be fun to reminisce.
Even though I like sex with men and had always identified as straight, before my ex and I broke up, I was already feeling this strange sexual frustration — I wanted things he couldn’t possibly give me. With the benefit of hindsight, I wished that I had been more sexually adventurous during college.
During those formative years on campus, you can just go to a party and blame the booze the morning after if you experimented and felt weird afterward. No harm, no foul — you kissed a girl, or he kissed a guy, and that’s more or less the end of it. In real life, no such social safety nets or “understandings” seem to exist, and anyone with common sense knows that you don’t dare “experiment” within a 10-mile radius of your office. I joined a sorority and drunkenly kissed a few girls, but back then I was too shy to explore going further.
I’ve since dabbled with dating apps — in fact, I was using one to try to get a date to the wedding. However, as I swiped and swiped and stared off into the distance, it dawned on me that there’s no option for the casual “sometimes I want to kiss another girl, don’t label me” or “hey, I want to try this.” And I don’t know about any of you other ladies out there, but I’m pretty fed-up with trying to seek out other girls on dating apps only to be asked for a threesome “so my boyfriend can watch hahaha!” If you’re a kinky couple, that’s wonderful, but someone should probably make a separate dating app for straight couples seeking a third.
When we all finally assembled at the bar, Jillian wore a tiara and a white BRIDE! banner over her dress, as if she had won Miss America. The rest of us had to wear pink “I’m with the bride” banners — but I kept telling myself, at least it isn’t a T-shirt. It could be worse. As I downed my first martini and made my way around the room to mingle, my friend Brooke, who was already married with two kids, waved to me. She had been a senior when Jillian and I were new pledges, but we’d all kept in touch.
“Wow! Angela, you look great!” Brooke gave me a hug. “How are you?”
I smiled and shrugged. “I’m doing all right.”
“I heard about you and — ”
“Yeah — no, it was bad.” I shook my head. “I don’t want to put a damper on Jill’s special night out.”
Brooke nodded. “Of course. If you need to vent or anything, I’m here.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I’m just going to be needing another martini — and since our waiter has disappeared, I’m going to run to the bar.”
“OK, hurry back!”
On my way past, I waved to the bride and held up my empty glass, pointing to the bar.
Jillian smiled, gave me a thumbs-up, and resumed her focus on the penis-shaped swizzle stick that one of the girls had slipped in her drink.
I approached the bar, grateful to have a few seconds to myself as I waited for the bartender to come to me. It wasn’t crowded, but I was in no rush. I saw the cocktail napkin go down on the counter in front of me, and I must’ve been in a daze, because I didn’t hear her ask for my order.
“Miss? Hello?” This pint-sized blonde woman with some beautiful botanical-themed ink on both forearms looked at me quizzically.
I blinked and snapped out of my reverie. “Sorry!”
She laughed. “It’s OK — but I was concerned, since I don’t think you’ve had more than one drink, right?”
I nodded. “Correct.” I paused, “I’m with the bridal party.”
The bartender laughed. “Yeah. I can see that from your banner there.” She pointed at my cleavage.
I had momentarily forgotten about the monstrosity across my torso. “Oh, my gosh.” I shook my head and laughed. “Tell me: Does it show on my face? Because if it does, then I’m really in trouble.”
She laughed and shook her head. “Nah, you’re OK. Let’s get you a drink, Ms. — ?”
“I’m Angela.” I smiled. “Nice to meet you.”
She took my hand and gave it the slightest squeeze. “Call me Erica.” We held our hands together for a nanosecond longer than normal and suddenly I was blushing.
“Well, uh, Vesper Martini for me?” I stammered.
“Sure thing,” Erica reached for a fresh glass. “Go figure you’re a classic cocktail kind of girl.” She looked over her shoulder at me. “Black dress, pearls — do you own a mink for the winters here?”
I giggled. “I have both a coat and a muffler. What about you?”
Erica scooped some ice into the martini shaker. “Me? I’m a leather girl myself.”
Style-wise, yes, we could not have been more different. Erica had a rebellious yet classic look that made her seem years longer than she actually was. I admired her boldness, but looks were only the beginning there.
Erica set down my martini. “Tell me how it is.”
I took a swig and immediately felt that smooth but powerful “oomph” of vodka and gin.
“Oh! That’s good.” I nodded and sipped again, “Good and strong.”
Erica leaned in and whispered, “Good, because it’s on me.”
Suddenly I felt an electric jolt in my chest. “Oh?” I leaned in and whispered back. “Why would that be?”
Erica grinned. “Meet me out back when you finish your drink.”
I couldn’t believe it — without the crutch of a dating app or a drunken party setup, I was navigating my first real female flirtation — and with gusto. I have probably never downed a martini so fast, but I’d been waiting long enough for a chance like this.
When I came out the backdoor, Erica immediately put her arms around me and her tongue in my mouth. As our lips pressed together, the rush of kissing another woman that I’d sporadically partaken of in college was hitting me like a freight train, and I wanted more, more, more.