Stolen water is sweet, And bread eaten in secret is pleasant – Proverbs 9:17
We met at a bar one rainy Saturday evening. It wasn’t the sort of night or place you would expect to meet someone like her. I was in Chicago on business. After having dinner at the hotel, I decided to go for a walk in spite of the rain. I wanted to check out the Navy Pier but the rain was coming down hard now so I ducked into the first bar I spotted. The atmosphere was cozy and intimate. A great place to hang out for a while. I went over to the bar and sat down. It felt good to be out of the rain. I looked around. This place was ideal for a nightcap or a late night rendezvous. It reminded me of one of my favorite bars in New York. I smiled and ordered an El Presidente cocktail.
It was after I took my first sip of the cocktail when she walked in. I froze. My heart stopped and everything and everyone in the room faded into nothingness. All I could see was her. She was wearing a knee length magenta spandex dress which hugged her in all the right places. Her thick chestnut hair fell in thick waves down her back. She closed her umbrella and walked over to where I was. There was an empty stool right beside me. She sat there. The bartender turned around and from the way he acted, I could tell that she had been here before. After exchanging pleasantries, she ordered a Grasshopper. When he turned away to fix it, she glanced at me.
Our eyes met and held what seemed like a very long time. My heart was pounding. I was nervous and excited at the same time. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way. She smiled at me. “Hello,” she said.
“I’ve never noticed you here before.”
“This is my first time here.”
“Are you from out of town?”
I nodded. “Yes. I’m from New York.”
Her eyebrows arched. “The Big Apple. Hmmm. What brought you here to the Windy City?”
“What sort of business do you do?”
“I’m a Construction Manager.”
“And what exactly does a Construction Manager do?”
“I oversee the process of new commercial and residential buildings, as well as bridges, tunnels and roads; supervise building deadlines, the progress of workers, and managing the budgets for each project.”
“What about you? Are you a model?”
She laughed. “No, but I’m flattered that you think so. I work at Bluedog Design.” The bartender placed her drink in front of her. He glanced at me and then moved away to serve someone else.
“So, what do you do for fun?”
“I jog, swim, play Squash and do a lot of reading.”
Her cell rang. “Excuse me,” she said as she fished it out of her handbag.
I turned my head because I didn’t want to seem as if I were eavesdropping. I took a couple of sips of my cocktail.
“That was my husband,” she said. “He’s in Vancouver.”
My head swung around sharply. “You’re married?”
I glanced pointedly down at her left hand. There wasn’t any ring.
She followed my gaze. “I took it to the jewelry store to have it resized.”
“Oh.” She’s married. What a bummer.
“What about you? Girlfriend? Wife? Both?”
“What’s your name?”
“Tina.” She held out her hand. I grasped it. It felt soft and warm.
Her being married put a damper on the evening and I could think of nothing else. “Doesn’t your husband mind you going to bars alone?”
“This is the first time I’ve been in a bar alone.”
“I know if I were him, I would have a problem with you being here alone in a bar talking to another man.”
“He doesn’t know that I’m here talking to another man.”
“And what if he did, wouldn’t he be upset?”
“Let’s not worry or talk about Sam. I’d rather talk about you.”
I finished my drink and slid off the stool. “I have to go.”
Her eyes widened. “But why? We were just getting to know each other.”
“You’re married, Tina.”
“I know but you and I click. The evening is still young. Still a while longer.”
“I can’t. We both know where this will lead if I don’t leave right now. It was a pleasure meeting you, Tina. My advice to you is that you go home and stop going to bars alone. Goodnight.” I turned and walked out of the bar.
It had stopped raining. I could have gone to the Navy Pier but I decided that I had had enough excitement for one evening. I headed back to the hotel.
Two years have passed since that night in a Chicago bar and I don’t regret my decision. I was tempted but I was able to walk away and not look back. Now, I’m happily married to an amazing woman I met right here in New York. I believe it that it was my faith that saved me from doing something I would have regretted for the rest of my life.
When faced with temptation, you can either run towards it or away from it. The more you resist it, however, the more fortified you become.