It happened at the 2016 Christmas Party.
To be fair, it was February of 2017: The restaurant where I was working took its time pulling the party together, and finally we picked a place (a live piano karaoke bar) and a date (the first week of February). When we showed up, the back room was reserved just for us, and Valentine’s Day paraphernalia littered the tables.
The second I walked in, the restaurant’s head of social media came over to me. “Where’s J?” he asked, an eyebrow cocked.
I mentioned that, for the past few months, I’ve been exclusively fucking my roommate. I didn’t mention that we moved in together in January 2017, when we were working together, and the rumors were rampant. Everyone wanted us to get together, despite the fact that I had a boyfriend; all of the servers had bets on when it would happen and who would make the first move.
“J and I didn’t come here together,” I told him, crossing my arms. “I don’t even know if he’s coming.”
He did, of course, about 30 minutes (and two open bar drinks) later. We sat together at a table, taking photos with a foam heart that said “Be Mine” and “XOXO.” The servers snickered from afar.
Kimmy, a server with big Broadway dreams, came up to me, a few bottles in. “Do you like drugs?” she asked me.
“Coke, do you like coke?”
When I started dating AJ, I promised I’d stop—but, it had been a year since my last bump, and I figured I was allowed one cheat night. I took J’s hand and followed Kimmy, unashamedly, into the men’s bathroom.
She dipped her apartment key into a baggie, letting me inhale first. J took the second bump, but nervously exhaled, sending the white powder flying. Kimmy didn’t notice; he pretended to snort it, then handed the key back to her.
We went back upstairs to hear the live piano player calling, “Ian-Michael and J, it’s time for your duet!”
“Did you put our name in for karaoke?” I shot at J, who shook his head. But when I looked up, the head of social media was smiling devilishly.
We took the stage for our pre-selected song, “Love Will Keep Us Together.” J was drunk and oblivious; I was bright red the whole time.
The party came to an end, and I suggested we take the afterparty to Boots and Saddle (may it Rest In Peace). J and I grabbed a cab over.
Outside, it started to snow. The romantic large snowflakes, the snow up my nose and the free alcohol all went to my head, and I thought about how nice it was being with J.
The cab stopped in front of the bar, and I got out my credit card. “Fuck it,” I said out loud.
I leaned over and kissed him. Not a peck, but a long, passionate kiss, my tongue sliding past his lips. I pulled away, tipped 25%, and got out of the car.
We met all the other servers at the bar, and another familiar face: my boyfriend, AJ. I knew he’d be there, which was why I suggested it. I knew he was there, 20 feet and one flight of
stairs away, when I kissed J.
“Did you have fun at the party?” he asked, watching me stumble over.
“I did coke,” I blurted, as if telling that secret made my other secret okay.
“I can tell, your eyes are super bloodshot.”
“Take me home?”
In the taxi home, I laid my head in his lap, and he patted my shoulder. We didn’t have sex that night. We hadn’t had sex in a month, and it had been three months before that time.
I thought about the kiss, and I wasn’t sure what felt worse: that I hid it from AJ, or that I didn’t feel guilty about it.