May I have the attention of the class, please. Today's lesson: The art of being stealth.
Say you're sitting in a hotel lounge bar, enjoying the above average piano man and the company of friends who smoke. Since they're not allowed to do it indoors, they step out. You stay in to hold the fort and engage in some hunting and gathering. People watching. Yarn-spinning.
In the sofa set across from yours sits a man, a man five to ten years your junior, a man talking enthusiastically with a friend or colleague of his. You make note of his drink, how he's dressed, his demeanor. Imagine what he does for a living. Play around with options and scenarios. Snatch pieces of him. He makes note that you do.
Your friends return and you return your attention to them. When they step out again, and again, you step back into another world, the world of what ifs, with your play date. So the night evolves. His friend leaves but the man stays. And the roles are reversed. He is doing the watching, and suddenly you can't dive into the realm of fiction, you are too aware of the here and now and the fact the observer is being observed.
You excuse yourself and head for the ladies to be stopped on the way back by your watcher. He doesn't introduce himself. He doesn't ask your name. He says you have been checking him out all night. You admit you have. Now. This is where you insert a white lie. "Do I know you from somewhere?" Or, "You look like so-and-so. Are you?" Maybe even tell him the truth.
Think for too long and you may be told that they can see that you're married and so are they but they're not married in this town they're just visiting and staying in that same hotel and maybe you're not married in this town either and perhaps would like to spend the night with him instead of wherever you happen to be staying. Since you were checking him out and didn't even bother to deny it.
His adaptation is so far removed from yours that for another moment you say nothing. Then you regain your footing and find the words, the ones that tell him you thought you knew him but he's not the man you thought he was. Which is only the truth. In your version he was several things, just never a man in town on business who picked up a stranger in a hotel lounge bar, fucked her upstairs then called his wife to say goodnight.
A cautionary tale. Lest you be caught stealing. Do I have your word you will be more careful? I said, do I have your word? G o o d. As you were. As long as you promise you'll be more wily than I was.