We locked eyes through the steamy eucalyptus mist, wrapped in our nubby cotton towels. I was breathless and shivering from a plunge in the ice pool, and his face was rosy from the steam room.
My fellow bather at the Russian Baths had a cropped beard and familiar, quirky smile that quickly placed him in my mind.
Five months prior I was wandering Orchard Street. I stopped to examine the menu of a Georgian restaurant, and heard a voice from over my shoulder,
“It’s good, but I know a better spot.”
Beside me on the sidewalk was a man, carefully holding a duffel with a little dog peeking out of the mesh window. After a bit of chit-chat the restaurant critique turned into an invitation. Never one to decline an offer of dinner with a stranger, the next week I found myself learning about his background as a restaurateur in Israel over coma-inducing cheese bread and a bottle of Georgian wine.
As it was election season, the most logical way to end a romantic evening was to watch candidates throw verbal punches. Despite his suggestion to watch the debate on his couch in the company of Lucy, his terrier, we ended up at a Mexican bar.
Amidst personal jabs between Hillary and Trump, his hand hand slipped to my thigh. As Hillary delivered her last punch and the crowds applauded, he leaned in for a kiss.
Maybe it was the cheese bread, but I had a feeling in my gut that this fun encounter had run its course for the evening and declined his second invitation to “meet the pup”.
Outside the sauna we wished each other a happy new year and said goodbye. We were both upset about the results of the election, but he told me Lucy was doing well.