I'm sweating and laughing and being swung around the dance floor like a happy rag doll. My body has reached that beautiful stage where alcohol, great music and chemistry leave no room for self-consciousness. Anthony is very sexy and knows how to dance. I'm experiencing that intense feeling of being completely lost in the music and in his arms. We've just met, in an unusual way. His sister-in-law came up to me to explain that Anthony had "spotted" me but was too nervous to approach me.
I'd noticed him looking at me but didn't think much of it. When I looked over as she pointed him out, he looked equally uncomfortable with the weird set-up, but made his way over and asked me to dance. He's a little old for my taste, but I figured what the heck.
After well over an hour on the dance floor we decide to take a reprieve. We grab a private table to have a drink and talk for the first time that night.
"I'm having such a good time," he laughs, breathless. He has a twinkle in his eye and perfect teeth. As he reaches over to move aside a strand of sweaty hair from my neck I feel a current run through my body. Yummy.
"I can't wait to tell the guys at the office about the beautiful girl I got to dance with tonight," he says with a sly grin. We look at each other and both break out in loud, drunken laugher.
After all the crappy guys, this feels exciting. I feel like shouting that line from the L'Oréal commercial, "...and I'm worth it."
After another hour of laughter and getting to know each other, a calm moment of silence is suddenly broken. "Chaka, I have to be honest with you," he smiles nervously, then leans over as if he's about to tell me a secret he's never told anyone else.
Like a bird flying into a glass window, I'm stunned into sobriety.
I feel the excitement sweep out of my body like air from a deflated toy. After a few moments of complete silence, I lean back and begin scanning the room for one of my girlfriends.
The look of sudden disappointment and rejection on my face sets him off into the classic speech.
"I'm really only married in name. The marriage has been over for a long time. We don't even sleep in the same bed. I'm just staying for the kids."
Kids? This is getting better by the minute. "How many children do you have?" I ask.
"Two and a half beautiful babies. They're what keeps me there," he replies, a proud-papa expression on his face.
"Two and a half?" I ask, confused.
Now I'm disgusted. I begin to feel like I'm in some weird reality show.
I have no words.
"I'm only being honest with you because you're the first woman I've met in years who I've felt this connection with. I didn't even want to be here, but my brother and sister-in-law are so tired of seeing me depressed, they practically dragged me here." He pauses, then gives me a pathetic look.
I have to hand it to him. He's painted himself as a victim of a bad marriage very well in only 10 minutes.
I don't know what to say so I try the old "I'll be right back" bit. I march through the club to grab my friend and pull her into the washroom.
"We have to leave," I blurt out when all of a sudden, married man's sister-in-law comes in.
"I know this is going to sound weird, but Anthony just came back to our table," the sister-in-law says, then pauses dramatically. "I guess he told you he was married.
"I know this sounds bad, but Anthony is a great guy stuck in a horrible marriage. His wife is the biggest bitch you will ever meet. He's just too honourable to leave her, even though all his friends and the entire family are trying to tell him he deserves better."
My friend glances over at me in shock. I glance back in more shock.
The sister-in-law writes a number down on a piece of paper towel and hands it to me. I look at the number in disbelief. This is one determined woman. What kind of family is this?
"Think about it," she says, giving me a stern, sincere glance before abruptly walking out.
At home, I furiously pull out the piece of paper with his number. I begin to rip it in half when something weird comes over me.
This is the first guy I've had this kind of chemistry with for a while. Maybe this is something I need, a man who can give me attention and romance with no strings attached. He's in an unhappy relationship; I'm tired of having no relationship. I put the number aside. I need some time to think.
A few days later, I still haven't called, but I'm thinking, who would it hurt if I just let this man wine and dine me for a while, then cut it off and move on?
Jumping up from the couch where I lie berating myself for even entertaining these thoughts, I find the telephone number, pick up the phone and dial. The answering machine comes on: "Hello. You have reached Anthony's cell."
I hang up before I can leave a message. I rip the number up as fast as I can so I can't think about calling again. When it's ripped into incredibly tiny pieces so that I can never put it back together, I still don't feel great. But I decide in that moment that I will not be reduced to being the girl who can only call the cellphone because my boyfriend has a wife.
I also figure it's a good idea not to get involved with a man whose sister-in-law is also his pimp.