A Date With Chad Valentine

Chad is early. It's still only 7:50 pm. He gets out at the meeting spot on Central Park West and motions for his driver to circle the block three times before coming back.

From his Louis Vuitton wingtips with hand-painted soles, to the Prada suit and Burberry coat, to his triple-gusset briefcase with a single silver buckle, Chad Valentine is a real catch.

His hairline is uninterrupted perfection, with just the slightest hint of a widow's peak. He shaves once a week. His skin, an immaculate Mediterranean olive. His nose may be the weak link. It is something of a snout, but paired with the rest of his face, full lips, deep green eyes, it is perfection.

Chad is here on this chilly February night for a date with a beautiful girl from the Village. He got her number while out with some buddies from work, and she agreed to meet him. She emerges from the shadows of the park like a lost bird. She is uncommonly beautiful, and modestly dressed. Her face is dark and delicate.

He greets her in his familiar, jocular tenor.

"Hey, girl! How are you?" he asks.

She smiles and nods.

Chad sounds detached when he addresses her, but it's just Chad being Chad. He slurs like a snowboarder after too many spills, but it's just Chad being Chad. Something about him disarms the girls. He notices that she stares at him a lot. Chad is encouraged by this. He doesn't take himself too seriously. Girls like that. So many guys think they're special and try to prove it. If Chad is special, he already knows. He doesn't try to prove it.

He appraises her, leans in and kisses her on the cheek. He hands her a small gift from his briefcase. It's an ornate Swarovski heart crystal set in luxurious velvet. The girl pushes out her lower lip and bites it a little. She raises her eyebrows.

The car arrives.

At La Ciguena Blanca, the wait staff fall over themselves to please Chad on Valentine's Day. Each year, it's some new set of special requests. Tonight, their job is uncommonly easy and yet uncommonly hard, because Chad Valentine has reserved the entire restaurant. There is more awkward silence at his table than usual. Chad does this a lot, you see. He can have anything he wants, and he is a bit of an eccentric in that he usually gets it. But again, that's just Chad being Chad.

During first and second course, Chad brings up various topics - first about the weather, then society parties, a little sports, upcoming galas, fundraisers, fashion events. The topic at last turns to Chad's employ. In a meek voice, she asks him what he does for a living.

"I'm in securities." he answers. She raises her eyebrows again. A slight curl from the edge of her mouth. He laughs.

"What, are chicks interested in that stuff?" he asks. He genuinely wants to know.

She stays silent.

Chad looks confused. She shrugs and gives him a cute stare and Chad thinks the stare says 'come over and kiss me full on the mouth.' He stands up and leans down and just puts his lips on hers. They kiss awkwardly. He forces a little tongue in. He stands back suddenly, and sits back down.

"Nice!" he says, laughing. "Nice!" He dabs his temple with a handkerchief. He can't look her in the eye.

"Wow, it's hot in here, right?" he laughs. He laughs again, and then a little more more.

After a short stretch of eating, Chad continues.

"I'm just joking with you about chicks and work." he says. "Most chicks I know are bored by that stuff. You look like one of the smart ones. Okay. This is what I do: I bet on business. The cool thing is, if businesses go under or do well, I make money off that. You see? I mainly like to let my guys do the boring stuff. I like making deals. That's my thing. I make most of my deals at the gym."

Her face is lowered a bit, but her eyes are trained on him.

"You go to the gym?" he asks. "I can't tell. You got too many clothes on!"

He laughs again. The road is so icy that he's finding it harder and harder to steer.

She pantomimes umbrage by folding her arms across her chest and pouting. She can't hold the pose, though, as if it does not come naturally to her, so she drops her arms again. She bobs her head around and raises her eyebrows a few times. She does the duck face and holds out her palms as if to say, 'who knows?' in a kind of dramatic flourish. In that moment, she looks to Chad like the sexiest animal alive.

"I knew it!" Chad exclaims. He bucks around in his seat like a bull rider. He sounds like he just won a gold medal in a national surfing competition. "Aw yeah! You're one of those society ones, yeah? Well, you're cute, at least, right? I bet you think they're all bitches! Ha!"

He urges her some more. He is convinced he just got her to admit that she's cute, and he harps on her about that for a while. The game is on! He lives for the sparring. Her eyes remain fixed on him. He's loving that, too. The attention compels him to keep pushing.

"Yeah, hey!" he snaps his fingers toward the waiter. "Another Dom over here?"

The waiter looks startled and uncomfortable.

Third course comes and goes. Dessert comes and goes. Five bottles in, and Chad is finally getting his groove. He establishes a pattern with his date. He teases her, waits for a reaction, then pulls back and baits her into speaking a little bit. Her voice is slight, almost invisible. He fantasizes about her coming. Each time he has a thought about sex with her, he teases her.

He wants to tease her because that's what all guys who are successful with women do. A man who can tease a women, Chad knows, is like the male animal who gradual climbs over onto the female's back: it takes time, and it's sometimes uncomfortable, but it's all about getting into position. He takes turns teasing by focusing on a body part at a time, and makes soft fun. It's good that he's a funny guy. He breaks down her defenses and even gets her to stand and spin in place for him. He notices her pendant, and jokes, "what, some other guy give that to you?" His mouth hangs open as he waits for an answer, his face fixed between glee and revulsion.

She tells him that someone died and left it to her. Chad does not have a comeback for this, so he says "Oh." He changes the subject to her shoes. No doubt, she is quieter than the other girls but she is a challenge, and she seems to like him. He teases her some more about how quiet she is.

"What, like..." he starts in. "Like, did you like, say something stupid in class one day and then it was like..." he stops and lets the awkward silence make his point. He clucks his tongue a few times. "Or, was it..." he trails off.

He stops, then lifts up his arm and points a finger in the air.

"You gotta cute smile though." he laughs. "Anyone ever tell you that?"

Unflappable Chad is letting some of his frustration show. For the first time in his life, he's all pit stains and flop sweat, and for the first time all evening, a genuine smile crosses her face. Chad does not like to lose, and the first stone in the wall has just sort of unceremoniously tumbled out. Unfortunately for Chad, it is a keystone.


A bit later on that same night, Club Bonzai is filled to capacity. There are bronzed, cologne-anointed Gods lined across the bar. Most of the voices in the thick air emulate gorillas at the zoo - lots shouts and grunts and the sound of flesh smacking flesh. Heavy-browed lotharios are play-fighting, and the women who love them stand by and feign amusement. Snow flurries tumble and twist outside. Someone far off, a siren wails. Then, the whoop of a police car just outside. Some of the girls pry themselves from their men and peer out the door. The restaurant across the street, La Ciguena Blanca, is cordoned off in the familiar yellow and black.

Soon, the club's dance floor is empty. All the men have dropped their posturing and sidle by the women. Everyone feels suddenly small. The body is covered but they all know who it is. A single stretcher comes out from the back of the police wagon.

One girl yells for the DJ to turn the fucking Kanye down. A chorus of voices follow hers.

"No, turn it way down, you fucker. That's Chad out there. No, it's fucking him. 

"We know it is, so shut up! Shut up! What was he doing out there?"

"My buddy saw the body out there. He called the medics. Chad was wearing his pendant, the one he never takes off. There was no blood, no marks, nothing. It was fucking him."

"My girlfriend saw him wandering out of the park by himself at 8 pm, near Central Park West."

A shame, say the smoking girls on the sidewalk. A shame about Chad Valentine. What the fuck was he doing out there?

"Maybe it was just Chad being Chad."

Everyone laughs. And with that, the ice breaks, and the crowd dissolves and heads back inside.


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