What happens next, I'm proud of: I walk up to them and say, calmly, "Excuse me." She's got the balls to be surprised to see me. I hand her back her mixtape, and the cheap-ass vodka, and say, "Goodbye." And I walk away - first to settle our tab and say goodbye to @Soulcamp at the bar, and then up the 25+ blocks to my brothers Jason and Kev-Fu's apartment, where I'd have two Whiskey & Cokes to settle me down. As I'm leaving the parking lot, she texts me: "meant no harm." I take 10 seconds for my reply: Sure you didn't.
There was actually an epilogue to this: for a month or two after this, she'd send me text messages, maybe not daily, but every other day: the tone would vary from vaguely annoyed ("Come on, Art") to vaguely friendly ("Hey, how's it goin'?"). Finally, she decided to call me one afternoon. After another few seconds of vagueness, I just let her have it.
"I thought I said goodbye," I told her. Several awkward seconds later - on her part - she hung up. The weird thing about the moment was the feeling of something leaving me. I felt ... lighter. That feeling hasn't entirely gone away since.
Fast-forward to a couple of weeks ago, outside a favorite coffee haunt of mine, when I hear a slight "Oh my God" from my left. I can't tell you if I actually heard it or I just felt like somebody was or should have been saying it, but there she was. I excused myself from my friends and walked up to her.
"I thought I sensed a disturbance in The Force," I said. We walked around the corner and finally, she let me have it.
"I'm sorry," she said. "I acted like a cad." And I thanked her, sincerely.
In the days since, she's gone back to sending vague texts ("How's yr day?") but we haven't met up again. In a perverse way, I wonder if the psychology of modern "dating" is actually protecting me: if I express interest in grabbing coffee or something, she'll back off, and not contact me for a few days. Then the cycle, such as it is, begins again.
But it's more likely she doesn't really care. And maybe I shouldn't, either.