Is It Hot In Here Or What?

She laughed when she entered the café and saw me wearing the fuzzy red sweater. “Every time you wear that it reminds me of the time you went out with Brian…”

We both began laughing uncontrollably. It was a couple of years ago. There was a group of us that loved to hear live bands. Folk, blues, rock, alternative, punk, it really didn’t matter – the thrill of hearing the music, watching the musicians, dancing. On one particular night we visited a small, rather cozy performance space at the Hotel Utah. Our group of four females was virtually the entire audience. The band, one we had never heard before, but one of the gals had heard of, warmed up as if they were playing to a full house. “Check, check, one, two, three.” The mics were ready. The guys were warm. The music began.

It was our own private dance party. We had the whole floor to ourselves; they played to us. There was eye contact, there were winks, there were dedications. And at the end of the evening, there were phone numbers exchanged.

Brian, the bass player, called me a few days later. We made plans to have dinner together the following Sunday night.

I spent that weekend white water rafting, camping in the wilderness 5 hours north of the Bay Area. I returned home to learn my car had been towed, because the street in front of my apartment had been used for a street festival that day. I hurried down to the police station, retrieved my car, then pampered myself with a massage. I was feeling unusually sore and achy which I unthinkingly attributed to the white water rafting trip. We had been paddling for 3 days.

This was in July. For those not familiar with San Francisco, July is one of the coldest months here. Really. Having lived here for so many years, I know the cardinal rule of going out – layer. For some odd reason, I chose to ignore that rule that night. I tend to always get chilled, so I chose one of my warmest, cutest outfits. My fuzzy red sweater and black capri pants. Brian had made reservations at Park Chow – a scrumptious, cozy restaurant near Golden Gate Park. We waited a few extra minutes so that we could be seated next to the large fireplace, the table basking in the warm glow of the flickering flames.

Over appetizers we made small talk. The usual stuff – our jobs, where we grew up, what we like to do in our free time. I was seated closest to the fire, and felt myself growing unusually warm. I’m never warm. But, having ignored my own cardinal rule of layering, I had nothing to peel off. When the entrees arrived, I wasn’t simply warm anymore, I was hot. And sweating. I felt beads of perspiration running down my face. Whenever Brian looked down to take a bite of food, I tried to inconspicuously wipe my face. I don’t think I accomplished my goal of inconspicuousness. By the end of the meal, I could feel the heat radiating not just from my face, but from my whole body. What was going on? I tried to act as if this were quite normal, but I could tell by his glances that he noticed something was awry.

As we exited, I welcomed the chill air against my damp face, greeted the snapping wind like an old friend. As Brian hurried to the car to escape the chilly bitterness, I slowly sauntered, relishing the cooling of my body. He drove me back to my apartment, but I dared not give him a goodnight hug, much less a kiss, for the sweating had begun again. I could feel tendrils forming along my hairline from the dampness I was emitting.

As I brushed my teeth that night, I spied a thermometer in my medicine cabinet. Just out of curiosity, I took my temperature. One hundred and three. No wonder I was sweating! I tossed and turned all night, burrowing under my down comforter, then tossing it aside, heating up, then cooling off. By noon the next day my fever had broken. In a matter of days I felt back to my normal self. I never told Brian, though, that that was the reason I was sweating profusely. I could never think of a graceful way to broach the topic. We talked a few more times on the phone, saw each other at concerts, exchanged pleasantries, but never went out on a date again. But now, whenever I wear the red fuzzy sweater, I get a little bit flushed…

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