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My modern Cinderella moment was nothing like the fairy tale

Elana Rabinowitz is a world traveler turned ESL teacher. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently writing her memoir.

Why do we always end up kissing the wrong person goodnight?

How did a 32-year-old nice Jewish girl from Brooklyn end up kissing her cab driver goodnight?

I had no intention of going to the end term work party although I was deserving of our annual work gala. I knew my pattern of drinking at open bars and opted to stay home instead but two sisters I worked with at the middle school convinced me it would be fun. I did love to dance and needed a distraction from a recent breakup so I put on my red dress with the cute red sandals and headed deep into Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.

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Sometime after I started slurring sweet nothings into my assistant principal’s ear like, “You don’t know what you’re missing,” and “I’m worth it,” my friends pulled me by my red flowered dress and took me outside.

“Take her home,” Lisa said to the young car service driver. She placed me in the back of the red Chevrolet.

“So, what’s your name?” She asked the driver in her best Brooklyn accent.

“Ant – Ta-nee,” he said. “Well Anthony, this is Elana. Take good care of her.” Lisa hugged me and walked away.

“I can’t believe he didn’t want me. I just can’t believe it,” I shouted at the driver. “Can you believe it?” I asked looking at his face through the mirror. He appeared attractive.

He turned around and looked at me. “No, Elana I can’t. Not for a minute,” he answered while smiling.

I realized I might not have enough money to pay for this luxury ride back to my Park Slope apartment and began rummaging through my bag for money. I started calculating my tab in my head. I had paid $65 at the door for the end term party, another $50 to get my hair done and $10 on mints and Tums. That did not leave much left over.

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I remembered last year’s party and the other women who made fools of themselves. Something about free drinks turned us all into savages. I tried elixirs I would’ve never put into my body if I had to pay for them. Cherry martinis, then apple ones. Fufu drinks with maraschino cherries on them, vodka concoctions and few specially crafted shots. I consumed these drinks within three hours, enough time I had hoped to get my boss's attention.

It took Anthony 18 minutes to drive from the bar to the corner of my apartment. I felt more rejected than I had in years and I simply had to be kissed by somebody that night. Time was ticking away.

I’d kissed strangers before. Friends of friends, New Year’s romances, Valentine’s Day emergencies. All of them served to fill some void. I slobbered a variety of men ranging from musicians to lawyers but never anyone who’s worked the night shift.

After rambling on about my rejection ad nauseam, the driver turned around with one hand on the wheel and said, “You’re beautiful, you know.” It was the compliment I needed. I asked him to stop across the street from my apartment where I knew he could park his vehicle by the fire hydrant. I unlocked the door and soon we were both in the back seat. I asked him to kiss me and like any good chauffeur he listened.

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Scratching static woke me up out of my haze. The company was calling for him for another pick-up. I realized I was not kissing my boss like I had fantasized; in fact, I had no idea who this man was sitting beside me. I sat there on cracked leather seats with a young man I had no attraction to. He reached in to kiss me and I told him he should pick up the next patron. I no longer needed to be kissed.

To this day I am not sure if I paid for the ride home. I was thankful we were interrupted before it went further. What I really wanted was a relationship. But sometimes, when you are single and rejected, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing that someone finds you desirable. Even if it means in the back seat of a red Chevrolet.

These days I don’t go to end of the year parties. Some boundaries I am no longer willing to cross.

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