“There’s something to be said for letting it simmer. An instant grit is a bad thing.”
This, apparently, is a lesson I have yet to learn as evidenced by my latest brief foray into dating. Pretty sure it’s related to more than my ineptitude in the kitchen (did you know baking soda and baking powder are two different things?!). More than likely it’s this crazy compulsion of mine to embrace the moment, to Carpe the hell out of the Diem, but then in the true curse of an active mind I overthink the after, the what comes next part. It’s part of my self-sabotage pattern. The beginning had all the trappings of a memorable start, the “meet-cute” of Hollywood romances. I prefer George Romero and some old fashion brain sucking cinema but still I was intrigued. Can I just mention that I was the only one in pirate costume at what I was told was a pirate themed birthday party? Shiver me timbers and never be afraid to play the fool for they are usually the wisest in the room. Or at least the ones having the most fun. Embrace the moment. He was the last to arrive, breezing in all swarthy with a lopsided smirk and booming baritone voice. Crap, I thought to myself, though it may have been a bit more vulgar. I’ve always been a sucker for a good voice. Throw in an accent and you’ll have to mop up the puddle on the floor I will have just become. I thought I’d be caught staring at his lips while I pondered how utterably kissable they looked. When I changed from the puffy pirate shirt to a better fitting novelty T-Shirt he said “Nice”. The girl in my head asked The shirt or my rack? but I tried to keep it nonchalant. After all, this is the friend of a friend and that could get messy. Just a dude with a beautiful timbre that perhaps I might meet again.
But then a few days went by and I found myself still intrigued. This one had leapt to life in my head like no one had in many years. It was all the maybes, all the possibilities. He had an actual personality and my curiosity won out. I violated the “let him ask and feel like a man” rule. Again. Because:
- It’s a stupid rule
- My life is not a game of Monopoly.
- I’m not the kind of girl that walks into a room and gets noticed right away.
An ex once told me I was pretty but I’d never be the prettiest girl in the room. I know, screw that guy, but he’s right. I’m nothing if not pragmatic. I blend in. I’d make a great spy because I look a little like someone everyone knows (Are you related to…? No. Did you go to school at …? No.) I have to demand to be noticed. If I don’t do the asking I don’t get asked. End of story. So, I asked:
It was a pleasure to meet you the other night. I find myself intrigued after our short introduction which is something that doesn’t happen readily these days since the general living of life has made me a tithing member of the Church of Hard Core Cynicism. But I sense you might be a member too, eh? Plus I dig the tenor of your voice. I have a thing for men who sound like men. Would you perhaps like to meet again, only without the excess people? It’s ok to say no. I’m an adult far past taking “not interested” personally from someone I just met. But its better if you say yes. I’ve just found that the only chances I’ve regretted are the ones I didn’t take and I’m having a bold kind of week all around. So. Say yes.
I mean, how could anyone say no? I’m awesome.
And then he surprised me by actually saying yes. In a true sign of the times a flurry of texting commenced and we agreed on Thursday night drinks at a quiet bar. That seemed low pressure enough. A drink, a little conversation. We both go home knowing if it was merely a friendly chat or perhaps more. And then the tuba showed up. Yes. Not a misprint. TUBA. See: large brass instrument. And not just the tuba, it was accompanied by an entire set of slide trombones and one large drum set. It was like the local high school brass ensemble decided to get a little practice in at the corner of the bar. Embrace the moment. And the moment became very real. Nothing like a bombastic tuba to make a moment real. Suddenly I didn’t have to try to remember how to flirt. The music forced me to lean in and my body took over. It remembered for me. I squared myself to him, hand on his leg to brace as I turned an ear to his mouth to hear. His hand grazed my arm, return signals. The simmer began. I hadn’t allowed myself this in so long, the thrill of a possibility. The flush of real flirting, all tingle and awkward pause tinged with excitement.
We exited to a rousing rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In,” the notes pushing us out into the steamy July air. Suddenly we’re talking and holding hands and I don’t remember how it happened, only that I’m disappointed when he lets go to reach in his pocket. At the exact moment the girl in my head asks “So are we shaking hands or is he going to bury his hands in my hair and kiss me already?” he does. Oh. Kissing. I remember this. It’s nice. For a second I don’t really feel anything besides “Huh. Nice.” No fireworks. No butterflies. But then he kisses me again and my skin lights up and I get lost in the moment. I Carpe the Damn Diem. We’re making out in a public parking lot like I’m 17 again and I’m living in it. These are the created moments to live in, to revel in, to swim within. There is only this, these arms wrapped around me, meaty fingers wound in my hair. That baritone is in my ear telling me he believes our houses are equidistant and something in me cracks wide open. I’m a slut for a good vocabulary but it’s more than that. That voice is deep and commanding, the simmer is beginning to boil. I contemplate being the good girl and saying no, knowing I’m about to fall in to the same old pattern. I lie to myself and say the clothes will stay on. But then the 15 year old girl that used to sneak out her bedroom window and jump off the roof chimes in, takes over. I could have stopped it with a make out session on the couch at least. But frankly, my couch is missing a screw and I can’t afford a new one if it breaks (see, I was being frugal). So I let the simmer boil over. I swim in the moment, letting the stream of sensation take over. It was a good first date, one I won’t forget like countless others.
But then came the after. A couple of weeks of half answered texts, one more visit to my door. When I lay there reveling in the sheer hope and possibility I really didn’t know if I cared for him yet but I thought I could. It was just that, a possibility. Enough to scare a serious commitment phobe such as myself. I made the mistake of being honest, trying the whole “why not” open approach and saying exactly that. Which he seemed to take as white picket fence and a dog dreams. I believe in words and I use the ones I mean. I truly meant “I think I could” not that I was all a twitter and picking china patterns. The responses became fewer. The silences stretched out. I tried the honest tactic because I’m an adult. Silences aren’t answers. They’re voids to fill with misbegotten excuses and pretend rationalizations. I said if it were to be just a lovely brief interlude so be it but I would not be the only one that appeared interested. The reassurance rang out, “I’m interested, I’m just busy.” I forgot to follow the basic tenets of the single girl bible:
I own this book FOR A REASON. Sometimes I need a reminder that I don’t tolerate bullshit. Hi, I highlighted this thing several years ago. In many places
Including this gem:
The word ‘busy’ is a load of crap and is most often used by assholes. The word ‘busy’ is the relationship Weapon of Mass Destruction. It seems like a good excuse, but in fact, in every silo you uncover, all you’re going to find is a man who didn’t care enough to call. Remember: Men are never too busy to get what they want.
-Behrendt and Tuccillo
So, he didn’t really want me. Somehow super awesome me was not awesome enough. Just to Freudian slip the point, the last time I saw him in person he was working the “OK to Drink” Thumbs Up stamp at a festival….. which he then proceeded to accidentally stamp as a thumbs down ON MY FOREHEAD. Who doesn’t love a visual metaphor? I got to try to explain that at every vendor booth that day. If I used hashtags here’s where I would say #can’tmakethisshitup.
I was angry for a nanosecond because he didn’t take the time to learn how awesome I really am. Well, more frustrated than angry. I had my millisecond of feeling like “What the f@#$ is wrong with me? Why wouldn’t he want to find out more? In what way am I unworthy?” Then I took a moment to be angry at myself for thinking such things. I railed against letting myself hope and embrace the possibility. But why shouldn’t I hope? Isn’t that what truly drives us all? The hope to have an ocean of moments to swim within? If nothing else, I got some very swimmable moments from this lovely brief interlude. And perhaps this time I learned my lesson. Maybe I’ll learn to simmer. Maybe.