Thursday, October 22, 2009

A slightly re-written oldie.

"Thank you for a lovely evening," she tells me, her hand rummaging through her purse for her keys but her eyes never leaving mine.

"It was my pleasure." I smile and allocate all available charm to my reflexively adoring gaze.

"Would you like to come in for a coffee?"

The world stops. I stare. Goddammit, I stare. It's a stupid thing to do and it's sort of a nervous tic, I guess, something I do when I'm not quite sure what the hell I should do in any given situation. I stare at her nose and I look at its just-gradual-enough slope and I think of how wonderful that would feel against my neck or how terrific it would be to have in my ear as she nibbles on my lobe. I look at her eyes and I imagine the flash of brightness if I say yes and go on in and I think about how lovingly they will look at me when she awakes to find I've prepared a Denver omelet for her. I look at her mouth, her perfect little mouth and I think of how wonderful her lips would taste and the mildly sheepish—is that the word, sheepish?—grin that she'll offer in the morning when she awakes to see that I am still fast asleep, cradling her perfectly proportionate frame.

And then, for a split second, I see my reflection in the tiny little window at the top of her front door. I examine myself and see the pang of guilt that would manifest behind my eyes if I walked in the house and stayed the night with her when I'm still in love with you.

"You know, I really want to, I do, but I can't. I've got work early tomorrow and I'll be up all night if I have any caffeine." I go with the Unaware Of What She's Actually Saying card. Always a classic.

"Up all night is the idea, Hank."

"I'm sorry." And I really, really am. The burgeoning erection I'm trying to conceal by keeping my hands in my pockets is damning proof of just how sorry I am.

"Look," she says, her demeanor changing from playfully coy to uncomfortably aggressive, "I want you. I have since that first day you saw me at the bookstore. I know it's not really, you know, ladylike"—she spits the word like it was a racial slur—"but I think it's really important to be honest. Bold, even. So there you have it."

I'm shocked. I am taken aback. A beautiful girl is borderline demanding I go inside her house with her, presumably to have intimate relations (a horrible phrase, but it'll have to do until I can have a cold shower) and I'm actually hesitating.

Here's the main concern: you never did anything like this. Even when we were dating, it was still a game. Lots of longing looks and playing with your hair and all of the other things you made it clear that I needed to do before we could mess around. Nothing was ever spoken; I just learned from what I saw and followed my own instincts, which, of course, generally proved to be wrong. You and I never talked about it, and here this girl is offering me postmodern sex.

She wants honesty? Here's some goddamn honesty for her.

"I'm in love with someone else." There it is. Bomb released. I wait for it to explode her confident posturing and I wait, as I anticipate just what I'm going to say to make her feel better and what I'm going to tell myself to feel like less of an asshole for turning something down because of an outdated, possibly even archaic system of ethics, when something odd happens: she laughs. She laughs and she laughs and she laughs and I can't tell if she's laughing at me in general or at what I said or the sheer dramatic pragmatism of my statement or if she's imagining what I would look like after she has flayed me with a spiked bicycle chain.

"Hank," she says, "we're all in love with someone else."