Archive for June, 2010

Missy, part 2

20 Jun

I lay on the bed next to Missy’s smooth and well-formed torso.

The rest of her was there too, of course. Her legs, encased tightly in denim, tangled themselves with my legs, and her toes curled around mine. Two days later, I’d develop my first ever case of athlete’s foot.

Her head also lay next to mine, but her hair covered her features. I didn’t think too closely about her face; particularly, I didn’t think too closely about her mouth and the words coming out of it. When I kissed her mouth, there was almost nothing to kiss. I could feel my beard bristling back sharply against my lips, and I wondered with a sensation of slow, retrograde panic whether this is what every woman I’d kissed since I’d grown my beard had felt. I’d grown it originally as a breakup beard.

A few days earlier, I’d made the mistake of offhandedly mentioning that to Missy when she asked why I decided to grow it. She pulled me to the back of the club to talk about it. By which I mean she asked me to shave it. Earlier, she’d cooked buttered scallops with red wine for us, and she’d bought us tickets to see We Are Scientists, mostly because I had recognized one of their songs on the radio. They pulled in a small crowd. A band called Pirate opened. It was a local band, apparently her favorite, but I’d never heard of them. I knew the drummer by accident, but she was deeply impressed. He worked down the street from my house and sometimes he gave me free coffee. She’d put all this together for my birthday.

Another rule of internet dating is that if you’ve only been dating for a week and a half, don’t mention your birthday.

Her torso was perfect. I couldn’t ignore that. We’d spent the end of the evening making out, stopping awkwardly whenever anyone’s hands moved below the belt line.

It was becoming more difficult to ignore other aspects of her. She’d decorated her bedroom with wide-mouthed designer monkeys. Her only bookshelf, a tiny thing, held cookbooks, coffee table books, and nothing else. Earlier, she’d tried to make me watch Mamma Mia. I begged off on the grounds that it was my birthday and that I fucking hate ABBA.

She rolled off me and smiled.

“Did you have a good time tonight?” she asked.

“I did.” It’s true. I did. Mostly.

She’d put enormous effort into making the evening impressive, and I was impressed. Also, I was worried. We shared literally no common interests. She smiled and returned to whatever it was she’d been talking about. I had trouble paying attention. She talked a lot about ABBA, Pierce Brosnan, and Paul Frank. I tried so hard to care about any of it.

The beard thing was going to come up again.

Actually, technically, I’d shaved the beard once already and decided that, on reflection, I liked the way the beard hid most of my face. She found this particular sophism unpersuasive.

She wanted me to stay the night. She told me that insistently, with her arms around my neck, pressing her hips into mine. I claimed I wasn’t feeling well and left, thankful that she’d be flying for work for the next four days.



13 Jun

“So, what do you do?”

We’d met at a coffee bar called MoJoe  in the Short North. The Short North was her decision, not mine. I couldn’t afford to pay five bucks for a coffee, but I knew someone who worked at the bar. He’d get me my drinks for free, and I’d offer to pay for nothing. Buying people non-alcoholic drinks is a fool’s game.

Missy, apparently, worked as a flight attendant. It seemed plausible. Flight attendants are one of those professions that breed stereotypes; I’d always thought of them as being vaguely hot. Missy was vaguely hot.

She had wavy brown hair, a high forehead, and long, long legs. She also had greasy skin and unkissable, lipless lips that reminded me of Kenneth Branagh. Much later, I’d also discover she had a really awful habit of starting sentences with the phrase “I don’t want to sound racist, but.” These seven words are magical. They make anything said after them sound infinitely more racist than it otherwise would, and this property extends to otherwise innocuous utterances. “I don’t want to sound racist, but I really prefer Coke to Pepsi,” etc. She didn’t say anything violently horrible; it was the genteel racism of the lately suburban. She and her doughy, awkwardly bearded roommate lived together in a barren neighborhood near the Arena District. No one else lived near her apartment.

I coughed. Usually the employment question isn’t the first question, but it’s an early one. I wasn’t prepared for it. I should have been. Literally every other woman I’d dated had asked me at some point. Another rule of internet dating is to learn from your past mistakes, but I wasn’t particularly interested in learning right now. She wore a one-piece grey dress with a deeply scooped neck, so mostly I was interested in her cleavage. I remembered she’d asked me something.

“I’m a writer,” I said, and prayed she didn’t ask me where I’d been published. Strictly speaking, what I’d told her wasn’t untrue. I did know how to write, and I had a short story stashed away that could corroborate my claims. I just hadn’t written anything in a while, and I’d never made any money from what I’d written. I noticed a tattoo on her foot and steered the conversation in that direction.

Her foot bore a stylized bee with a dot trail behind it, and she talked about but did not show me her butterfly tramp stamp. (I’d see it later, after we shirtlessly dry-humped on her sofa. It looked like a butterfly). Previously, I’d considered tattoos to be nearly universally hot. However, the tattoos I’d thought were hot were also not boring. (Another, perhaps less-universal rule of internet dating is do not date people with tramp stamps. I don’t advise this because tramp stamps are demonstrably awful; rather, it’s because people who are physical advertisements for their own bad judgment should be avoided).

The conversation persisted for hours. I’ve no memory of how that happened or what we talked about. She wasn’t particularly fascinating. Neither was I, but we didn’t horrify each other, and that was something. She invited me back to her apartment, casually mentioning that she waited a long time to sleep with someone new because she easily became emotionally involved.

Here is another rule of internet dating: Listen carefully to what people tell you about themselves.


Strange Interlude

07 Jun

I wait longer to update here when I bump up against the edges of things I don’t want to talk about very much. Two things—er, people—who I don’t want to talk about very much are Rachel and Polly. These are fake names. I came up with them using a random name generator I found on the internet. The internet is good for that sort of thing. A few days ago Rachel yelled at me because she’d thought I named her Polly. People end up with names that suit them.

Rachel and Polly both (I think) wanted to marry me, and in order to avoid that decision, I fled to a different hemisphere. As far as buffer zones go, I think the Pacific Ocean works well. It’s big and deep and intimidating. Generally you need a navy if you want to cause serious problems for someone on the other side of it.

Of course, this assumption screams arrogance. For her part, Rachel never mentioned the word marriage. We’d just been together off and on for years, and my internal sense of purpose (personified as a drunken, leering dwarf with an evangelical scowl and a cavalry uniform) reasoned with me thusly: Marriage is what people do after they’ve been together for a long time. The other thing they do instead of marry is break up. Therefore, I should do one of those two things. Rachel and I broke up. My internal sense of purpose is an asshole.

Polly mentioned marriage. A lot. Insistently. In retrospect, I don’t think she wanted to marry me so much as she wanted to marry someone, as she required a father figure for her daughter and a supplementary income to fund the picket-fenced bungalow she dreamed of. At that time, I remained an acceptable prospect.

I left the country, disappointing Polly and breaking Rachel’s heart. In the meantime, Rachel went to graduate school and became a librarian. Polly hung on to her old school, teaching a few classes, and married someone from the reference library. She sent me a wedding invitation, mostly, I think, because I wouldn’t be able to go. By the time I came back to the country, Rachel had moved to a different city and Polly had married.

My internet dating began in large part to cope with these things. My perception of time seems different from other people’s. Everything moves more slowly for me, and I have a constant and incorrect assumption that I’ll always have more time to fix things, or maybe to undo decisions I regret. Such were my beliefs concerning Rachel and Polly. People call this sort of thing baggage.

Here is another rule of internet dating: Everyone on a dating site has baggage. (Possibly that sentence could be amended to “Everyone has baggage,” but I’ll leave it). The attainable goal here is not to find someone without baggage; rather, the best you can hope for is to find someone with matching luggage.

After Beth and Ann, I started to realize some ugly things about myself. I became aware that although Beth was shallow, boring, and utterly self-absorbed, I’d still be happier to see a new email from her than I would from Ann. This happiness had as its entire source the comparative hotness of Beth’s ass, and in privately admitting the truth of this, I also admitted that possibly I was someone that other people should not date. I decided I would make an effort to broaden my horizons. Indifferently, I answered an email from a smiling woman named Missy.