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Archive for August, 2010

Katie, part 2

30 Aug

Kevin pulled back from me. “You, sir, have extremely soft lips.”

It’s true. I have extremely soft lips.

The others at our table had been spinning an empty beer bottle for the usual reasons people spin bottles. That is, to have an excuse to make out with other people of varying levels of acquaintanceship and also to have an excuse to empty more bottles. These goals complement one another with a rare and perfect symbiosis. I chose to play, partly out of nostalgia and partly because the odds favored me. No other males besides us sat at the table. The shapely and fashionable asses of any number of attractive girls surrounded us, and I wanted to kiss the lips that belonged to them. I say “any number” because I don’t remember what that number was, but it exceeded two by a comfortable margin. Not to mention that Kevin remained very publicly romantically entwined, so the genuinely available options at the table amounted to me. My luck felt good. Also, I wanted to be drunk, and Kevin kept buying my drinks.

Here is another rule of internet dating: Never believe your luck is good. An addendum to that rule is that in particular, you should never believe your luck is good while you’re in Dayton, Ohio. An addendum to that is that if, for some reason, you have to be in Dayton, Ohio, you might as well be drunk.

Kevin had spun the bottle. It wobbled through a spot of spilled beer, dampening the label and dragging down its spin. It stopped, pointing at me. I looked up into half a dozen expectant faces. These girls played spin the bottle with uncompromising rules. I thought about times I’d seen unquestionably straight girls make out with one another to the end of making as many guys in the room as horny as possible. Its effectiveness as a tactic was undeniable. Kevin and I looked at each other and shrugged. We leaned toward each other.

Katie had just arrived, tipsy already, pouting and tapping her lips. For the moment, everyone’s attention stayed focused on Kevin and me. Katie wanted that attention focused on her. She swayed with pickled confidence on thin legs crammed into skinny jeans and pointy-toed boots. Her long brown hair framed a pleasantly curved face and glasses with thick rims. Clearly she was one of those (one of us) who’d put on weight after high school, except instead of thickening uniformly, she’d put it all on between her shoulders and waist. It reminded me of a tube of toothpaste someone had squeezed hard at the bottom. Katie demanded a kiss from everyone present. For some reason, I thought she was pretty.

Kevin refused her, looking away and loudly wondering where Anna had gone. Later at his house, he would tell me that Katie had pursued him for months, trying to pry him away from Anna. He told me about her late night phone calls, her constant attempts to get him alone, her casual contempt for Anna. He neglected to tell me, as did any of the two dozen or so people who could have told me, that she had a boyfriend of her own. You see, if I’d known that, I would be less useful as a distraction.

Katie moved on to me.

“Who are you?” Without waiting for me to respond, she pulled my head toward hers and kissed me.

 
 

Later Still

25 Aug

Sorry, everyone. Life is happening, as it has a bad habit of doing. Regular updates will resume this weekend. Pinky swear.

 
 

Late

23 Aug

The new post will be up tomorrow.

 
 

Katie

16 Aug

I was back in Dayton, watching hipsters dance.

Hipsters, with few exceptions, don’t really dance. Generally they have to be drunk for it to happen even as such. (For this purpose, Pabst Blue Ribbon is considered extremely correct). Girls, the ones who are more elfin and drunken, aggregate in the middle of the dance floor and bop along with the one or two guys who are lithe and wan enough to look appropriate. Probably they are wearing skinny-legged jeans. The rest of them, guys and girls, the ones with thick-rimmed glasses and PBR bodies, lurk on the periphery. If there is a band, possibly they will nod their unsmiling heads in general consensus that yes, there is a band, and it is on the stage.

That night, there was no band.

Over the last several weeks, I’d spent most of my time emailing Polly. These were long emails, heartfelt and detailed and lonely and desperate. I had nothing better to do with my time and let myself believe she had nothing better to do with hers.

Sending out my daily resume and cover letter took only an hour or so, and there were endless menacing and idle hours left to kill. Probably I could have sent out more, but looking for work is very like dating. Continual rejection becomes exhausting, much more so than staring at the ceiling or making cats chase lasers. So I emailed Polly every day, waiting longer and longer for her to email me back. My account on Match went idle. Here is another rule of dating: If an email takes you longer than an hour to write, delete it. Have a drink instead. Sometimes the drinks belong to your roommates rather than you, but sacrifices must be made.

Earlier that day, Jason’s friend Kevin and his girlfriend Anna had come to visit. Kevin, a pleasantly bearded nerd, had a large tattoo of Samus Aran covering his shoulder and upper chest. Anna was neurotic and shaggy-headed, the sort of person who gets outline tattoos of Ohio. They’d dated once when they were teenagers, breaking up after inflicting truly horrible adolescent damage on one another. As adults, they were together again and engaged, which was obviously and enormously unwise. They’d break up again in four months. I got along with both of them. They invited me back to Dayton to go out with them. I hadn’t been outside in almost a week.

We were at some sort of diner . . . club . . . place. Someone had named it The Pearl. Inside were dancers and cheap Long Island Iced Teas in small plastic cups, and outside were Kevin, Anna, and the half-dozen or so people I barely knew sitting around a table. Although I wore a variant of hipster uniform, corduroys and a thrift-store t-shirt, all meant to camouflage, I felt the terror of imminent exposure. I couldn’t fix my own bike and I kind of hated PBR. Belle and Sebastian were no longer a current topic of conversation; I felt reasonably sure of that much. I made the decision to aggressively steer any potential music conversation in the direction of Nick Cave and Daft Punk. They weren’t current, but they were also as correct and as controversial as George Washington. Appearances must be maintained. Kevin offered to buy me some drinks. Gratefully, I accepted.

His friends were girls mostly, all intimidatingly attractive and all aware of their attractiveness. Kevin told me their names. Immediately, I forgot them. Someone’s phone rang. That someone announced the imminent arrival of a Katie. Kevin’s face closed off. Anna got up went into the bar in a huff. She huffed a stealth huff, the sort of huff that is aimed at one person in particular. It is not intended to be noticed by the group at large. Kevin chose not to follow her inside. Undoubtedly, later he would pay dearly. I watched all this with strictly anthropological interest.

Katie arrived. She caught Kevin’s eyes and tapped her lips with one finger, demanding a kiss.

 
 

End of Interlude

09 Aug

Polly lay on her back, still perceptibly shuddering. Her head was turned to the left, her eyes were closed, and her breath was already slowing down.

We’d pushed her white lace skirt up to her hips and her shirt up to her shoulders.  My shirt had landed on the floor among the debris that previously had formed an orderly layer on her guest bed. I don’t completely remember what it was. The debris, I mean. Pictures in frames, maybe. That seems plausible. Other things were occupying my attention. She’d wordlessly pulled me behind her down the stairs to the guest room with the silent understanding that her room was off limits, at least for this. With quiet, panting efficiency, we removed everything from the bed to the floor and stripped the comforter back from the sheets.  For the next half hour, we vocalized only in unformed syllables. Once we had achieved a practical level of semi-nudity, we’d stopped, as though by keeping our clothes by some loose definition “on,” we were not naked.

I rested my head on her thigh. I looked at her face. Her eyes were closed. I reached up to kiss her, and I reached down to my waist to unbuckle.

“No,” she said, flush with post-orgasmic sincerity. “I don’t want to be the sort of girl who cheats on her husband.” I looked at her, incredulous, speechless, and watched as she stood up. Absently, I remembered an article I’d read once. The author, a gay man writing about dating closeted men, talked at length about his sex strategy. You see, he’d learned it was a mistake to let his partner come first. Whenever that happened, the closet case in question would revert to heteronormative sexuality so fast that his shrill recriminations Doppler shifted, and the writer was left holding his dick. So to speak.

Polly replaced her glasses, and gravity pulled her clothes back down her slim body, leaving her looking just as she had before I’d arrived. She smoothed her hair. Maybe her top, a sleeveless Hello Kitty affair, was slightly more rumpled than it had been. She smiled at me, the one who was still half-naked.

I needed to assert myself. “Well, um,” I said, gesturing slowly and yet incoherently. “I thought we would, y’know,” and trailed off. That was what I said.

What I meant was, “What the fucking fuck.”

Still fully clothed, she smiled at me again and reached a soft hand out to touch me. Reluctantly, she got me where I was going. Where I was going turned out to be somewhere different from where I’d thought I was going. I’d have a long time to get used to it. We stripped the bed and she put the sheets in the washing machine. I thought to ask what she’d say if her husband thought to ask why she had decided to wash the presumably clean sheets on a presumably unused bed.

“Oh,” she said. “I’ve been meaning to clean those sheets for a while.” I supposed that was true.

Also, people who are not on the internet lie. Often we lie by saying things that are, at minimum, strictly factual. We had not gotten naked together, it was true. She had been meaning to clean those sheets for a while. I had not fucked her.

That isn’t what I thought about while I drove from Dayton to Columbus. I didn’t think about the time we spent in the guest bed either. What I thought about was Polly lying in the sun and knowing that in a minute or two she would take my hand and lead me downstairs.

I wouldn’t be able to afford gas for two weeks. I did think about that briefly, but I decided not to care.

 
 

Interlude 2

04 Aug

Ramona:

Ramona reminded me that people on the internet lie. Even the most honest pursue a strategy of deliberate omission, and Ramona was not the most honest. She lived on Craigslist (I’d been slumming in w4m while I massaged my brutalized ego and wallet between Match dates) and resided in Dayton, where she worked as something white collar in a capacity involving typing. In our emails, she mentioned that she’d written a series of fantasy novels, and I did my best to be impressed. We met at BD’s Mongolian barbecue, where I experienced a series of unpleasant revelations. The most obvious was that her current photo represented a generous twenty-five pounds of wishful thinking.

No doubt my criticism comes off as fattist and shallow. Here is a secret: it is. My feeble and only defense is that the truth would not have precluded a date.

She’d also obscured the crescent of unignorable acne that bearded her face down from the corners of her mouth. We struggled to find anything to talk about; mostly we discussed her diabetes while she fought an intermittent duel with the buffet. Her roommate had dropped her off for her date, and it was up to me to transport her anywhere else. I drove her home, and I as I followed her directions, they became uncomfortably familiar. At her direction, we turned down a street I knew well, and I dropped her off at a house abutting Polly’s back yard. I’d be back there the following afternoon to have lunch with Polly.

Sometimes, when you see a person for the first time, or for the first time that moment, a clear and complete knowledge manifests itself: Today, the two of you are going to fuck.

Sometimes you are mistaken.

Between oscillations of my dress-up-meet-a-girl-buy-her-coffee-watch-her-vanish cycle, Polly and I had been emailing. I’d even driven out to visit her once or twice. Each time, she wore something sensible, conservative and sensibly form fitting. We’d get platonic coffee, and she’d introduce me as her platonic best friend to any of her neighbors that we might meet. She and I sat close together, grinding our platonic outer thighs together through bare millimeters of platonic summer weight fabric. She’d get up to order a five dollar coffee from an underpaid barista and I’d sit for a few minutes alone at the booth, thinking about baseball until I could stand up without embarrassing myself. Sometimes I’d run into her husband at their house for lunch, and then he’d drive their scooter back to work.

Later in the evening, after I’d driven home, I’d go online to look up crash fatality statistics for two-wheeled vehicles and daydream about stealing his helmet.

That particular day, I passed Polly’s husband at the door. He was leaving back for work, and she was wearing a loose and flowing skirt, something cut to look like lace. She didn’t wear it often. I knew it, and so did he. The last time I’d seen her wear it, we’d slept together. She’d made a plate of bread, cheese and fruit and put it near her head as she lay on the floor eating grapes and raspberries. She propped her bare feet up on the couch, parting her ankles, letting her skirt ride up toward her knees. I touched her leg. I touched her leg more.

She took my hand and led me to the basement.