Archive for December, 2011

Kelly, part 1

16 Dec

Like other humans, I have chosen dates for unconscionably shallow reasons.

Did I ever tell you about the time I moved to Japan because I wanted to have sex with Japanese girls?

Well. I moved to Japan because I wanted to have sex with Japanese girls. I mean, that wasn’t the whole reason. As a whole reason, it would be blisteringly stupid; a two-week vacation could probably take care of that. (There used to be a nightclub called Vanilla in Roppongi. I heard that the cover for white men and Japanese women was ten bucks, but for anyone else the cover was about forty. I guess once they got inside, everyone sat around and talked about ice cream?) It wasn’t even the biggest reason, and it definitely wasn’t the best reason. Nevertheless, it was a reason.

How ugly is this truth? Is it uglier than other ones? I have hurt kind people because their teeth were different from teeth I preferred, or because their asses were fatter than other asses, or because their skin hung awkwardly from their cheekbones. I did these unremarkable crimes. There are varying degrees of preference. One time, I decided that I liked how Japanese girls looked.

A girl named Yuko and I dated. As an aside, I’m still friends with a different Japanese girl named Yuko. She is a lovely person who has an unfortunate, exclusionary preference for Western men. Typically, her feelings get hurt. Possibly she would have dated me, but we met through her boyfriend, my roommate, a greasy tub of Albertan suet who believed sincerely that PCP abuse led to cannibalism. He saw it on CSI. Probably he was the most sophisticated dude ever to come from his whole town, and that makes me sad inside. After he flew back to Canada, leaving a column of leaky garbage roughly his height and shape in the corner of our living room, I thought there might have been some interest, but nothing ever came of it. His name also was Dan. I think it was too weird for her.

Our relationship bracketed itself in confusion. Which is to say, I’m not really sure why she picked me up (which she did, from a nightclub . . . I’ve rarely been one to make an unprompted approach, so my first six months abroad had been appropriately sexless), and I’m not really sure why she dumped me. I have best guesses. For the former, it’s because she thought my penis was big (her words, not mine), and for the latter, it’s because I would tell her that I loved her in Japanese but not in English.

But I digress.

Kelly wasn’t Japanese. She was American. But her family had, at some point, emigrated from an East Asian country. Maybe it was Korea? These details escape me. But regardless, I found that attractive, despite that the part of my brain that knows things absolutely knew better. In her picture, a few tattoos peeked over her shoulder. Despite tattoos’ occasional use as a prosthetic personality by otherwise bland individuals, I still find them to be really, really hot. (Generally, anyway . . . they fall under the same purview as other cosmetic surgeries. Terrible tattoos look grotesque in the same way that terrible breast implants do). And her message to me saying that she’d stayed on Match because she wanted to talk to me spoke to my ego in a way that no one had recently.

Of course, on an equally superficial level, there were drawbacks. For example, she was shaped like me, except with breasts.



08 Dec

Sometimes, you are on a date. You see the person sitting across a table from you, perhaps with a cup of coffee between her hands, perhaps not. This person also sees you. She smiles. Her smile seems typical; taxonomically speaking, it fits into the larger category of date smiles, which in turn belong to the genus of smiles smiled because the smiler feels it is appropriate to smile, not because she is happy. At some point in that smiling instant, you realize, even before you take your seat across from the smile and the coffee, that this person is yours for the asking. Although to the naïve or desperate, asking might seem like a good deal, that is not always the case.

It is the same for jobs.

After Amber drove her long drive back to Kentucky, my cycle of dates wound down into a period of low activity. My carefully numbered moving boxes gradually shifted from being mostly closed to mostly open, rimmed with the approximately folded corners of packed clothes that I moved with increasing carelessness. The basement futon spent more time unfolded into a sleeping space than pretending to be a couch. The movement of restless bodies massaged flat the couch crease at its center. Mostly these bodies were in fact one body, singular, mine, sleeping instead of sexing, which bothered me only sometimes but intensely when it did. My laptop became used less for writing, or dating, or anything else, and more for seeing what internet people looked like with their clothes off. (As it turns out, they look like other people, just naked). Growths of glasses and dishes sprouted in fungal knots from flat surfaces. Unremembered beverages clustered on the floor, an easy arm’s reach from where I slept. A particular brown species of long-legged spider shared my living space with me. One morning, as I lifted last night’s water for a sip, I found a spider, inverted with curled legs, at the bottom of the half-full glass. During the night, it must have climbed in and been unable to climb out. Afterward, I killed all the ones I saw until I stopped seeing them. Between these tiny vengeances, I watched advertising on the television while thinking about how I probably ought to read a book or something.

What made me leave this place was a job interview.

The woman on the phone sounded young with a blonde voice. My own voice came out thick and stupid. She’d woken me up, and it took me a few minutes to realize where I was, who I was, and what I was doing. Sometime during misty childhood,  my sister or one of my brothers had taken a can of spray primer and tagged our drop ceiling. Still lying on my back, I struggled to focus my eyes on a red splotch. Yes, I had applied for the teaching position. Yes, I was still interested. Yes, I could come in Monday to discuss it.

After a half-hour of unwarranted interview nervousness on my part, my brand-new supervisor crammed a full-time teaching position up my bum at a salary ten grand per year higher than the lowball rate that I, in my desperation, had quoted to her. Of course I accepted.

I should have asked for more money.

I don’t want to imply that it was all bad. Certainly the flood of trite, heartwarming stories concerning spiritual and moral metamorphoses consequent to education has some basis in things that really happen. But also, there was the time that my felonious student had me call his parole officer in a pointless effort to spare him detention for cocaine possession. And the time that one of the medical assisting students brought a veiny, cartoonish, ten-inch dildo to class as an anatomical model of male reproductive structures. And the time that the building management reprimanded my school’s administration for the biohazardous feminine hygiene products someone had left draped over doors in the bathroom stalls. I just should have asked for more money is all.

Even so, the first checks felt magical. Most of them went to pay down the five-grand IOU held by Uncle Citibank. The fourteen percent annual interest he charged dwarfed the zero percent that would have been afforded by my parents’ charity, but the impersonal anonymity of it allowed me remain dignified (much in the same way that, sometimes, frantic pawing with a very recent acquaintance feels preferable to the abasement of wheedling a past lover into touching you). Once my debt load dropped back down to the triple digits, I felt comfortable spending money on Match again. Here is another secret about internet dating. I might have shared this with you already, but in case I didn’t: If you sign up for a Match account and then log in a bunch of times without subscribing to anything, eventually they will email you a coupon for a cheaper subscription. At least, that was true three years ago.

My resurrected subscription came complete with an inbox full of correspondence. I sifted through it. Some of it was very old, sent to me from people who did not notice or did not care that my account had been inactive for almost a year. One letter, though, came from someone recent. The message included the line “I reactivated my account just to write to you.” I thought that was nice.

I clicked on her link.