Amanda’s Story, part 1

20 Mar

This is going to be a bit of a flash-forward, because Amanda didn’t actually have anything new to tell me on that particular day. So let’s skip ahead a few months to the winter, during the times I briefly dated a cyborg. That is, we went on dates. All our movements circumscribed the pattern of a weird ellipse that prevented me from moving any closer to her. Will I tell you about that later? You bet. First things first.

I’ve always required a mirror for my humiliations.

Not someone to witness the actual events, you understand. Actually, knowing that such witnesses exist is unbearable, and it’s my fond hope that those people present for my various embarrassments stay forever silent and forgetful. Rather, I need an audience, someone to absorb my repurposed and restructured versions of events (like everyone else, I need to digest the events that pass through my memory. And like every other process of digestion, the end results in poop). Sometimes, I need that audience immediately. Hence Katie and I cloistering ourselves one evening in the stalls of separate restrooms, in separate parts of town, on separate dates, despairingly texting to one another details of the dates waiting patiently for us in the other room. Hence this blog.

Hence also Amanda’s phone call to me some twelve minutes after the ball dropped on New Year’s Day, 2009.

In exchange for listening to my stories essentially on call and assuring me that, regardless of their content, they don’t mean that I am somehow bad, Amanda tells me hers. Often these things happen simultaneously. A naïve observer might assume that we were having two entirely separate conversations that simply talked past each other, but she and I know better. It is our way.

I spent this particular New Year’s evening lying unaccompanied on the tasteful, attractive, discreetly dog-stained carpeting in my parents’ living room. On TV, a crowd of people was having apparent fun in Times Square. Somewhere in that crowd, someone was having a worse time than I was. Probably, anyway. While I talked idly on the phone, I scanned the bobbing waves of heads, looking for the knit cap of someone sadder.

Amanda called I was having phone sex. Specifically, I was having phone sex with Cora. There are friends for whom you will stop having phone sex. Amanda is one of those friends. There are also friends with whom you will stop having phone sex when one of the aforementioned friends calls. Cora was one of those friends. We’d met while I was in grad school. She was an undergraduate at the time, and most of our interactions until recently had anchored themselves around Andrew, my then-roommate. Once, to my incredulity, Cora asked me in the spirit of genuine curiosity about how many hundreds of women I’d slept with. This range, I learned, had come from Andrew, in whose mind I inexplicably lived as an unparalleled lothario. I wish I lived the life that other people imagine for me.

The conversation with Cora had not yet reached the point of unrestrained gasping, so I interrupted her descriptions of unrealized sex acts with the sexiest words imaginable:

“Whoa, hey, sorry. I have call waiting. Can you hang on a minute?”

I felt bad. Also, I still felt horny. I switched lines. “Hello?”

Hearing Amanda’s cadence adds something to this story, and of course I’m unable to represent that in text. Imagine, however, the following words spoken in a cranky female voice, a smoke-roughened alto thickened with beer. She bit off her phrases with outraged, staggering pauses.

“Guess what. Just happened to me.”


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