I want to crawl out of my own skin in order to get out of the place in which I have put myself. Every part of my body is screaming at me and for the five minutes I have been standing in one place, it's been torture, but still I stand, ignoring the screams of my body.
It's exactly three hours and twenty minutes since he picked me up in front of my house. We've just had sex; rough, physical, and quick. It's what I needed. I loved it, and now, I just want to leave. I had to sit through a dinner with him. Sushi. When the waitress asked us if we wanted miso to go with our meal, I was about to say that I would, but he jumped in and said that the sushi would be plenty.
We sat at the table making small talk. I asked questions that might hopefully provide benign answers, and he used every opportunity to let me know how smart he is, how much of a rebel he is, how dialed he is. As he told me how huge the Unagi roll is, how it is like a whole fish on a roll of sushi, I hoped that it was also lightning quick.
What happened next was something so vile I deign to describe the scene, it was such an offense to my sense of propriety and order. The food arrived at the table, and we prepared our wasabi and soy to eat. He immediately went for one of the large ends of the Unagi and I started on the middle, thinking that I would be getting the other large end. Unfortunately, and against every rule of food that I have been taught to observe, he ate that end too. As I watched him reach across the table and grab the second large end of the Unagi, I had to stifle a gasp. Of course he didn't want miso. He was going to be eating most of the meal. Nearing the end of dinner, when there was one small and lonely piece of the roll left, he told me in a tone that let me know I was indeed lucky, that it was all mine.
It wasn't always like this. There was a time, months before, when it was fun to hang out with this man. But, I think, in the absence of awe on my part, he started to work more and more, proportionate to my lack, at trying to win me over. I am not the type of person who fakes orgasm any more than I am the type of person who fakes fascination. It just takes too much energy. In fact, I would say that faking fascination takes more effort and feels more criminal. Especially when the attempts to inspire fascination become more and more desperate. The first time, I thought it was just a bad day. I thought maybe he was just feeling a little insecure. Why else would he tell me that he did each day's NYT crossword puzzle with a pen?
And each time, steadily, over the last few months, he became more and more specific and, unfortunately, dishonest about how cool he was, and this served to push me away, slowly and decisively, so that I would finally find myself here, standing in his living room, wanting to shirk off my skin in order to escape.
There are many men with who I spend time and have sex, men who I find interesting, open, and fun. It is still casual, but the time spent with these men are a shared experience, not one in which I am a one-woman audience to the one-man show of the grand and glorious illusion of a hero's fantasy.
I can't help but think that for all his effort, he is an asshole. I put on my champagne pink feminist hat, then take it off again, then on, then off. I am at turns painting him as the neanderthal "dude" who sees himself as the center of every woman's universe, riding high on his black horse, (because he is such a rebel), and offering bright shiny apples to all the women he passes. They are delighted, and giggle at the sweet, delicious gift. But then I paint a bright white over that canvas and know as I look at it that this is more the truth. This emptiness, this want of a subject. I know that he pushes so hard to impress me to prove something to himself.
I am the unlucky lady who didn't giggle at the apple.
I am also the person left to question. I feel shitty about myself and my thoughts about this man. But this is what I signed up for; casual sex with a familiar stranger, and if you were to isolate the sex in a vacuum, you could say I hit the jackpot. But unfortunately, I am now dealing wtih a guy who seems to need to impress me, and the more he tries, the more I feel his emptiness. The more I feel his emptiness, the more I feel like a horrible person; I don't like him the way he likes me and I don't need him to like me the way he seems to need me to like him.
When I was a nineteen, a friend of mine taught me a valuable lesson about men which I have carried with me to this day. Men need to feel like heroes. I have found this to be true with the exception of a very few. But it is hard to play the damsel in distress when you are not that person. In fact, the more that expectation sits with me, the more I resent it, and that's when my inner feminist starts talking to me about who this guy thinks he is. I love that woman but sometimes she is a bit short on compassion.
But, she is also right. I'm just here for the sex. The whole reason I love casual sex is in part because I don't have to be vulnerable with these men. I don't have to show them the cracks and crevices where my weakness lies. And I know this guy. This is the guy who wants you to want him so that he can act indifferently. He is the guy who wants to hook you so that he can treat you like you are quite low on his list of priorities. I have known this man over the course of many lifetimes, and every cell in my body is also aware of the bait he uses, the methods, though antiquated, he still employs.
And as I stand in his livingroom, aching to leave, he tells me to sit down, because he wants me to read a short story he has started writing. My insides scream loudly, abruptly and unconsciously so that I jump a little, and for a moment, I worry that he might have heard them too. I sit down at the breakfast bar in his kitchen and he puts the book in front of me. I am so wanting to be anywhere else other than where I am. He tells me that it is a science fiction/fantasy-type short story, and wants to know what I think.
I start reading and it is exactly what I expected, he describes a woman getting up and out of bed, what she looks like, how she moves, how insanely beautiful she is, but not a whiff of motivation, not a hint of a revealing thought. He uses too big words interspersed with too many small ones, and the thoughts in her head all end with, god help me, exclamation points. It is an excrutiating several minutes that I use to read this, and when I'm finished, I ask what kind of feedback he wants. He says anything, so I decide to go with two bits. Bits that I believe to be unimportant in comparison to the bigger problems with his unfinished work.
He argues with both; and in the end, I realize this too, was meant to impress me. I realize too late that I was supposed to giggle at the apple.
We are finally in his car, and going back. He talks about his boat (again) and how he loves going crabbing and visiting the small locall islands on warm, sunny days. I tell him it sounds great, and as he talks it up, more and more, I get a sinking feeling that he is going to ask me to go on his boat with him. FOR A WHOLE DAY. As he goes on, I watch it approach, the invite, which, in the end is less of an invite and more of a kind of, "if the stars align and we happen to both have nothing to do on a sunny day" type statement, but it comes, and when it does, I don't have the heart to be honest.
The feminist in me is telling me he is the Man on the Horse again, dropping apples, but in my own emptiness, I know that he is afraid to ask. I know that he wants more of me because I keep giving him less.
I accept the invitation in the same way that it is given, with an "if the stars align" answer, but I know that when the stars do align, I will be out of town, or with my fella, or working. I will be, for the rest of my life, too busy.
I would like to be the kind of person who says, you know what? I think our time together is coming to a close. Or, maybe, the kind of person who can say in the most compassionate and kind way, I'm just in it for the sex. But, I am not. I am the kind of person who cannot bare to hurt this dude, or, more precisely, risk hurting him in a way that might bring some type of retaliation. I am the type of person who wants to be safe.
He pulls up, this time to my fella's house, as it is happily about half the distance as it is to my own, we exchange smiles and thank yous, and I get out of his sports car and walk toward the house, not looking back to wave or smile. I walk, knowing I will never see him again, feeling more freedom with every step I take. Feeling more and more comfort within my skin. Feeling less guilt as I unlock the door and walk into the living room where I can be all the things I am, selfish, vulnerable, loving, nurturing, funny, smart, creative and about a billion other things whenever the mood strikes me.
This is where I want to be, and as I look around the house, I know that it is not the geography. It's the place where the expectation to just be me is at its pinnacle. It is the safest, surest place I know, and I can create it wherever I go, whenever I feel safe enough to do so.
This is why I feel bad. Because I know it is a choice I could not bring myself to make with this particular hero. I think, as I walk to the kitchen, that we are both the lesser for it.