awkward conversation #1.
i was making lentil soup last night when #4 texted me to ask if he could ‘come over and hang out for a while.’ all right, i said. though my soup was almost finished and i had been looking forward to it. (because that’s a good well-being thing to do, isn’t it? make soup? in my mind it is.*)
i know i have mentioned #4 recently—we occasionally have sex. we went on one proper date about a year ago. i had a nice time, we really had good conversation, and then i didn’t hear from him. not for a couple of months, anyway. when i did hear from him it was pretty clear that we were only going to have a sordid kind of connection but i was all right with that. he’s very cute, very smart, and the sex is usually pretty good. HOWEVER he’s completely neurotic about sleeping in the same bed with another person. he will kick you out of his house even in the middle of the night, even if you’ve been drinking. (he did let me stay once. apparently he went and slept on the couch for most of the night.) i consider this inhumane—but i’m a womany feelingsy woman. but in any case i can’t say that he’s my favorite.
he does have a weird kind of devotion to me, i have realized. (‘but i care so much about you! yes—admittedly, i have an odd way of showing it.’) a few weeks ago he actually came to fetch me out of a purgatorial bar around the corner from my house—a place with all red lights, full of freaky-looking artists and art students, where it’s relatively easy to get into trouble—where i was feeling incredibly sorry for myself very late on a saturday night, having just been on a date with a guy who was wearing a hawaiian shirt and had the words MILO and OTIS tattooed on his biceps—and i looked so cute in a pretty little dress and all i could think about was how i wore it once on a date with Tread-Lightly—and how angry i was that it was now sitting across from a hawaiian shirt—anyway, out of the depths of my self-pity i realized i was about to sleep with a guy with a red handlebar mustache and i saw #4 had texted me earlier that day and i asked him to come save me from myself, which he did. (of course he stood to gain from this rescue. and of course he did gain.) he got there just in time, just at last call.
so. i guess he has been turning up almost regularly lately. and even though i really just wanted to eat my damn soup (homemade vegetable stock**! sherry vinegar!), i didn’t mind seeing #4. he was cute as ever and unusually sweet and cuddly. ‘but i really do like you—i was so sad the last time i saw you because you were so sad. i’m sad when you’re sad. it’s not only the sex—like right now, if you said we couldn’t have sex for some reason, if you didn’t want to have sex, i’d be like, that’s fine. it’s fine how we are.’ ‘well. that’s a very good segue, actually. because we shouldn’t have sex: i found out on friday that i was probably exposed to chlamydia.’ ‘ah. yeah, i guess that was a good segue.’ ‘so i got tested today—and they gave me the treatment—but i won’t know for a couple of days. but i was thinking of all the awkward conversations i’ll have to have if i had it.’ ‘yeah i guess so!’ ‘yeah you’re definitely on the short list! because we have had unprotected sex most of the time.’ ‘that is true.’ ‘how many people have you been with in the past year or so?’ ‘well…i guess just two. you and leigh…yeah. that ended badly. leigh, who i’m pretty sure is schizophrenic.’ (here i laughed inappropriately.) ‘you’re laughing at that?’ ‘it was unexpected!’ ‘it was sad. she went off of something…i didn’t realize how messed-up she was until she was really messed-up.’
sowing your wild oats at 31 is a little different from sowing them at (say) 21. i believe. your partners have had a lot more time to get bitter and twisted. and tired.
‘of course i care about you. over this past year, whenever i’ve had a “relationship scare”—like i’ve gone on 3 or 4 dates with a girl—i’ve thought, huh, i’ll miss seeing dora. we’re friends. i think of us as “fucking friends.”‘ ‘but…we’re not friends.’ ‘you don’t think we’re friends?’ ‘i mean we don’t go places together. we don’t tell each other about our days. we just hook up. and it’s usually really late and random; it’s a completely sordid connection.’ ‘i don’t think of it that way.’ ‘you took me on one date and then later it turned into this.’ ‘honestly, i knew i couldn’t date you, even though i really liked you, because i know i need to be with someone whose self-esteem is higher than mine.’ (here i laughed inappropriately.) ‘and you, oh honey, you are not that girl.’ ‘no! i do have problems with that. but…if i did have better self-esteem…i probably never would have seen you again. i wouldn’t know you at all…is that irony? sometimes i’m confused about what irony is.’
* (…you bring out the caretaking side of me—but the cheerfully depraved side too!—like i want to make you hearty nourishing soups but then stuff you with sweet things until you groan…)
** i do love making stock.