He had a crush on one of the silhouettes in an iPod commercial. He ‘d watch it online and pause it at the parts that featured her. "I’m in lust with her," he said. "I can’t help it. She’s got my number." I didn’t know anyone my age said that. She’s got my number. It was like hearing my Grandfather say, "Yeah, that Steven, he’s a card." But he wasn’t my age. He was 43, never married. Lawyer. Ivy-grad. Eyes that were ringed with both green and blue. "Full head of hair" was his favorite selling point.
We dated via telephone. Met online, then took it to the next level, back when I believed you needed a connection over the phone before meeting in person. There were a lot of phone calls, the kind that you’d need to switch ears for, the kind that lasted through brushing your teeth. The let’s fall asleep on the phone kind.
He’d go to the movies sometimes just to get popcorn. Though he was very particular about his theaters. He’d only go to the AMC 25 on 42nd Street because every single movie played there, and the ticket buying machines worked. He took pleasure in walking right through, watching "in amazement as the masses lined up to buy from the humans." He said things that way. Unlike me though, he wouldn’t go to the movies merely to fill time. Chick flicks, he said, were out. Well, what he actually said was, "Thus, chick flicks, which usually provide sappy, age-old, cliche-ridden, obvious messages, are not high on my list." But when I mentioned Beautiful Girls as one of my favorites, he protested. That movie, he said, is NOT a chick flick. "My brother and I always use that movie as a model of our high school experience." Besides, he admitted, the title track to the film was awesome.
He liked psychological thrillers. Well, that’s too easy. Who doesn’t like a film that makes you say, "What the fuck is up with that????" Memento. Usual Suspects. Primal Fear. I thought things were going well. But then he admitted he’d seen Notting Hill,in Notting Hill, and thought it was one of the worst movies he’d ever seen. "Julia Roberts," he said, "has gots ta go already." But then he redeemed himself. "Albert Brooks is awesome."
He liked Elton John’s b-sides from his early days. Honky Chateau, Tumbleweed Connection, Captain Fantastic. And he thought Sandra Bullock was masculine and "should join Julia wherever she hopefully goes." He used air-conditioning year-round yet believed that being forced to drive on a highway come summer without the windows all the way down, was akin to being stuck with a smoker. He liked David Mamet. And I thought he liked me. He thought so too.
And then we met. He was good-looking, the kind no one would ever argue with. He told me my photos didn’t do me justice, and just as he’d said it, I suspected he’d said it before, to rounds of women he’d meet in coffee shops. Then he went for it. "I’m feeling the chemistry, but there’s no point in sitting here telling our stories if you don’t feel it too." Then he waited. He wanted an answer, some confirmation, and it teetered on "What the fuck is up with that???" He was impatient. I didn’t tell him to calm down. I smiled and said I felt the feeling was mutual. He didn’t seem convinced. "Let’s leave here and go have dinner," he suggested, taking my hand, already leading me out of Fourbucks. We ate at Atlantic Grill. Sushi. "You have to try this. I know you. You’ll love this." And in a way, I guess he did know me. All that talk. All our common quirks.
And then he asked about my divorce. And I unapologetically told the story he’d asked for, answering each question. And then, I never heard from him again. Well, not never. For a while. I resisted the urge to email or call. It didn’t matter what happened; we weren’t going to. But why? I wanted to know! And truth be told, I wouldn’t even have mentioned our "divorce chat" in the retelling of this story, except when I learned it was my "red flag."
Weeks later, I heard from him via email. He said he missed talking to me. That I was "cool." A cool girl, I think it was. So I asked. "What the fuck was up with that???"
"Just the way you got married, and then divorced. Too much drama," he said. "It’s never a good sign. Usually means you’re a head case."
"Yeah, I’m betting your friends and family think you’re too picky."
"I can afford to be."
And just then I decided I didn’t like him anymore. "I can afford to be" was suddenly obnoxious. But was there truth in what he was saying? Was I a head case because of my past and the things I’d allowed to happen? Hell yes. And I’m still a head case, though now I’m with someone who doesn’t mind so much. And I guess that’s what we all want, someone who’ll love us through all our "What the fuck is up with that???" parts.