Are you sure you dont want to come up for some hot chocolate? the text message read. It from a girl Id just had a date with. I was confused; I thought the date had gone terribly. Id met her on New Years Eve as she was bartending, and I shyly asked for her number. She was absolutely stunning: thin and leggy with chilling blue eyes and long black hair. I figured shed given me a fake. Much to my surprise, the number was real and after two weeks of back and forth, we met up. Id shown up at a crowded Lower East Side bar where she asked me to meet. Its patrons were bearded and skinny, with upturned noses and thumping garbage was playing too loudly over the sound system. As a 22-yearold nerdy New York neophyte who listened to Buddy Holly and made $10 an hour labeling video tapes at a rarely watched TV station, I didnt come close to fitting in.Twenty minutes passed before I got tired of waiting and called.
Hey! she gleefully said upon picking up. Did I go to the wrong bar? I dont see you. Shit, she said. Stay there. Moments later, Kate was speed walking down the street in heels, grimacing the entire way. She threw her hands up and mouthed sorry, but not sorry in that Holy-shit-I-really-messed-up-let-me-buy-you-a-drink way. More like sorry in that oops-but-youll-forgive-me-because-Im-so-adorable-right? way. Shed run into some friends and momentarily forgot about the date. I forgave her. She was, in fact, adorable.
The bar she walked me to was dingy and small with a pool table as the centerpiece. Four guys were at the pool table trading shots, and she walked up to them. Guys, this is
Jake? she said, a bit unsure, as if I was some exchange student shed just picked up from JFK. They gave half-hearted hellos and continued with their game.They watched me intently when I walked her to the bar to buy her a beer. Theyre cool, right? she said. We clinked beers, and she dashed back over to the pool table to chatt it up with her dudes. I tried to butt in several times but was repeatedly rebuffed.
As I started to leave, Kate slid up beside me and asked me to walk her home a few blocks away on Orchard. It was an awkward talk with few words and a brief argument over music she said shed never heard of Otis Redding; I cringedwe parted at her doorstep with an awkward handshake/hug combo. She lingered for a moment as I began to walk away, almost as if she was expecting me to invite myself up. But I had to catch a bus to New Jersey.Yes, I lived in Weehawken.
While I was climbing down the stairs to the subway, the text message arrived. I immediately forgot about the haphazard date Id just slogged through. My penis was in charge now. I dashed back to her building and climbed up one flight of stairs to her apartment. The door was slightly open, and I could hear the tings of spoons hitting mugs. Hey! Im I said rather loudly.
Shh! she shot back. My parents are asleep. She shooed me into her room, explaining shed just moved back from Indiana and was staying with the rents for a few months.
I sat on a futon against the front wall in her bedroom. She opted for a seat on her bed. I wasnt sure what to do. Make a comment about how it was getting lonely over here? Since my balls are the size of pomegranate seeds, I didnt make any advances. Finally, she said, You should get going now. Another awkward hug later, I was in Port Authority, running to catch the last bus to Weehawken.
This continued for two months. Once a week, Id get a text from Kate inviting me up to her parents place. Id clumsily let myself in and then leave around 3 in the morning, angry with myself for caving.
I tried to make moves. Id jump to the bed when she went to the bathroom but shed come back in and sit on the futon. Id hug her a bit longer and harder each time I left and shed pat my head as if to say Very cute. Now stop. It was infuriating, but I kept going back because getting that apartment invite, week after week, had to mean something, right? I was telling the story to my friend Matt one afternoon and he stopped me in mid-sentence.
You said her name is Kate? Yeah, I said She went to college somewhere in Indiana, grew up in Brooklyn Heights. Holy shit. he said.I know her.Youre getting played. She does this to everyone. Shes got a few guys just like you all going at once. Matt, who grew up with Kate, told me that she had a policy: She never turned down a guy when he asked for her number. All that male attention was just too thrilling.
I was furious, but also relieved to know I wasnt the lone sucker. I decided Id hang out with her one more time, let her invite me up and then lay into her. Id be the hero; the flag bearer representing all the men shed chewed up and spit out. Can I just say something? I said during out final visit, 5:15 a.m. on a Saturday.
Hold on, she responded, Phone call. She hung up and told me her friend Ray was coming over, and that I should probably get going anyway. I sighed; I was not the revolutionary Id hoped to be. As I left, I avoided a hug and instead gave her a defeated wave of my hand as I shuffled out. It was over. She stood in the doorway, waiting for Ray, who had just come up the stairwell. He looked like me: gawky and a bit hunched over, nervously breathing, wringing his hands.
There was a moment of collective consciousness as we passed. He knew he was picking up where I left off and in a few hours, hed be leaving just as dejected and angry, and Kate would sleep soundly, thinking of all the men who would line up to see her tomorrow. C
Jake Goldman is a writer and performer living in Queens. He hosts a monthly storytelling show at Ochis Lounge and blogs at 236.com.
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