When the waitress got to our table, she broke out in a huge smile. My date looked surprised. Why, he hadn’t known where she worked!Why, yes, she worked here! Wasn’t that something! There were hugs and some catching up. His awkwardness spoke louder than words. And her total lack of eye contact with me sent alarm signals through my brain. It was obvious these two had been intimate.
Not happy to see me, the waitress elected to pretend I wasn’t there. And that was a bit awkward, since I still needed ice water like all the other humans in the restaurant.
She didn’t get a great tip.
On the way home, I had to ask my would-be boyfriend what was up, and there was a somewhat slow reveal. First, he only knew the waitress from an acting class. Then, he admitted he’d been on a date with her. Then okay, well, yes, he’d slept with her. Oh, and, by the way, that was a few days ago -- during the time we were dating. Oops.
The funny thing was that I wasn’t pushing for this information. But I guess my date wasn’t as good an actor as he thought he was, or maybe he subconsciously wanted to brag.
And you know what? It served me right. It was the perfect answer to the question I’d been asking for a few weeks: Could I make it work with this guy, who was not my intellectual equal, often put me down, was totally self-obsessed, but was an absolute rock star in bed? Could I make it function for another week maybe? Come on, another few days? Okay, only one more night of insipid conversation. I could do this! Anything was better than the long dry spell I had endured before we started dating.
Nope, I couldn’t do it. That night was the first night I finally admitted to myself how absurd it was that I was trying to be in a relationship this person -- not merely sleep with him, but fit him into my life somehow. He did not fit.
In retrospect, I wish I could have simply enjoyed those amazing, funny, exploratory sexual romps for what they were. Why couldn’t I relax in my 20s and date people for fun? And in a more general sense, why is our cultural obsession about women finding romance and not simply romping? Where’s the romping, ladies? We should all romp more.
That partnership was bound to end, because we had nothing in common. And also because he was a jackass. But we were tremendously attracted to each other, and he held doors open for me and bought me drinks, and he had something huge. (Hint: not his brain.)
But back in those days, I was always trying to make stuff into other stuff that it wasn’t. It wasn’t enough that I bagged a beautiful guy and was having a grand time. Somehow, I had to make that into a progression toward something more serious -- although I could barely stand talking to him.
In my efforts to make this thing work (dammit) I had invited my trophy boyfriend out to dinner with friends that fateful night. See, of course, he had to meet the friends! And they had to approve! Surely, they would see some hidden qualities in him that would make him a worthy partner, so we could continue sleeping together and my conscience would be clean.
They didn’t. They were, like true friends should be, mercifully quiet about their embarrassment for me until much later.
If I sound a little mean or judgmental, let me give a clearer picture of the type of stuff I was enduring, to get this spectacular roll in the hay. Flashback to yet another awkward meal:
Brunch! The holy grail of coupledom. The longed for post-coital, morning after display of affection and bacon eating! It had been a long time since I’d been out to brunch like that. And the night before had been outrageously exciting. I was delighted to maybe be in a relationship, with this beautiful guy who had been making me scream only hours ago. What’s better after three orgasms than a stack of pancakes? This was about to be a great day.
Over coffee, he told me about a childhood experience he’d had. I was engrossed. He was opening up to me. This was really happening!
Then, he proudly leaned back into his chair. “I got you,” he said.
“Got me?” I was confused.
And he revealed, slyly: “That was my audition monologue. That wasn’t my story. I was acting!”
Much self-congratulating on his acting prowess followed, and I was put in the awkward position of agreeing with him or telling him that he was the cheesiest thing since cheese was invented. I went with the first choice, although I was mortified, for him and for myself.
Why did I do this? Yes, because I wanted to sleep with him again. Shallow. Terrible. Not what ladies should do. So I tried to make it all okay in my head. Hey, everybody has their weird moments, right? Right? Have patience. Be supportive. And smother that feeling that you can’t stand this for one more second.
Another day, he used the non-word “comfortability.” “It’s comfort, actually” I said. (Sorry, it’s reflexive. I’m an English teacher.) I didn’t say it in a mean way. More of a “Yeah, isn’t our language weird?” kind of way. (I’m a nice English teacher.)
He was so demoralized by this correction that it turned into a whole day of fighting. He was completely awful about it -- pouty, lecturing me about manners. It was a terrible day. And in the end, I apologized profusely for emasculating and embarrassing him. Why?
Yep. That’s why.
I’m not proud. But you know, maybe I should be. I knew in my heart what I was after, but I had to dress it up as something more respectable. Every third article I find lately seems to involve sex addiction or slut shaming or twisty feminist meanderings about how many partners are appropriate. Apparently, we women have a tough time having sex just to have sex. At least, that was true for me. I knew I wanted to be in a serious relationship. And wouldn’t it be convenient if this guy, who was so fabulous in bed, could be that serious relationship? (He so couldn’t.)
I wonder how that waitress held it together for the entire meal. But maybe she had a better handle on the situation than I did at the time. I was doing impossible origami to twist this fun, silly interlude in my life into something more substantial.
She probably knew that she was just banging my date. And good for her. We should have high fived each other.