I was apprehensive about Jason from the start. I had moved to Chicago from Los Angeles to pursue a graduate degree and to escape a painful relationship gone sour. I had not intended to meet anyone new. In fact, a big part of me didn’t want to. I began writing a future memoir titled, “Why I Chose Cats.”
Our first meeting was inauspicious. A friend at school liked him for about 10 minutes. She was drunk and told him that she had a crush on him after he had let her borrow his laptop after hers had crashed. She later claimed that she actually didn’t like him, insisting that the confession was, rather, the insane ramblings of an alcohol-addled conscience.
She was embarrassed, nonetheless, and would avoid eye contact with him for the remainder of the year. A short time later, another friend would confess that she had been hooking-up with him for a while, “but it meant nothing.” After all, she was a practicing bisexual, and “it was all very caz…”
I wondered what was so special about this gangly boy from Rhode Island who looked more like an econ professor than a heartthrob. But, as an avid girl code abider, I realized that this boy was off limits— at least for the standard six-month mourning moratorium.
Jason was 6’3 ½”, blond, green-eyed and an identical twin. His twin, John, was two minutes older and looked nothing like him. John’s face was rounder and his hair was longer. John lived in Boston, while Jason lived in Chicago. Their remoteness, however, did not mitigate my fascination for their birthing anomaly.
“Do you guys experience full feelings or only half feelings?”
“Did you sleep on top of each other or side-by-side, during your womb-stay?”
“If you fall and scrape your knee, does your brother bleed?”
“Do you feel slighted by singular actors who portray twins on film and television?”
Jason answered all of these questions.
“Half feelings only. I don’t even know what a full feeling is.”
“We had a bunk bed arrangement. I slept on top. I think it’s why I have back problems today.”
“Internal bleeding only. He doesn’t see it, but he feels it, and calls me immediately to check if I’m okay.”
“I take it as a compliment that you ‘normies’ want to be like us, so no, I don’t take offense.”
We never talked during those six months, except once. Our conversation occurred when he showed me a photograph of a woman he had interviewed for a story and asked me to look at her teeth. It was horrific. Her central incisor was growing a twin incisor right in front of it, though the new one was yellow.
Though not a dentist, I was somewhat proficient with Photoshop. I extracted the additional tooth and turned the photograph into a highly offensive animated gif, which blinked from pre-doctored to post-doctored image.
I e-mailed the improved photo to Jason and wrote in the subject line: “What do you think of the surgery?” He never responded.
So it came as quite a surprise when a month later, I was at his apartment for a Fourth of July barbeque, and he began drunkenly hitting on me.
As I was no longer in my early 20s, I was not as susceptible to lascivious one-night stands contingent upon intoxication and droopy eyelids.
In other words, I clung to sobriety, as he caressed my shoulder and kissed my neck— incoherently slurring that I was “really purty” and “the smartest person in the room.” I batted him away like a fly, dismissing him as a mild and inconsequential annoyance.
Perhaps, somewhere in the crevices of my mind though, I was attracted to him— I liked the attention, even if it was sloppy.
“Can I kiss you?” He asked me several times throughout the course of the night.
“Absolutely not. Get the fuck away from me.” I responded with affectionate zest.
Jason looked at me incredulously. It seemed he had never heard the word, ‘no.’
“I don’t do drunken first kisses.” I told him. “I might consider it if you took me out on a proper date, but we must be sober.”
I figured that his male translator would hear: “Marry me. I want to bear 500 of your children.” He would scurry away. Problem solved.
Instead, he replied, “I think you and I should spend some time together.”
The next morning, he called me (which I screened and promptly ignored) and then wrote me an e-mail.
“I had fun with you last night. (I’m not just talking about the time I kissed your neck, which most likely was inappropriate.)
And I was serious when I said that I think you and I should spend some time together. (Without the drinks.)”
So we did. Four months later, while on top of me on a hotel bed, he told me, “I am 100 percent, without a doubt, madly in love with you.” It was a declaration I had never heard before, filled with absolutes usually reserved for fiction. It was that good.
Later, I met up with my friend Theo who has always displayed a healthy interest in my love life. Theo was a good friend of Daniel, my former infatuation in Los Angeles—the one I had been trying to escape.
“Tell me about this guy,” Theo’s interrogation began. “Is he tall?”
“Yeah. 6’3 ½”
“Yeah, I knew he’d be tall. He’s smart right?”
“Is he funny? I bet he’s funny, you wouldn’t be with someone who wasn’t funny.”
“What kind of funny?”
“He knows Arrested Development forwards and backwards. Better than me even.”
One of the most impressive qualities about Jason was his ability to quote supporting characters from Arrested Development. Referencing Buster or Job is a piece of cake, but quoting Carl Weathers requires talent.
“Is he kind of dorky?”
“What do you mean dorky?” I did not date dorks.
“You know, like Daniel. Daniel’s got this dorky vibe about him.”
Theo and I rarely talked about Daniel. I made it a point never to ask questions about Daniel, except for generalities (Is he still alive?), and even that was rare.
Daniel and I also shared an inauspicious beginning. When we first met, he harbored both a girlfriend and an inexplicable attraction to me. Though Daniel and I dated for only a short time, I believed he was my soul mate. When he broke it off, Daniel reasoned that he didn’t want anything serious. I had never asked him for anything, not even love. The truth was, he just didn’t want me.
“I guess he is kind of dorky, but not really,” I replied, with some hesitation.
“Yeah. I know what your type is.”
Theo was implying something that I didn’t want to admit. Daniel and Jason were eerily similar, almost twins.
“Shut up, Theo. You don’t know me,” I protested.
But the truth was, Theo was onto something. I had a pattern of dating the same type of men. Didn’t we all?
The significant difference, however, between Daniel and Jason, was that Jason wanted to be available for me. He wanted to love me. He wanted me. Daniel, on the other hand, did not.
I had not spoken to Daniel for nearly half a year, so when he randomly signed onto Skype, right after I saw Theo, I figured it was fate.
I called him and we video chatted like old friends. We discussed the holidays, our current work and gazed at each other when the other wasn’t looking, hoping to find a semblance of familiarity, of comfort, of ease.
We did not talk about our personal lives. We never did. Do we really want to know the details of each others’ sex lives? No. That was the stuff of romantic comedies starring Jennifer Aniston, not me.
“What do you want now?” Daniel asked, suddenly serious.
“I want stability. I want to belong somewhere,” I told him, wistfully. The only thing missing was Sophia Coppola and her film crew.
I caught myself before spurting out, “But one thing I no longer want is you.”
It didn’t matter if it was true or not, no one wants to hear that. No one wants to be the recipient of, “I just don’t want you.” Just like, no one wants to hear, “I don’t want anything serious.” Even if it is years later.
I told Jason about my complicated feelings for Daniel and how as a result, I was wary of relationships, including ours. Jason listened, stroked my hair and told me that anyone who didn’t fall in love with me was a complete moron.
For so long, I felt like I had to stop myself from wanting a secure love. It wasn’t that I didn’t deserve it— I just never thought it existed. In my future lurked only ephemeral bouts of passion and maybe, cats.
It was six months into our relationship, while Jason was a continent away, and trying to video chat with me via Skype, that my apprehension faded away. We had spent the last hour and a half getting signed off by his shoddy Internet connection, but instead of getting frustrated and giving up, he continued trying. And we eventually were able to communicate, albeit, in brief five-minute increments.
The conversation was banal— just day-to-day nonsense, sprinkled with jokes and silly observations. But it was effortless. Loving him was effortless.
No. Jason was not Daniel’s twin, not even John’s. Jason was 100 percent, without a doubt, madly one of a kind. An ocean away, and I had never felt closer to anyone.
What a relief when the same kind beginning can have a different kind of ending.
[I’m not sure any of this actually happened. But there is a good chance it did.]
From a diary entry written on January 17, 2005:
"how many times have i had the same converasations with potential boy adventures? the whole- laughter, what makes me tick, my favorite hobbies, my little act… i wondered how many times im going to have to flirt it up with all the same stuff. with how many people will we have to engage in those delightful, but ordinary first flirty conversations where we decide that we connect or we should flee from one another."
The Break-Up (translated)
Him: There’s no easy way to say this, but I don’t think we should see each other anymore.
(I don’t like you. You creep me out. You’re too needy.)
Her: Why not?
(I like you so much. I know I creep you out but I need you, a lot.)
Him: It’s not you. It’s me.
(It’s totally you— 100 percent, you.)
(He must have commitment issues.)
Him: I still care about you a lot, but I’m just not ready to give you what you want… what you deserve.
(I’ve already deleted your number from my phone. Facebook is next.)
Her: I love you, though.
(I’m desperate for attention and company. I’ll happily take your shit, even.)
Him: I’m sorry.
(Fuck, get me out of here.)
Her: Do you think there’s a chance later down the road?
(I’m going to wait for you, for all of eternity.)
Him: I don’t know. Maybe. I don’t know.
(This is great! He loves me! He wants me! I just have to wait.)
Him: But I want us to be friends.
(Would it be weird if I dated your sister?)
Her: Yeah, definitely.
(He loves me.)
The Second Kiss
This piece was inspired by true events. First published on OpenSalon, and now enjoying a second run on Tumblr. Enjoy folks!
Thankfully, the second kiss was better. It happened at church camp, which was funny, because my first kiss had also happened at church camp the previous year. The first hardly counted though; it was more or less a dare. I was forced to kiss my bible study counselor, Matthew, while he was sleeping. He was disgusting and hairy and didn’t even wake up.
I spent every summer at church camp since I was eleven. My dad was atheist while my mother was a former catholic. However, religion became the cure-all for my siblings— as we grew up in a predominantly Christian community. Our friends were always going away to religious summer camps, so my parents, wanting to shed their immigrant status, followed in the footsteps of their American parenting peers.
That’s where I met Jesse. He was a red headed guitarist with a pig nose. I didn’t even notice the pig nose, but my friend Dottie did. She pointed out his porcine deformity to everyone she encountered, including him. He was less than flattered, and immediately took a disliking to both of us— me, simply by association.
I suppose I had a thing for pig noses, because I couldn’t stop thinking about him. He played in the youth group worship band, so I was able to swoon over him twice a day during group congregation. I wondered about what it would be like to kiss him and to have him write me a song. Instead of thinking about the holy trinity and why homosexuality was a carnal sin, I daydreamed about Jesse playing the guitar for me. I fantasized about us sharing a tent together, sleeping next to each other, listening to each other’s heartbeats. I was fifteen, give me a break.
After evening prayer one night, I saw him by the bathrooms, and that’s where it happened.
I know. It seems impossible to be romantic near any type of bathroom, especially one that was frequented by smelly dirty children, but it was.
We were both washing our hands in the outside sinks. I tried my absolute best not to look at him or that pig nose that I had come to adore.
The funny thing was, I got the strangest sensation that that’s what he was trying to do as well. We were both avoiding each other, yet we continued to lather and rinse for what felt like hours. It was weird and wonderful. There is no doubt that we were partially responsible for California’s drought in the 1990s.
Eventually, he turned his faucet off and wordlessly grabbed a paper towel from the dispenser. I was crestfallen. This was turning out to be quite anti climactic. I turned the faucet off too and was reaching for the towel dispenser, when he pulled one out for me. He looked at me with this adorable little half smile. My heart jumped out of my body and sprinted out into the woods. It was one of those perfect little moments that movies make millions of dollars off of. Without a doubt, Jesus was hooking it up for me.
I took the towel, looked at his pig nose, and told it, “Thanks.” Eye contact was too difficult.
He nodded, “You’re welcome.” I’m pretty sure I peed a little in my pants. It was that unnerving.
Then he turned to walk away. Truthfully, I didn’t even need the kiss at that point. I was ecstatic simply to have been acknowledged. Nor did I really mind that he was leaving, because I was already too far into the reverie of my future with this towel. Maybe I would frame it or put it in a scrapbook for my grand children. Perhaps, I could auction it on ebay to someone unlucky in love. No, wait, what was I thinking. It was priceless. I would never part with it.
My crazy consciousness was so lost, that I didn’t even notice when Jesse returned moments later and was staring at me. I looked at him, finally realizing that he was actually there. I also realized that I was clutching the towel to my nose and sniffing it like a coke addict. I prayed to God that I hadn’t been talking to myself. I have a bad habit of doing so, and things were not looking too good on my end. I released the towel, and it floated to the ground.
As I was about to say something, anything—- ideally, something along the lines of, “I’m not this crazy! I promise,” he just swooped in and grabbed me. Swoop. His hands grabbed my cheeks as he bent down to kiss my lips. It was soft. And premeditated. I could tell because his breath smelled of peppermint Altoids. My lips were chapped from hiking all day. But neither of seemed to mind. This was, indubitably, the climax of my adolescence.
The whole thing lasted for thirty seconds. There was some tongue, which was also soft and then a briefly awkward situation with his erection jamming into my thigh. I didn’t really know the protocol to handle the situation. They did not teach erection etiquette at church camp. As soon as I felt it, I jumped back. I had never felt one before and thought he had kneed me in the groin.
Jesse turned beet red. His pig nose snared wildly in shame. He was fifteen too and probably not the most experienced kid on the block.
He mumbled, “Sorry”, then sprinted away. Before I could call out, “It’s okay. I love you. Please marry me,” he was gone. I watched him run back to his cabin. I could still smell the faint aroma of peppermint in the air. Eventually, I picked up the sullied towel and returned to my cabin, hearing only the faint drip of the faucet behind me.
The Rejection of Rejection
A good rejection is truly a dying art form. More and more, cowardly people are relying on technological tools to do their dirty work for them. Why suffer that awkward, “I’m just not that into you…” when you can BBM it? And the reasons make sense: It’s easier to type than it is to talk and it’s scary. Especially, when the person you are rejecting is highly emotional or slightly to moderately crazy.
A brief glance into my own history of dating psychosis, and I’m the first to shamefully admit that I have on occasion, exhibited delusional and/or psychotic behavior. Even back in 7th grade, a time when only Melrose Place characters were allowed to curse, an ex-boyfriend accused me of being “a psycho bitch.”
Warm cuddly memories like these do not sit very well with people. So, it should not come as a surprise that rejections are becoming outmoded, just like last season’s fashion trends. Moreover, who likes rejection? Nobody. Whether you are receiving or giving – both are terrible and difficult under the circumstances.
The most common type of rejection is getting dumped. Instead of a quick and immediate rejection, someone rents you out for a while, then decides you’re not worthwhile after all. This is similar to buying a cute dress, only to return it two weeks later, because you suddenly realize that it makes you look fat. Store mirrors always distort the truth. Relationships have adopted the same policy.
But which is worse? Getting dumped after dating and being “in love” or facing rejection before that stuff ever had a chance to happen?
The last real rejection I experienced fits in the latter category. Joe Schmo was somewhere near a 6.9 on 10-point scale. Still, he was able to score very pretty girls. I don’t know how, except for the fact that he exuded that whole, “I’m a vulnerable-indie-rock-listening-tech-nerd-asshole” charm.
Asshole-y is a requisite characteristic for any desirable or attractive boy. This coveted personality trait comes in a wide variety of flavors and types, including: stupid asshole, fucking asshole, nerdy asshole, cheap asshole, athletic asshole, pretty asshole, rich asshole. I’ve found, every girl has her own personal preference.
Joe rejected me in a really strange way. To be honest, the entire Joe debacle still plagues me.
I met Joe at a temp job. He had a girlfriend at the time, but there was undeniable chemistry between us. I didn’t want to admit it, mostly because I didn’t find him all that attractive (recall that he was only a 6.9). But Joe got my humor, and I got his. And we were friendly, hardly even flirtatious – all in all, a perfect office relationship.
I was perfectly content with our status as “just friends,” because I had just gotten out of a less than satisfactory relationship a few months prior. And let’s not forget, Joe had a girlfriend. Even if he hadn’t, I wasn’t all that sure I could truly be attracted to his nerdiness. Ever since Al Gore invented the Internet, boys have become incredibly cowardly in the girl-wooing department. Phone calls have turned into text messages. Nowadays, Facebook wall posts and Twitter updates have become the most popular tools of seduction. I hate this. I grew up when late night phone calls and love notes stuffed in lockers were the ways into a woman’s heart. That was romance.
Joe’s dependency on technological communication was a real turn-off. Still, we would g-chat all day, rarely exchanging verbal salutations even though we’d be sitting right next to each other. There was something hilarious about it, and I began to look forward to our daily conversations.
The first conversation that made me think romantic thoughts was when Joe suddenly typed: You make me weak in the knees. I was taken aback. It was cute. Had I really thought that it was cute? Yes. Perhaps it was a bit more flirtatious than usual, but he had a girlfriend, so it was probably harmless. Right? Right. I wrote back: Shut up.
The topic of conversation ended, just like that. But something had changed. We developed a strange and inexplicable tension that continued to gnaw at us between clicks of the keys. An hour later, he confessed that he was having problems with his relationship.
Dating experts and sane people will tell you that when a boy you like starts complaining about his current girlfriend, the wisest course of action is to run for the hills or very far in the opposite direction. I like to stay. Actually, I bring a sleeping bag and camp out right there with him. Unfortunately, I’m that girl.
Still, 25 years of life had taught me some modicum of decency. I typed: If she’s a great person, you really shouldn’t let things go with her so easily.
Wise words. More importantly, honest words, and I meant them. I really did. I don’t know if it was my advice or not, but he continued dating her. Meanwhile, we continued g-chatting everyday, both of us trying to ignore the palpable tension that was still very much present. About a month passed, before he asked me to go get ice cream with him during our lunch break.
Maybe it was a bad idea, but I was so attracted to him at that point, I couldn’t help it. I was legitimately smitten, 6.9 or not. Still, I am no home wrecker. Well, not really. He admitted that things were rocky again with the girlfriend and that he had been developing uncertain feelings for other people. I thought to myself, “Of course there are problems! You have been flirting with the temp for two months now.” But I kept my mouth shut. My heart was fluttery.
We sat at the beach gazing at dolphins, while we discussed work, politics, his preference for Ben, and my fondness for Jerry. He asked if this was a date. I laughed and said, “No. Three things are preventing this from being a date: First, you did not pick me up in BMW. Second, we are not on a hot-air balloon ride. Third, you have a girlfriend.”
We both laughed; the whole thing was kind of lovely. Two days later, he g-chatted me at home: “Things are over. Mark your calendar – we’re going to start dating.”
We had our first date the following Monday. His hair was a mess at arrival, but I was still enamored. It was nice to feel something for a boy other than disgust, pity, or rage. We dined, then drank, then fell asleep together – all very PG. I definitely made some dating gaffes, like admitting to him that I didn’t think I was very special.
Ladies, no matter what, please don’t ever admit to a guy that you are insecure – especially at the outset. You must exude pure, unadulterated confidence in EVERYTHING, including but not limited to your body, your job, your mustache, your herpes, your cankles… everything. Women hate insecurity in men, so it only makes sense that guys feel the same.
Despite my gaffes, he asked me for a kiss, and held my hand as we fell asleep, watching Wet Hot American Summer. It was perfect.
The next day, he left on a business trip to New York and promised he’d call. New York came and went, but I didn’t hear from him. I was worried, naturally. Actually – I was confused as hell. I do not get rejected, at least not by someone who is a six-point-fucking-nine.
I contacted him a week later (via g-chat, of course), to ask him if he wanted to grab dinner. He replied that he was really busy with work and other various projects. I waited a few days. No word. So, I g-chatted him again to say “hi,” only to have him blow me off for drinks with his roommate. I am ashamed to admit it, but there was a third (thankfully, final) g-chat attempt. Since I was already an accomplished gold medalist in dating Special Olympics, I decided to just go for it. I typed: “Qu’est-ce qui s’est passé entre nous?”
Yes. At the time, typing in another language seemed the smartest and safest decision. I was so afraid of the looming rejection that I thought it might be more bearable in a foreign language.
It was not.
He confessed that he was really sorry, but he had decided that he wasn’t over his ex, after all. However, he said he felt guilty and terrible because he’d blown his chances with me.
Though he also speaks French, he wrote that in English. I was pummeled. If he had been a hot guy, I would have understood, but to have that crushing blow come from someone who wasn’t even conventionally attractive— I was truly baffled and offended. Okay. And sad.
A week later, while stalking his Facebook profile, I saw that he had updated his relationship status with some new girlfriend, some girl that I had never seen before and who was, even more alarmingly, not his ex-girlfriend. Obviously, I clicked on her profile, but it was set to private. The only sliver of public information revealed that she belonged to the New York City network. Hmmm.
They have been together ever since, and I have been excommunicated. No more g-chats, hand holding or shyly awkward glances. My temp job ended soon after, and I realized that I would probably never see him again. I felt sorry for myself, but also peeved. It was a rejection that only occurred because I had to extract it out of him. He was too spineless to tell me the truth, even though I really did deserve better. We were friends at one point after all. We didn’t even sleep together. Is it still considered a one night stand if he only gets to first base?
This is what technology is doing to society. Even rejections have become half-assed and lame. And I always thought that forgetting to putting the toilet seat down was the epitome of male indolence.
I still peruse his Facebook profile occasionally. I feel a pang of hurt each time I see them together in their photos. I can’t help but wonder if she makes him weak in the knees.