Maybe he doesn’t think I do, but I remember.
It started with his self-summary. He linked to an article called “What ‘In Love’ Couples Sound Like To Single People.” It was pretty funny, I thought.
Besides the writing, Jeffrey had a decent body, and if he showed up to our date with more hair instead of less, he’d be handsome. He wore jean shorts in his profile picture, so I replied thinking we’d have fun, if nothing else.
On the day of our date he sent me that Rebecca Black song as a “Happy Friday” kind of thing. Unsure, as I always am with men from the internet, I clicked off and got back to work writing my next novel. When my roommate came home we got drunk. I totally spaced on Jeffrey.
Early the next afternoon he texted to say “these things happen,” and asked if I wanted to go out for pho that night. I said yes, but waited a few hours to confirm where we were going. Though considering Jeffrey would meet, perhaps even sleep with, a blond novelist with the “ass of a yoga instructor” – as my beautiful gay roommate tells me – I acted as I should, not quite cavalier, but aloof, sure.
Still, as I walked to the place, blocks from my house, I didn’t think Jeffrey would worry about a repeat of the night before. But I almost felt bad as we hugged hello. When I saw him, relief overtook his face.
Right after we were seated, looking across at each other in our booth, I could tell Jeffrey liked me. It was too early for that, but I liked his outfit, a cardigan, navy button up, camel-colored work pants and leather boots. He could at least buy me drinks. I could get drunk and forget how poor I was. So I asked what kind of alcohol they had. Jeffrey said they had none. We had to leave, but he laughed, almost doubled over, as we walked down the street to the Mexican restaurant nearby.
“Emergency,” he repeated what I told the man at the counter. I guess I laughed too.
I did even more as we drank the margaritas and ate the chips and guacamole. Enough I found myself wondering what it might be like. I could sense Jeffrey would do his very best for me. I told him about the literary journal I run with my friends, about my last boyfriend. “Some people just burn too brightly,” I said. We talked as well about the dating website. I mentioned that the guys there always had cats. Jeffrey said he’d never have a cat. I squeezed his thigh and said “good.”
After our drinks we went across the street. I was tipsy. There was a band playing in front of a bar. We couldn’t get too close, but we listened and smoked, talked about what we’d do next. I needed some time to decide if I’d sleep with him.
Before our cigarettes died, we decided on a place a few blocks away. And as we strolled there I knew, by how Jeffrey’s fingers glanced against mine, he wanted to see me again. I suppose, if I’m being honest with myself, the part of me who likes staying in and watching Netflix wanted that too.
Nearer the bar, he was smirking, said he wanted to tell me something. And I hoped, even on such short notice, that it would not be a declaration of his love.
“Is it weird,” he said, hesitating again, “ok, so is it weird I think I could beat up 99.99% of all fiction writers in America?”
I nearly walked in the street. Every guy in my writing group says the same thing. But as we went inside, laughing and glancing into each other’s eyes, I did wonder if Jeffrey had a shot. He was tall, and meaty in a way I like.
He bought our drinks, and on the back porch we discussed sex. How we’d both fallen asleep during. How it was better when you really know someone. For what I said next, I don’t know. I like to give hope, I think. “We could have something better than just one night,” I said, lying to him.
On the walk to my place we agreed on the best movie of all-time. And I think it was the way he said Manhattan, so cheerfully, that made my heart break, reminding me that I would go on a date with someone so pathetically desperate for love. So when I opened the door of my place I was thankful my roommate was up watching TV in the living room.
Jeffrey ordered us pizza, which was nice, and just he and I went outside to wait for it. We smoked cigarettes on the front stoop. I told him I liked his cardigan. On the way back upstairs, we kissed. Which I liked, the way he had me pinned against the wall. When my roommate went to bed, we kissed again, a little longer, yes, it was.
After the pizza and another episode of whatever we were watching, it was time for a goodbye, which turned into some making out, or a little more than that, I don’t know. Whatever, it doesn’t matter. He understood that would be the last time.
“I’ll see you again soon?” he asked as he stepped away. It’s a formality, to say that.
“Of course,” I said, then I shut the door.