1. The hipster
“These shoes are 100% vegan,” he tells me. “No animal by-products whatsoever.”
“So they’re made from synthetic materials?” I ask.
He shrugs, tips back his porkpie hat, which has dipped down, in front of his eyes. “I don’t really know what they’re made of,” he replies. “I just know that they’re good for the environment.”
I make him take one off, and I study it. The main parts are made of are polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a popular material used to make shoes look like leather. I tell him so, and he nods his head, as if he knows exactly what I’m talking about.
“PVC isn’t biodegradable,” I tell him. “When you’re done with these shoes, they are going to sit in a garbage dump forever. Not to mention, the chemicals release dioxins during manufacturing.”
He shrugs again, biting into his burger. His feather-light scarf grazes the pile of ketchup he has made for his French fries. He grunts, his lip curling up on one side in a sneer.
“Don’t you think Bon Iver is getting too mainstream? I can’t believe he sold out and won a Grammy.”
Later, we’re going to a “house” show. It’s not what it sounds like. People who wear pilly sweaters and don’t wear deodorant stand in a 5x7ft room and watch mutual friends bang on a snare drum and sing off key. It’s because they’re too poor, or too pretentious, to attend a real concert (like Bon Iver?), in an actual venue.
I wear glasses because I have astigmatism. I wear skinny jeans because they flatter my curvy ass. I like indie music because it makes me feel good, but I also like other kinds of music too. And I eat food because it’s tasty, not because it’s “in season” or otherwise trendy. We dated because I wanted to see if this was a community I thought I belonged in.
2. The crazy guy
It’s our first date and he’s already pissing me off. Upon meeting, he decided to hug me, despite my shrieking in horror as he pressed his hands into the sunburn across my exposed back. This happened more than once – not just hugging, but constant touching, grabbing my shoulder, putting his arm around me, playfully jabbing my arm. I’ve known the man for fifteen minutes and I want to bash his skull in.
We find a table at Starbucks and I suck down as much liquid as possible. He continues to go on about how he’s into conspiracies, and how 9/11 was a hoax because the Pentagon had absolutely zero damage to it, how this recession is all a ploy to keep the youth of America subordinate to the older generations, who are afraid of being ousted by the overly-intelligent men and women graduating college every day.
“And I had cancer, you know,” he changes the conversation mid-sentence. “I almost died. They actually put a fake vein into my arm, see,” he rolls up his shirtsleeve and shows me a tiny scar. It looks like a cat scratched him.
“What kind of cancer did you have?” I ask.
“Oh, I don’t really remember,” he replies, placing his hand on my knee. “Something bad though.”
“Were you ever in the hospital for anything else?” I respond, half joking. This guy is freakin’ nuts.
“Oh yeah,” he says. “I was in a mental facility because I have schizophrenia.”
I almost choke on my drink. Holy shit. So he’s actually crazy.
I can’t take it any longer, and make up some excuse about meeting a friend uptown for dinner. “Call me soon, yeah? Or I’ll call you?” he says, giving me one final squeeze.
In my online dating profile, I specifically said I would not date someone with a mental illness. There are people who will, who feel the need to be a caretaker and a nurturer. I’m not one of them.
And I also hate that he lied to me.
3. The cuddler
I don’t like cuddling after sex. I know, I’m weird. Most girls beg to be held after experiencing such an emotional, intimate moment. I’m the exact opposite – hands off bro, leave me alone, I want to roll over and go to sleep. I hate the clamminess that comes with cuddling, the leftover sweat and pheromones that hang in the air, the rank breath of a man who has just gone down on me, blowing in my ear. Get off dude. Save it for when we are sitting on the couch and watching Never Let Me Go. And all he wanted to do was cuddle. After sex. In the kitchen. In the car on the way to a friend’s party. At the friend’s party. On a park bench while eating ice cream. It was exhausting, having to fend him off. How is anyone supposed to get anything done when someone is clinging to them like if they are separated, their world will fall apart? How few hugs did your parents give you that you feel you must recreate that intimacy with a 20-year old woman?
We legit broke up because he wouldn’t stop cuddling with me. “I need my space,” I tell him over the phone (for fear he’d ask for one more cuddle to “remember the good times”).
He’s sobbing, he doesn’t understand. “I’ll give you your space,” he cries. “Just come back to me, come over, we’ll hug it out.”
I hang up and sort of puke a little because he was just so disgusting to me.
4. The guy you cheat on someone else with
I was lonely. I was nervous. I wanted to feel validated. And I was horny. My boyfriend was in another country for the next year. He had no plans to come back anytime soon, not even for Christmas. What was I supposed to do for an entire year? Jerk off under the covers while my college roommate snored peacefully in the bottom bunk of our dorm room?
Sorry dude, but this chick has needs.
It started out with innocent flirting – a little ego boost here and there never hurt anyone. The first month of one’s freshman year at college is over-stimulating and overwhelming. I needed to be grounded; I needed to feel like this was where I belonged. So I had men fight for my affections. Every time they came close enough, I’d swat them away, suddenly disinterested, suddenly making long-distance calls to Italy so that I could whisper “I miss you” from thousands of miles away.
He was different though. He was exotic. He was Argentinian, an exchange student studying art history. I’d met him in the cafeteria after overhearing his posse of South American friends speaking Spanish very loudly. My roommate and I went back to their apartment, a townhouse nearby the campus, and we drank and we danced and they tried to hook me up with their fattest friend. I only have sex with skinny guys. He was skinny, and I found his room, and it was quick, but so desperately needed. I needed to feel that sort of intimacy, even if we never met again. In fact, I knew we wouldn’t meet, partly because I didn’t want to see him, and partly because he also had a girlfriend too.
“She’s coming to visit me next week,” he tells me. The only light in the room comes through one window. It’s silver, from the moon, and makes the rest of the room look deep blue. “If she finds out about you,” he adds. “She will kill you, I think.”
That was okay. I’d gotten what I needed. It was time to stop.
5. The one that got away
He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time.
I liked him, I really did. But I was so wrapped up in my own agenda – I’d just moved back home, I was dealing with graduate school bullshit, I had a love-hate relationship with the Long Island Rail Road, and I was perpetually broke. We went out on a couple of dates, and we tried to have sex, but he couldn’t get hard. I was devastated at my inability to turn him on. I broke it off because I was so insecure about the stupid stuff going on in my life and I didn’t want to drag him down with me.
It sucks too, because he was a really nice guy. He was polite, he had a good job. He was smart, and funny, and good-looking. He had ambition, drive, and pragmatism. I know he really cared about me too. I really wish we could have been an item, but I just didn’t have the strength at the time. Maybe that’s a weak excuse, but I can only date someone if I have my shit together.
I’ve seen him a few times since I stopped returning his calls. “What are you up to? How’s your life?” conversations commence, followed by the almost dreaded “So are you seeing anyone special?” statement. When I’m single and looking, it hurts to hear he’s attached. When I’m taken and satisfied, I feel bad telling him so. And then there are times when neither of us is dating, but neither of us has the balls to start dating each other again. Perhaps it’s because we’re afraid it will just end again. Or perhaps we both know that we’re really meant to be together, and that concept scares us to death.
But I know we’ll never date again – too much time has passed. We’re so different from that year when my hair was short and I wore wing-tipped shoes, and he had a beard and worked on Wall Street.