A Short List Of Things That Men Mistakenly Believed I Did For Them

Two blonde girls intimately close
Yana Toyber

1. Kissed her. When we were in the kitchen and the music was blaring and people were around us chanting “KISS, KISS, KISS,” some dude in a ski cap clutching a lukewarm BudLight desperately said, “That’s so hot.” And it was hot. She had the best, thickest, most effortlessly beautiful hair I’d ever seen and I used to tell her that the freckles on her nose looked like the Andromeda constellation. But it wasn’t hot because he was watching. It had nothing to do with him and everything to do with just wanting to kiss her.

2. Wore that bra with the strappy back. It’s from Free People and I buy a new set every summer. Black for every day, white for when the black just won’t work, some color for the 3 times out of the year I feel like wearing color (aka: when the black is dirty). The tank tops I’ve taken from Greg that dip on the sides show off the straps. The backless tank tops I wear when it gets above 80 degrees show the way it laces up my back. And inevitably, when I’m at a bar some guy will lean over me while I’m waiting for my drink and heave into my ear, “Nice bra.” And they are great bras—which is why I buy a new set every summer. But they have nothing to do with the fact that you can see them and everything to do with I just like them.

3. Got a tattoo on my ribcage. He said they were hot. He said there was something so sexy about girls with tattoos there. And so when I etched a quote from my favorite book in that exact spot, he kept telling me it was so sexy, so hot, so glad I did that for him. But I’d always been thinking about doing it, I’d always loved that quote. The idea had been in my mind long before he thought he had any say.

4. Adderall. He lined the little white lines along my coffee table and said something about how he never thought he’d be doing this with me. But I was moving out of my apartment in 3 days and just really needed to pack.

5. Flew to San Francisco. Seeing him was only a bonus. And when I talk about that trip I talk about Ari, and bonding, and a friendship that’s more important to me than anything. When I talk about that trip I barely even remember that he was a part of it.

6. Left immediately after sex. “It’s really cool that you’re not the kind of girl who needs to hang out in the morning just because.” I read the text after getting out of my shower, in my apartment, with my dog, and got back into my bed, which is just where I’d rather be.

7. Dyed my hair red. He said he’d always loved redheads. It was for a show where I was contracted and had no say in the matter.

8. Dyed my hair blonde. He said it was so hot how I looked like a different person. I think he was trying to figure out if he would be able to talk me into role playing. I told him that it was Ari’s idea and didn’t invite him to New Year’s.

9. Dyed my hair at all. I read an article about how apparently, guys are really into girls with blue hair. I redownloaded Bumble reluctantly after an 8-month hiatus and every other message is something like, “So do you still have that blue hair?” or, “Your hair *heart eyes*.” And yes, my blue hair is incredible. But I don’t sit in a chair for 5 hours every 5 weeks to be someone’s Manic Pixie Dream Girl. And I’m not going to be the girl with the blue hair who made them realize they could love themselves. It’s not in the cards.

10. Kissed her. We were sitting at her bar and she leaned over while I was reading and just kissed me quickly. The kind of kiss that’s so innocuous it’s nothing. It’s more of a fleeting thing, a way of saying, “I’ll be right back,” than an actual kiss. So it made it that much more laughable when we left the bar and some 22-year-old-looking dude catcalled our way, “Kiss her again!!” And make no mistake, I did kiss her again later after we flicked him off and told him to go home and masturbate some more. But that one wasn’t for him either.

11. Started eating meat again. We were at breakfast and I don’t even remember what I ordered, just that I didn’t do the “can I substitute avocado for this” song and dance I’d been doing for the last few years. He got way too excited and started talking about how it was “so annoying” when I wouldn’t indulge in bacon or when I’d bring my own patties or salmon burgers when we were grilling. He acted so relieved about something so…stupid. And I don’t even know why I started eating meat again. But I can assure anyone who wonders that it wasn’t because my salmon burgers were apparently annoying.

12. Did ‘Dryuary.’ “You’re going to lose so much weight.” I suppose if you counted the fact that I stopped talking to him immediately I did drop something other than my tolerance level.

13. Went to hot yoga. It was only a second date and we were doing the classic “what do you do for fun” back and forth. I brought up hot yoga not because I necessarily consider it a hobby but because it was something that I was doing quite a bit at the time. He immediately got some look in his eye and made a flexibility joke. I’ve always found it baffling how a guy can take something as simple as “I’m working out” and make it about putting my legs above my head.

14. Took selfies. “You’re so hot,” and thirst emojis and “Send more pics.” It can never be as simple as the lighting was good and my hair was great so I decided to put it on Snapchat. There’s always a layer of, “You must have done this for attention from me” in the responses I get exclusively from men. So I turned off all messaging from strangers on every single social media platform and the mute button on Twitter became my new best friend.

15. Exhaled. Or smiled or looked up on the street or danced or ordered whiskey shots or wrote something or answered an email with one-too-many exclamation points or made a joke or sometimes it feels like I just existed and someone made it about him.

15. Kissed her. He said something like, “There’s always some drunk girls in a bar making out for male attention.” And I thought about the time she and I stumbled out of a bar in August and kissed in the alleyway after midnight. And so I thoughtfully sipped my gin and tonic and let his words sink in before replying, “I can honestly say I’ve never kissed a girl because I gave a shit if you were paying attention.” TC mark

Kendra Syrdal

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