“Are you a freak?” His voice over the receiver asked me. He was my friend’s husband Donny’s coworker, and he was brand-new to the area. Because we were around the same age, I agreed to let my friend give him my number.
“A freak? Like how? Like do I have lots of piercings and tattoos? Am I into Wicca? What do you mean?”
“Are you….Let me see….Are you…Kinky like a pubic hair?”
If only I had a camera on me to capture my reaction to his query. I was shocked, dumbfounded, flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe that this boy, this twenty-eight-year-old trying to get a date out of me, would ask a question so utterly inappropriate.
“I can’t believe you’d ask me that,” I responded incredulously. “You’ve known me for – what? – an hour? Kinky or no, it’s none of your business.”
The conversation should’ve ended at that. But for whatever reason, I stayed on the phone, valuable airtime minutes ticking away, while he told me about his days in Allentown, PA, and how he had cheated on his girlfriend of six years, which was why he was dating again. Perhaps it was morbid curiosity that inspired me to not only stay on the phone, but to also keep the date we’d set before he’d thought it prudent to ask me if I was akin to a pubic hair.
We met for breakfast at a local restaurant on a Saturday morning. A combination of having been out late the night before, not wanting at all to meet the guy, and his reluctance to commit to a definite meeting time (“How ‘bout nine, nine-thirty,” was his idea of a schedule.) caused me to show up at 9:40. He was already seated inside, drinking a cup of coffee. It was the first time I’d laid eyes on him, and I was not impressed. He was stocky; Clearly muscular, he was packed like a sausage, too much muscle crammed into too little skin. His neck was massive and encased in a most unflattering turtleneck. His military haircut, which I normally find attractive, served only to highlight the fact that there was no distinction between his neck and his head. His arms didn’t lie flat against his sides, they curved like parenthesis around his physique, too big to hold straight. And when he stood to greet me, our doomed fate was sealed: He was shorter than me.
I am five feet and nine inches tall, without heels. And I always wear heels. Because I am tall, and quite proud of my height, it is important to me to be with a man who is taller. Regardless of the fact that I am in shape and wear a size six, one does not use adjectives like “dainty” or “petite” when describing me; I am neither of those things. And being with someone shorter than I am makes me feel like the Jolly Green Giant: cumbersome and colossal. In the company of those taller than me, I begin to taste what it’s like to be dainty and petite. Being shorter than a man makes me feel like the woman.
When he stood to greet me, his eyes were level with my chin. I couldn’t help but laugh. He looked at my shoes. “No fair,” he said. “You’re in heels.”
I tried to decide if would be rude of me to say “No fair. You’re a shrimp.”
He came at me in an awkward attempt at a hug. His bulky arms tried to find their way around me, but were refused with a simple shrug. I escaped his embrace and took my seat.
Clearly miffed that I’d denied his affection, he took his seat across from me.
“So…” He said, leaning over his cup of coffee. “Nice to meet you.” He offered me a smile.
“You too.” I looked for the waitress for my cup of coffee.
“So…” he said again. I waited for him to finish. When nothing came, I began to peruse the menu.
As I read through the restaurants suggestions for Buiscuts and Gravy, Pancakes and Sausage, I felt his eyes on me.
“You don’t want to talk?” He asked.
“Well, sure I do. I just want to figure out what I’m eating first.”
“You don’t feel like talking?”
“I’m reading a menu.”
“Whatever,” he said then went about reading his menu.
What followed was one of my most horrific hours ever.
When I described my parents in their thirty-three year marriage as “content,” he argued with me. “No,” he contested. “I don’t think you mean content. I think you mean that they’re happy where they are.”
“That’s what content means.” I sighed. Idiot, I thought.
When I told him that I like to spend money on shoes and music, he cut me off. “No,” he said. “What you should do is put some money away. You need a nest egg. You shouldn’t spend your money on shoes, you should save it instead.”
“You’re welcome, Sweetie. But I’m serious. What you really should do is put $20.00 every week into a savings account…”
“Maybe you missed it,” I explained, “when I said that I work in a bank. So finances are my life. That, and I have a house, a car, and a phone; I buy my clothes and my groceries…So I think I have it under control.”
He told me he was still trying to figure out if I was interested in him. I pretended to be interested in the remains of my French Toast. “Because you’re not making eye contact with me.”
I told him, honestly, that eye contact is difficult for me to make with strangers. I find eye contact to be intimate and generally won’t stare into someone’s eyes unless I know them. He was unsatisfied with my explanation, reminding me that some would take it as a sign of deceit that I wouldn’t look him in the eye.
What I didn’t tell him that eye contact is hard for me when I don’t know someone. When I don’t like someone, eye contact is impossible. In fact, I can’t even look at the face of someone I don’t like. And this was how I’d spent my date with him: Looking at the wallpaper, looking out of the window next to which we were seated, looking at my food, looking at the other diners. But each time my eyes begrudgingly found their way back to him, they would find his eyes perched upon my 36Cs.
“Well, look on the bright side,” I said to him, after the tenth time I came to find his eyeballs pointed at my chest. “Since I’m not making eye contact, you have more time to check out my tits.”
“I’m not looking at your chest,” he corrected me. “I’m looking at your earrings and your necklace.”
I lifted my hand to my neck, and touched the exact spot where a necklace would be. “Uh, if you’ll notice, I’m not wearing a necklace.”
Suddenly, he was the one extremely interested in his breakfast.
He explained to me that when he cheated on his ex-fiancée, it was because he was in love with two people at once. And while he told me that, I wondered how he found ONE person to fall in love with him, much less two.
After our food was consumed, I made my exit.
“Thanks for breakfast,” I said as I rose from my seat. “I hate to cut out so early, but I really have to get to Wal Mart before the afternoon rush.”
The second hug of the day that he tried to deliver fell flat, and he let me leave the restaurant alone. I felt that I had succeeded in making the date miserable enough so that he would never call me again, but for the next week, he continued to call, adding that if I didn’t want to talk to him, I should call him to let him know. Of course, I never returned his calls.
A few weeks after the date, my friend the “matchmaker” said, “Guess who has a girlfriend.”
“Not the shrimp!” I said.
“Yes! And do you know what he said to Donny? He said ‘She’s perfect. She’s a freak like me. She’s so kinky.’”
“Like a pubic hair?” We exploded in laughter.
“I guess there really is someone out there for everyone.”