"I can't stop fucking thinking about you." He said it in a crowded bar, somewhat inebriated slightly shouting to be heard over the bad karaoke assaulting us from the speakers throughout the room. He said it in such a way that it implied helplessness; like he didn't want to thinking about me all the time, but he had no choice. And I liked it. "That's the problem," he said, reaching for his drink. "I can't get you out of my head. It's really fucking me up." I smiled, a shy quasi-smile more for myself than for him. It was luscious to hear him say that he'd been thinking of me. "Because besides this," he waved his hand around in the vicinity of my body, "really hot-thing you've got going for you...You really are incredible."
It was an admission completely out of the blue. We were talking about our booze of choice one minute, and the next, he said "I'm a good listener. We can be friends. Tell me your problems. What's on your mind?" He leaned over and rested his elbow on the sticky bar, propped his head up on his fist and tried to look like a therapist. So I said that I was thinking of how horrible the karaoke was, how weak my drink seemed to be. "What about you?" I'd said. "I'm a good listener, too, you know. What are you thinking? What's on your mind?" I have a habit of avoiding questions I don't want to answer by turning them around on the inquirer. Most people seem to prefer talking to listening...And most times, I prefer listening. I put my hand on his shoulder, his dress shirt soft beneath my palm. It was meant to illustrate a sense of camaraderie, a Hey, I'm here for you buddy move, but it was really just an excuse to touch him.
He was quiet for a second, looked at me, then back to his drink. Then back at me. Then he shook his head, pushed himself away from the bar, but he kept hands affixed to the ledge. He dropped his head between his extended arms. Then straightened back up again. I can't stop fucking thinking about you. It slammed into me, catching me completely surprise. I was sure he'd make some smartass comment about being drunk, or the youngish girls across the bar. But there it was: Me. It was me he was thinking about. A drunken proclamation of affection, enhanced by the word fuck.
It wasn't the first time a man had announced his feeling for me with the aid of an expletive. Tom had, too.
We were casually talking about our relationship, picking the words we'd use to describe how we felt about one another, but tiptoeing around the word love.
We were lying side-by-side in his house, staring up at the ceiling. I wanted desperately to say that I loved him. I even mouthed it from time to time, my lips forming the words without sound, when I was sure he wouldn't see me. The need to articulate it was that great. But my stubborn nature and my pride prevented me from saying it first. Out loud, anyway. We had been going back and forth with synonyms for what felt like hours and we'd hit a snag. Neither of us could come up with any new words. At which point, he sat up. "I fucking love you," he said. And there was that helplessness. I smiled, more for myself than for him, checked my urge to celebrate overtly, and calmly said it back. "Well thank you," I said, "I fucking love you, too."
We laughed. "I don't know why I had to say I fucking love you," he turned to face me, the smile lines around his eyes less visible in the darkness, "But, I don't know. I just...I do. Love you."
At that moment, I recalled him telling me that he had only once been the first to say I love you. It was his first love. And after that, every time the word love came up, he had never started it - he had only responded.
I felt a sense of accomplishment, both when Tom told me that he fucking loved me, and the other night when someone couldn't stop fucking thinking of me. The way they said it made me feel like I was a force beyond their control; that they could try to resist me, but I'm too enticing to not fall for. I liked that they seemed powerless to fight it, and their attempt to reclaim that power was that word. Fuck.