Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Lunch Hour of the Damned

Just had my lunch date with Anthony. Urgh. Going to meet him, my stomach was in knots. How I hate meeting a potential boyfriend/whatever for the first time, especially when there’s no liquor involved.

Good parts: 1) he bought me lunch. 2) Is a decent conversationalist 3) Not stupid or hideous. Bad parts: 1) No chemistry 2) Looks like they guy who played Dharma’s father on Dharma and Greg, and sort of sounded like him, too 3) Clearly thinks we have potential, as evidenced from the fact that he put his arm around my waist after lunch while we were sitting on a bench in City Hall Park.

I was totally thrown by the latter. First he had his arm around the back of the bench, in time-honored high school movie-date fashion. I thought this was bold, but not a big deal. Then his arm snaked around to my side. I think my discomfort was pretty obvious, I mean, I wasn’t relaxing against him or anything, and I started to avoid his eyes. When he said, “So I think we have some chemistry… I think we would get along…” my brain was screaming, Should I tell him there’s no chemistry now or take the coward's way out and do it via email? I can’t sleep with him! How do I do this?

I think he got the impression that his arm around my waist wasn’t that welcome cause he eventually backed off a bit and explained, “I just feel so comfortable with you… you’re so friendly.”

“I am friendly,” I said. Subtext being: Polite and friendly. I’m not giving you any more-than-friendly signals. Then, struggling, I said, “I’m not really used to that,” which was sort of an understatement. I don’t know if it’s a New Yorkerish regard for personal space or just general standoffishness that made me cringe, but I was seriously disturbed by him putting an arm around me. If we’d been drunk, OK. If I’d relaxed into him when he put his arm across the back of the bench, maybe. If I’d made eye contact with him, maybe. If I’d thought he was cute, yes. I think of all the times I’ve clumsily tried to signal to a guy I was interested… gah! Smiling, making eye contact, taking baby steps towards wanton behavior such as arm-touching and wineglass stroking (guaranteed by body language expert Tracey Cox to signal sexual interest). It’s like banging my head against the wall, as I expect it is for most people: being attracted to people who aren’t attracted to you, and fending off the advances of people you wouldn’t sleep with in a million years.

SIDEBAR, or big long parenthesis: Perhaps this is why I generally go for younger men. They’re so much less threatening, so much more obviously vulnerable. Even though they’re supposed to be less able to read women, I just feel much … safer. And that’s odd, considering my submissiveness, which to me holds a kind of danger and threat. I mean, a danger and threat I find acceptable, not one that might harm me. Although according to some people (mostly bizarre and explicit posters on Craig’s List) submission is about safety and trust. I mean – well, you have to trust someone to feel safe with them when they’re dominating you, yes, but for me I don’t think the sexual excitement would come from feeling safe. I mean, safety is sort of the opposite of excitement, isn’t it? Maybe. Anyway, when I think about being submissive, I think I like the idea of it being sort of transgressive and sexy in that it seems to subvert my ideas about women’s equality. Ah…. !@#$ forget it! SIDEBAR or big long parenthesis ENDS

Finally I said, “I’m not really looking for a serious relationship right now.” Which is absolutely true and, as I have always understood it, a polite fiction meaning I'm not interested, pal. But I’m just not attracted to this fellow, and I wouldn’t want a frivolous relationship with him, either. I want nothing from him. I can’t imagine stroking his hairy arms or melting at his nasal voice. OK, that was mean. But I was really thrown by the arm maneuver. The thing is, it wasn’t such an outrage for him to have his arm around me, I mean, it’s hardly sexual assault. But I was really uncomfortable, and I resented him for it.

“Yeah, I’m just taking things as they come,” he said, which missed my point. “Seeing how things go.”

I tried again: “So I got a lot of responses to my ad, so this week I’m kind of busy…” Also, I asked him how old he was and he admitted to being older than his ad suggested. "I mean, of course I lied cause I was looking for someone much younger," he explained. You know that makes me think? Not flattering things. I said I would get in touch at the end of the week or early next week and with some relief I left him at the train station. On the way back to the office I thought longingly of Tim, that lovely, lovely boy I met a few weeks ago.

YET ANOTHER SIDEBAR This was crazy: his girlfriend posted an ad on Craig’s List saying, in effect, Sleep With My Boyfriend! I thought, well, that’s certainly grist for the mill, so I answered her ad. She sent me a photo of him, as well as one of herself in her underwear, which gave me pause for thought. But he looked cute. Anyway, she set the whole thing up, he emailed me -- a very good emailer, and enthusiastic and sort of awkward, which made me feel more comfortable – and then we met for a drink. We got along great, he had even read, and liked, Laurie Colwin, which I took as a sign from God or something. And I loved the idea that his girlfriend was setting the whole thing up, which made it a kinky feminist endeavor instead of just kinky. We drank and made out and when he said he was “on the dominant side,” I was overjoyed. And then I said I was looking forward to going down on him, and pleasing him. (!) I must have been very, very drunk to say that, even though it was perfectly true. So we had plans to meet that Sunday, but I didn’t hear from him. Eventually his girlfriend emailed me to say he’d gone home as his father was ill. Then Tim emailed me to say that his father’s illness had put a dampener on his libido, and that he and the girlfriend had broken up. Gah!!! So disappointing. So I wrote back to say not to worry about it, hope his dad was better, keep in touch. I can’t imagine that I’ll hear from him, so I view this as a missed opportunity of the first order. Damn his father and his dicky heart! YET ANOTHER SIDEBAR ENDS.

Anyway, at last I’ve stopped feeling quite so disturbed by my lunch hour. But still. Finding someone who returns your level of interest is like digging for a needle in a haystack.

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