(NB This took place in mid-December...)
So I psyched myself up to dump Daniel. We had plans to meet and I had rehearsed a speech:
Daniel, listen. I can’t see you anymore. I think you’re great and I really like you, but… I guess that’s the problem: I like you a little too much. And I find myself feeling jealous and uncomfortable, and I can’t do that.
So I want to wish you all the best (how noble I was!) and say I’ve enjoyed every minute that I’ve spent with you.
In my mind he was confused and put up at least a token protest. I had it down pat.
Then he called. For a moment I froze, staring at his number as it appeared on my cell phone’s screen and then I just let it ring. A minute later I heard he had left a message. In which he said he was looking forward to seeing me and to give him a call. Which I promptly did.
Daniel asked if I wanted to have dinner at about 8:00 (the original plan was to meet for drinks) and I said, “Sure… that sounds good,” panicking, thinking, I can’t dump him if I haven’t had a few gulps of a gin and tonic! After dumping Daniel I had planned to go to Ned and Olivia’s party. Not cause I’m callous, but because I knew I’d be feeling terrible and would not want to be by myself with my misery. But their party was starting at early… So I called Daniel back and suggested we meet at 7:00.
Then I flounced into the kitchen and told Jenny how I’d messed up, and couldn’t dump Daniel. I had told her earlier in the week that I was going to break up with him (if we could be said to be dating, which I guess we could) and Jenny said she thought I should. I felt really saddened by that, more than when Caroline agreed with me when I told her I thought I should end it.
Next Marc called to say he was too sick to go to Ned and Olivia’s and I burst out with my problem. “Please come!” I said, but no go. I got ready to leave, and for the first time I wondered if I really would go through with the break up. You don’t have to do it tonight, I told myself. You could do it next week. Or even tomorrow. But that would have been selfish, fucking him and then dumping him, although I would have liked that last fuck… Anyway, it was only as I was on my way to the subway station that I realized there was no reason whatsoever I shouldn’t break up with Daniel; I could do it just as easily at dinner as I could over drinks; alternatively I could do it after dinner, over drinks. Was I was looking for an excuse not to do it? I thought, I’ll say something when he notices I’m being weird.
When I got to the restaurant Daniel wasn’t there. When he appeared it turned out he’d been outside for the past twenty minutes, and had left me a voice mail message. We were seated, and Daniel stretched his arm across the table and took my hand and beamed at me. I clutched at his palm, half reluctant, half loving it.
I kept waiting for him to notice there was something wrong, but he didn’t. “I saw my ex this week for a booty call,” he said sheepishly, and I repeated that to myself, trying to gauge how much it hurt to hear that. “Anyway, it’s totally over now. She just wanted to get it out of her system, and now she has.”
“I don’t think having sex with your ex means that’s its over,” I snickered. “That’s not what it usually implies.”
“Well, in this case, I think it’s over. We’re not going to have sex again.”
Right. “What else did you do this week?”
“Well, I saw Robin on Thursday,” Robin. “She lives right around here…” all the while he was still holding my hand and smiling. And I didn’t say anything, but just gradually relaxed into his presence, basking in the way he looked at me and clasped my arm.
Well, I don’t have to break up with him tonight, I consoled myself as we left the restaurant hand in hand. When we got to the Flatiron Lounge we found ourselves in two arm chairs so we could not cuddle but, again, Daniel stretched his arm out to stroke my hand.
“Do you have plans for New Year’s?” he asked after we’d ordered our drinks.
I rolled my eyes, as if to say, Don’t ask. Figuring he was planning on ringing in the new year with Robin, I’d made other plans, sort of. The very day Daniel had told me he and Robin were going to Atlantic City, I’d got to work to find an email from my friend Jake, inviting me to his Naked Party on New Year’s Eve. (More on this later). The timing seemed propitious. Also, it was narratively appropriate, since it was Jake’s invite to his Naked Party back in March that first started me on my sex quest. So I wrote back to say I would come. But then I’d asked my friend Dana what her plans for New Year’s were, and she didn’t have any. And as it turned out Olivia didn’t either, since Ned would be away skiing (which I think is a flagrant violation of the Boyfriend Code, but anyway) so we agreed that later in the evening we would all get together at Marc’s and cook dinner. Marc was going to the UK and I would be watering his plants (that is, I would be crashing at his place, which is very centrally located). I didn’t go into all this.
There was a flyer on our table, announcing a New Year’s Eve party at the Flatiron Lounge. Daniel has been a huge fan of the place since the first night we went. He’s taken Robin a few times, I know. I also really like it -- it's not too loud, with really plush, comfortable chairs and exotic, if expensive, cocktails. “What are you doing?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” said Daniel. “I haven’t made plans yet.”
“We could go to this,” I suggested diffidently, indicating the flyer.
“It might be expensive.”
I shrugged. “Do you want to do something on New Year's Eve?”
“I mean,” I said, biting the bullet, “Do you want to do something with me?”
“Sure,” he smiled.
I smiled back. And I didn’t regret it at all, I didn’t feel like I was making a bad decision and the idea of breaking up with him seemed totally silly. Daniel was kissing my hand and stroking my knee and looking all lit-up and smiling goofily, and I daresay I looked exactly the same. You can break up with him after New Year’s, I thought, but I might be kidding myself here. “I figured you were doing something with Robin,” I blurted out. “Otherwise I would have asked you earlier.”
And from then on I just didn’t think about it, and I knew there was no way he wouldn’t be inside me later and I was really glad.