The only bones the universe had been throwing me were literally thrown at me as I was walking through the alley behind my house to get to my car. My neighbors didn’t see me from behind their fence but still, can you keep your greasy fast food chicken bones to yourself?
I was coming home from the worst date ever with a great guy and just before his text was delivered, Can we just be friends? I was hit in the head by a thigh bone.
Sure, we can be friends, I texted back, examining my jacket for BBQ sauce.
We had met at a mall to get coffee or a drink before catching a late movie. I opted for coffee, feeling guilty that he was sober and not wanting to drink around him. It felt like eating cheesecake in front of your vegan friend.
“It’s just a personal choice,” they say. “Everyone should eat what they want.” But you suspect they don’t mean it.
“Totally,” you say, wiping a drip of whip cream off the table with your finger. “I mean, I don’t eat this way all the time.”
“As long as you’re educated about what corporations are doing to your food, you can make your own choices.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” you say, swallowing your guilt, your very delicious guilt.
Colin said he didn’t mind if I drank, that lots of his friends drank and that he partied all the time, just with Red Bull. I thought it’d be nice to have a designated driver for life but I also felt it was like giving someone else the upper hand. How can I win an argument if I’m slurring my words? Will he think my silly dances are funny when they’re clearly whiskey induced? But how can I hold sobriety against a person? I should be thrilled he doesn’t smoke weed every day!
I was excited to see him because our second date ended with a sexy kiss in his car. I didn’t want to move too fast but I was hoping for a little action after the movie. I thought he was funny, extremely intelligent and one of those people who just seemed to be living a semi-charmed life. Plus, he was the only person from Ok Cupid that I’d ever gone out with more than once.
We walked to Starbucks, got chai lattes and sat at a table outside near the parking lot. He showed me a YouTube video of Bon Iver covering Bonnie Raitt’s song “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” We watched the first minute or so while Colin told me how Bon Iver’s first album was written and recorded all by himself in a cabin after him and his girlfriend had broken up.
“That’s so intense,” he said. I felt that he was referring to his own break up, the one I suspected he wasn’t over. On our first date he had mentioned living with his ex in Sweden. When I asked how long they’d been broken up, he said,
“Fourteen and a half months.”
“Fourteen months, two weeks, three days and four hours?” I joked.
“I can be more vague if you like,” he said, slightly insulted.
I ignored this red flag because he was funny, the fastest way to my heart.
We took our lattes to go and headed towards the movie theatre. Colin got up slowly, complaining of back pain.
“I need a massage,” he said.
“Me, too. I only get one once a year or so but I wish I could get them monthly.”
“That beats me,” he said. “I haven’t had a massage in five years!” He paused.
“Well, that’s not true. My ex used to give me massages all the time.”
There she is again, the Swedish ex, guest starring on all our dates, massage oil in hand, ready to ease all your aches and pains in no time!
“TMI, Colin!” I joked and that upset him.
“I don’t get it,” he started. “Why is it we’re not supposed to talk about our ex’s? I was with this girl for twelve years and now I’m supposed to pretend she wasn’t a part of my life? Are girls really jealous of that?” he asked. “I mean, I don’t have any feelings for her anymore. None, I have no more feelings for her.”
I looked at him. Really?
“I know,” he said. “I’m sorry. You were just kidding.”
Then we watched a movie about a girl getting sexually assaulted in the back of a fast food chicken restaurant. I kept wanting to hold his hand but the actress on screen would be being strip searched, humiliated from doing naked jumping jacks and it just didn’t feel right.
Amidst all of the evening’s blunders and missteps, I wanted this to work. I was tired of looking through profiles, smiling at bars and having friends in great relationships tell me what a catch I am and scratch their heads about who they might be able to set me up with.
Colin and I rode the escalator down to level 1, where my car was parked. We put our tickets in the pay machine and figured we had about fifteen minutes before we had to leave. I hugged him and lingered a moment, hoping I could get a kiss out of this awkward evening, something that would let me know, there’s hope. Love is alive! That maybe we can try this again and cut the ex out of the script. See a more hand holdy/less rapey movie next time.
“Um, okay,” I said. “Good night, I guess.”
He planted a kiss on me under the florescent light. It was quick and rushed and uncomfortable.
“Bye,” I said and then in a last minute desperate attempt, a strange impulse came over me and I called after him, “Colin, I think you’re really special!” I did think he was special. I found him kind and empathetic, extremely bright with a touch of sadness, the kind funny people always carry with them. He was completely unavailable but still… I wanted to believe. I saw his face make a question mark, then it got lost among other movie goers and shoppers.
A few minutes later, in my car, Colin called me.
“Did you just call me special?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said. “But not in the retarded way. I mean, you’re special. You’re smart and funny and interesting,” I rambled.
“You think I’m a weirdo?” he said.
“No, I mean it. You’re just one of those people…”
“Alright,” he said. “I’ll just have to believe you. Talk later.”
He hung up.
If someone called me special, I would be so elated. Finally, I would think, someone is noticing!
The palm trees whipped past me one by one as I sped across the 10 freeway. I thought about how exotic they seemed to me when I was a child. They grew where movie stars came from and where beaches were, where people stayed in hotels instead of motels and all the women wore high heels and big sunglasses. That night, the palm trees off the 10 leaned slightly to the right as if to say, yeah, we’ve seen better days.
I pulled into my parking place and sat in my car a minute. I tried to decipher the graffiti on the back of my neighbor’s garage. I was pretty sure it was gang related. I got out of my car and texted Colin.
Maybe I should have just said I like you. After all, that’s what I meant. Thanks for the rapey movie! Talk soon.
No problem, I’m you’re go-to rapey movie guy! Okay, that sounded creepy.
Can we just be friends?
A chicken bone flew over the fence. I was hit. Seriously, neighbors? Isn’t it enough that it’s midnight and your kids are jumping in a bounce castle and listening to top 40 hits at maximum volume? Another text came in.
You up for a drink? It was from my friend Chris.
Sure, we can be friends.
Another chicken bone flew over the fence.
“I’m standing right here!” I yell.
“Sorry! So sorry!”
I get back in my car. What’s up with chicken today?
Yes, I text back. Let’s meet at Good Luck Bar. I could use a drink.