The way you’re looking at me tonight, I know you’re ready to take this to the next level.
Well, well, well. There you are again. Is it a coincidence we keep meeting like this? I can’t see how.
What’s that there? A new neck tattoo? And that there — is that a Latin inscription running down the length of your hirsute forearm? I took a year of Latin in high school, so I don’t think I’m far off when I read: “Shall I love you and be true? Might I stroke your thigh, gently with two fingers, as if not at all? May I share your burdens, not because you need me to but because you shouldn’t have to bear the weight of the world on your own?”
And then there’s my favorite, the one that says “momie.” I also loathe proper spelling. That’s something we have in common — something that will hold us together when times get tough. And I love that you love your mom, even though I’m generally skeptical of men who are that into their mothers. Every woman knows Oedipus Rex is a cautionary tale.
I’ve been here, watching you clear the plates from my table every Tuesday night for the past three years. I saw you go through your beer belly phase. I was with you through your experimental facial hair phase, which included the mustache that made you look like you’re from Kentucky, but not Louisville, I mean the other scarier parts. I even stuck around when you grew your hair long and looked like a woman who looked like a man who looked like a woman.
The way you’re looking at me tonight, I know you’re ready to take this to the next level. You brush past me and slap the blonde waitress on the ass. She winces. When you walk away, I ask her for more water and if you guys are dating.
“Him? No way,” she says, her voice withered from cigarettes and speech therapy. “His whole back is covered in a tattoo of a naked alien woman on a surfboard holding a giant bag of dicks.”
Duration of relationship: 3 years.
Well this is nice, isn’t it? A change of pace. We’ve been getting to know each other for months now. Who knew when I took the job in marketing that I would meet you: a handsome, mid-income-bracket fellow with a brutally hot state trooper haircut? Surely you’ve caught my gaze as it penetrates the white polo shirts that cling to your oblong nipples. Is that a third nip I see or just a big mole? I am destined to find out.
I felt our spark my first day of work when you spilled hot coffee on my lap and didn’t apologize. I knew right then that our imminent physical embrace would be the negation of sentences; our bodies entwined would be the anti-word. Together we’d ache for silence and burn for aphasia — to forge orgiastic reverberation into cacophonous, wordless orgasm.
Today is the day I’ll verbalize my — our — feelings. You’ll pretend to be mad it took me this long to say something. The months we’ve wasted; the moments that have passed us by.
As the company-wide meeting comes to a close, we both stand. You begin picking your boxers out of the crease where your thigh meets your penis / balls area, and you scratch. You scratch enthusiastically with your index finger and your thumb. More picking. Poking. Digging. It seems that something is terribly wrong in your khakis.
Maybe you were at the gym before work and now your shorts are sticking to your skin. That can happen. Balls seem swampy by nature, and exercise could certainly exacerbate their condition. But you should have showered. Definitely a shower between gym and work.
You glance at me while your hand is halfway up your ass. I never noticed how green your eyes are. Like sapphires.
As you approach me, you stop and whisper to our co-worker Stéfan, “Hey, I had a good time last night, but is there something you forgot to tell me?” You squat a little, thrust your hips forward, and angrily point to your crotch.
Duration of relationship: 4 months.
You’re like a labradoodle. Or a maltzipoo. A tough-guy / indie rock-ish / sensitive / manly hybrid.
I am not eavesdropping, of course, but I overhear you telling your friend in line at the giant outdoor music festival, which I generally hate to go to because of the heat and the price of beer, that you are having a hard time balancing your job as a set designer and your independent welding business, of which you are owner and sole employee. You are worried that you might have to take some money out of your savings account. A savings account. That’s so hot.
If you turn around, and I hope you will, I will ask you who you are here to see. You will say My Morning Jacket, and I will tell you how I have seen them six times and they’re really great live. At that point you’ll ask me to rendezvous at a specific tree, and I will. I will be there with an overpriced beer for you, and you will thank me, and soon thereafter we will marry and our children will have good taste in music. When we grow old together, you’ll die first. I couldn’t anticipate you would eventually, like a chorus of phantoms, haunt me after your death. Before our kids signal the doctor to switch off my life-support machine, I will see the face of my beloved once again in front of me as on the night we met, but this time as a creepy wraith humming a passé My Morning Jacket song.
You finally turn around and say hello. It is then that I realize you’re my half-brother, Jack. I forgot we were meeting up. We planned it like months ago.
Duration of relationship: 20 minutes.
We meet during a one-man play. You are the man in the one-man play. About fifteen minutes into your monologue, you look right at me, and say, “You. You’re wonderful. You’re wonderful and lovely and different. Maybe we could get a drink after the show.” These are lines from the script, but I know when life imitates art.
I notice you have a pewter streak in your hair, perhaps caused from stress due to a horrific life incident that has left you wounded and lonely.
Maybe after the show we’ll get that drink. I’ll be sweet-breathed and unarmed, and you’ll ask me if I think there is something more than self-debasement and regret ahead. I like a man who’s negative. There is a bonding in pain. After seven shots of Fernet, you, a creative type, will ask me how I can stand life. Does it not make me want to pound my fists on the gravel and howl into the twilight and ask for more of the same, same suffering? You’ll suggest a new life together, one where you are sustained brushing the hair off my forehead with your index finger. I won’t be surprised when you say we’re embarking on the perfect “how I met my husband / wife” story.
We will rarely leave our cramped apartment, but when we do, we’ll return to our favorite bar where we’re nothing less than a stunning, stuccoed couple. I’ll drink a little too much and become a broken hydrant of awkward and inappropriate slurs. You’ll place me in front of your friends and wait for me to perform. I’ll let you alone with my friends to see if you’ll cheat. We’ll continue these elaborate dances around the bar, interweaving through friends and strangers, sending glances like life rafts and glares like anvils.
When the play is over, I approach you.
“Hey, how about that drink?” I ask.
You nod your head and say, “I’d love to.”
Then you look at me, look deep into my soul and then into my lazy eye, and say, “Just kidding.”
So am I.
Duration of relationship: 2 hours with a 15-minute intermission.