Rachel has a boyfriend, but her eyelashes are too amazing to pass up. Long and black like legs plucked from the finest insects the world over. Even Africa. She's sweet and awkward and doesn't like to curse.
"It's like putting feces in my mouth," she says.
This makes my heart do funny things. I go on Facebook and delete my blog link from my profile because I'm afraid I'll scare her off.
Our first date is on the Fourth of July -- apropos of fireworks. We grab drinks at El Compadre and hit it off. She's intelligent and beautiful, and even though she doesn't have brown hair I don't mind. I pay. She's the first girl in a long time to make me forget that I'm a cheap motherfucker who saves my fast food cups. $12 cocktails? Fuck it. She's smiling. I'm smiling. Her kisses are conservative with a dash of middle school tongue. My lips are too big for hers and I don't give a fuck. I'll adapt, she'll adapt, one of us will adapt. It's all negligible when butterflies are flapping poetic in the darkest pits of your stomach.
And I know you guys are going to think I'm a bitch, or that I catch feelings easily, or both, because of my post before last, but the truth is I don't. I guess I just have a knack for meeting girls I can't have, as much as she and I think (I think) both want the opposite to be true. She writes. She does comedy. She sees Batman with me at 12:38 on Thursday night. I hold her hand until we're both sweating and then I hold it some more. And it's not one of those one-sided hand-holds. No. She moves her thumb. Up and down. I squeeze. She squeezes. Fingers thread and jigsaw-puzzle together like the last two middle pieces of that giant red balloon you thought to be impossible days ago.
But it will never work.
His name is Nick and they have a history. Six years. Families know each other. Comfort has set in. Door-holding and face-brushing can't penetrate that. Only chip. I guess I'm not half the guy that stole my girlfriend away from me. How shitty it is to realize I'm only good enough to pay the tab.
Tonight, after the inevitable "what the hell is going on?" conversation sets in, I order a vodka diet coke.
"Strong as a motherfucker, please." The bartender nods, perhaps seeing what's going on in my eyes. Rachel orders champagne. I overanalyze this, of course. The alcohol brings me to the brink of tears, to the pinnacle of smiles. 90s rap plays and I do a pathetic dance and test her knowledge.
"Who sings this?"
Ouch. She knows. And that makes things sting even more. She makes the executive decision that we should leave. I order a Stella. Wallowing and far-off stares. I don't want to look at her because I don't want to tear. She goes to the bathroom and returns, looking at my beer before she looks at me. I call her out for seeing it as some hourglass. She says no, then admits to it. Exactly how many minutes does three-quarters of a beer equal?
I say things I probably shouldn't say. Examples:
-- My friends ask me how far we've gone. I tell them it's not like that.
-- I want to cook you dinner. I don't even cook. I don't even have pans. I should go to Target.
-- I want you to fall asleep with your head on my chest and complain that it's too big.
She looks at me with her brown eyes. Not as an equal, but as a puppy. I can't tell if she feels sorry for me or if she's just sorry that these things can't happen. Either way, it's a punch in the gut. My insides are an avalanche. Whatever was going to be, what could've been, will never be. It's over. Honesty claims another victim -- the most notorious serial killer of all time.
I take her home. Kiss her. Tell her she has to initiate things from now on. I'm not going to be the weirdo stalker guy. She disappears into her courtyard and I take a much needed piss by a tree. My kidneys hurt.
I drive home and light up in front my building. I feel like I'm too smart to succeed and too fragile to be. My heart aches like an Achilles.