He picked me up at my place. “Would you like a drink before we go?” I said, aggressively gulping a before dinner gin and juice. “God, it's hot in here,” I said through my nerves—I become quite shy whenever I’m conscious, and immediately began taking steps to remedy my cursed affliction.
“Sure, I'll have one,” he said, as I already began pouring my second glass. I shook the remainder of the bottle after I'd poured mine. “Hmmm, I hope there is enough for you!” I sang flirtatiously, as if I was kidding, but I was actually completely serious. I poured an inch of gin into his glass and approached with my glass full and his nearly empty.
"God, it's hot. I'm sweating like a bastard," I said and went into the other room to change out of the nice blouse I had on that matched my skirt, replacing it with my oversized electric blue “Senor Swanky's Restaurant and Celebrity Hangout” t-shirt that still had a few staples in it from when it was taken down from the restaurant wall—I’d gone there by myself one night to drink margaritas and work on my poetry after finding the Harley Davidson café was packed.
We played a round of backgammon and then I began shivering from the cold so I put on a sweater over my shirt, which gave me that chic layered look that's so popular with homeless girls these days. Finally, we decided to go, but not before I changed back into my previous outfit. “The climate's all wrong,” I said regarding my flushed face with the back of my hand.
“Relax, calm down,” he told me, trying to assuage my nerves.
“I am calm,” I cried out in alarm.
At dinner, I insisted that he order for me by prefacing my choice with, “The lady will have.”
“Are you serious?” he asked.
“Positively,” I explained. “I have social anxiety disorder, and if you force me to announce my pasta choice to the waiter directly, I might freak out. Why must you give me such a hard time?” I said irritably.
“And the lady will have.…”
He scarfed his food down in under a minute. I picked through some artichokes nervously and sucked down my glass of wine fast, so that the waiter would refill my glass with more frequency than his.
“So,” he said diverting the subject away from my various psychological disfigurements, which I had been generous enough to describe at length, “What's your impression of me?”
“You you you,” I wanted to say. But not wishing to appear impolite, I indulged him. “I like your body,” I said, and ate an artichoke. I polished off another glass and motioned to the waiter for a refill.
“But what's wrong with your face?” I said in order to keep the conversation going. He had a little pink spot beneath his left eye. I was hoping it was the remnants of a bruise he had gotten in a street brawl. “No,” he explained, he was on antibiotics for “this eye thing,” which he said was mostly gone now. He shifted uncomfortably in his chair, which is when I started to fall hard. In love I mean. I managed to stay balanced on the chair up until dessert.
“Can I catch it?” I cooed romantically over my pasta.
“No, I don’t know. I don’t think so.”
I leaned back, playing hard to get, “Well, I don’t have insurance, so I really can’t afford to catch it.”
“It’s okay,” he assured me in the candle lit room, “The doctor gave me like tons of antibiotics. If you get it, I’ll just give you some.”
“You promise?” I said, touched by his chivalry, by his offer to share.
“I promise,” he said, catching my eye. The other was closed in an effort to unify the two overlapping images of him. I was pretty drunk.
The check came and I did not reach for my wallet. I said simply, “You're welcome,” and then watched him pay and took a swig form the remnants of his untended wine glass. He argued with me over my rudeness and presumption. I agreed with him on every point, and then said, “So where are you taking me now?”
Two martinis later and a walk back to my place with a brief emergency stop into the deli to buy a six pack of beer, he warned, “I have to get the train in a half hour,” he said. He lived in Hoboken, I found out. “I won't have time for a beer.”
“What makes you think these are for you?” I asked. “What presumption!”
“What stinks?” I yelled throwing a hand before my nose, as we walked into my apartment. I had cooked stuffed grape leaves the previous day and it really did a job on my foyer. I invited him to sit on my couch, told him to quit moving, and then lunged at him, mashing my face into his for a kiss. We talked for a few minutes after that, before I looked at my watch, and reminded him of the train.
“I'm not that kind of girl.” I explained, after funneling two beers at the same time. I batted my eyelashes. “You cannot spend the night.”
He left, and I put the my stereo on, had a couple more beers to wind down, and danced in my living room to “Baby Hands Up” before passing out on a pile of shoes in the closet.
Eight Days With Iris, pt. 2