He kind of looked like Bruce Willis but less handsome. Which, in all honesty, probably isn’t the best starting point for a relationship. But he sits next to me, and he says things, then I say some things, then we laugh. He leaves our table early for another engagement, but our Mutual Friend (another Australian) makes quick assurances that he is a “top bloke” despite his obnoxious Americanisms.
I continue drinking with my friends until The Mutual sitting opposite me catches my eye with a wry smile. “James sent me a message,” he teases.
“What does it say?” I ask.
“Oh, nothing,” says The Mutual, texting him back in an offensively obvious way designed to pique my interest.
“Fuck you,” I lean back in my seat, “I don’t even give a shit.” I’m petulant now, and being my crass, childish self.
The Mutual laughs, “He wants your number.”
“So give it to him, fool!”
A moment later my own phone beeps and in what is perhaps the fastest turn over ever, I find myself with a date planned for the following week.
I meet him on the corner outside the restaurant and we drink wine while we wait for our table. We are deep in conversation when dinner begins, and continue to talk incessantly through dessert, as we move on to another bar, and then as we make our way to my place (he pays for the cab, like a perfect gentleman).
He walks me up to my apartment, and comes in when I ask him, like a perfect gentleman. We talk more, before he excuses himself without trying anything on. Again, like a perfect gentleman. I walk him out and, you guessed it, he kisses me, briefly and without putting his hands anywhere sexy, exactly like a perfect gentleman.
My phone is buzzing on my bedside table and I open my eyes to the mid-morning half-light of my bedroom. My head is pounding from the night before. My fingers close around the phone and I look at the flashing screen: It’s him.
“Hello?” I croak into the receiver.
“Did I wake you?” he asks.
“No,” I lie. “Thanks for last night, I had fun.”
“Yeah me too. So… You want to see some of Manhattan?”
I do not want to see some of Manhattan. I want to lie in bed all day in hangover squalor eating bacon in my underpants and feeling sorry for myself.
“Sure,” I lie again.
Half an hour later I leave the house and meet him by the subway. We ride the L train to Manhattan and walk around the city talking and laughing. When we pass a group of Asian tourists, I remark at the cuteness of their child, as innocuously as one comments on the adorableness of babies.
“Yeah,” he says, “I don’t think I agree with you.”
“Why not? She’s adorable!”
“Well,” he fidgets, “fuck. This is going to sound really racist.”
“I just don’t like Asians.” There it is, a frank and unusually direct declaration of racism. This is not what you want to hear on a second date.
Me, stupidly: “Why?”
“I dunno,” he sighs. “It’s just… the way they talk. And the way they smell.” Ok, maybe this is really what you don’t want to hear on a second date.
“Fuck. I just remembered. I have a deadline I need to fill by 9am Australian time.” I’ve never been so happy to be a freelancer, because even on a Sunday afternoon, a freelancer has to work. The Internet never sleeps.
Needless to say, I never spoke to him again.