Page 2 of 2
Let's get this straight, though, despite his great opening line, I knew right away this guy wasn't a shark. First, he practically gave me his pack of cigarettes. Second, he had a huge belly. Now, I'm a fan of the bear. I love a big man with a broad barrel chest. However, he was clearly uncomfortable with himself, which is never a good sign. He was always tugging on the bottom of his t-shirt, and when we sat down he instantly grabbed his backpack to place over his stomach. When you're uncomfortable with your body, other people will be uncomfortable with your body too.
But he was also hilarious, and when I was with him I was hilarious too. That night we were the two funniest people I've ever met in my life. Every time he said something, I miraculously had a witty response, and then he would laugh and laugh, and follow up make some crazy pun. It wasn't like a competition, it was something else—like a sport we were both winning at.
We stayed at the party till 4 in the morning. He told me he had a studio up the street, and I kept waiting for him to make a move and take me home. I was sure he liked me, since we had just spent the whole evening exclusively cackling at each other's jokes, but then why were we still at this party? Especially when it had gotten so late that the hosts had changed into their PJs and started cleaning up.
Finally, I said, “Do you have anything for a night cap at your house?”
He nodded unconvincingly, and we slowly strolled to his home.
Before going in, he warned me that his house was “a little messy.” I said I didn't care, what's a little mess between friends? But I was not prepared for the full on sordidness of his tiny studio apartment.
The studio had just enough room for a bed and a large TV mounted to the wall. There was wall-to-wall carpeting that I don't think had ever been vacuumed. You might initially think it was yellow carpeting, but I would guess it was actually just white, and the popcorn butter color came from the fact that he chained smoked endlessly in the tiny cell he called an apartment.
Listen, I smoke—clearly we both shared the same hobby, that's how I got to talk to him in the first place. However, I don't smoke every day, and I never smoke in the daytime (it's tacky.) Also, I would never, ever smoke inside. This wasn't the occasional ciggie either, there were ashtrays everywhere, filled to the brim with stubs. I actually felt like I might get sick. I went into the bathroom to wash my hands and even the towel smelled like smoke. I thought about how I was literally rubbing nicotine into my skin.
I didn't know what to do. So I sat down on his bed.
He stayed in the corner drinking a whiskey and smoking. We talked and talked. He never made a move toward me, not even to sit next to me, and I started to care less and less. When I met him at the party, his brilliant humor had been such a turn on. But, seeing him in this hopeless environment, and recognizing that he had very little respect for his body, made me more sad than lustful. I was also exhausted. It was 6 in the morning, and I just wanted a couple of hours of sleep before I got in a cab and went home. I took off my bra and my glasses, rolled over on my side and fell asleep. Eventually, he got into bed too, but nothing happened—not even spooning. I woke up at 8 from the ringing of my biological alarm and I looked at him and his terrible apartment in the day time. I just didn't understand how someone who could radiate such happiness out in the world could come home to such squalor.
What I realized was, I was getting a tiny glimpse into the life of someone who was very unhappy, and very good at pretending not to be. He was an exceptionally talented sad clown. I put my bra into my bag and woke him up to say goodbye.
He said, “Am I every going to see you again?”
“You didn't ask for my number. Do you want it?”
He nodded and I gave him my digits, knowing full well he would never text me. And he never has.
Follow Lacy Warner on twitter @laceoface