Short Stories

Dating In The Chocolate City

singles-dc

You would think, for a man recently reentering the dating game in a new city, living with two beautiful D.C residents would be a huge added benefit. My sisters are both attractive, accomplished young professionals in the DMV with goals and ambition and a laid back [broadly speaking] demeanor. They must have insight into the befuddling and majestic alien creature that is a beltway woman. [In all seriousness, I recognize that all women are individual human beings with their own wants, desires, strengths, quirks and insecurities. Yet, I also know that each region has it norms and regional ways of going about social interactions.] I was hoping my sisters, DMV veterans that they are, could enlighten me. Yet let’s examine how these conversations actually play out.

[**Disclaimer the following account is a fictionalized account of true events. Everything in this account happened but the timeline, names, and minor details of the dates were changed for illustrative and entertainment purposes** **Irritable Bowel Disease is a real condition and if you identify with any of the symptoms, please seek out medical attention**]

Sister #1 [we’ll call her…Lindsey] is currently wearing sweat pants and flowing flowery shirt. She is rubbing her stomach and smiling a satisfied smile.

Lindsey: Hey, have you noticed anything different about me?

Sister #2 [We’ll call her…June] is currently wearing her red dreads wrapped up the Do-Rags Lindsey bought for the community clean up last month. She eyes Lindsey and gives her a patented “really?” look.

June: [looks at me now, one eye brow raised] Don’t say anything…maybe if we ignore her she will go away.

Lindsey: [Has lifted her floral shirt above her belly and is now unabashedly rubbing her stomach. A stomach that is significantly smaller that it was yesterday] I finally had a bowel movement…I just lost like four pounds.

Me: [In a true testament to how not-at-all-out-of-the-norm this is] Yeah, you look great Linds. [I give her a proud look like she just chugged a beer and smashed it on her forehead.] That’s a lot of shit kid.

June: [Clearly disgusted] Tsk. Don’t encourage her, she needs to go to the doctor.

Lindsey: No, I think one more bowel movement and I’ll be good.

The Conversation continues like this until we wake up. My sister’s bicker back and forth for about 10 minutes.

June: How was your date?

Me: It was great. She was really nice, smart, and pretty. We had a really great conversation. I’m hoping to see her again.

Lindsey: Hm, did you pay for dinner?

[June gives Lindsey her “WTF?” look]

Lindsey: It may be the 21st century but a man should always pay for the first meal.

[June’s look now says seriously cuz?]

Me: Well, I…

June: See this is way you should come to me with this. [Pause. Looks at Lindsey and back to me.] Some people [look back at Lindsey and rolls her eyes] No, I’m playin’. But seriously. What was she like?

Me: She was really cool. I had a really great time. I’m starting to really love the life I’m been building for myself in D.C. Being proactive, meeting great new people…it’s nice. I’m not sure if I should write her today or wait…I

[simultaneously]

June: call her now, it’s not the 90’s

Lindsey: Wait a few days. You’re a grown man, you have shit to do. You don’t have time to be writing her every moment.

Me: Uh…I feel like… I should just be able to…

June: [fainting anger] What kind of shit is that Linds?

Lindsey: What? He shouldn’t appear needy. Just wait a day.

This continues until they get distracted arguing about their exact same opinions of “The Rachel Ray Show.” I have learned nothing from this conversation other than that my sisters are two very different people. I enjoy it because they are hilarious in their sibling bickering. They are polar opposites who have grown eerily similar due to prolonged exposure to each other’s idiosyncrasies. As they continue to argue I turn to Google to solve my dilemma. As I type in “dating advice” into Google I revel in the butterflies flirting through my stomach as I think about the date. It is been a long time since I’ve had butterflies and so they are a welcomed feeling. What is even more welcomed is their background presence in my day. They are a dull echo compared to my college crushes.

The online advice is basically ten different versions of be yourself, don’t do anything borderline rapey or stalkerish. Check. Check and Check. Phew. I’m glad got out of the clear there. It can never hurt to make sure you are not exhibiting rapey or stalkerish tendencies.

[**Disclaimer. For real though, EVERYONE should check themselves for rapey or stalkerish tendencies. Just because I joke about it, doesn’t mean it’s not serious. I’m looking at you “I’ll get few drinks in her before I go for the kiss” Happy Hour Dude**]

While this confirms my hope that I am perhaps not as out of the loop as I thought, it provides little insight into my current situation. Undeterred, I type in “advice for e-mailing after a date,” and I try my best to wade through the sea of rules for dating.  I lack the focus to stay on task and end up reading a series of variations of Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus [MFMWFV.] I’m fortunate at least that as writer this is now no longer procrastination but will be referred to as “research.”

I continue my research as I try to find the nuggets of truth in the universally misguided and oft times bigoted glimpses into out dated courting rituals and blindly binary hetero-normative written projections of loneliness. I am slightly encouraged by the fact that these thirty and forty somethings whom deem themselves worthy of bestowing their wisdom to my generation still believe in being yourself. A few young millennial writers note that people are just people, and therefore women are in fact not from Venus but Brooklyn and Hyde Park and Tarrytown. I am heartened by this but am still left thinking, great, but do I write her today or tomorrow? How do you tell if a person [any person really ‘cause it might help with these job application follow ups] values immediate communication or if that seems too eager? Do I tell her she’s beautiful or should I tone it down a bit? How do you know whether someone is a hugger?

After about 30 minutes of distress I decide to call back on my sisters. I try and channel my mother and project the face that always gets them to stop bickering pleasantly. They see the face and, reminded of my mother, are ashamed for a second. June in turn imitates my mother’s “I’m listening intently but also kind of mocking you face.”  After listening to my blown-out-of-proportion-because-I’m-really-bored dilemma, June says that older people [read: in their 30’s] call this dating etiquette.  I relax a little and peruse those articles before finally settling on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/07/dating-rules-better-than-3-day-rule_n_3403137.html.

I silently thank Arianna Huffington for solving my immediate problems and write a heartfelt message about how much I enjoyed the date and plainly asked for another. I feel much better at this point and am glad that, unlike 18 year old me, I feel confident that I can go about my day without waiting for a response. The more I think about the series of MFMWFV articles though, the more unsettled I become. The feeling of unease creeps up on me like after you get off the 90 in D.C or the Redline in Chicago and aren’t sure what to make of the man selling apples out of a biohazard bag. You know it’s not okay but you are unsure as to the extent to which it’s not okay.

I was concerned with the lack of practical non-patriarchal relationship advice for men. Again, I’m super excited that there is a lot of advice on how not to be a creepy needy slightly rapey date. And, admittedly, dating etiquette was helpful for the more banal questions like what to wear, what to say, where to go. Yet what about the more meaningful concerns. Even though I’ve only gone on first dates my mind inevitably wandered to questions about more serious relationships. What does courting look like without patriarchy?

[**Disclaimer. Mom/Dad/ random other adult figures in my life. I’m going to talk about some adult themes so if this is going to make you slightly uncomfortable or[ worse] make me slightly uncomfortable, please stop reading**]

How do you bring up physical intimacy and sex without offending someone or worse pressuring them?  How do you clearly state where you’re at and what you want at the different stages of courtship, dating, and being a couple? What if you’re not sure if you what kind of relationship you want? Is there a way to bring it up without your date being like “dude I’m not even sure if I’m going to peace out on you when my friend calls to see if I need an excuse to leave?”

I tried relationship advice but found that far too broad and again, obvious. Thank you Doctor Phil, now I know that I probably shouldn’t talk about my emotional scars from previous relationships in the first or second date. Really? I probably shouldn’t pretend to be interested in a committed relationship if all I want is sex? I then tried “dating advice for feminist allies.” This advice was only slightly more relevant to me. There were some interesting discussions about not using the word rape to describe things are not rape and how you can show women respect [ http://www.anamardoll.com/2012/11/deconstruction-how-to-be-male-ally.html ]. Don’t get me wrong, I think that the article is awesome. I think everyman should read it and if everyman took it to heart we could end large swaths of rape culture in America.

My concern is, are there really so few men in my position? Most of this discussion is, quite frankly, obvious to me. This would be fine if I were some saint of new age maleness. I would be fine if it meant that I was so far past my Neanderthal-lite contemporaries that I didn’t need this advice. Unfortunately, I struggle with and perpetuate patriarchy every day. I still am not sure how to confidently approach sexual topics with women as equals. How do I make my wants and desires clear and respected while giving her space to do the same? How might I ethically navigate a hypothetical partner’s “sex-positivism” with my odd mix of slightly old fashion views on “common decency” and unique sexual desires? Basically how and when do you create a safe, non-awkward space to talk about physical and emotional intimacy from kissing & sex to commitment issues & mental illness?

To be clear, my concern is less at the practical lack of easily available discussions of these sorts of issues now that I’m dating, it is about the symbolism of the absence in our discussion. Past experience has told me that often these sorts of things resolve themselves organically in my own relationships. I’m fairly confident that if I continue to be the honest, open and caring person I try and often succeed at being it is unlikely that any potential partner will feel uncomfortable pressure or offense. Yet what does it mean that there is no cultural conversation about this. Do people either accept offense and pressure as hazards of dating or possess some sort of brazen honesty on these subjects that risks scarring off potential partners in order to avoid said pressure and offense.

And if I’m perfectly honest with myself [and by myself I of course mean the 20 random people who will read this], it would be practically helpful for me too. What if I’m wrong about things working out organically? What if one of my many unknown unknown’s was that I am doing things in my organically developing relationships to offend women? It’s been known to happen [ “nice guy patriarchy” or back when I used to dance beside girls and pretend like I was dancing with them in college].

So, Facebook friends, random bloggers, fellow allies, womanists, feminist, queer theorists and free thinkers: how do you date ethically in the modern world? I suppose I should also ask, is it reasonable to expect to be able to date, hold true to your needs, wants and beliefs without inadvertently benefiting from or perpetuating patriarchy? I’m not asking about how to date without getting your feelings hurt [mom I know that probably what you’re about to send me a heartfelt message about…send it anyway just in case] I thinking dating, like all human interactions, come with risk and miscommunications. My question is can it come without rape culture, patriarchy, emasculation and WTF moments? Not only would I like to know but I think this conversation (which is undoubtedly taking place somewhere in the interweb) needs to be more main stream. Please, if I’m simply missing out on a great conversation out there, post it in the comment section. Can’t wait to hear from you!

p.s. what’s the deal with :)’s. Is that deal breaker? What if I’m really excited about what I just said?

I Say Falling

In between seconds, as the river rushed closer, illogically slow, the accountant counted. He counted his heartbeats, he counted the number of nights spent on the couch where he avoided the wife he no longer loved and, remembering his mother, he counted the hairs on her head after the chemo: one. He counted like he had always counted. Each item formed a brick that he then meticulously placed on the wall he had been building all his life. He did the usual roll call of events, from childhood till now, in the usual order.

Miraculously, about 10 feet from the water and having calculated every visceral detail of every memory, he ran out of things to count. It was then that, the first time in a long time, he realized he was no longer numb. The sensation that reminded him of a vacuum with cool air he couldn’t feel and of a sort of dull slowness had passed. He was faced with emotions like a warm ocean squall sending a wave of superficial self-awareness that threatened to overcome the wall of the man who refused to learn to swim. Yet he was too close to that sweet nothingness to cry. Instead he thought back coolly and perceptively on the string of endless possibilities that had led him to this seeming eternity of falling. He took comfort in the new endeavor, of categorizing already counted events.

With this thought his mind cleared, his heart vanished, the vacuum returned and he started counting again. He counted the events and calculated probabilities and explored several scenarios and hypotheticals until he had narrowed it down to one possibility. It was decision that would, in essence, stop him from falling. With only a few blissful milliseconds left, the accountant could now meticulously muse about that decision and the alternate universe it created.

Forty years ago to the day the accountant made what he thought was the most important decision in his life. That day the paint on the walls of the funeral parlor was pealing. The ebony walls had turned as gray as the mood and Death permeated through the walls like the 159 paint chips laying on the ground. His father, in a new $600 tux, new hairdo and brand new $120 glasses had never looked better. It seemed almost disrespectful to look so good at a funeral.

There were exactly 50 people surrounding him, enough that for a time the future accountant successfully forgot that it was his father’s funeral. The accountant continued to count, much like he does now, until everything was accounted for. The leaves on the fake plant, the pews, the cracks in the ceiling, the number of times Mrs. Felt said “um” every little detail noted. It was first time in his life since that counting began that he could remember it stopping so abruptly, having merely run out of road. It wasn’t until then that he cried.

“How did he die?” Everyone seemed to whisper at once.

“I think he had a heart attack” Replied one elderly man with a dubious connection to the deceased.

“At his age?” Sharon asked loud enough for everyone to hear.

“No, he was shot. I heard the gun blast myself.” Said his neighbor whose name he couldn’t remember.

“You sure? I think I would have heard about that on the news.” Darline Mulligan remarked.

“They don’t report suicides on the news, Darline.” His mother said quietly and bitterly.

The accountant remembered wanting to shut everyone up–by force if necessary–but that was not his mother’s way. She still played bridge with the woman she knew the accountant’s father had been sleeping with for years.

A slow moving worn down man with a face full of wrinkles (none of which were laugh lines) and thick horn-rimmed glasses walked down the main aisle of the death filled room. He stopped, periodically, to talk to some of his parishioners who were in attendance.  It must have taken him fifteen minutes to walk to twenty yards from the entrance to the podium.

Once at the podium the Pastor the Unitarian Church of God John Ignatius, wise beyond his considerable years, preached.

“Good evening. We are gathered here today to bid farewell to a loving father, dutiful son but never-the-less deeply flawed man. It is with a heavy heart that we say good-bye to a fellow soldier against evil who lost the final battle with himself. We all know that this final battle, this inner struggle with ourselves, is difficult. Yet the lord did not intend this battle to be fatal. He saved us through his grace and it is by this grace that we preserve. We give ourselves to the lord and receive everlasting life so in metaphoric death comes rebirth. When we give into ourselves, when we create our own timeline, there is no rebirth. As we consider this self-forsaken soul whose death strikes a foreign cord in all of us, we can only ask ourselves ‘how do I wish to die?’’

The eulogy went on but the accountant stopped listening after the pastor asked that question. Thinking back on it now, there had been some more respectful eulogies in that church. Yet the accountant’s mother was angrier at her husband than sad at his premature death and she must have let Ignatius know. As a boy, all he could understand in those 132 words was the final question. Unfortunately the father idolizing accountant heard that question and decided on: falling.

Had the accountant thought of any other word at that precise moment it was possible, even likely, that he would not find himself standing on a bridge looking down yearning. But as it stands he was. He remembered, in a strained yet absent way, that he usually forgot about the moments he deliberated that question when counting the worries to form the bricks for his wall. However, peering over the edge, his potentially falling children, souls struck by a receptive cord, flashed through his mind and he stepped back for the 40th time. Yet unlike the 39 times before he felt something about himself that he couldn’t grasp. He felt a desire to reach out, to call his children whose phone numbers he had memorized. With that eerie yet profound feeling teetering on the rim in the recess of his mind he turned around, got into his car and drove home to the wife he might love again. As Paul got in that car without counting the steps he still found himself thinking: Maybe next year.

There’s Something Wrong With Eleanor

Eleanor Bisbee-Downs was a quiet girl. She had a sort of bookish quality that maxim magazine has successfully turned into a hint of barely repressed sexual energy. She was of an unusually pale complexion for her race which history and FHM had told the men in her life comes from sexual frustration. As Jane Austen once eloquently put it, any women self-confident enough to not need male approval and creatively mal-adjusted enough to rather read than hit up a bar must be in need “of a good dicking’” Taken from the Diary of Eleanor Bisbee-Downs 07/11/2013.

There is something wrong with Eleanor…

She waits in her own bedroom for Benjamin to awake from his post-coital stupor and make up some excuse to leave her alone and never call her again. He’s mildly attractive in that boyish way that was becoming popular with upper middle class white guys again. The Carter Fairchilds of world have started taking the preppy style of their turn of the century counterparts with the emotional laizes fare attitude of 90’s hipster before there were hipsters 20 somethings. He wasn’t a bad lay; long enough to get her off and short enough not to mess with her sleep schedule.

    As he woke he spent the typical 5 seconds after getting his bearings looking into the eyes of our protagonist to gauge the efficacy of his performance. She expertly employed the blank Manic Pixie Dream Girl look of quasi aloof amusement that men had begun expecting of her since puberty turned her from precious teenager to mindless object. He often thought she secretly hated her breast as a teenager for forcing her to master this look. It was a crude yet polished porcelain slab that men of all ages project their sexual desires and insecurities onto.

    It was an empty, one dimensional facial expression that Benjamin read as “good enough to please her but not good enough to convince her for round two now that she is sober.” He mumbled something about being late to meet his mother and scribbled his number just illegible enough to ensure that he never got a call but not so illegible as to warrant a comment.

    Eleanor exhaled deeply once he was closed the door behind him. It was getting more and more difficult to smash herself into a one-dimensional character so as not to traumatize the male species. She stood up and looked out her bedroom window at the older women walking along the lake before slowly saluting the sun. She envied them secretly because after a certian age men no longer wanted to sleep with them and so they were able to live their lives again.  As she began her early morning yoga routine she silently thanked him that she was only pretending to be drunk last night. She was glad to be allowed to go about her morning without having a beating headache.

    She continued through her morning routine trying to not let the fact that he was focusing on her perfectly shaped body that always reminded him of velvet wrapped delicately around steel anger her. She knew he wasn’t a bad guy, a little hyperbolic perhaps, certainly overly romantic and slightly over eager but not bad. She knew it could be worse. She slowly finished her yoga routine with a savasana. Lying flat on her back she looked up at the poster he had put on the ceiling. It was a blown up reprint of the Pigeon Holes first album “How To Roast A Pig.” It was supposed to be an endearing little detail to her life. Something only she would know and only see when finishing her morning yoga routine. In reality it was a vapid attempt at creating artificial depth through neurosis.

    The Pigeon Holes were a band started by the first boy she ever kissed. The story of their romance was supposed to be very telling of her personality. Their continued friendship after he moved to another town for high school [where he started the band] would become an important plot device in her life story. She had fond, if somewhat vague memories of him and wondering he would call again.

    As she got lost in happy memories of a fabricated childhood, he decided it was time for a “shower scene.” She walked into the bathroom that was slightly too large for a studio apartment. She looked at the hair care and skin products laid out in front of her.  Supposedly having such expensive products and never using them was supposed to illustrate that she was consciously choosing to be a natural beauty. Eleanor thought that, in reality, there were better ways of characterize her and she thought that she wouldn’t have minded a little blush. As he began to have her undress in the neurotic unveiling fashion that he had created to show how she overcame body image issues Eleanor took out the notepad that she had stashed in the bathroom drawer.

    She didn’t want to hurt his feelings but this farce had carried on far too long.

Dear Aaron,

Stop writing me like some supporting character in your masturbatory hipster love stories. I know that after you saw Garden State you over identified with Zack Braff’s character and that has led you to internalize some not okay behaviors. Natalie Portman’s character was just that: a character who served a purpose in the story. She is not nor will ever be a real person. She will not make you feel life for the first time. She will not lead you to higher stations of self-realization. She will not acquiesce to unspoken desires.  I wish I could say that I was telling you this because I am concerned that you are looking for Manic Pixie Dream Girl’s in real life but honestly, I’m tired of being the epitome of endearing neurosis and one dimensional thoughts balled into the ultimate feminine repose. Please write like a character with some fucking agency!

Eleanor. Taken from the Diary of Eleanor Bisbee-Downs 07/11/2013

There’s Something Wrong With Eleanor

Eleanor strolled through the park with a child-like wonder in her eyes. It was the same route that she had taken every day of her life but yet something about today seemed…different. She stopped abruptly and sat down slowly and sensuously pulled out her note book and began to write.

Dear Aaron,

“Child like wonder?” I’m an adult woman not some doe eyed anime character brought to life.

E. Taken from the Diary of Eleanor Bisbee-Downs 07/11/2013

There’s Something Wrong With Eleanor

She sat underneath the awning of the grocery store on the last patch of dry cement in the city. She waited for the 55 to take her somewhere, anywhere but here. A weaker person would probably be proud for walking out like that. A weaker women would have forgiven him. Yet, as it stood, Eleanor was waiting for a bus to take her as far away from Sean as possible. He texted her as soon as the bus arrived but she resisted the urge to look. Instead she pulled out her notebook and began to write.

Dear Aaron,

This is only a slight improvement. I know that this how “strong women” work in you mind but let’s think outside the box. How about you write me with a little more agency than a reactionary women who just found out that her fiance was cheating on her. Come on. Where all know where you are going with this. She ends up going home to live with her single mother in Oklahoma where she swore she never return. In rekindling her relationship with her mother she realizes why her mother was so bitter and empower’s herself to no longer judge her mother but to also stop making her mistakes. Been there. Done That.

E. Taken from the Diary of Eleanor Bisbee-Downs 07/11/2013

There’s Something Wrong With Eleanor

Eleanor looked up at the overweight 20 something who just walked into the cafe. He was sloppily dressed in that way that young professional men often are. It is as men don’t realize until they are 30 that 2 minutes buttoning your shirt right and ironing your dockers goes a long way. He clothes didn’t fit his body all the way yet he ambled in distinctly way that clearly showed intentional aimlessness that meant the clothes did fit him after all.

She made eye contact with him professionally but warmly in hopes that he would understand from the get go that this was a business meeting. We walked with more purpose now that her gaze made her seem ever so slightly impatient. He sat uncomfortably in way that he probably internalized as awkward but really just looked pained.

“Hey Aaron” she said unable to remove some of the awe she felt at meeting her creator.

“Eleanor” he said with a subtle respectful nod. “It is good to finally meet you in the flesh.”

His eyes twitched almost imperceptibly at the word flesh as if he was consciously making sure not to check out her flesh. He smiled as he opened up the satchel that he had placed at his feet. He reached in pulled out a large ebony box. It was expensive looking, more expensive than she would have thought. He set it on the table and almost slid it to her before grimacing and pausing.

“Should I give it to you or do you take from me? Do you want to buy it?”

Eleanor laughed hysterically for what seemed like hours but was probably only a minute or two. She looked at him closely. She examined his earnestness washed of all her previous awe. She smiled again knowingly and took the box from his sweaty hands. Upon lifting the box in her own hands Eleanor felt lighter. As if some unknown weight had been lifted  without notice.  Had she realized that lifting the box was all she need to do to write her own story she would have cried tears of joy right there in the coffee shop.

Instead she didn’t cry until got back home to her empty and unfurnished apartment after she sat down at the coffee table and open the box…

Depth and OkCupid

Their love affair was typical of their generation. He professed his
love often with statements like “never forget, I love you madly” while
she silently suffered his facial hair experiments; cataloging them for
the opening scene of a Judd Aptow movie that would never be filmed.
She couldn’t remember whether he was from Texas or Oklahoma but didn’t
think it made much of a difference to her ideas of his childhood. He
played football in a small town because it was expected of him. He
suffered under the oppression of Mythos of the American West’s
Masculinity. For years he languished in that frat boy culture hoping
to be able to be the soft and sensitive man she thought of him as
today.

He was similarly enchanted with his renderings of her past. She was
from old New York, back when the bums pissed on kids walking to
school. Kids whose parents, like Bob and Jane, thought that 10 years
old was old enough to ride the subway alone. She wasn’t a latch key
kid, she was the child of the generation X urban pioneers. The kind of
Connecticut boarding school graduates who weren’t opposed to the
literal nanny state of their childhoods but still found something
viscerally appealing about living in the neighborhood next to wear the
artist lived.

The more he thought about her childhood the more we realized that,
even though she never said anything about it, she was probably really
close to her Haitian nanny. He wondered if that was why she felt so
compelled to work in the rougher black neighborhoods of the city. Did
her relationship Ms. Jean make her feel some how connected to black
community?

The more he thought about it the more he felt a longing to know more
about her. He listened politely as she talked about her day and how
Hakim, the boy in her class that she loves, wrote her a poem that
reminded her of her mother. He half listened while he combed through
her text messages to see if they had ever mentioned her family or
childhood. As she began to open up about her parents divorce and how
she had to live with the Black family down the street for a summer
because of her parents fighting he began to get that sickening
familiar feeling that their text messages were nothing but banal. “Did
he really even know this girl?” he thought as he read through their
last e-mail exchange ignoring her almost teary eyed explanations of
learning of her mother’s infidelity.

He was so upset by the realization of the shallowness of their
relationship that he barely remembered to interrupt her sobbing to
mumble an excuse about needing to use the restroom. He slipped out
into the bathroom and closed the door behind him trying to pretend
like he actually had to use the bathroom. Instead he got the ipad he
kept in between back issues of the economist that were laying on the
floor for occasions just like this. He brought up google and typed
“Fancy” yet only pictures of Martha Stewart and former first ladies
came up. He laughed at himself for forgetting that Fancy was just a
nickname. He stopped laughing when he couldn’t remember her actual
name.

He checked facebook before realizing that she had changed her name so
that her students couldn’t find her. He tried checking her wall to see
what her mom called her before realizing that her mother and taken to
calling her fancy on Facebook in order to seem more relevant to her
daughter. He considered various other options including confirming to
the corporate junkie mindset and getting a linkedin account and
suffering through pictures of employees of the public school system
until he say her picture but didn’t think this was important enough to
compromise his morals for.

He remembered slightly that before they had begun talking in person
they had had more in depth conversations of Okcupid. He vaguely
remembered that her user name referenced the book from which her
literary minded parents got her name. He logged back on to okcupid and
tried to focus his mind as much as possible. He loved his girlfriend
too much to let himself get distracted by all the updates of single
Bi-Sexual Chicagoans and straight girls in Elmhurst in open
relationships.

With much difficulty he politely turned down offers to chat from
several girls with X’s in their name who were probably men anyways. He
found her quasi de-activated profile, the type that begins ***I Am Now
Seeing Someone. I Will Probably Not Be Checking The Site Often***
Her user name was Reviving__86. He couldn’t remember what book that
was from and so went to her “You Message Me If” page to see if she
mentioned anything about her username but no luck. He knew the novel
or at least the author was probably listed under the favorites section
but the corrosive mix of realizing he knew so little about his
girlfriend of six months and the tantalizing faces under the “You
might also like” section of the website dissolved his resolve to find
her name.

Instead he began reading messages from single Bi-Sexual Chicagoans and
straight girls from Elmhurst in open relationships. Deciding if being
Bi-Sexual meant they wouldn’t get offended when they checked other
girls out and if Fancy would ever consider an open relationship. He
figured it was worth a shot considering that as a straight upper
middle class white liberal she desperately needed something trendy to
identify with. He imagined that if he found the right girl he might be
able to convince her to start an open relationship.

Meanwhile, she talked her mom about how Ophelia was the perfect name
for her. Her boyfriend was Hamlet, torn between being the sensitive
thoughtful man she knew he was. The kind of man who could listen to
her emotional trouble’s and be supportive. And the emotionally shunted
man they idealized in Kansas or Nebraska or where ever he was from.
Her mother tried to say she shouldn’t wait for him to be the man he is
in her mind. Yet Fancy kept explaining that oh, at least in the movies
and on the blogs she reads, love hurts. Not everyone can be perfect
like her and Bob. She just doesn’t understand love in the digital age.

Let me know what you think

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