After my divorce, I try online dating. It’s easier to start over with words on a screen than words in a crowded bar. My initial flirting is more effective in nouns and verbs: If he doesn’t love a good pun, I’ll already know we’re not meant to be. The first date showed so much promise: he was even better looking than his photo, an anomaly in the cyber-date world, and he was a gentleman at dinner, even offering to pay. He came over to watch the first Daniel-Craig-as-James-Bond, but we mostly made out. He fell asleep in my bed with his arm tossed carelessly around my waist. I looked at his sleeping face, and I felt a little stone inside lift.
I was awakened around seven the next day when, pantsless, he rolled himself on top of me. I’m not a morning person, but I decided to give it a shot, reaching down for what ended up being the tiniest penis I had ever seen, or will see again.
“Come on, you slut, you know you want it,” he said.
“Roll over. Now,” he said.
And to avoid making things awkward, I did. I let him do whatever he wanted because I couldn’t feel anything down there anyway.
When it was done, we dressed, and he took me out to breakfast--a sweet, confusing gesture. When I pulled out my planner to see what time I had an appointment that day, he took it from me and started to write things like Run 30 minutes on Tuesday, 60 crunches on Thursday, and so on. I barely ate my omelet, and I never heard from him again.
After that, there was a golf-playing ginger with one of those guffaws that makes the whole restaurant turn and look at you (but not in a charming Julia Roberts way). There was no immediate connection, but he went in for a full-mouthed kiss at the end of the night, and the kiss was sort of nice, so I agreed to go out with him on a second date.
He cooked me dinner at his place. When I spilled red wine on my dress, he promptly got up and pulled out one of his shirts—a blue button-up—for me to wear. So there I was, wearing a men’s shirt and lacy underwear in the candlelight and enjoying conversation with a decent guy (though I tried not to be too funny). It was the rom-com I’d always wanted (though, in my fantasy, he never had freckles or listened to Gin Blossoms). I spent the night.
A few evenings later, we went out to meet a few of his friends. I ended up seated next to a handsome friend-of-a-friend who was on leave from the military. We had intense chemistry. While my date caught up with his college buddies, neglecting to introduce me as more than my first name, I drank Manhattans with this stranger, and in the crowded bar, at the end of the night, when he asked me to kiss him in a dark corner, I said no. I was a nice girl. I left with the man who brought me.
At his place, before we got into bed, he asked, “Did you brush your teeth?” “No, I don’t have a toothbrush here,” I said coyly, thinking he was hinting at leaving one at his place, or even sharing his. “Be resourceful—use your finger. There’s toothpaste on the sink,” he said, and went back to reading a magazine. I should have left right then, but I was already naked, so I stayed. The next day he texted to say it wasn’t me, it was him, but he wanted to be friends, and did I want to see a movie on Thursday? No, I did not.
The most recent guy dumped me by email after our first date because I was a carnivore—but not before taking me home with him, where he proceeded to have sex with me twice, once pausing to adjust the needle on the Beirut album. He’d spent most of our dinner providing commentary on the beer selection and eating beans and rice while I chewed on my chicken salad and nodded. He wrote that he had been offended by my meal choice--though apparently not offended enough to keep himself from excavating my meat-glazed mouth with his tongue. I was pissed off, not because he mattered to me, but because the first thing I noticed when we met outside the metro was that he was three inches shorter than me, and all night I had been giving myself little pep talks as to why I should give him a chance: he has straight teeth, he has a full-time job, it’s not even a big deal when we’re sitting down.
Was I too intimidating somehow? Were they concerned with my disproportionate bust to hip ratio (I’ve always been a pear)—that I may be able to bear their children with these hips, but be unable to nurse them with these B-cups?
How did I end up here? I never had to work to make someone want me: When we'd met at sixteen, my ex-husband loved me right away. Maybe that’s what made me love him too. Maybe I didn’t know how to fall first. Maybe I didn’t know what I loved about other people. All I knew was I wanted a feeling like my heart exhaling this is it.
Deep down, I know the dirty truth of me: I am overzealous. My desire to not be alone is palpable, its own kind of anti-pheromone. I’ve never lived alone until now. The sheets are too cold, even in summer. I have fear-induced insomnia from the night sounds around the apartment. Heart pounding and armpits prickling, I check behind the shower curtain every time I pee.
Maybe I don’t need Love--maybe I just need a handgun in my bedside drawer. Something tangible to hold onto. Except I don’t know anything about guns either: how to shoot one or even how to obtain one. Do I go to a pawn shop? A Walmart? Some dark alley? I’ve heard the Internet makes it pretty easy to find whatever protection you might need--though, of course, I'm starting to distrust the Internet on serious matters where whole lives are at stake.
About the Author: Amanda Miska received her MFA in Creative Writing from American University, stopped writing altogether for a while, got married, had a baby, worked several crappy part-time jobs, got knocked up a second time (because the only thing better than writing is motherhood), and then started writing again, for serious. She will have her cake and eat it too. Her work has been featured in NIB Magazine and is forthcoming from Buffalo Almanack and Black Heart Magazine. Find her on Twitter: @akmiska