Chapter Twenty-six

Due to a scheduling infraction I had to move meeting up with Daisy at five rather than three. “No problem. Work got busy anyway” was her response text.

I never learned what she did for a living until today: retail. She’s an assistant manager at a high-end boutique on Broadway, somewhere in the sixties.

Ralph had been neglecting his car of late so there were no words exchanged when inquiring about using it for the night.

I picked Daisy up after five outside of her job putting us on even ground in that respect.

“Your profile says you’re into movies. What’s your favorite?” She asks. “You might have read that wrong. It says ‘I make movies and in parentheses I added independently at the moment.'”

She sat silently as I entered the Cross Bronx Expressway, but could feel her eyes on me. I quickly shot her an expressionless glance and then focused back on the road. “What?”

“You make movies?” “I’ve made one, actually.” “…What?” “Is that so hard to comprehend?” “…Not really. It’s just that..you’re still so young. How’d you manage that?” “Perseverance.” “Were you an at-risk kid in high school?” “A what?” “A child on the verge of failing because of a broken home.” “Oh. No. Hell. Far from it. Too much to explain.” “I’ve got the time.” Why do I feel like I’ve heard that said before…

I drive past the bridge connecting the world with City Island and switched gears. “I made reservations but when I called to move them up they said there were no more tables available. So we’re going to have to go somewhere else.” “I had no idea you needed reservations for any of these places.” “According to them, even off season, you do.” “Off season…? Oh, because it isn’t summer anymore.” “Correct.”

The drive to Sammy’s took about five minutes. The valet took the keys to Ralph’s car and the two of us walked inside where we were seated in a small booth in the back of the establishment.

Daisy ordered shrimp Alfredo with a mojito. I ordered lobster tail with garlic and butter sauce with a Virgin Bloody Mary. For obvious reasons.

“So tell me about this movie, Steven.” The use of a different name threw me off until I saw the playfulness in her eyes. She had been referring to Steven Spielberg. “What would you like to know?” “First, tell me how it all got started.”

I filled her in on my life from the reason for signing up for the Weismiester internship to the near demise of the movie to my current job, which I’ve began using to brush up a few scenes. Who knew flash animation would come in handy for live action?

“You sound privileged. Do you come from money?” I laughed. “What gave you that impression?” She shrugged, then said, “You’re very well spoken. You dress nicely. You seem to have everything put together and yet you’re, what, twenty-one?” “Twenty-three. What kind of men do you meet that makes me sounds like Mewtwo?” “Beg your pardon?” “Mewtwo is a rare Pokemon. In fact, there’s only one of it. From how you’ve described me it sounds as if you’ve never come across a man my age who is similar to me.” “That’s because I haven’t. I don’t think any woman has.” You’ve never met Wendy then. And you never will.

The food arrived.

Daisy went on to explain the kinds of men whom she typically attracts: men who wear clothes too big for them, or too small. Men who live at home with their parents who have no idea what they’d like to accomplish in life. Some of the men who did live at home were working towards a career. “I’ve never met a man as close to their goals as you are while maintaining some form of a career. That’s what I’ve been searching for. What ANY woman would be searching for.”

“A mans journey to his promise land is a lonely one. For some.” “What do you mean?” “Some men want the comfort of a woman to keep them focused because if one can watch him succeed by his side, he would take care of her through the blessings of his success. These are the words of a colleague, not my own. But he’s talked in great detail on the subject.” “And are you such a man?” I shook my head. “I’m my own motivation. I’ve never needed anyone. Women don’t cross my mind as often as the average man to begin with.” “Are you a virgin?”

I laughed once more.

“I’m not a born-again Christian or anything of the such. And, no, I’m not a virgin. It’s as simple as that- I don’t need a woman.” “But you get lonely sometimes…right?”

Here’s what I’ve noticed about women whenever the previous statement is spoken: their interest in me becomes heightened, almost as if they’re looking to prove they’re worth by showing me what ‘a good woman’ can do for a man. I’ve already met one; Sofia. Look how that’s turning out.

“Do you need a man?” “I’d like one.” “You’d like one tailored to your accessory-based idea of one.” My…what?” “You mentioned earlier that you’ve yet to meet a man with criteria similar to mine, correct?” She shook her head. “Let me also assume you’d like him to be a certain height. Correct?” Again she nodded. “Here’s where all of that is flawed. Again, this is based on the colleague I spoke of before’s opinion to which I happen to agree with: you want a man who already has a career but you’re about three years of school left from even beginning your own. Not to mention the fact that you work in retain and live with your parents. So how can you expect to obtain the attention of a man like me if you’ve got nothing to bring to the table?”

“I…never thought of it that way.”

Conversation ceased for a couple of minutes. What filled the air were glances and silent chewing.

I broke the silence. “Did I offend you?” With a mouth full of food she shook her head no but the look in her eye said something else. I decided to soothe her ego a bit. “Don’t get me wrong Daisy, you’re incredibly beautiful. I do not doubt your ability to attract all sorts of men. But what you’ve got to do is stop having so many specifications in men and expect that to be the source of your happiness. You’re supposed to go on bad dates before the good ones roll in. So allow that into your life before implementing any rules.”

“Is this a date?” “Beg your pardon?” “What if I kissed you right now; how would that make you feel?” “Umm…”

Without waiting for an answer she locked lips with me. My eyes remained open for a moment as I was still in surprise. Did I not just more or less insult her? How did I end up making out with her? I certainly did not want to arrive in this position under these circumstances, but, I’ve always gone with the flow.

As she slowly moved away her eyes looked smokey with lust. Her hands lingered on my body for just a touch too long. Her smiled curled at the corners of her mouth in a seductive manner. Is she attempting to initiate sex?

The bill came. As promised she paid.

In the parking lot, I handed the valet my ticket and within a minute he pulled up in Ralph’s car. Daisy kissed me once more under the pale moonlight before I opened her side and then climbed in behind the wheel.

When I pulled up in front of her place of residence she lingered in her seat a moment. Silence, and then, “would you like to come in?”

I was now presented with a situation I’ve yet to encounter: the possibility of engaging in intercourse on the first date.

Something a colleague said recently came to mind: “women who give it up the first night are not women you build a life with. It shouldn’t be so easy to get between her legs; you’ve yet to build a foundation. Talking is not a foundation. Where’s the trust in it? Where’s the comradery you want to feel for a woman you’d not only like to bed, but love? Sex does not build trust. It just builds more sex. If you think she’s down to fuck and that’s all you’re after, go with the flow. But if you considered going further with said woman, don’t. It will end badly. Trust me.”

I did come into tonight hoping to end up in her bed. It’s part of the experiment. But the idea is to also date the woman. She’s already displayed characteristics of a woman befitting a test subject which means I’ve detached myself from the night entirely, making this decision easy. But, is it really?

Suppose I sleep with Daisy tonight. What sort of message does that send her? The better question: what sort of message is she sending ME by initiating such a possibility? And how did such a thing come to mind to begin with…

No, I think I’m going to decline her offer. She’s a woman with too many rules and as a man that fits seemingly every point on her list, I now possess control over every situation from here on out. Daisy will just have to learn to play by another set of rules.

“I’m going to have to say no. It’s not that I don’t want to, it’s just-” “I needn’t an explanation. I’m a big girl.”

Her smile softened but her face was nearly expressionless. “Can’t blame a girl for trying, right?” I shyly laughed. Sex is still very confusing to me despite my history with it. The mere fact that I’m in this situation befuddles me. So do women. Still.

“It is quite the tempting offer, believe me.” “I do.” We shared a laugh and our tongues tangoed. Her kiss almost made me rescind my previous answer. Almost.

She got out of the car and closed the door. I watched her sashay into the front door of her two-story private house. You lost the game before ever really playing. I thought as I started the car.

I pulled away with the satisfaction similar to having sex lingering over me.

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