“God, I don’t even know what I’m doing right now.” I looked over at my friend who was driving me home, he said nothing. Waiting hopelessly for a little support I continued, “Like, I don’t even know this guy. It’s almost 3:00am and all I want to do is sleep. Why did I invite him over?” “Yeah…” He replied half heartedly as he focused on the road. Realizing that he didn’t care I fell silent and stared out the window, watching the falling rain. When we finally arrived at my apartment we said goodbye and parted ways. I climbed up the stairs to my bedroom and threw on an oversized sweatshirt that smelled like stale smoke and secretly hoped that my suitor would get lost and go back the way he came. But he didn’t and when I heard him knocking I put on a smile and walked cooly to the door.
I knew him in middle school. By “knew him” I mean we had exchanged glances in the partially finished basement of my best friend’s apartment when we were thirteen. My only real memory of this person had been overshadowed by the scraggily haired boy he was with who was busying himself by undressing old barbies and making sexually disturbing comments. I sat on the arm of an old couch and watched it in disgust. He hadn’t crossed my mind in almost ten years when I noticed a message from him lingering in my inbox. I skimmed it on my lunch break and saw “blog” a couple of times and honestly assumed he was writing to accuse me of being a man hater (I get that a lot). But as I read on I realized that he was actually complimenting me for it. Being that I’m a sucker for my fans I responded politely. Of course for me, being polite often ends in a one night stand. Oh you love my writing? That’s so sweet! Please, come in and help yourself to my vagina. I know what you’re thinking and yes, I’m working on it.
So there I was wanting to kick myself for being such a lush when I opened the door. There before me stood a gorgeous, impeccably dressed man that I hardly recognized. Fuck. Why didn’t I shave my legs for this? He glided into my kitchen with ease already talking about the night he had, had bar hopping with his friends. We sat down and I poured him a glass from the bottle of Cabernet I purchased earlier in the evening. He swirled it around smoothly before he sniffed it. “Uh, no it was $3.99 it’s nothing fancy.” I said shyly and probably stupidly. “Oh, yeah I was just being polite.” He removed his Burberry scarf and placed it on the table. He’s polite, easy to talk to, and he’s wearing Burberry. He must be gay. After all, how else was I supposed to make sense of his flawless manners? Men in their early twenties behaving like gentlemen was a phenomenon that I knew nothing about. “These girls at the bar were trying to take my scarf from me. I was getting real salty about it.” And there it was, the evidence I was searching for. “It was a gift from my mother, I’ve had it forever.” I was ready to call myself a fool when he directed his gaze at me, “I love your blog, by the way.” Naturally, I perked up for a moment and in a seductive tone he said, “When I was reading your last post I just kept thinking, damn you’re really blowing your chance with an awesome girl.” He’s not gay and I’m wearing sweats, damn it. Before too long the talking turned into playful flirting and when he leaned in to kiss me I felt my knees weaken. He eventually pulled off his shirt to reveal a perfectly chiseled six-pack. I imagined what was under my sweatshirt and thought, Oh yeah, we’re definitely having sex with the lights OFF. But we didn’t have sex. We kissed sweetly and spoke in low whispers until well into the morning.
At the moment he kissed me I made the practical decision not to get my hopes up. Mostly because I figured he was a figment of my imagination brought on by a hallucination induced by desperation and loneliness. But also because he was a professional soccer player who lived out of state. When my girlfriend called around eleven that morning I came back to reality and decided that it was time to kick Romeo out of my bed. I left him to finish gathering his things as I headed into the shower hoping to wash off whatever was left of him from my body and mind. I expected that he would show himself out and that he would be gone by the time I returned. I opened my bedroom door and to my surprise he was still there, standing poshly with his hands in his pockets. I glanced over at my bed and found that it was perfectly made and stopped breathing for a moment. It was a small gesture, but it was big in it’s own rite. I was sincerely touched because I wasn’t used to that kind of consideration. He kissed my lips, still wet from the shower, and made his way down the stairs and through the door.
“Girl you better get it.” My friend stared at me with a sort of stern seriousness. She held a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other as she spoke, “Are you hanging out with him tonight?” Her question hung heavy in the air along with the smoke from her cigarette. “I think so, I mean he wants to.” I raised a soggy french fry to my mouth and she batted my hand away. “Bitch, you’re getting naked tonight. You better get your mind right!” I threw it down and picked up a cigarette from my pack in accordance with my modern woman’s diet. “No but really though, what are you going to wear?” I brushed her questions off nonchalantly but inside I was stirring. I was madly in “like” and feeling crushed by my own “crush”.
As day faded into evening I began rushing around my house, frantically vacuuming and cleaning in preparation for his arrival. I lit candles, fluffed pillows, and thought seriously about baking something. I wore lipstick and slipped on high heeled boots knowing full well that we were staying in. I was a woman possessed.
When he came, he brought with him cheesecake and raspberries. Oh dear God if you let this go well I promise to never again wake up with my bra in my purse or make fun of the senile receptionist behind her back at work. I was absolutely smitten and it was probably entirely too obvious. We laughed and talked as if we were old friends and I was surprised by how comfortable I felt in his company. He explained that his only prerogative was to treat me like a lady and make me feel like a woman. He expressed his embarrassment for other “boys” his age and the way that they objectify women. “I feel like I should apologize for my gender. It’s unbelievable how much these dudes are messing up.” It was by some divine intervention that my clothing didn’t melt off of my body and evaporate into nothingness. He continued on to talk about his soccer career and the goals he aspired to meet. He spoke with such drive and determination that I considered chugging my wine out of sheer intimidation. It was official, I was hooked.
Again I invited him into my bed and for the first time in a long time I allowed myself to experience true intimacy. I didn’t want to crawl out of my skin and run away while he was on top of me. In fact, the thought had never even crossed my mind. I felt good and I felt safe. When morning came I didn’t feel the urge to bang my head against the wall or sneak out of my own bed as if I didn’t live there. I just stayed and enjoyed the feeling of having his arm around me and drifted back to sleep with my head perfectly nuzzled into his chest. He left later that morning, but he’s not gone. He’s not forever fossilized in my memory, he’s present. As I begin to acclimate to a good man I can feel my sense of trust finally rebuilding itself. It’s terrifying, but I’ve decided to stay put. If he can remain present in my life then I can resist my urge to run for the door.
The truth is, I was a romantic before I was a cynic. I only became bitter after believing that prince charming didn’t really exist. I was so accustomed to being treated poorly that a true gentlemen was almost unrecognizable to me. Is that right? I think not. If we, as women, stop settling for less and start expecting more then we will undoubtedly find what we’re looking for. A man can’t properly take care of your body unless he can take care of your heart first and we should accept nothing less. If chivalry isn’t dead and gentlemen actually exist outside of Nicholas Sparks’ books then perhaps it’s time I admit defeat and finally put an end to my cynicism…for now anyway.