Footsie

The first thing I noticed about him was his height. He was tall. Not freakishly so, but tall enough to make my knees a little weak. We talked a bit of shop over oysters and Manhattans. His job, of course, was more interesting than mine so we mostly talked about him. His career seemed dreamy – filled with music and big names. His brown eyes made me blush and the whiskey made me slutty. Naturally, I found myself back at his apartment.

He was a lot older than me – nearly twice my age. He lived in a tiny studio apartment on the east side of town. It was more or less a janitor’s closet with a kitchen. It was cheaply renovated and featured the same flashy fake marble flooring I had in my apartment. He didn’t have any furniture. The only place to sit was on a thin mattress that looked like it came off of a futon. A couple of pillows and some crumbled sheets were laying on top of it. “Oh, that must be the bed” I muddled under my breath. We met online – Tinder more specifically. I really shouldn’t have given him the benefit of the doubt after seeing his apartment. But he was handsome, and I’m recklessly shallow – so I stayed.

He took me up to the roof of his apartment and kissed me slowly – thoughtfully. When he pulled away and I looked up towards the sky, I could actually see a few stars. Inside, he poured me wine and told me stories about being a teenager in the nineties. It made him seem so cool in a way I’m embarrassed to admit. I Imagined him and his friends being like the cool kids in the teen dramas I would watch on tv as a child and it made me weirdly envious.

Just before I let myself get swept up by his cool charm,  I noticed something odd. He really liked feet. He touched my feet more than anything on my body and although I would try to politely wiggle them away – he would always find them. “Sorry, I have kind of a fetish.” He giggled mischievously. “Oh, I don’t mind.” I lied, giggling back. I thought it was weird, but it was still better than watching New Girl alone in my apartment, surrounded by cats. 

I went out with him again. We had a nice dinner and laughed and talked like old friends. He was incredibly hyperactive. He had such a surprising amount of energy that I wondered if he needed adult Ritalin. People who can’t still generally make me very anxious but I felt at ease with him for some reason. I trusted that because he was much older than me, that he was the level headed man I needed in my life. Then, he finished the evening on my feet.

“Well, at least it wasn’t on your face.” I have always loved my cousin’s strong sense of reason. “But my feet…isn’t that kind of weird?” Foot fetishes were a new topic for my circle of friends. We mostly all had the same confused reaction like, why feet? and honestly I still don’t know. He didn’t either – because I asked him. Even though I was slightly horrified by the mental image of him sucking on my toes, I went out with him again. New York City has significantly lowered my standards.

On our third date, we ate Indian and his eyes swelled up like grapefruits. Not from the Indian but from my cat, Pippin, who had decided to curl up on his face while I was in the other room. He didn’t even push him off – he just let it happen. He just sat still on my couch, with a cat wrapped around his face, well-knowing he was allergic to cats. It should have been a red flag. He still managed to be charming though, even through the sniffles and coughs. He left my feet alone, and I was incredibly relieved. We spent a lovely evening together, but the morning would prove to be much different.

In the middle of the night something truly disturbing happened. I woke up and skipped out of bed and into the bathroom. I looked down just before I disrobed and what I saw horrified me. There, in my toilet, lay a gigantic, disintegrating turd. I nearly vomited. My roommate still wasn’t home from being out the night before so it couldn’t have been anybody else. I flushed it down and shoved my head in a towel and screamed. I walked back into my room like nothing had happened. I climbed into bed and tried desperately not to wake him. He rolled over and put his arm around me, pulling me closer. I wanted to climb out of my skin.

Just before he left, he kissed me on the cheek and called me kiddo. I shuttered. We didn’t speak again after that. We didn’t need to. I was lonely from my last break up and looking for love in all of the wrong places. Fortunately enough it was not with a middle-aged man with a foot fetish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Great Expectations

I stood at the train station in Bristol, PA and reminisced about the night before. Remembering back to the bourbon, the cigar smoke, and the half blow job in the bathroom of the speakeasy. I came back to reality only to notice a suicide prevention sign glaring at me from across the tracks. I wondered solemnly how many people had to throw themselves in front of trains before someone decided the sign was necessary.

When the train finally came to take me back to New York, I was glad to see it. I watched the landscape roll by outside my window. Autumn is never as beautiful once the last leaves fall. Everything on the eastern side of the states becomes a shade of brown or grey. The sky and the dead grass seem to merge into one ongoing horizon. Homes which once stood tall and gallant were now crumbling in and bags of dirty diapers and recyclables lined the unkept yards. Suicide suddenly made sense against the un-charmed backdrop. I’m sure a town like Bristol sees their fair share of suicides.

I was only there for an evening, for a boy – of course. He was tall and large and his beard reminded me of a cartoon character’s. He was quiet, yet also not, in a way I can’t really understand. He moves slowly and eats like a horse. I gave him a hand job in the back of an uber and we had sex on a basement couch. It was messy and childish but I liked it, despite my best efforts not to.

Dating has gotten ever stranger since moving to the city. There are no rules, or expectations, and very little romance. The fantasy that prince charming will show up to sweep me off my feet met its sweet demise years ago. Hope sometimes lingers, but only when I’m in the mood to dream. There is something really great about breaking ones own expectation of what love is supposed to be. It’s opening me up to loving myself more and needing others less. Which actually isn’t as sad as I would have thought it to be. Where I come from, marriage and babies is the end-all-be-all. It’s what you do to prove to yourself you are an adult and worthy of praise and success. Here, love and children are optional and they mean so much less than I ever expected.

I finally buried the dream weeks ago. He stood in my doorway clutching his things, and I mine. I wished him a happy Thanksgiving and began to make my way up the stairs and into my apartment. “I thought you would want to talk about this.” He said, trying hard to hide his frustration. Everything had been said and we had gotten to the point where we were just speaking in circles. Fighting for nothing more than the sake of it. “I’m fine.” and I didn’t look back, not even to watch him walk away. For the first time I was the one to leave – and it felt good.

I took a bus to meet The Beard in Philadelphia. We ate oysters and drank too much whiskey. We talked about traveling and threesomes and our crazy families. When he danced his feet moved fast and his gigantic tree trunk like arms stayed still in place. I laughed loudly until small tears ran down my cheeks. It wasn’t romantic but it was fun. It was exactly what I needed.

I was never satisfied constantly comparing my life to some romantic comedy. Always forcing the people in my life to love me the way that I wanted to be loved. It was a shoddy plan that crashed and burned every time. I have learned to put down my arms and let go of control. It was easy once I finally gave myself permission to give up and walk away from my great expectations.

 

Breakfast of Champions

I passed by him on the street on the way to the bar where we were set to meet. I looked at him, made eye contact, and continued walking completely unaware that the tiny man who brushed passed me was the same one I had been messaging with. I sat down at the bar and ordered a drink, I checked my phone, and began to anxiously slurp down my beer. When I saw him walk towards me again, I thought seriously about pretending I didn’t speak English. Unfortunately, I am defined by my basic whiteness and couldn’t fake another language if my life depended on it. So instead I stood up from the bar stool and said hello. He pressed my face unapologetically into his small, bony chest. He smelled so strongly of stale cigarettes that I gagged a little.

He didn’t look much like his pictures. He was much smaller and worn looking and if there was ever any light behind his deep brown eyes, it was gone now. He stumbled a bit before he sat down and explained that he had, had a few beers before leaving his apartment. It was 5:00PM. I had always heard that Australians drink to excess but it was clear by his fifth vodka tonic that he had a real problem. He kept the bartender close, snapping at her and demanding service every time she tried to stray from his eye site. He became increasingly loud and brash as he gulped drink after drink–grabbing my inner thighs, making fun of homeless people sleeping in subway cars, and proudly telling stories of how he almost died three times but always came back. I wondered if he had left the bridge he was guarding in order to go out with me that night. He was so crude and unwashed that he could have been a character from a Brother’s Grimm fable.

At one point he alerted me that he needed to “drop a load” and I thanked God silently as I finally had time to escape. “You should really get out of here. He’s getting pretty aggressive.” The bartender looked at me seriously. “Did you meet on Tinder? I’ve seen this a lot. It’s not going to get better from here.” I nodded, jumped off of my stool, and ran out onto the street. Even after he informed me that his goal in life was to be able to sit on his ass all day and drink and asked me if I like giving blow jobs in the same breath, I still needed reassurance from a stranger to be able to get up and run for my life. I swear, my midwestern politeness will absolutely be my downfall.

Later that week he texted me. “What happened? I really liked you, I thought things were going well.” At first, I thought he was the med student I went out with a week earlier. I walked out on him too, shortly after he ordered me a vodka Redbull and pulled up pornographic images on his phone and slid them across the table for me to see. Okay, bro you might as well have just put roofies in my drink too. I felt genuinely sorry for Aussie but at the same time I knew that anyone who would seriously suggest feeding LSD to homeless people for sport was not the sort of person who warranted my sympathy.

I didn’t think about him again until he was standing over me, ready to take my order. My friend was in town and her, my roommate, and I all traveled into the city for a day of brunch and museums. We stopped off at a beautiful restaurant close to our destination. Excited to be out of the cold we all shuffled into a booth and dusted the fallen snow from our hats and shoulders. “Hi, welcome. Can I get you ladies something to drink?” Oh fuck. He didn’t recognize me at first, and I wondered if he would at all considering how completely belligerent he was throughout our date. He took our drink order and left the table.

“No, oh my God, no. We are in New York City. There are MILLIONS of people in this city…how is this happening?” My friends looked up at me, alarmed. “That’s him…that’s the guy I went out with.” Neither of them could believe it. Honestly, neither could I. You could really see how filthy he was in the light of day and it made my stomach sink and my skin crawl.

He finally recognized me when he placed my mimosa in front of me. His face became bright red and he walked straight into the kitchen without dropping the rest of our drinks. Needless to say, the service wasn’t very good after that. Some poor, half asleep bus boy was forced to bring us our food and refill our coffees. It didn’t occur to me until after I finished my $17.00 meal that he could have easily spit on it without me noticing. Welcome to my dating life, even in the most amazing city on earth, it is still so awkward and pathetic.

We begged the bus boy to bring us our bill but my Tinder date had already grabbed it and was moving from table to table with it in his pocket, making us wait 30 minutes before finally dropping it. He was helping the table next to us when he tried to nonchalantly hand it to me without making eye contact. He sort of handed to us behind his back while still chatting with the other table and spilled my roommates mimosa all over her in the process.

The entire meal, much like our three hour date was painful. It was like watching a car crash. You squirm and turn in your seat and hold your breath until it’s over. We walked out onto 6th avenue and continued our journey to the Upper West Side. I vowed I would never log onto Tinder or another dating app again as long as I lived, and I didn’t–for an entire two weeks.