September 25, 2005

Each couple that passed looked more miserable than the next. It was exhilarating.

There are two things in life I do well. Talking on the phone and drinking coffee. Better yet, talking on the phone while drinking coffee. That's about it. I went out this morning to buy coffee. The streets were filled with couples and I thought, what are they doing that's so exciting? They go out, shop for CDs, buy juice. Do I really need someone with me to buy juice? Each couple that passed looked more miserable than the next. It was exhilarating.

Recently I went out with a millionaire. My friend Lori set us up and listed the reasons why "on paper" he was a catch. Tall, good-looking, well read, actively seeking a girlfriend: it was impressive. This got me thinking.

What am I like on paper? Not great. If Lori were to describe me she'd have to say: "Talks on the phone, drinks coffee." At least it's not misleading.

The millionaire was the bachelor in town that everyone wanted to date. Some girls would see that as a challenge. Not me. I saw it as a reason to stay home, since chances were it wouldn't go anywhere. I was already exhausted from the effort of trumping every single woman and I hadn't even heard from him yet. But the following night he called and we went out to dinner. It was pleasant or, as I told Lori, less horrible than I had expected. "Well, he really liked you," she said. But she sounded stunned, as though Colin Farrell had just confessed he was gay.

So we went out again. He invited me over to his loft. I could see myself living there; just not with him. Here's why. Without knowing me, he had decided that I was wonderful and all of his friends would love me. And then, the more I tried to convince him he didn't know what he was talking about, the more charmed he became. It was a mess. The evening went on and on. I could feel myself getting older. He suggested a nightcap and I lied and said I had to get up early the next morning for a meeting, a really early meeting, and added "5am" to emphasise. "I love it," he said, "you're so driven." I didn't say anything. What could I say: no, I'm not driven, I'm lying? He walked me to the kerb and asked for another date. All I could think of was "Where are the taxis?" Then he kissed me.

Lori told me later he thought it was a great kiss. I don't know how this happened. Wasn't he there? It was like kissing my arm. "What's the problem?" she asked. She didn't understand. He'd brought dried figs and expensive apricots to her party. He was perfect. I thought it over. It wasn't the fact that he liked me: it was the fact that he'd idealised me and had no idea how wrong he was. I almost wanted to date him for a few months just to prove I was right. Six months down the line I could gloat. "See? I'm not wonderful at all!"