You invite His Girl for lunch. Dinner or drinks would be too obvious. She's got a boyfriend, after all. Part of you knows even lunch is sleazy. This part of you is fundamentally decent, essentially moral, basically principled. ... This part of you responds viscerally and forcefully to the simplicity, the symmetry, the overall rightness of the credo "Pals before gals."
Another part of you wants to have sex with her.
His Girl is wearing a short black skirt. His Girl smells like a spring morning after a night of thunderstorms. ... When she laughs - and she laughs a lot - I see small children running in circles in tall grass beneath a bursting golden sun until they fall down, dizzy and gasping and delirious with joy. She is laughing now, and I am staring at her hands. I can't get over her hands. Her fingers are so long, so soft.
His Girl tells you things. Things she doesn't tell Him. Things like her hopes, her dreams and what a schmuck he is... and how she feels lonely sometimes, and how he doesn't understand her taste in literature... and how their sex life isn't so great and sometimes she gets jealous when his old girlfriends call, but it's not like she's asking to know everything. I mean, she doesn't tell him about her luches with you, you know? (Actually, you didn't know, but now that you know, you like.)
His Girl is beauty and safety and the chance to indulge your wildest and most exotic notions of romance and love. His Girl is a fragrant, charming repository of your most impossible, consequence-free fantasies. His Girl is unavailable.
There is something sick about this, of course, something narcissistic, isolating, doomed, callow and all the rest of the sad adjectives used mostly by women lamenting how screwed up single guys are. Which isn't to say the adjectives aren't accurate.
We have lunch, then another lunch. She tells me he has asked her to marry him. Then she tells me they've been fighting a lot and she's been having disturbing dreams about me. We have more lunches. I tell her how great she looks. She complains about him. I listen. We progress from kiss on the cheek to kisses on both cheeks. I come to believe that His Girl deserves better. I come to believe that His Girl deserves me.
... Yes, I decide, it is time.
I invite her for another lunch. She's busy and she says she'll call back. But she doesn't call. I wonder. I wonder if, in the same way that she serves as a bejeweled and well dressed non-bathroom-sharing screen upon which I can project my most blissful fantasies, I am functioning for her merely as a well-scrubbed guy who offers maximum understanding and minimum maintenance. I wonder if to her I am nothing more than freedom and possibility, a lark, a motherless mark who always pays the tab and never gets any action. Wondering can do ugly things to a single guy. That evening I wonder how many other poor suckers she "enjoys lunch" with before sashaying home to Him.
Finally, she does call back. She "needs to talk." ... "Nothing much," she says. "I called off the wedding. I'm moving out." Something moves in my throat. I realize that I'm not breathing. She is available, and I'm thrilled. Also terrified. ... I have no idea. So what am I supposed to do?
I realize that I'm still not breathing. I also realize that she's staring at me. Can she read my thoughts? Is she disappointed in my predictability, disgusted at my cowardice, justified in her no-doubt long-held suspicion that deep down all guys, even smooth-talking lunch-buying keep-it-light Lotharios like me, are all the same?
I breathe. I swallow. I breathe some more. This is the time for me to do something. I know this. If Friday nights are ever to be filled with popcorn and love, if my chest is ever to feel the cool caress of fingers on Sunday mornings, if Little Buck is ever to be born, I need to be brave.
So I'm brave. ... Silently, I take her hand. Her palm is sweating. I tell her I know that His Girl and he have been together for years, and that breaking up is always tough. I know it's complicated, and I don't want to put pressure on her, but I've really grown fond of her, and I think maybe there could be a chance for the two of us if we gave each other the chance. I'd like to see her more.
I say this with actual words. "Shh," she says. She says this with an actual sound. She says she'd like to see me too.
I suggest dinner.
cat (so I typed the whole thing(more or less), sue me!)