I’ll be honest. Living in New York City, I probably fall in love about a dozen times a day. There are just a lot of beautiful women in this town, and I never stop appreciating them. I would date them all, if I could.
It is not because I am a misogynistic womanizing skeeze. Quite the opposite, really. I date women because I love women, and I date many different women because I cannot lie to myself and keep seeing somebody once I know it is not going to work out. It’s as simple as that.
So of course she was the first thing I noticed when I walked into the park. I was on a lunch break with a co-worker, we were hustling through the city-block of wintry trees on our way to grab a bite, and I saw her kind of huddled on a bench trying to keep warm in the December chill. I’ll admit. My head probably turned slightly so I could keep her in my line of sight as we walked past her.
She sat up a little straighter, as if she were suddenly conscious of slouching against the cold, and she took a deep breath. She closed her eyes as she re-adjusted her posture, as if she were straightening more than just her spine, and then she opened them and looked directly at me.
We locked eyes. We both blinked. Her eyes registered surprise.
I kept walking, nodding to the story my co-worker was telling me about the sweet new dishwasher he’d just had installed in his apartment. To be honest I don’t remember much of anything he said, I was so distracted by the way she had sat straight up and looked me in the eyes. It seemed like in that one motion, that deep breath, she was straightening out something in her mind. Something in her heart.
And the way she had looked at me…
I had to find out. By the time we walked past her again on our way back to the office, a friend had joined her with coffee and bagels. For a second I thought I was crazy. Maybe she was just tired and re-adjusting her posture after all. Maybe there was no conversation in her head or her heart or whatever crazy sentimental shit I’d conjured up in my head. Maybe she just happened to open her eyes while I was checking her out and that was all.
But I had to find out. It drives me crazy to let these opportunities slip through my fingers every day. She was gorgeous—petite and built like a dancer. She seemed aware of herself. She seemed in her body. And she had just looked at me in that certain way.
I made up an excuse about having left my phone at the restaurant and told my colleague that I’d see him upstairs.
As I approached the two women on the park bench the friend looked at me with a mixture of fear and disgust.
“Hi,” I said, trying to be non-threatening. “I just noticed you sitting here over my lunch break.” I directed my conversation at the dark haired dancer who, I noticed, was sitting up very straight now. “And I, well, I was just wondering if you’d like to get a coffee sometime.” I usually get straight to the point with these things.
The fear had disappeared from her friend’s face. She looked ready to spit on me. I’m not sure why this happens when you get two women together. Sometimes they get all giggly and it’s kind of cute, but sometimes it’s this crazy defensive shit that makes me feel like a pedophile or something.
The dancer, however, was looking at me with the same wide-eyed face she’d given me earlier. It was like something unexpected had just landed in her lap, something potentially nice.
“I…” she paused, and then tried again. “I…”
Her friend tried to fill in for her, “She…”
“You have a boyfriend,” I said. Sometimes it’s nice to just make it easier for them.
“Yes,” her friend said with venom. “She has a boyfriend.”
“Right,” I said. “Well, I’m Charlie. It was nice to meet you both.” I held out my hand to shake each of theirs—I guess I had some awkward impulse to tie up the situation with a polite formality—and my phone, which I’d stuck up my sleeve to make sure I didn’t absent-mindedly pull it out of my pocket when I lied to my co-worker, fell out.
I bent down to pick it up but she was faster.
I never keep my phone in a case. They’re bulky and remove the sexy from Apple’s sleek design, and only clumsy people need them anyways.
She reached the phone before me, fumbled with it for a second before giving it back to me saying, a little too cheerfully, “No cracks!”
I thanked her, and left without the awkward handshake.
When I was back in the office my phone buzzed. The text message, it said, was coming from my own number. I was confused. I tried to enter the code to unlock my screen but it wouldn’t work. I read the message from the locked display screen.
It just had four words:
We just broke up.
I guess she doesn’t put a case on her iPhone either.
Written by Arianna Sullivan