The putrid smell of burning hair slightly overpowered the metallic stink of the blood that covered my face. I sat, face blank, contemplating the course not only the evening, but my entire life had ran. As the shrill, muffled sounds of sirens pierced through the ringing in my ears, I finally started making sense of the evening. The problem was me. My ex was right; I force people to lash out at me. There are sometimes that others can’t be held responsible for their actions, this time included. Three bodies rolled past me on stretchers as I pulled up the rough, overly sterilized blanket around my shoulders and thought to myself “This is the most fucked up blind date I’ve ever had.”
April and I had been dating for 3 magical months. Every minute I spent with her made me feel like I was 12 years old again, and not just because I had to hide my erections in public. The smell of her hair would linger in my nostrils for hours after I would leave her at her doorstep, and I kept a picture of us in my wallet covering the obligatory terrible photo on my driver’s license. We would talk for hours on the phone, call each other “schnookie poo” and “gumdrop”, and I even stabbed a pen ink tattoo into my ankle of her initials. I never got to show her it, though. During what I thought was a beautiful night at our favorite hot dog joint (the convenience store on the corner), she turned to me and said “I wish you weren’t so fucking clingy.”
Apparently, April and I had differing opinions on how much time together was healthy. Where I thought a few times a day and all day on weekends wasn’t enough, April thought that that was cutting into her relationship with the other men that she would like to be seeing. We also butted heads when it came to being together, which was a surprise to me. When I inquired why we should break up when we loved each other, she simply said that I was smothering her and forcing her to make a scene. She promptly showed her resolve with a last pat to my face, leaving a very bright hand print on my cheek, and stormed out of the store. My heart felt like the hot dog I would shortly consume, over done and in the hands of someone who was only using it to get by.
My friends were helpful during the deep, painful depression that followed. Wade, Logan, and Rob all came over one day to try to shake me from it. Each took turns trying to console me.
“You really should stop being such a pussy.”
“Logan’s right. Grow a pair and stop crying in the dark to The Cure. It’s really not becoming.”
“Seriously. If I have to rip those black clothes off of you, dress you, force drinks down your throat, and then get you into bed with blond twins from Sweden on spring break who desperately want to lash out at their parents by having some loser American’s child, only to move back home and raise it on their own, I will.”
My friends are assholes.
Logan had a cousin from Alabama come up, and he wanted to set us up. We all met at a bar, but I made up an excuse about feeling sick once I saw her. She looked just like April. Sure, her hair was darker, and longer, and styled differently, and she only stood about 5’ 1” compared to April’s 5’ 7”. She also had two less front teeth and cauliflower ear. But none the less, I could see April right under that sloping brow and hunched shoulders. Wade tried next with what I had wrongfully assumed was a prostitute, since no self respecting woman would have worn a fishnet dress with no underwear to a karaoke bar. That ended pretty much the way my relationship with April ended, except this time the right side of my face felt the sting. I felt that the universe was out to get me, until Rob threw his hat into the ring.
Rob decided that I should give dating a try on my own. So he set me up on a blind date with one of his coworkers from the telemarketing service he managed. Sitting at a restaurant that would normally hurt my wallet just from walking past, I fumbled with my tie as I waited. I ordered a whiskey and water, and then another, and then just water since I was through spending twelve dollars on a drink that’s effects were so mild that I thought I wasn’t drinking at all. Around the time the waiter asked if I would like to remove the other place setting she walked in the door.
I have never been good with words, but if I was asked to describe this girl’s beauty I would say:
“There stands a Goddess. Mortals of earth, bow your heads, and shield your eyes, less you become blinded by the flawless glow that surrounds this pale creature. Ten thousand poets could write for ten thousand years and never come close to making a verse that could read half as beautifully as the freckles on her perfect nose. Were her eyes to carry the powers of Medusa, I would happily gaze into them just for the brief moment of bliss that would accompany that gaze, and I could stay forever caught in that moment of knowing true, perfect love.”
Luckily, no one asked me, otherwise they would have gotten a resounding “…”
Her name was Samantha. She sat across from me, and immediately we fell into a conversation about gazelles. How it came about, I will never know, but each word she said made me fall deeper and deeper in love with her. The sound of her voice was a perfect soprano, each note hit with flawless execution, leaving me breathless at the end of each symphonic sentence. The waiter came, standing rigidly, speaking a broken mix of English and stutter, and staring at me with a look that both read “you are a lucky man” and “please sir, order before I die of old age.” When Samantha ordered her steak, I knew it was meant to be: the house sirloin, cooked medium rare. It was a perfect meal for a perfect woman.
As the waiter left to go tell someone else to do their job so that he could receive extra money for doing his job well, Samantha leaned in close over the table. The perfect curls of her strawberry blonde hair framing her face better than any painting in the Louvre, she whispered “I know it might be early, but I think I’m in love with you. Please don’t laugh or run away.” I sat breathless as flashes of her-genes-will-cover-my-genes babies, giant houses in the suburbs with white picket fences and golden retrievers, and matching cemetery plots passed before my eyes. Fantasies of the night we were sure to have after dinner started playing, and I was thankful for the tablecloth covering my lap. I knew there was a reason I didn’t like the spring time, specifically late March, but I couldn’t remember why. My heart was swollen to the point that it was pushing the air out of my lungs when I was brought back to reality by the smell of meat, and the sound of pretension. Our waiter handed us our plates, and asked how everything looked. A question I will never forgive him for.
“This is medium. What did I ask for?” said a rather red faced Samantha.
“Medium rare. I am terribly sorry madam; I can have the chef remake it to your liking.”
“Why on earth should I have to wait another half hour to eat just because you can’t do your fucking job? What kind of shithole establishment is this that I can’t even make a simple order? How much extra do you get paid when you make a mockery of the service and hospitality industry? Is it so much to ask that I get a medium rare fucking steak? IS THAT SO FUCKING HARD? GODDA-”
Samantha, full of rage was getting redder as she made her tirade against the waiter. It seemed as though she grew in size with every expletive that rang through the restaurant. As she approached the point that most people would realize that they have made a scene or would run out of breath, she exploded, quite literally. The waiter was too close to survive, but luckily blocked most of the blast from reaching me. Some other patrons weren’t so lucky, as forks, plates, and slightly over-cooked red meat went flying indiscriminately across the room. A child laid helplessly on the floor under half of our table. A woman sat sprawled in her chair, Samantha’s perfect finger half exposed in her forehead. The overhead lighting, once a brilliant chandelier, was now a red and pink mess of glass and Samantha. At some point the paramedics came, but I was too resolved to a miserable life to care. As I was sat on the back of an ambulance, my once rabidly erect penis fell to the ground and slithered away slowly, off to find a new home. I didn’t blame it, I hated me too.
In the months that followed I learned how to knit. Further removing any chance I had of landing a new girlfriend. But you know what? I think I’m finally starting to be good at something.