My original intention in my last entry was to write about a comment I made to a girlfriend years ago. I took her out to a fancy restaurant after a period of days where we circled each others flirtation to an annoying extent. I was doing a internship at the restaurant and was absolutely certain the place would knock her socks off. It is by far the best one in town. The only one in its class. Bar none. I spent well over a hundred dollars on the meal. I had maybe three thousand dollars if you combined both my bank accounts. My expenses exceeded a grand a month. One hundred fifty dollars was almost two weeks groceries.
The object of my desire was nauseated the entire meal. For dessert I opened the door for us to leave. She started smiling at that point. I think that was right around the time the velcro started to fail on my wallet. My previous girlfriend, Emily, had made me the wallet. Funky mojo was in the air, but my date didn't care now that the smell a sauteed garlic could be dispersed by the fresh spring breeze. It occurred to me that her nausea at the meal might make a wonderful thing for her to contrast my leering face to. So as a kind of prelude to the hanky panky I thought it would be inspired to discuss the specifics of her prior indigestion.
"Chef offered to allow us the vegetarian tasting menu. I mean, he offered, but I declined it 'cus I thought the entire point of his restaurant was to twist Classic cooking into knots. You started turning green right after the salad. I don't think you're a vegetarian, so what gives?"
"I don't know Andy. The place seemed cool in theory, but I've never eaten food like that, and now I know it isn't because it's expensive. I just hated that place. I like you... but not that food."
"Well.... if you put it that way. Now that you don't look like your going to present me with a catalogue of you stomach's contents, maybe we can drop the pretensions and get down to business."
I drove her to my place and something that I had never considered happened. She said, "I'd rather go to mine."
"You want me to take you home?" I said to her, not realizing that I sounded like I was equating our expensive meal with the purchase of her libido.
"No. I want you to sleep at my house," she said, with eyes that said, Jesus man, you ever talked to a woman before.
"Sorry," I told her, "It's been awhile and I spent a little more time than necessary, I guess, cleaning my house. But I like it clean, so I'll enjoy it none the less. And, uh, thanks for inviting me over."
"It's like I said, " she told me, before she kissed me, "I don't like the food. I like you."
The rest of that evening is sometimes not even my business... however, an amusing thing happened a few weeks later when I was sitting in this tree, with her, that hangs out over the water of Griffy lake, here in town. "You have a funny look on your face," she said.
"What else is new," I said, attempting to brush her observation away. "I mean, I am a silly looking dude. Imagine if you lost all your hair. I mean there's two kinds of people who look like me, and the other kind are being treated for Cancer."
"That's an incredibly inappropriate thing to say," she said, while chuckling. "Your one of the healthiest people I know. And my aunt died of Cancer last year."
"Give me a break, I know your aunt died of Cancer. You are the opposite of the sort of person who asks others to confine their speech to the sort of talk appropriate to a person... to what, a lady? If I knew any ladies I guess I'd learn the protocol."
"You know Andy, they say 'there is truth in jest'. Do you know what that means?"
Practicing my only recently acquired and newborn like clumsy new talent of admitting ignorance I told her, "No."
"Well, sometimes when you joke about something, I guess it means that you are symbolically emphasizing it. Whether consciously or unconsciously.... there is truth in those "kidding" around things you say. I know you like to open things up, people up, to the probity of your mind, and curiosity, but you are exposing more than the abstractions of prejudice or uncritical faculties, when you joke around. So much of you is beautiful I just kind of wonder if you realize what your exposing, on the outside chance that you have some private parts after all."
I sat there feeling the unseasonable cool off the lake. Griffy had been Bloomington's original water source prior to the construction of Lake Monroe, for flood control in southern Indiana. Her incredible insight made me want to go to the Library, caused an oddly sudden need to urinate, and in general introduced me to the intensely private part that smart people can make your whole damn being feel like. "You know, did you ever think about how people who are dumber than shit ever have a conversation that, you know, accomplishes anything."
"No, I never thought that in my life, Andy," she said. "Why?"
"I just mean that you can't claim that intelligence selects for good marriage. In my experience divorce rates and dissatisfaction seem, if anything, higher with smart people than dummies."
"And...." she said.
"Hey!" I said, "you have a funny look on your face. What's going on?"
Before knocking me off the tree, and practically in the water, I think she said a combination of "mother" and the F word. Strange, really.
So standing in the mud and kissing her I finally acquiesced, "You know that funny look on my face."
"I can't tell if your joking, even when I can articulate in a pretty outstanding approximation of an armchair psychologist what your joking means. So mercy! What the hell are you talking about, and make it quick, I'd rather make out than talk to your stupid face."
"I was only trying to return, briefly, to the dangerous ground you took us on when I had that funny look on my face."
"What about it?" she let go of my chin, and folded her arms and cocked her hip as best a person can whilst six inches deep in mud. The sun had been hinting for some time that it had designs on the side of our town where the biggest movie theatre is, and glinting through her rediculously shiny brown hair made me feel guilty for being young and American. "Don't look at me like that. Not while your babbling anyhow. I promised myself I would never tell you not to patronize me."
"I can't help looking at you this way, while the sun strokes your body like that. Why wouldn't you tell me not to patronize you?" I asked.
"Because you patronize everyone, so it's kind of a lost cause," she said while smiling. "You look like I'm hurting your feelings."
"No way," I lied, "just a little frustrated its so hard to tell you want you want to know."
"Oh yeah, right. I'm clearly putting up roadblocks here and there to your self expression Andy. These trees are never going to be the same again so thoroughly infused are they by the sound of your voice. I love you, and...."
"You do?" I asked.
"Yes. I even love hearing you God damn voice. Though if you ever tell anyone that I will kill you," she said.
"How in the world could anyone ever note this conversation? We might as well be having tea on the deck of the Titanic. I mean, I'm the only idiot in my family who loves Indiana, so here I am with you, enjoying this retired resevoir..."
"Would you please shut up and tell me what you think I want to know. You tricked me. Now I'm willing to see it that way. Your such a girlyman there's no point in being a feminist around you anyhow," she said.
"Man that is really liberating. Would you be willing to go on record having said that about me, provided we get out of this mud and all."
"Definitely not. As far as my girlfriends are concerned, and they are, you are just a boy with benefits."
"So this is what constitutes your professed Love," I said, knowing she would realize I was manipulating (poorly) her words.
"You know I'm saying that is my friends opinion, dipshit."
"I just thought I'd try. You're annoyingly smart."
"What did the pot call the kettle?"
"The look on my face when we were sitting that tree? Remember your deeply insightful moment earlier that about made me piss my pants?"
"Well, the look on my face was due to the reason I wanted to come here."
"It was my idea to come to Griffy, Andy."
"Yes. But it was my idea to come to this tree. Whenever I come here it reminds me of Walden Pond, because Thoreau mentioned in Walden the footpath around the pond and how it is made visible by snow."
"I basically hate Henry David Thoreau." she said, with menace.
"Well, it wasn't good for me when in Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer called him a staid pussy virgin or whatever. Maybe only pussies like Thoreau," I said.
"I wouldn't go that far, but I'd put it in my pipe for sure," she said.
"Thanks for the support. And in any case, my Daddy don't make pencils and I am an awful student, and I'd rather take girls to my shack and shag them then lay about worried that someone might enjoying themselves in town. I miss that volume of Walden my parents have though. It was this small leatherbound Easton press thing. I can see the scuff marks on it's cover from my book bag."
"So you just wanted me to know you wanted to bring me to this tree. Thanks..."
"No, I just wanted you to know I was an idiot. But I'm learning. I sat here six years ago with Heather. God, I really liked Heather. Anyhow, Heather sat on this tree, and it was around the same time of year, but colder that day. I think she called me to hang out like ten times that week. I've lost track of the things we did together. There were many. And it's funny.... she had this boyfriend, Franklin, I think. I met him, seemed like a nice attractive guy. They were going to go to the Peace Corps or what have you. It sounded like a nice romantic scene. So I wanted to be respectful. So I sat on this tree with Heather. I think I leaned on her. She probably would have wanted more physical affection from a brother. I was almost cruelly ignorant of her desires. Everyone we knew told me later, too late really, that I should have kissed her. They told me this with every anecdote I gave about my time with her. I should have kissed her by the postal box. I should have kissed her while we walked on second street just after we crossed that street by the cleaners when she asked me about old women and I told her the thing I knew about them was that they were women. Which means they are great. And sexy. She made a kind of delicious sound, a kind of dewy lip smacking sound like she'd just popped a perfect raspberry in her mouth, and I took her hand, and... thought of her boyfriend. Talking later to a friend of hers her friend said to me, "Andy, if you had known where her boyfriend was, that night, on that street, you might have been surprised to learn he only existed in your head. Heather, that night with you, wasn't even aware of Franklin's existence. Don't you know how things like this work?" I didn't. No. So the look on my face was about Heather. And Thoreau. The snow won't in all likelihood be back till December, and the footpath is all but invisible. I last heard Heather was in some part of China. She never knew me, she just knew everything she needed to know. I'm sorry, I didn't want to tell you this. I am just gobsmacked over you. I really dig you. And with this, I guess I trust you as well."
I didn't stay gobsmacked forever. One day she went off with this guy who loved silence retreats. Viva La Difference.