On one of our first dates we were in a cab, having left a whiskey bar downtown, heading over the Williamsburg Bridge to my place in Queens. I was buzzed, my head leaning on his broad, left shoulder, his muscular arm around me.
As we rode up the bridge’s long and gradual incline, I could see out of the corner of my eye that traffic was slowed ahead, an apparent accident on the left side of the road. A police car with its lights flashing silently sped around us to the scene. The cab slowed as we neared the cluster of lights. I heard him say (looking at the crash), “Jesus Christ!” and I started to lift my head to see. When I did he raised his large hand to the side of my face and pulled it quickly back to his chest. “Don’t look!”
That moment hovered in my memory as a glimmer of his raw instinct. So many other interactions, it seemed, were over-thought and retarded by stress. If we were to see each other, it was nearly always because I instigated the planning, followed up, confirmed. Eventually, to his defense of shyness, I said: “You can’t say that any more.”
“OK,” he agreed. And he didn’t.
He was also chronically late. Left me sitting at a bar pre-show, only to text and tell me to just meet him at the venue– a half hour later.
He couldn’t do that any more, I said.
And mostly, he didn’t.
But spending time together was on me. I felt like the mommy — organizing, scolding. Initiating, I felt like the man.
I also felt rejected. If he wanted to spend time with me, he would take charge and make it happen, I thought.
If he were really interested he’d want to hear my stories.
If he were attracted to me he’d want to talk dirty and fuck me all the time.
He told me about a friend’s cat. The cat was horrible, and would attack you out of nowhere, biting and snarling. One day he took the big, adult male by the scruff of its neck, and with his own large hands held it at face level and reproached the thing.
“I set him down and he curled up at my feet, purring,” he said with a laugh.
I yearned to be that cat.
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