This originally appeared at In Our Words: A Salon for Queers & Co. Republished here with permission.
So I make out with a guy named Brad during a Christmas keg party and it makes me feel better about my otherwise moldy apartment/heartbroken life. I give him my phone number. And he calls the very next day and says that he’s leaving town soon, can I hang out tomorrow? I say yes.
I hang up and I stand in the middle of my apartment for a while because I’m too excited to sit down. I’m going to go on a date tomorrow with Brad and I’m going to sleep with him and then he’s going to leave town. Glory. This is exactly what I need.
I devote all of the next day to preparing for this date. Brad says that he’ll be by at 8pm to pick me up—I’m not sure where we’re going or how, exactly, I’m going to introduce the idea that we should do it, or how, exactly, I’m going to introduce the idea that we should do it in my apartment where there was a recent water leak so it’s super moldy, but I’m taking improv classes and they’re helping me realize that these things usually work themselves out. Besides, you know what’s the best cure for a broken heart? Casual sex. I’m certain I heard that somewhere.
I take a bubble bath. I exfoliate everything. I shave my armpits, my legs, my business. I carefully blow dry and then straighten my hair. I get out my fancy makeup and arrange each item in a line on my sink in the precise order in which it will be used: primer, concealer, eyebrow pencil, blush, eyeshadow, eyeliner, mascara, lip balm, lipstick, powder. I’m treating this like it’s prom or the Academy Awards, but really it’s so much more than that: it’s my first one-night-stand. I paint my toenails a bright, slick red. I put on tight jeans and a top that shows off the girls nicely. I use the sexy perfume, the one that smells like jasmine and vanilla and danger.
By 6pm I’m completely ready. I perch on the edge of the couch and watch Tivo’d episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race to kill time. As I watch the drag queens I wonder if I should put on more makeup. I check my appearance repeatedly. I get nervous. Holy crap, am I really going to sleep with this guy? I mean, I did yell that I was planning on sleeping with him across a crowded party, but that’s not a binding contract, right? I don’t even know this person. Why do I want to sleep with him, exactly? Because he’s hot? Yes. Because it’d be something to do that isn’t mourning my previous relationship? Yes, absolutely.
This is very scary, but I tell myself that this is the time for scary things. I’m 29 years old, newly single, and TV tells me that this is how it’s done. You meet someone you like and you do them and you use a condom and then—I don’t know what’s supposed to happen then, but getting through the first part appears to be a crucial step.
At 7pm Brad calls. I almost don’t answer because: nervous. I had just been thinking about cancelling due to my nerves and my increasing realization that maybe I’m not built for casual sex. Just thinking about it is making my palms sweat and not in that good way. But I resolve to not be a total spazz. I answer the phone.
Nice—casual, and neither of us brought up sex. A good start.
Brad: “So, we have a date tonight…”
Me: (cutting him off) “Yes!”
Oh, God. Not that word. I hate that word.
Brad: “…my friend has an extra ticket to this concert tonight.”
Oh, OK, he wants to go to a concert. That is not what I ever like to do. I have enjoyed a concert in the past, but only when 1) there wasn’t an opening act, 2) I could sit down and still see the stage, 3) it wasn’t too loud, 4) I knew every word to every song that the band played, and 5) it didn’t go on too long. And these things never actually happen at concerts—instead I’m forced to stand with strangers touching me and the opening act takes two hours and has some lady playing the damn violin and then the band does finally come on but they’re only playing their new stuff and my feet hurt and it’s loud and crowded and a massive sweaty ball of bullshit. But still, this concert might get me laid.
Me: “Oh, a concert?”
Brad: “Yeah. My friend got me an extra ticket, and it’s this band I really want to see, and I haven’t seen my friend in a while, so I have to cancel our plans. I’m going to go to the show instead. Sorry.”
I don’t have a date. I’m not getting laid. I just shaved my business for no good reason. I’m lonely and heart broken and my apartment smells terrible and there will be nothing to help distract me from that tonight.
Brad: “Maybe I’ll call you the next time I’m in town?”
Me: (too loudly) “Sounds great. Have a good time!”
I hang up. I continue to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race in my increasingly inappropriate outfit. Am I upset? Or relieved? I’m relieved that I don’t have to decide whether to sleep with him or not anymore. I’m upset that I’m now a lady sitting in her house in all of her finery just watching TV.
I really do want to have a date. And I’ve demonstrated that I can now kiss a man without crying. So: onwards. I spend the evening reactivating my Match.com profile.
Dana Norris is the founder and host of Story Club, a monthly show for stories. She has served as the Nonfiction Editor and Managing Editor of TriQuarterly Online. She performs around Chicago with Mortified!, The Kates, Essay Fiesta, Stories at the Store, This Much is True, Beast Women, Waiting for the Bus and Cafe Cabaret. Her stories have been published in Tampa Review, Partner Dance Press, and been featured on Vocalo.org (89.5 FM). Dana received a Bachelors in Creative Writing and Religion and from Wittenberg University and a Masters in Religious Studies from The University of Chicago. She has a Certificate in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Chicago and is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Northwestern University.