This was originally published at In Our Words: A Salon For Queers & Co. Republished here with permission.
Dana Norris once went on 71 Internet dates. This is date no. 16 (we posted no. 15 here).
I wake up. There’s a tall man in my bed next to me. Crap.
With all of Benji’s twitching and snoring I’ve gotten perhaps three hours of sleep. I get up and start to make coffee. I grind the coffee beans and look anxiously toward the bedroom. I grab a towel and use it to cover the grinder so as to muffle the noise. I’m worried that the noise will wake him up and then I’m agitated that I’m worried. I want him to wake up and leave my house. But if I wake him up maybe he won’t like me anymore? Good God, it&mmp;rsquo;s my own house, it was terrible sex followed by terrible sleep and I’m still scared that I might do something to make him not like me. I hope he still likes me.
He wakes up. He goes to his backpack, which contains a toothbrush and toothpaste. So I wasn’t alone in planning the fourth date “magic.” I pour him some coffee.
“I have a gig today, painting this guy’s house.”
That means he’s going to leave soon. Excellent. “Oh, that’s good.”
“So…can I get a ride home?”
Dammit. “Sure.” I have an idea. “Hey, before you leave, can you change the light bulb in my bedroom?”
“The light bulb?”
“It burned out like a month ago but I can’t reach it. I’ve even worn my highest heels while standing on at the top of my ladder and it’s a no-go.”
He smiles and agrees but I can tell he thinks it’s an odd request. No matter. I get him the ladder and he easily reaches the light and replaces the bulb for me. There. Now I got something out of last night.
I drive him home. He kisses me goodbye and says that he’ll call and I tell him that would be nice. He leaves the car and I take a deep breath. It feels like my first real breath in 12 hours. That whole evening was weird but I decide it’s due to nerves on both of our parts, nothing more. Sure I’m glad to be rid of him for the moment, but I think we still like each other. He’ll call me and we’ll go out and try this sex thing again that it’ll be better and we’ll fall in love and I won’t have to go on awkward dates anymore. Good plan.
Two weeks later he hasn’t called and I am freaking out. How did this happen? A boy has never not called me after sex before. NEVER. Was he upset that I snuck away to watch The Daily Show by myself after sex? Was he upset that I asked him to change a light bulb? I could call him, but no. No. The boy must call the girl after the sex. That’s one of the few old sexist rules that I still adhere to.
I call a friend, the one who goes to leather clubs on the weekends, the one whose specialty is sex advice.
“So, I had sex with that guy. Two weeks ago. And he hasn’t called me and I’m 30 years old and I just want to cry.”
“What was the sex like?”
I tell her, going into detail. She listens and laughs. “So you said ‘Ow’ during the sex?”
“More than once?”
“Oh, honey. It’s not about him liking you or not. It’s about bad sex. He’s embarrassed, and he should be. Why exactly do you want to see him again?”
Because until this moment it had never occurred to me that not liking him was an option. He’s awkward and has uneven teeth and doesn’t even apparently like me that much. Why am I stuck on him? Because he’s a guy who wasn’t my ex-boyfriend who gave me the tiniest sliver of attention. Wow. That’s brutal. I totally need to work on my self-esteem.
Three weeks later I’m walking to the grocery store, listening to music, when my phone rings. I cut over to phone mode without even checking the number.
“Oh…hi. Yeah. Dana? This is…this is…”
And…the longest pause ever. Nope. Not gonna fill it. Gonna see what happens. Finally, he comes up with, “How are you?”
“I’m good. I had class this morning and now I’m going to the grocery store.”
“Yes. Look, I’m at the grocery store and I need to let you go.”
“Oh, OK. Bye.”
And as I hang up I realize that was the lamest excuse I ever made to get off of the phone. Because there’s no obstacle in a grocery store to prevent a phone call from continuing.
He calls me again, a week later, and leaves me a voicemail. He says that he wants to see me again and hopes that I’m free. I have no idea why he waited so long to call me, but I know that I’m grateful for the delay because it allowed me some space in which to recover from my adolescent-girl-like panic. And now, alone, clear, I realize that it doesn’t matter whether Benji likes me or not because I don’t actually like him. And now I can go find a new date.
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.