the importance of chemistry
“Wanting to go on this date was a lot more fun than going on this date.”
I didn’t mean it as an insult but judging from the look on her face things were off to a bad start. I could have spent a lot of time trying to explain myself but I thought it best to just plow ahead and let the cards fall where they may.
Her voice was too deep for starters.
I had wanted to ask her out for two years but never had the nerve. We’d lived in the same dorm and I would see her at least a few times a week in the dining hall. There was something about her I found attractive, maybe intriguing was a better word, and I would watch her walk to and from her table in a way that even I found creepy. All of my friends knew about her. The girl who I always wanted to ask out but never could.
Then a friend of a friend heard about my little obsession and decided to get involved.
Hence the date.
We no longer lived in the same dorm, we were both living off campus now, so I had to walk over to her apartment. She answered the door and said hello and her voice was all wrong.
Now you’re up to speed.
I tried to explain the problems inherent in being infatuated with a girl and then sitting down across a table from her. She seemed to enjoy this immensely and I felt the ship righting itself.
Even with her man-voice nobody could argue she wasn’t cute.
Somehow in the scramble for topics to discuss the old wives tale of men being bad at directions came up. I said the key words in that discussion were “old wives.” In their opinion, everything about their spouses is bad while if asked to go to a new supermarket on the other side of town, they would insist to everyone within earshot that they could get there ten minutes before they left. That they would literally pass themselves loaded with groceries in the driveway. That they would open the door for themselves and help bring everything in while their good-for-nothing husbands sat on the couch in a deep slumber that started the moment she reminded him to mow the lawn.
Perhaps a little more acerbic than I’d intended but I thought a certain amount of candor was called for. My honesty was rewarded as a small smile crept across her face.
As we talked she said something I thought was pretty profound. She said that she noticed that everything someone said before the word “but” was usually a lie and everything they said after was how they truly felt. Then she ruined it by adding “But that’s just my opinion.”
Over dessert she asked me how I felt about our parents being the first ones in a long time to leave the country worse off than when they found it. I could feel her eyes on me, as if my answer was irrelevant but the degree I took the question seriously was everything. I told her I didn’t like talking politics or religion until I was sure I would offend someone.
“When Nixon got caught in a lie he left. When Clinton got caught he just smiled a dopey smile and kept lying. Our parents should have realized at that moment they were unfit to make any decisions that affected their children.”
I appeared deep in thought as I digested this and soon the danger of further mature conversation passed.
I gave her my well-rehearsed diatribe about how smoking wasn’t so much an act of rebellion as an acceptance of what corporations sold as rebellious for their own benefit, followed by my sincere wish that all the executives at R.J. Reynolds get lung cancer.
She confessed she smoked when she was in high school but gave it up when it started to turn her teeth brown.
After we were done with the preliminaries at the local Italian restaurant I decided to take her to a romantic spot where we could walk through the woods on a trail that I’d hiked countless times before. I was worried that she might react poorly to this suggestion given it was our first date and that a forest is the location of choice for most stalkers to dump the objects of their stalking, but she said she was relieved that I wasn’t dragging her to some party. While she was not adverse to a few drinks now and then, she was never much into the party scene.
Score one for the great outdoors.
As she walked she told me that she didn’t like most people. She walked like she liked herself and at that moment that’s all I cared about. I liked the way she walked. I was aware that I was projecting all these things onto her but for once I allowed myself that luxury. The sun was shining and the birds were doing their part and I was tired of always being on guard against foes real and imagined. I watched her walk her best-of-Ginger-and-Mary Ann walk and told my doubts to take a hike.
We ended up at a spot where a giant tree had fallen across what you would either describe as a very small river or a very big stream. I was glad she didn’t ask how I would describe that particular body of water as I would have had to admit I was stumped.
She asked me if it was more or less comfortable for me given that she was the object of my desire for so long. Clearly she enjoyed being the object of said desire and wanted to hear more about how I’d imagined being alone with her might go.
I stared at the roots of the fallen tree for quite some time before answering.
“This tree reminds me of a funeral.”
It took her a minute to switch gears and ask why.
“A funeral is the equivalent of the roots. You can see how far the person’s reach extended by who shows up.”
She asked if I was high.
I told her I’d thought about it earlier in the evening but decided against it.
I finally got around to asking what she was in school for. I was expecting her to reply with her major but instead she said that she was studying to disprove ghosts so that they would stop haunting the house she grew up in. I explained that most paranormal activity in houses has to do with changes in barometric pressure, like opening a window downstairs will cause a door to open upstairs, and she answered by saying “That’s what they want you to believe.”
I told her my favorite song of all time was The Ghost In You by the Psychedelic Furs and I could immediately tell that this information improved my standing with her. She told me hers and I tried my best to hide the fact that I thought her selection was horrible and diminished my opinion of her. She laughed and told me she was kidding and then told me an even worse song was really her favorite.
I’m not good at hiding my feelings when it comes to music.
She offered up a third alternative and I made a face that gave the casual observer the impression I’d just taken a bite of out a lemon.
I was suddenly very aware again of her husky voice. When she said “Imagine Dragons” it sounded in slow motion under water.
“So you’re going to school to disprove ghosts? What kind of a career does that lead to?”
Her answer wasn’t really an answer but she seemed sincere enough about it. She explained that when everyone graduates that there will be people that believe they are destined for great things and then there will be those that feel like they are doomed to get a bad job and lead miserable lives. Of course, there will also be a lot of people that have no idea how things will turn out. The point being that the outlook in no way affects the outcome. Some of those people who thought they were going to do great things will and some will end up broke and alone. Same with the people who have low expectations or none at all. It’s all a giant cosmic crapshoot.
Again, it had nothing to do with my question but it was a lot to take in just the same.
“Standing at the table with the dice in your hand is a pretty cool place to be.”
She wondered aloud to herself if the water was deep enough to swim. Having no idea I walked out on the fallen tree and peered down. I couldn’t the see the bottom so while I wouldn’t have recommended diving, it looked like a spot where someone could at least splash around a little.
I turned back around to see her stripping off her clothes. Her back was towards me and in seconds she was down to her panties. She turned around as if to present herself to me and she had a look on her face like a mother who was walking into her child’s room with a plate of chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven. I felt like a small boy whose mother had just walked into my room with a plate brimming with freshly baked cookies in one hand and a glass of cold milk in the other.
“Do you think my feet are ugly?”
I don’t think my eyes ever made it to her feet.
She splashed around awhile, just enough to make every single one of my aquatic daydreams come true, and we talked about dumb stuff and I stared at her breasts every single solitary opportunity that I could when I thought she wasn’t watching. They were magnificent. The nipples changing shape and texture every time she submerged or dried off or stretched. Two little gravity-defying Rorschach tests.
I didn’t see any tattoos so I asked her what she was going to end up regretting about her misspent youth.
“The night is young,” was all she said on the subject.
It was fun to see her playing the role of a fantasy girl. I hadn’t really thought about it much but I guess every girl would love to play that role at least once in her life. I was suddenly happy to be the one that allowed her to have this moment. I wondered if she had ever shown this side of herself to anyone else. The next hour was an awkward and wonderful mix of one part truck commercial, as it would appear on a European television station where they are allowed to show boobs, and two parts a sappy coming of age movie where acoustic guitars start up every other minute.
It got dark so we headed back to my place. When she told me that she never knew whether to have a second date without having sex on the first I wasn’t as surprised as you might expect because I could have sworn I saw a movie where the girl said the same thing. I hoped that her inhibitions were truly that low and she wasn’t just being derivative.
I put on an old vinyl Psychedelic Furs album. It popped and crackled in the perfect way only an old record can.
Inside you the time moves and she don’t fade The ghost in you, she don’t fade
Afterwards we fell asleep together on the bed.
I dreamt, for the third time in a week, about being stranded on a desert island.
Of the reoccurring ones, it was my favorite.
I woke up somewhere in the middle of the night and watched her sleep. Then I tried to wake her up using only my mind. I tried and tried but just couldn’t do it.
I wanted to discount the importance of chemistry but clearly this wasn’t going to work out.