Part 4 of 5, Chapter 20
I was on my bed with HCE stretched out next to me.
“But we made out four weekends ago.” She propped herself up on her elbow to look at me. “So it has to be our anniversary this weekend, right?”
I took my hand off her hip and brushed the hair out of her eyes. “This is ridiculous,” I subvocalize.
“No, you pick! We have to have an anniversary date. Honestly.” She rolls onto her back while I roll my eyes.
“Be a man,” I say, louder.
She covers the phone and shushes me. “He is!” she says. Then, back into the phone: “Sorry, a suitemate is being noisy. I’m just saying, you can’t have it both ways. You have to pick a date for us to celebrate our anniversary on.”
“I think YOU are.” I say, and reach for her crotch because I want to pretend to check, but also because it’s a crotch. She squeals and sits up.
“Can I call you tomorrow? Something fun is happening here now.” She hangs up with her boyfriend then, who still isn’t me. This is a fact that obviously is failing to bother me to a spectacular degree at that particular moment.
“Please wait until I’m not on the phone with my boyfriend to molest me. It’s just not cricket otherwise.”
“First of all, talk to your boyfriend on your own damn bed. Second of all, I don’t molest you, I just gaze longingly.”
“This is my bed too for this entire week. Now move, I need to change shirts. Don’t look.”
In May of 2003, I came to briefly live with a girl I loved but who was dating someone else.
After too few weeks, Hot Copy Editor was regularly dating that boy she had invited to make out with her. I didn’t like him. Where the old Boyfriend had been Tatooine’s smoldering heat, the New Boyfriend was Hoth’s icy stoicism. He bored me.
“He’s boring,” I said.
“Are you listening to me?” she asked. “So they absolutely won’t give me an extension. I’ll have to move out into the street until my lease starts. I’ll be homeless and destitute!”
“Well why don’t you stay with me for a week?” I asked. “My roommates won’t mind.”
My roommates minded. “Justin, that devil girl is absolutely not moving into this apartment.”
“Aw, c’mon, guys, she has no place to stay. She’ll just stay in my room most of the time and she’s absolutely no trouble to take care of. Plus she already promised to do dishes.”
One roommate leaned forward. “I’m interested,” he said.
“Well, this way we could watch her destroy him firsthand. Think of it as ringside seats.”
“Okay, Justin, it’s a deal.”
I was as happy as a kidnapped clam with Stockholm syndrome.
There are things about having a girl wash dishes while you dry, fundamental species-consciousness things, things that engage the parts of my brain that are in my chest and that have been hollow so long I forget they’re there until they aren’t hollow for a few soapy minutes any more. Maybe at first you’re arguing about grammar, but before long incidental task-related physical contact devolves into soapsud attacks and water flicking, until you’re mock-angrily facing each other and the only reason you haven’t dissolved into a sudsy puddle of makeout on the kitchen floor is a flickering pilot-light of awareness that one of the two of you has a boyfriend.
This is the sort of ridiculousness that took place all week long. She whispered in my ear to distract me while I took a practice LSAT, ostensibly as some sort of distractibility resistance training, but mostly because it’s fun to whisper in a dude’s ear. I bet her that I could take her bra off with one hand one night, and she let me get my hand all the way up the back of her shirt, our faces close together and my other hand on her shoulder, until one of my roommates stumbled past the open door to my room and we guiltily separated, as though that were the line, that was the point where we grew consciences.
Why wouldn’t I assume that the new boyfriend was only temporary?