“Can I see you tonight?” I read the text from Clark when my date whom I met online went to the bathroom. I broke up with Clark over a month ago. I’m not sure what it was that kept me seeing him for as long as I did – my feelings for him wasn't logical. I was on the receiving end of his stick, literally - while we battled time and issues with his exes. Most of our time together was spent in the bedroom, partly because he worked evenings and weekends. I saw him after he finished work most times when I was already in bed and would part early mornings when I left for work. We've had very few conversations about anything. The plans we made seldom worked out. He was still mourning a lost love, and wore emotional distance like one would the necessity for winter coat in sub-zero degrees Chicago temperature.
Yet, what I felt for him was deep and intuitive. I could see him behind his shattered walls and I wanted to heal his broken heart, because the man I saw was magnificent. Whenever he took me into his arms, I didn't want to leave. We were playful and passionate. He made me laugh a lot. I wanted more of him and more from him. Something inside me loved something inside him. And I swore, he saw me too. I was a taste of desire that like a lost sailor washed ashore yearns for warmth and safety into whose arms he stumbled.
I held him against my breasts and tried to kiss away his pains. And he touched and tasted me as if I were his last meal – fucked me until he was drained of all the baggage with which he came, and held me as if he would kill anyone who dared pry me from his arms while he slept. But he would leave again come morning to wallow in lost loves – until the next time he was washed ashore again.
I told him several times that I would leave him if he couldn't get himself together – yet he seemed shocked and confused when I banned him from my bed.
“What do you mean we’re over?” He asked. “I never saw this coming,”
“That’s because you weren't listening,” I said. “I told you many times that what we had wasn't working for me,”
“I just need time to find myself,"
“I understand. That's why I'm giving you all the time you need. You will not find yourself between my legs,” I said.
A flurry of text messages and calls ensued that I ignored. Neither did I respond to his question, can I see you tonight? Several previous attempts to break up with him did not work. I'd been here enough times to know that the only way to break is to break. I simply could not continue in the whirlwind of confusion that we had been.
My date returned and continued his story of the break-ups of his four marriages. He was on ex-wife number two.
The date continued much the way it began... Jeff said he was 50, I suspected he was at least 66. A thick, jet-black toupee sat on the bald spot atop his head, the sides carefully trimmed with grey hair that belonged to him. I stared at him when he patted me on the shoulder - looking for the fit, trim, dripping with vitality and much younger man frolicking on the beach in the volumes of pictures he sent me that may or may not have been him 15 or more years ago.
“I’m Jeff,” he said smiling. He threw his arms around me and squeezed me to him as if we were long time friends. “I’m glad you didn't show up looking like a hoochie mama," he said. "I was going to leave if you did,”
I stared at him. “A hoochie mama?" I inquired.
“I got here before you did, and was waiting in the parking lot to see if you were a hoochie. You’re much prettier in person,”
“What do you understand a hoochie mama to mean?” I asked.
“A big fat woman,” he said. “Look at me,” he pointed to his thin physique, “We wouldn't look right together,”
“I believe the definition for a hoochie is of a person who dresses in very little clothing,” I said.
He laughed. “I thought a hoochie was a fat woman,”
My little Kitten intuition and I were on the same page that he did not fit right with our spirit. But one to make the best of any situation, I stayed.
“Your pictures look as if you want to have sex, especially the one where you are lying down in that pretty gown,” he told me over tacos and margaritas. "If that was your intention? It worked. It got me here," he said laughing.
“That was not my intention,” I assured him.
The evening continued in a succession of wild stories of one-night stands, and ex-wives fleeing back to their homelands after short bouts of marriage. I wondered if his stories were as false as the toupee he tried to sell me as real.
“How about we go back to my place, for a late night drink?" He suggested when we finished dinner.
"That's not going to happen,” I said.
He laughed. “You can’t blame a man for asking,”
“I certainly admire your confidence,” I said and meant it, thinking that he would make a good salesperson - one trained to ask for the sale, even when everything indicates that the answer is no. Sometimes the answer is yes.
Driving home, I received several text message requests from him asking me to send him naked pictures of myself.
“So no second date for him?” Jen asked. I stopped off at her place and collapsed on her couch before I went home.
"No," I said.
“Kit, can you truly know if you connect with someone on the first date?" she asked.
“Yes. He showed up in disguise, Jen. And a bad one. What else do I need to know about someone who especially at his age cannot come as he is?”
“You need to date men your own age. I don't think you'd be worrying about toothless men with hip replacements and toupee's. What is it with you and older men anyway?" she asked her face threatening to collapse with laughter.
"It's not older men I like. It's mature minds. But Jeff was like a twenty year old trapped in an older man's body," I said.
Jen laughed. “In his defense, Kit, he didn’t wink at a big fat hoochie,”
“And I did not respond to a toupee-wearing, sixty-something year old. But I didn't leave when he showed up,” I said.
“You always say that most people we meet are in masks because they are afraid that we won't like them if we see who they really are," she reminded me.
"That's a poem by Charles Finn," I said. "And I agree with him,"
Fanny Brice said, "Let the world know you as you are, not as you think you should be, because sooner or later, if you are posing, you will forget the pose, and then where are you?"
It wasn't Jeff's toupee that bothered me. It was his deception and his attempts to deflect my attention from his lies with wild one-night stand, fleeing ex-wives stories and inappropriate sex comments. It was the scoping me out in the parking lot to see if I were a hoochie, and would've stood me up – this, while he showed up in a toupee to hide that he is bald. Then again, perhaps I'm wrong and he showed up not in disguise but as himself. What man his age would wear such a mask?
Part of my personal growth is owning all that I have done, been and have become through it all. I do not come wrapped in a pretty bow and have no desire to pretend that that is the case. The body that I've grown into, I will present to you - as is. And if you ask me my story, I will tell you all of it - hell, you haven't asked and I tell you anyway.
I am often considered improper for my bold sexual expressions. But that's OK. I bask, celebrate and indulge in my sexuality and it matters not who thinks that I am improper for it. I write what comes naturally - this is who I am, and I'm not going to stop. If you cannot accept me as is, we cannot work. Tracy McMillan said, “Unless you tell the truth, you won’t find that spiritual partnership because the spiritual partnership is based on the truth”
I tell you this... I am a flawed woman. Many of my choices have caused much pain, but I no longer call them mistakes, nor will I say that they turned out badly – rather, I will say that they turned out.
Some scars are inside and some outside, and the stuff inside I bring to the surface and wear like lit lights on a Christmas tree. I have found that my flawed self is not weakness but my perfectness. When I stand before you, I stand as I am, no apologies, no regrets, no secrets from which I want to hide - I stand whole in flawed perfectness.
Clark text me again on my way home, and again, I chose not to respond. I had mourned him - carried him inside me still --
What better gift to give a man than the freedom to find himself? Sometimes they return and sometimes they do not. If he comes back, great. If he does not, also great for I would have known that I made the right decision letting him go.
"Learn to... be what you are, and learn to resign with a good grace all that you are not." ~Henri-Frédéric Amiel