Brenda’s cell phone rang. It was Marvin telling her that he was wearing shorts for their date later on this evening.
“Yeah, it’s so hot outside.”
True, they’d had a spring thaw but it was still February. Hardly what she’d call hot. Wearing shorts was gauche. Still, she wasn’t going to let his lack of social grace keep her from what she was planning on wearing: her jean jacket with the faux fur collar over a woolen dress and a pair of knee high boots. What was it Naomi Wolf had said? Dressing for sex is sex and grooming for sex is sex. Not that Brenda intended on having sex with Marvin. Did she? Certainly not if he was wearing shorts on a dinner date.
Annoyed at Marvin, she clicked her phone shut. There were guys who inspired you to write dating advice for men; after five dates with him, Brenda concluded that Marvin supplied the perfect do-not-do list:
– Never answer your cell phone on a date unless it’s a total emergency like your mother is dying any minute or the parole board needs to get in touch with you at all times. Especially don’t answer it five times during the meal and each time excuse yourself to go and talk in private like you don’t want the person on the line (a secret wife or girlfriend) to know that you’re with another woman.
-Don’t ever complain about the slow service which goes with don’t wolf down your meal as if you can hardly wait to get out of there.
-When you’re leaving the restaurant, don’t walk ten feet in front of your date talking on your cell phone like you’re making some kind of drug deal.
-Finally, and this Brenda felt particularly hurtful, do not text message to ask a woman out on a date and especially do not add “if the hockey strike is still on”.
Marvin picked her up at eight-thirty sharp and at nine-fifty exactly he dropped her off at her doorstep. When he came to kiss her on her lips she diverted so that his kiss landed in the space between the car door and her earlobe.
Why she agreed to his invitation for a meal at his place the following Friday evening had little to do with her believing that she might have missed something grand about him, nor was it because of the book she was reading which advised going out with a guy at least ten times before throwing the towel in. As she drove Friday evening to Marvin’s house, veering her car beneath the highway underpass she knew that she was going there for sex and only sex.
Yet, she hoped that somehow when she saw him she would feel for him the wild, inexplicable chemistry that she’d been seeking but never finding. As soon as he’d open the door for her she’d feel her heart jump with sexual excitement. He would forget about the hockey game, even turn the TV off and lure her into hot passion as he slowly began to touch her, his shallow breath quickening. Unbuttoning her cardigan he would lead her into the bedroom, taking her hand as if he were protective of her. Lying on the bed she would stare into his wonting eyes as he tenderly looked down on her. He would tell her how beautiful she was and she would feel the rush of her blood going through her veins. In bed it would be glorious. He would instinctively know where to touch her and spend hours kissing her eyelids and the nape of her neck, teasing her. They would hungrily search each other’s mouths, softly biting each other’s shoulders and forearms. It would …Brenda screeched on the brakes just in time to avoid crashing into the car in front of her…be a fantasy.
“Come on in,” Marvin said and raced back in front of the TV.
“I thought the hockey game is on strike.”
“It is. These are old games I taped.”
Brenda sighed. If there had been the tiniest wave of electricity it had instantly gone mainline. Still, as she sat next to him his hand was on her thigh and although Brenda felt no sprinting of her heart for him it pleased her that he wanted her. It had been a long time since a man had desired her even though this was not the way she wished to be desired. After the game, and the commentaries that followed, Marvin led her into his bedroom where their sex was boring and mechanical. She lay beneath his bony body staring at his peeling paint on the ceiling and thought how they were just two people who hated being alone more than they hated the emptiness of their lovemaking.
“Was it good for you?” he asked.
What kind of question was that? There was no other answer to that question than a lie. “Yes,” she said and then rolled over, got out of bed, pulled on her jeans and t-shirt and said “I have to get home. There’s laundry to do.”
It took Marvin a week to call back. “I’m looking for a man who will call me the next day we have sex and tell me how wonderful it was. I’m not looking for a man who waits over a week and calls on Monday. Those kind of men are a dime a dozen. I want to be a man’s Saturday night girl; not Monday’s leftovers.” Brenda said all this and then hung up.