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Wednesday, 27 April
What Women Don't Want

Back in around 1994, some time after getting over the utter horror of my too-young first marriage and subsequent divorce, I was at some arbitrary point declared by my friend M. to be "ready for dating" again. Which of course filled me with new, fresh horror. It was like being declared "ready for consumption by pit demons."

I mean, I was never good at dating anyway, not that many people are, I suppose, and for those of you who are good at dating, I can only say: You people are fucking freaks. But I was also damaged goods thanks to the divorce, and wary, and regarded most women as, alternatively, divine goddesses to be appreciated from afar, or rapacious harpies interested only in pulling out my tongue and using it as a hacky sack.

Healthy! This boy was sure ready!

But my friend M. was undeterred, and managed somehow to set me up on a semi-blind date with her friend S. (I say semi-blind because I had met S. briefly once with M. when I accompanied M. for drinks with her co-workers, of which S. was one.) So we talked on the phone a couple times, and made plans. As the guy, it was up to me to pick the place and all that crap.

And so we met, for reasons that passeth all understanding, at the Deluxe.

The Deluxe (with a name like "The Deluxe," you know they don't mean it!) is basically just a pub (Wednesdays are Burgeramas! $4.99 [with purchase of beverage!) with pretensions, like a Denny's that had won the Lotto. Not an auspicious venue for ro-mance.

But to her credit, S. did not blanch at the humble surroundings. This despite the fact that, to my dismay, she was wearing a very smart suitlike thing, with a jacket and a skirt; her lipstick matched her outfit, which brought out the highlights in her hair, her eyes sparkled, etc. She was stunning really, but not for any of those reasons mostly. See, her entire outfit was a really shocking shade of salmon-pink, and what I remember thinking was that she looked like a baby's lung in pumps.

I can't imagine her assessment of me was any more charitable. I had arrived in typical mid-90s Seattle garb: faded jeans and t-shirt overlaid by rumpled longsleeve. (I never even bothered trying to deal with flannel. I was about as grunge as Joe Piscopo.) (And actually, that outfit is still pretty much what I wear. When I'm feeling sassy I might wear khakis. Tssss! I'm red hot!)

I'm sure we both knew it was immediately hopeless, but you can't just blurt that out, so we sat down to eat dinner. She had some chicken breast or something, and I ordered a French dip.

Let's stop a minute. Think about that. You're on a date, a first date even, and though you might recognize early on that it's just a put-on for the two of you, you don't want to look like a fucking fool, right? Right? So what should you not order? Hmm, I don't know . . . how about a great big falling-apart sandwich with au jus that will all end up on your shirtfront, in your lap? Brilliant idea! Also, with a big, falling-apart sandwich, you don't even use utensils, so your date has to stare at you the whole time while you're eating like a fucking caveman and salty beef juice is running down your arm and you can't even keep eye contact during the conversation anyway because you keep having to hunch over your plate like a protective ghoul gnawing on a leg bone to keep the roast beef from falling into your lap.

And yet we made a little conversation. Some work stuff, some hobby stuff, that sort of thing. I swerved right away from any music conversation when she mentioned having recently attended some country music concert . . . no reason to go there. At one point she asked me where I grew up.

"Oh, God," I said, rolling my eyes. "I grew up in a really tiny town in Idaho called Grangeville. You've never heard of it."

She perked up, which made me wary. "Idaho! That's pretty country! Was it a farm?"

"No," I said. "It was actually a horse ranch. I mean, we didn't own it, but part of living there was taking care of the horses. I did that a lot when I was a kid."

She was smiling now, and her eyes were sparkling. Naturally, I was still half-wrestling with my obstinate sandwich, so I couldn't really figure out what was going on in her skull. But she was interested . . . in something! I waited.

"So would you say," she asked twinklingly in an odd tone, "that you're . . . kind of a cowboy?" She cocked her head at me coquettishly. Oh my.

This was a fat, lazy pitch, belt high over the middle of the plate, and all I had to do was swing. I thought about my experience with horses: getting thrown off of them, being nearly kicked in the face by them, getting trampled by them (all true!). I thought about cows. Well, I thought, I'm eating one right now! I enjoy them to that extent! If I just shined her on for a bit . . . who knows?

Ahhh. Let's not pretend that this was some test of nobility or anything. It wasn't even really a dilemma of any kind. Who was I ever going to fool, really? It was a dumb, fleeting idea, something barely worthy of a Penthouse Forum letter. ("I never thought this hot broad would buy my cowboy routine, but her heaving 36Cs told another story . . . ")

I put down my floppy sandwich and looked at her. "No, I'm not a cowboy. Not even close." I grinned, maybe a little ruefully, and she grinned back, and we laughed a little. We made some small talk to round out the dinner, and she allowed me a chaste kiss on her cheek at the end of the night. The next day I called her, as a good boy does (making sure to pick a time I knew she wouldn't be home), and on her answering machine thanked her for a lovely evening, and we should do it again sometime, har har har. She did me the good favor of not returning the call.

I saw her again, many times later, though, when I was hanging out with M., and we became, if not friends, then just good acquaintances. And I always found it kind of charming when she'd see me and murmur, "Hey, cowboy."


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Comments

i was waiting for the "she died last week" mention. damn. way to disappoint....again

Comment number: 005252   Posted by: dusty on April 27, 2005 09:27 AM from IP: 167.88.200.30

Q: "Are you a
1. Cowboy
2. Stevedore
3. God
4. Pirate
5. Producer/Talent Scout/A&R Rep?

A: YES.

Comment number: 005253   Posted by: flamingbanjo on April 27, 2005 09:55 AM from IP: 64.65.181.81

I love this little slice of Skot-dom. Good move not to mention the countless chickens who gave their lives when you forgot to lock the chicken coop. She doubtless would've asked if you were a chick-wrangler or some such thing. Better "Hey, cowboy," than "Hey, chicken-killer," although I might start greeting you that way from now on...

Comment number: 005256   Posted by: S on April 27, 2005 02:10 PM from IP: 66.235.0.193

Hey Chicken-Killer!
Sean and I, the geniuses that we are, served FRENCH ONION SOUP at our WEDDING RECEPTION.

Comment number: 005257   Posted by: dayment on April 27, 2005 02:37 PM from IP: 64.105.86.146

Man...you are from Grangeville? I didn't think anybody who was from there was even remotely articulate. Well, of course, the cross section of people I met while there hung out in some nasty little bar...so I probably shouldn't talk shit.

Comment number: 005274   Posted by: Tami on May 3, 2005 07:42 PM from IP: 4.227.172.129

a baby´s lung in pumps??! :-) Wonderful!

Comment number: 005292   Posted by: Christel on May 9, 2005 04:28 AM from IP: 81.228.35.170

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