Scratching his head, a stray hair lands on his phone. He's been staring at it. Not at the hair, but the phone. He’s debating whether or not to pick it up and call her.
“It's only been a day,” he mumbles to himself. Stretching his arms way up as he looks in the mirror.
"Meeting someone at a nightclub is an automatic disaster.”
He begins to yawn and speak simultaneously.
“It yawlways yidge….”
Pacing his room, he peeks at the clock next to his bed.
"7:05. The perfect time.”
He smiles at the mirror with his arms wide open, shrugging and talking at it.
”There’s some irony there….you’ve gotta admit. You looked at the clock at the perfect time, no? Everyone’s home on a Sunday night at seven.”
He points at himself and bounces his finger in a confirming gesture. His gut says to call, but lately his instincts are far from helpful. He remembers a conversation he had with a girl five weeks ago, right before they stopped seeing each other.
"You come on a bit strong," she said.
"I come on strong?” he exclaimed. “I text you, and then I don't hear anything back for like three hours?"
"So ok, well maybe that’s not huge but one of your responses was like - "busy in the dark room."
"Well I was!"
"Well a response like that doesn't warrant a response on my part. It's sort of a smack in the face."
"Because you're taking the time to text me, yet it's a meaningless status text that has no emotion. A text like that should come a little over a year-in, and yet we've only gone on three dates."
"Oh please...I'm the one that contacted you."
"Yea, after a week of me not calling......and that's when you finally texted me "where ya been stranger?" That to me is the "oh no, I'm losing him" text. I'd better touch base, show him I care, but fault him for not reaching out."
"Nooo......I just think we have major communication issues...which definitely isn't good this early in the game."
"Well, I don't play games?!"
"My nutsack you don’t…."
Shaking off the memory, he decides to ask some of his friends their opinion. His friend John's been doing well......dating more than just one girl for like five months now. He's his first call.
His friend John's been doing well......dating more than just one girl for like five months now. He's his first call.
"Wait, so when did you meet her?"
"I would wait until Wednesday, maybe even Thursday, depending how she acted."
"How she acted?"
"How you both acted...towards each other."
John asks, "were you two making out?"
"No, nothing like that."
"Was she excited, laughing a lot, touchy feely......any electricity?"
"Forget it...you're waiting til Wednesday. If you were making out, I'd say call her today. Since you weren't; automatic 3-day rule."
"Yea but Wednesday is four days. "Doesn’t that just look like I'm being obnoxious."
"I'm telling you, Wednesday it is. That's what I'd do. It's not like the girl was sitting there grabbing your junk at the bar.”
"No, definitely not."
"Cause you know that shit happens??"
"Yea, of course….but she wasn't like that."
"How'd you say goodbye? What happened....give me details."
"Well, first off I was with Paul and Kevin....we were meeting Paul's chick at some bar loungy concoction....a real shithole if you ask me. Couldn't hear or see a goddam thing in there."
"Who picked the place?"
"The birthday girl...no one we knew. She wanted to go there specifically, and we found out why pretty quickly."
"What do you mean?"
" Well, we were the only white people in the place, and she was the only one out of the girls, grinding up on some black dude."
"You guys were in an all black club?!"
"Something like that......we had no idea, we'd met these girls in-line outside. Two of them, well-dressed, about our age....white.....and we got to asking if they were there for a party also. And of course, they were...it turns out, it was the same one as us."
"Jesus....that was easy."
"Exactly...which I found so ironic...with the timing and all. I mean, out of the hundreds of minutes she could've strolled up to the place, there we were, standing right behind them.
"What's her name?"
"Who? The girl I met?
"(he pauses)….Wow, you really like her…..”
“Because you’re making like you don’t know what girl we’re talking about when I ask you a simple question like “whats her name? By re-asking the question, you’re taking time to draw a mental picture of her and replay your memories from the night. It’s obvious.”
“Go fuck yourself.”
“Ah ha! Even aggression….you love this girl.”
“Easy does it psychiatrist…..you’re blowing this way out of proportion.”
“Sure, sure, whatever you say my man.”
"Well, her name's Sara. By far the hottest girl in there."
"You two, like, dance or anything? How'd you get to talking?"
"Since the place was so crowded, I had nowhere really to stand without getting bumped. All the girls were tucked into this circular booth, and we were just hovering at their feet.”
“A spot on the corner of the booth opened when some chick had to use the bathroom, or get a drink or whatever, and I just went and sat down. She was right next to me.
“What’d you say?”
“I don’t know, something like “you pick this place?”
"Ha! Perfect.....did she laugh?"
"Yea, thank god.”
"So she's got a sense of humor..."
"Absolutely. And you know me, the first question I ask.... "what do you do in your spare time."
“Yup, that’s your fave.”
“And listen to this..... I just so happened to throw her name in at the end.”
"Re-stating her name to show you're paying attention...perfectly played."
"And from that, I got some great information out of her...she's a runner....
"She's in finance..."
“Yup! I know…”
“Hold the phone....you? Mr. I only date chicks with a tan, Mediterranean look about em’ found a blonde that tickles his Newt Gingrichie?"
"Yup. And could you believe!?! A finance chick who loves to run?!"
"No, honestly I can't....you with a blonde?!"
"Oh come on!"
"It's always been straight dark hair, just past the shoulder....tan skin, dash 'a sexy...and you're off."
"Ahh whatevs...you never knew me in high school."
"Well, she wasn't what I was looking for but exceeded expectations, a hundred-fold."
"You tell her you do triathlons?"
"I hadn't even mentioned it until she asked me what I liked to do....I was still stunned she'd finished two half marathons last year."
"Very impressive, this could be the girl for you bro."
"I know, I thought the same thing."
"I'm not going back on the Wednesday telephone call though."
"Really?! It just seems so weird to me, or sly...... How long did you wait with Ranelle?"
"Let me think…….I met Ranelle with you on a Thursday, right?"
"Yea, either a Thursday or a Friday."
"Right, so...I waited to call her the following Thursday."
"That's not even the 3-day rule."
"Yea, well she seemed like one of those girls that thinks she's the shit, so I had to let her stew a bit."
"But you really liked her the night you met?"
"Hell yea, instant connection."
"And with an instant connection, you waited a week...."
"And there you two are, banging away, five nights a’plenty...havin a fucking ball."
“You’re a dick.”
“But remember dude, it takes a while. She didn't call me back for two days after I'd left her a voicemail...so don't get upset if you don't hear from her right away."
"No, I won't, but I'm also not taking one doctor's recommendation without a second opinion."
"Oh yea....who you calling?"
"He's been snagging a couple here and there so he knows what he’s doing...see what he says and let me know."
"Will do my man...thanks"
Excited as to the progress he's making, he's no longer nervous about calling tonight because he doesn't suspect he will. It's 7:42 and any window of opportunity to make such a call would have to happen before 9:00, otherwise it's just plain rude to call any later on your first attempt. He sets these rules in stone and relaxes. Lying in bed, he starts to dial Tom when he hears a voice yelling through his door.
"I think you guys are nuts!!"
It's his father.
"And your mother thinks the same."
"And why would she think that?"
"Because I'm on the phone with her."
" These walls have any fucking insulation?!"
"He’s complaining about insulation" his dad relays.
"Tell her my life story while you're at it."
"Like you won't?! If you like someone, you should just call them she says!"
"Yea, I agree but it might seem a bit desperate if I'm calling someone the day after I meet them!"
"I dont think so...what if she wants you to call her?"
"I think if she wants me to call her, she'll only build me up more in her mind as someone who's busy and independent, and not overly eager."
"So now you're playing games?"
"I haven't had too much success the last two times so I'm seeking consultation."
"Don't you think you're being a bit hard on yourself...you've only been out of a serious relationship for 6 months."
"I've been outta the game for nearly eight whole years with those two girls....things have changed I guess."
"For that amount of time, you've earned some tactical understanding of women, yet you're doubting your ability to reel em in."
"You're mother wants to talk to you."
"Oh jesus....where's the phone?"
"Where do you think? The only other one’s in the basement."
He opens his door and walks out in the living room. The walls are ivory-colored and it makes for a much brighter spectacle than his eyes were prepared to handle. He could taste the conversation they'd finished, lingering in the air. Walking through it like a cloud of knowledge and experience, he holds his breath. His father's wearing the velvet robe he's had since 1976. Mom had gotten it for him as a Christmas gift right after they were married. He still wears it even after their cordial divorce. Grabbing the phone, he clears his throat and swallows what's left. His mother's an all-consuming addict for details far beyond the likes of John who just got a hint beyond the short-and-sweet version.
"Hi hunny!" mom exclaims.
"Hey babe, how's things?"
"So what's this I hear, you met someone and you're already applying the 3-day rule?"
"What do you mean..."already"?
"Well, you just met the girl!"
"The best and only time you use the rule is in the beginning, mom."
"I know what it is……what I meant to say is, why ya gonna wait to call her? You've always said you hate girls that play games. They’re the ones that fall for the idiot guy because deep down he really doesn't like or respect them…or something like that."
“Yes, that’s true. I just figure I’ll take a carefree approach. Ya know, the less you act like you care, the more they think you don’t need them.”
“WELL! Maybe I don’t know what the hell I’m doing anymore. I figure I’ll try someone else’s advice since I ain't batting a thousand.”
“Oh stop….it can’t always work out.”
“Yea but it was probably me scaring em off.”
“How do you know?!”
“Both of them told me, actually. The first one told it to my face and the other made up some crap about dating a pancake connoisseur.”
“Ha! Pancakes….you’re crazy….you’re being too hard on yourself….pancakes, seriously?
“I don’t know.”
“Jeez…well yea baby, maybe you should listen to your friends then.”
“I know!! That’s what I’m saying!”
“Nah, nah…. I’m just kidding. Stop it. You just need to be yourself.”
“I have been. That’s exactly what I’ve been. Problem is, it’s me being the product of a four year relationship. I’m used to being one way and now that’s too much. Seeing a mirage of potential and becoming excited about it is the worst thing you can do."
“Your imagination can play tricks…you should know that!”
“You know me, I’m all serious and analytical. I just want to make sure she’s smart. That she thinks the goal of life is to discover as much as possible but leave something behind.”
“Come on….you can’t go into it like this…so methodical and deliberate. Have fun! You’re young, you’re handsome….stop thinking so negative. No one’s gonna like the guy standing in the corner with a puss on his face.”
“I’d like a puss on my face.”
“No you wouldn’t.”
“Forget it. “
"Nothing…you didn’t catch what I meant…it was a joke.”
“Oh…hunnie, you need to stop stressing yourself out…these things come naturally. You can’t force them.”
“I know, I’ve been there before.”
“Exactly……see, you’re so smart. You’ve always been so smart. I’m so proud of you.”
“Well!! You are! Whaddayu want me to say.”
“No, I know, don’t get me wrong, I love your praises…you’re always the best at picking me up. I just know your biased, and let’s be honest, what do I really have going for me where I’m such a catch?”
“Are you kidding?!”
“Don’t answer that, don’t answer that, please I’m begging, it was rhetorical, I apologize. What I meant to say is, this is what parents do….and I figure you’re supposed too. I guess I would if I was a parent. No matter what I do or say you’re going to have my back and tell me I’m the best thing in the world, that my you know what doesn’t stink, that I can do no wrong, yada yada…..and maybe that’s a bit of the problem.”
“What’s the problem?”
“What do you mean, what’s the problem?”
“I lost you there hunnnie, I’m sorry, you said you’re shit doesn’t stink or something and all I could think about was when you guys were little babies, and yes, of course, you get used to it but man, when you first change a diaper…..”
“I got it, I got it….thanks.”
“Well!! It’s the truth sweetie….”
“Yup, for the first time, you’ve told me the truth…and in regards to shit smelling like itself; appreciate it.”
“Oh stop…what were you asking? Tell me again. I’m listening, I promise.”
“Aww you promised, ok then, I re-tell (belittling her in his worst Russian accent).
“Oh shush and just tell me already.”
“I was just saying, part of the problem might be that we’re babied too much, or that we believe we’re god’s gift because we were brought up to believe we’re god’s gift. That we each aren’t just an insignificant drop of rain in a massive ocean that’s been building for billions of years. Like the world revolves around me, like we’re always young and can't make mistakes, and that love is this thing that happens to everyone and that we should never settle because the right one is just around the corner, or because our worth is far more than the worth of the one seeking us, and I don’t mean financial.”
“Well you are worth it hunnie.”
“That’s it right there….if I am, than why do I know deep down that when I call her, it’ll be too soon, too desperate, too stalker?”
“It won’t be! She’s your age, or damn close to it, right?”
“These girls don’t play games anymore. They’re looking to settle down once they’re past 26 or so. For a guy that knows numbers so well, I figure you should know this.”
“Know this? I am a numbers guy, but understanding the psychology behind a girl’s wacko thought processes has nothing to do with numbers.”
“In a way it does. If she’s too young, it’s not gonna work. If she’s too old, you almost wonder what’s going on and you need to find out some more details. This girl’s right in between right?" Age is numbers.”
“Yea, yea…..however retarded that just seemed, you actually made a shred of sense.”
“That’s a lot for me.”
She laughs and he follows because she knows she has her moments of excess air just gathering in her brain.
“So just call her already and quit being a baby.”
“Fine! But let me call Tom first.”
“Love you, gotta go, you’re the best!!!…muah”
“Fine….(she exhales in a monotone gesture) love you too, good luck.”
“Oh stop….you were very helpful.”
“Yea yea, I know, alright. Fill me in when you hear something.”
Dialing Tom, he looks at the clock and it’s almost 8:28pm. He thinks to himself there’s still just enough time to figure it out, it’s not 9 yet. Tom picks up.
“Duder, how’s it heezlin?”
“Decent bro, decent….listen, I’ve got a question for you.”
“Yea, I’m here” Tom says. “Go ahead.”
“Jesus, Walter Hudson, am I bothering you during a late night snack?”
“No ya douche…I just didn’t think I had to say “Yes Frank, how can I help answer your question my dear troubled boy.”
“Ok, ok, fine…so, here goes, the other night Kevin and I went out with Paul and his chick and we met these girls right.”
“Yea I heard, you met some blondie….I never pegged you for a blonde.”
“Yup, heard it already…I know…it was weird. I never expected it either, but yea so anyway, here’s the question. Can I call her tonight, or is that too soon?”
“When did you guys go out?”
Saturday, Saturdayyyy…..when was Saturday?”
“Jesus Christ…the next day?”
“You were thinking of calling her the next day?!”
“Yea so, what the fuck’s wrong with that?”
“Come on dude, you know the cardinal rule….it’s gotta be at least 3 days….and ya know what, I even think that’s too quick.”
“Fuck me, both you and John say the same thing.”
“And he’s doing pretty well for himself.”
“How is that too quick?! Like my life’s so goddam busy that picking up the phone to call someone’s impossible. Guaranteed she knows it ain’t imposssssssible. I’m not the fucking President. You don’t think that’s a dick move?”
“Not at all. That is the move, otherwise you’re jumping down her throat. You’re a single white male putting an ad in the Classifieds section “in dire need of female reproductive parts…anything warm place to drop my seed is preferable.”
“Wait, is that with the terrible grammar, or am I just a robot with a dick that works like a human?”
“Well, you’re off your ass. Like I give a fuck about fucking her….I barely even know the girl….”
“Crazier things have happened my friend.”
“Crazier things have happened meaning, a guy can call the next day and it can work out?”, I ask Tom.
“No, I meant crazier things have happened where people do sleep with each other in one night, they’re all not just looking to get into a relationship, be married and live happily ever after.”
“Wow, straight from the Charlie Sheen playbook. Like you’re some fucking Don Juan out to fuck anything that walks the streets. Did John call you within milliseconds of me calling and speak like the micro-machines guy to fill you in on everything he said? Because you two fucking geniuses are dopplegangers sitting on my shoulders, reading the same newspaper, shitting down my neck.”
“No, we did not speak, and no, I am not always just out to find sex.”
“Exactly, so the point is, what’s gonna go wrong if I call? She won’t think I’m the mature guy that sees what he likes and goes for it without playing games?”
“Everyone likes games.”
“I fucking hate games!”
“You like games, you just don’t know it.”
“No, I do know them, I don’t like them, but I have to play them if someone is playing them against me.”
“What?! You can’t be Captain Desperate with a girl that’s playing hard to get…what the fuck’s that gonna achieve?”
“God dammit, would you cut it out with the silent treatment?”
“How can I tell if this girl’s playing games, I haven’t talked with her for more than ten minutes?”
“What’d she seem like?”
“She seems like a great girl that wasn’t playing hard to get, has her shit together…a good job, a recently ended relationship…and it was a long one…and I felt a nice vibe going.”
“Any physical contact?”
“Are you kidding me?”
“What? That’s an important question.”
“Nothing.........there must’ve been a focus group you guys went too on dating that I missed. No, there was no contact.”
“But there was body language!” I desperately exclaimed.
“Ummm, I don’t know, kinda facing me when in conversation with others?”
“Are you asking me, or telling me?”
“Yea, there was body language…definitely, and oh, her friend said “absolutely go for it, she’s single.”
“So her friend liked you.”
“Yea, for sure.”
“Well that’s a good thing, because they’ll talk about the night as they head home and you’ll come up somewhere.”
“Well, they did take two different cabs home.”
“Whatever, I doubt that’s the last time they’ll ever talk about that night. Girls do AIM each other at work and shit…that’s like all this girl does everyday at her desk next to me….just random fucking giggling every twenty minutes.”
“Oh my god that’s so annoying…”
“Tell me about it….so I throw her like three glances a day trying to signal the fact that she’s getting on my nerves and she just says “sorry, my boyfriend’s hilarious.”
“Oh Jesus. Why don’t you rub it in there sweetheart….where’d you go to din din last night, did he open the door for you…..how’s he in bed...”
“Wow, you do a good gay voice.”
“I didn’t even realize, and don’t fucking compliment me!”
“Hey, here’s my most recent example….I’m kinda with Carissa now and I waited 5 days to call her.”
“Fucking A, really?”
“And what’d you say?”
“I just left her a voicemail.”
“That seems to be the easiest way.”
“It’s the only way. You’re not gonna hang up the phone, she'll see the missed call. You’ll look more scared than before if you don’t leave a voicemail.”
“You actually think this girl’s gonna pick up the phone?”
“I don’t know, I guess not…John said the same fucking thing.”
“Do you pick up the phone when you don’t know the number?”
“Well you didn’t give her your number right?”
“Yea so, you’ll end up leaving her a voicemail and see if she calls you back.”
“Ok so I can do that then.”
“After four days.”
“Four days?! This is ridiculous! I would hate me if I was her.”
“Well, you do whatever you want to do, but I waited 5 days and here I am, happy as a pig in shit.”
“You know what shit smells like?”
“What the hell’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s been a long night.”
“Then get some friggin sleep, and don’t fucking call her!”
He stands up from his bed and looks in the mirror. This tall standing mirror rests against his wall, just barely missing the ceiling. He turns to the side and sucks in a bit….”not bad” he says to himself while patting his stomach. Breathing several deep breaths, he looks at his phone. 9:01pm. He dials her number. The phone starts to ring. On the first ring he stares back at the mirror and loses concentration on the topics he’d prepared. The second ring blings by and he hopes she doesn’t pick up. He paces towards his hamper and on the third ring his mouth goes bone dry and he almost hangs up.
“Yea who’s dis?”
“Umm, this is Frank, I was looking for Sara?”
“Sorry bro, wrong number.”
“Oh, (he pauses) …sorry about…”
“Yea no problem…(click).”
Pushing out all he’d held in, he stares into the mirror with one hand halfway through his hair. He hadn’t even realized he’d pulled it tightly back while talking and still hadn’t let go. He lets go. Sitting down on his bed, the wooden headboard creaks and the mattress sounds like the thumbing of wet Styrofoam. He stares at his phone, her contact details fade to black. The memory of Sara Griffin disappears and anything he’d attached to it. He whispers to himself….”just a drop of rain.”
Several days later:
“So did you ever end up calling that girl we talked about?” his mom asks.
“Yup, I did.”
“You did?! And you didn’t tell me?!”
“Hold on a sec, let me get ready…(this is something his mother does, she runs to her couch to settle in for their nice long discussions)..”
“No need to get all comfy mom….”
“Oh damn, what happened…you waited too long?! She didn’t call you back? She was probably annoyed….I told you!”
“ Nah, nah no…..even worse.”
“Worse? What’s worse than no call back?”
“She gave me a fake number.”
“Haha, yes…it’s not that big of a deal.”
“Oh you must’ve said something she didn’t like…did you say something? Can you recall what you said? Were you really drunk?”
“No mom, no, not at all. I’m not gonna be an asshole the first time I meet someone.”
“Well maybe you didn’t think you were coming off as one, but maybe you were being tough or macho…I don’t know…”
“I don’t know either…”
“Is it possible you just got the number wrong?”
“I doubt it ma….some girls just give out the wrong number to guys they’re not interested in.”
“Well why would she talk to you? That’s ridiculous, how could she not be interested….you must’ve screwed up the numbers.”
“Come on mom, me, numbers?”
“You’re right. You’re right, that’s right. You’ve always been so good with numbers.”