“Where do you live?” I asked a friend of a friend, who I’d just met. It was his birthday and he was really celebrating, and his jovial attitude made me want to engage him in conversation.
“Palm Desert,” he said, sheepishly.
“I hope you’re not driving home tonight!” I said, gesturing towards the cocktail he gripped in his hand as his lids drooped and knees bounced up and down.
To my relief, he explained that he’d come up to Hollywood for his birthday and was crashing here for the night.
“Oh you know I’m going to be down in Palm Springs on Halloween weekend,” I mentioned, even though I’ve been considering cancelling my trip in favor of whatever festive opportunities might present themselves here.
“Well we should hook up!” he said, “Here take my number.”
And I did. I was grateful at the prospect to have someone else to hang out with. I still feel really new in town, and in the short time that I’ve lived here, plenty of friends have already come and gone. During my last trip to the desert, things went a bit sour with a friend who cancelled our very platonic dinner plans and then tried to show up to my hotel room in the middle of the night with a bottle of wine - despite his wife and children. So I was hopeful in making a new friend to keep me company when I inevitably return down desert.
“OK cool thanks,” I said, as I plugged the number into my phone.
“You better give me your number too…” he said, leaning in.
“No really, you should give me your number, and you should hurry,” he urged, eyes shifting around the room. I noticed his wife was no longer sitting on the barstool behind him. Had she gone to the ladies’ room?
“Six four six…” I started, rattling off my old New York number that I’ve refused to give up despite my new West Coast address.
He came in even closer. “Maybe we should hang out sooner than that. Maybe I’ll call you sooner…”
I sneered. And then, always eager to please, I smiled. “Okay…”
His wife returned for a quick consultation, and then they both got up off of their barstools and started to collect their things. I put my hand out to shake, and he leaned in and said, “You know I’ll give it to you good, right?”
“Um, okay, sure.”
I knew he would want to. I knew he would try.
For the next hour or two, I received a series of text messages that postured sexual prowess and then pleaded to see me the next day.
“Sorry I’m in New York City this weekend, back Monday,” I responded. “Besides, you’ve got your wife to deal with.”
“Forget her,” he wrote. I didn’t reply.
“So Monday then?” I didn’t reply.
“Tonight?” I didn’t reply.
The text messages subsided, and I hoped that the birthday boy had ceased his celebrations and retired for the evening. I went home and did the same.
But when I woke up in the morning, I saw that I’d missed a 2:30 a.m. message: “Hello?”
I bet that he wouldn’t even remember any of it. Enough alcohol can make people do bad things. And nothing good happens between 2 and 4 a.m.
Twelve hours later, the text messages began again – at first innocently enough, complaining of overdoing it the night before, not enough sleep, the resulting hangover.
And then the propositions resumed.
“Just looking for a friend,” I wrote, “Don’t need to sneak around any more wives/girlfriends. Enough of that already.” It seems like the only guys that are interested in me are those who are otherwise occupied.
“Friends with benefits,” he suggested.
I stood my ground. “I don’t need to be another guy’s other woman, sorry.” It was easy because I barely knew him. It was easy because I wasn’t dying for it. It was easy because there’s someone else’s boyfriend who I’d much rather have. I’d rather just pine after him.
“I hear ya. See ya around.”
And then it was over.
I felt stupid and naïve for trying to make new friends, for putting my misanthropic, antisocial nature aside to embrace optimism in humanity. I felt stupid for thinking a guy in a bar would want anything from me other than to sleep with me.
I wondered why I’m such a magnet for cheaters – both guys who cheat on me and guys who want to cheat on their girlfriends and wives with me.
And then I wondered, are there any guys who aren’t cheaters?
“It’s just so f’ing slimey!” Michelle complained when I told her my story. “Why are so many dudes slime?”
“Because girls let them,” I wrote.
And I hoped that maybe turning this one dastardly dude down would help stop the vicious cycle of enabling bad behavior. But turning this one dude down doesn’t make up for all the times I didn’t turn other dudes down. And just because I wouldn’t do it doesn’t mean he won’t find some other girl who will.
Because I’m not special, and neither are they. We’re not selected because of who we are. We’re chosen because they think we’ll be willing.
And sometimes I am. But not this time, and not anytime soon.
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