Contrary to popular opinion, you can actually meet members of the opposite sex in real life. Shocking, I know, but before the internet it was the only option. I meet my fair share of men in real life. I’ve become a bit more selective of the locations that I choose to chat up strangers as of late. For some reason, picking up random men at bars hasn’t led me any closer to marital bliss. Go figure. Frankly, the only person you are guaranteed to meet at a bar is an alcoholic. I don’t care to admit how many times it took me to learn this lesson. Too many. Way too many. But trust that my local watering hole is now safe from lust filled scans and booze fueled introductions.
Book stores, on the other hand, are a much better place to start. Because men aren’t usually prone to fits of violence and abusive language after consuming one too many Pulitzer prize-winning novels. Independent, specialty bookstores are where to meet the creme de la creme. That is where this tale begins.
I have fallen in love with this beautiful, quant, perfectly curated bookstore in the west village called Three lives & Company. It exists as a dream. You open the weathered red trimmed french doors to a haven, where time slows down, and books are displayed like candy in a confectioner’s window. Each new title promising to be a delicious treat that will feed your soul. I’ve had a crush on this place since I first moved to the city and wandered by accidentally. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I found it again and thought “at last friend, we meet again…” We’ve been pretty serious, the bookstore and I, ever since.
Now, my gay husband had invited me to join his family at their beach house in South Carolina. The perfect retreat for two young newly weds in love, not entirely unlike ourselves. He insisted I needed a vacation, and he was right. But before I left, I had to stop by my favorite bookstore and get a good beach read. You know, something that will keep me turning the pages as my flesh slowly begins to resemble the inside of a seedless watermelon.
When I arrived at the corner of Waverly and West 10th on this warm summer afternoon, there was a $1 book ben set up outside. A perfect place to start. I could even get two. A handsome man sporting a baseball cap and messenger bag was already trying his luck at the 3 by 4 foot box. Well, if I want to get in there, I either had to wait my turn, which I frankly didn’t have time for having procrastinated on packing, or engage him in a little friendly bookstore banter.
“Anything good?” I ask, secretly hoping he will tell me not to waste my time. Or immediately produce the best book ever written and send me on my way. I join him at the box and start browsing through titles. I am admittedly lost. One of the main reasons I love this bookstore is that it tells me what I want to read. This ben was just sad unwanted books by people I’d never heard of on topics I had no interest in. But my handsome stranger was cuter up close than I first had estimated. So I stayed for the view.
“There might be some good stuff, this bookstore is carefully curated so, we could get lucky.”
“Oh, I know. I love this place.” I respond flashing him my flirtiest smile, perfected over the years as a professional waitress.
“You a reader? A writer? Both?”
It becomes immediately clear to me that playing dumb with this guy is not the way to go. Just as the bars are a pretty promising place to find avid drinkers, so too are bookstores the home for intellectuals with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. I felt a little out of my league. But, I decided to play along in hopes that my personality and appearance made up for my lack of knowledge about the literary world. Men marry stupid women everyday. And I’m not stupid… so we start talking books. Turns out I know more than I think I do… and we continue talking and flirting and I am smitten with this smart, savvy, sexy reader.
“What kinda stuff do you write?”
“Oh, just silly stories. For now. I’m trying to find my voice. I have a blog…” and just as the words fell out of my mouth, I instantly regret them.
“What’s your blog called?”
Shit. Really? Why is the amazing guy I want to sleep with asking me about my celibacy blog? And why do I feel compelled to be honest with him?
“See jane give up dick.”
“It’s about celibacy. My misadventures?”
“See Jane Give up dick? Celibacy. Wow…um ..okay.. May I ask why?”
Embarrassed doesn’t begin to describe how I feel. Blood is flushing my cheeks and chest and lady parts. My heart is pounding. I’m finding it hard to breath. And I am resisting the overwhelming temptation to curl up under the $1 book ben and die. But I miraculously find the gumption to stand my ground and own my truth. Red as a drunkard. And make him think about sex. More specifically sex with me. And what a pity that I’m not having it. And how he couldn’t have it with me even if…
“Um… why not?” I begin to answer.”You know, it’s counter to the popular attitude….Let’s have sex now!” He looked at me like that might have been exactly what he was thinking, “My friends think I’m crazy for doing it… told me I should write a book… so I guess a blog’s the next best thing?”
“Right…where’s it at?
And it was right around this point… after chatting for at least twenty minutes… chatting about sex none the less, that I see his wedding ring. Yep, he’s married. And dating on-line is looking pretty good right now, because you can only moon over single guys on a dating site.
I try not to draw too much attention to my discovery, and my immense disappointment. I smoothly bring the talk back to my initial purpose, which was a beach read, not a boyfriend. He clearly still wants to keep talking to me, and recommends at least three of the better books he has just read. But footnotes Steinbeck’s Cannery Row.
“Oh, I love Steinbeck. That sounds great. Well… it was nice meeting you… I’m Devin,” I said extending my hand for a very platonic shake. Not how I saw this going, but it would have to do.
And just like that, he walked out of my life forever.
I decided his marital status had no bearing on his taste in literature, so I took his suggestion. Boy, was I glad I did! I found myself falling even deeper in love with this man as I tore through Steinbeck’s beautiful tale of community and bliss in the most unlikely circumstances. That book was a treasure. Easily in my top ten. I felt like we had shared something strangely special. In our brief, yet intimate, conversation he was able to accurately pick a book I thoroughly enjoyed. I wish he was in my life so I could thank him properly. What was it my mom use to say about being careful what you wished for?
You guys don’t know this, but I might be in therapy. Not because I’m celibate. But because I need some help working out somethings. I frankly think everyone should be in therapy. But still, I am embarrassed that I happen to be. So, I’m coming out of my therapist’s office, my face puffy and tear streaked, my manner open and way too vulnerable for the streets of New York, and I stop as I approach the lobby door. The man walking towards me looks incredibly familiar. And he stops too. We paused there and both scanned our brains and mutual faces for how we knew the other person. Picture us frozen, longingly staring into each other’s eyes. Transfixed.
Did I sleep with you? Work with you? Wait on you? Go to school with you? Date your friend? I’m drawing a blank but feel so connected to him.
“You’ve been celibate for a year!” He almost shouts, suddenly, excited that he figured out how we had been acquainted first. It’s him. HIM!! That initial embarrassment is back, but multiplied by ten. Because now I know he has read my blog. And that is how he has stored me in his brain forever : celibate girl.
“You go to therapy here.” he says, as if it was common knowledge that I was in therapy.
“Huh?” my wounded expression asks, because I am speechless.
“It’s the therapist building.” He explains. Perfect, now he knows I’m celibate and in therapy. He knows more intimate things about me than most of my ex-boyfriends.
“Oh… um… yeah…”was all I could manage to put together, with a “you know how it is” eye roll to go along with it.
He quickly heads towards the elevator, obviously late for his own appointment with a shrink. Leaving me to ponder why the universe has such a cruel sense of humor. Because guess who I get to see every Tuesday after therapy?
Jeff. The unavailable married man.
Careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. Thanks mom. Right again. As always.
Categories: See Jane Give Up Dick