I got to work a little on the late side this morning because I knew Jim wasn’t showing up till 9:30 and I was completely stuck without my computer. I arrived a little after 9, then got about three cups of coffee to kill time. Because I’m an idiot, it didn’t occur to me that all that coffee would make me have to pee like crazy, but I was afraid to move because I didn’t want to miss Jim.
Thank god, he arrived at 9:25. He looked out of breath and I felt kind of bad for making him race over here. For all I knew, he had a heart condition too. Whatever was wrong with him, he was pretty messed up. That is, he didn’t look unhealthy or anything, but normal people aren’t in wheelchairs.
I also noticed this time that he was really good at wheeling his chair. I didn’t think I could wheel a chair or do anything without using my fingers.
“I came as fast as I could,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said.
I noticed he had something on his lap and it turned out to be a little toolbox filled with screwdrivers. I had a sinking feeling. “What are you going to do with those?”
“Three guesses,” Jim said. He started unscrewing the cover of my CPU.
I felt a little guilty that he was doing all this work on my computer when he had limited use of his hands. So I asked him if he wanted me to help, since I didn’t have anything to do anyway.
“Sure,” Jim said. He handed me a screwdriver, which he somehow wedged in his fingers. “I could always use a little helper.”
Okay, so now the embarrassing part: Jim had the whole damn thing unscrewed before I even got my one screw out. I have no idea how I managed to suck quite that much or how he managed to be so fast, considering he couldn’t use his fingers. So much for my plan of being a ringer in the Special Olympics.
Jim was making fun of me for being so slow. It was weird because he was still very obviously flirting with me. And I was flirting back, just automatically. I still felt awkward, but less so. I guess Jim was a pretty nice guy.
By this point, I was doing the pee-pee dance, so I finally excused myself to go to the bathroom. I felt a lot better after that, but I wasn’t in any hurry to race out of the bathroom, so I lingered by the mirror. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to be a pretty girl looking at yourself in the mirror. I feel like whenever I look in the mirror, it’s just damage control like picking dandruff out of my hair or making sure there isn’t crap in my teeth. I never have good hair days. I only have “not awful” hair days.
I don’t like to stare too long at the mirror in a public place though. I don’t want someone to come in and god forbid, think I’m admiring myself. I don’t want people to think I’m deluded enough to think I look good. Usually when I’m in a public place, I take a quick glance in the mirror to make sure there isn’t toilet paper stuck to my face or something, then I head out. I’m the fastest girl in the bathroom you’ll ever meet.
When I came back out, I nearly had a heart attack: my computer was in bits all over my desk. I almost cried.
“Don’t freak out, Tessie,” Jim said. “I just replaced a part and I’m putting it back together. I promise.”
He made good on his promise. He was pretty fast at putting the computer back together too. As he was doing it, he was explaining to me what he was doing and it seemed like he really knew his shit. Not that I had any idea what he was talking about and for all I knew, he was making it all up. But I actually think he did know what he was talking about, because when he finished, he turned on the machine and the hieroglyphics were gone. “You’re my hero,” I said. Then I blushed.
“I’m sorry it took so long,” Jim said. It was almost noon. “Let me make it up to you. I’ll take you out to lunch.”
I almost had a second heart attack. This guy was asking me out? This was too weird for words. He must have seen the look on my face because he added, “A platonic lunch.”
“I really shouldn’t,” I said. “I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on.” That was true.
“Maybe tomorrow then?”
I felt my face getting really red. I hate the fact that I blush so easily. It makes me really transparent. I didn’t get this at all. I had never been pressured like this to have lunch with a guy. I didn’t even understand how he had the courage to be so persistent considering what he looked like. But then again, he said it was platonic.
“I’m really way behind,” I said.
“Well, maybe someday you’ll get caught up,” Jim said. “My offer stays open. You know where to find me.”
I was really relieved when he finally left, but I also felt a teeny bit empty. I really just don’t get asked out… like, almost ever. It’s really rare. I felt flattered, I guess. He made me feel like I was hot.
“I can’t believe you turned him down,” Sandra said. She was racing over to my cubicle the second Jim was gone. “He really liked you.”
“What?” I figured the way she was looking at him, she didn’t see him as potential boyfriend material. “He didn’t ask me out anyway. He said it was platonic.”
“Yeah, except when you were gone, he asked me if you had a boyfriend.”
“What did you say?”
“Do you have a boyfriend I don’t know about? I told him NO.”
I felt all uncomfortable again. “But… what’s wrong with him? Why is he in a wheelchair?”
“I think he’s a quadriplegic,” Sandra said. “You know, like Christopher Reeve. Before he died.”
So that was that. Jim saved me by fixing my computer then I blew him off. In addition to being ugly, I guess I also suck as a person. Go me.
Every Friday night, Sandra and I go to this bar by work for drinks. Not that I expect it, but in the five years we’ve been going there, not once has either of us ever been hit on. Considering guys go to bars to hit on women, it’s a little sad and maybe insulting. Then again, who’d want to date any of those losers anyway?
Actually, I take that back. The men in that bar aren’t losers. Most of them work in the same company as me and Sandra, so they’re guys with good jobs who want to unwind after work, just like us. And a lot of them are young and cute. But still, none of them hit on me.
But I don’t care. You know why? Because I have a DATE tomorrow. WOO. I have a super duper exciting date with a guy I met on an internet dating site. He looked sort of fat and bald in his photo, but not intolerably so. His name is Harry. So we’ll see.
Sandra always gets a Corona with a lemon in it and I get a Heineken. I don’t love beer, but I love Heineken. I could drink like six of them, although I usually just have one so I don’t smash my car up on the way home and end up in jail. The alcohol makes it so much easier to unwind and forget the week. At least my computer was working again. Thanks, Jim.
Sandra was whining about how it was her husband’s turn to do the laundry and he wasn’t doing it. Clearly, Sandra has really important problems. I tried to look sympathetic, even though I do my own damn laundry every week. She was in the middle of complaining about skid marks on the underwear, when the twenty year old waitress (who by the way, gets hit on all the freaking time) plopped another Heineken down in front of me.
“I didn’t order that,” I said, rolling my eyes. She’s kind of a ditz.
“Yeah, it’s from that guy over there.”
The first drink a guy ever bought from me at a bar. I looked across the room, all excited, and guess who it was. Jim. He was with a couple of other nerds from the IT department and he lifted his bottle of beer to me as a greeting. I waved back while Sandra gawked at me.
“Aren’t you going over to talk to him?” she nearly screamed.
I had thought the idea of dating Jim was a nonissue when I found out he was disabled, but now weirdly enough, it was more of an issue than it was before. I looked at Jim across the bar and tried to figure out how I felt about him. I’d been out with some pretty unattractive guys before, and Jim definitely didn’t fall into that category. Not exactly, anyway. I’d never dated a guy who used a wheelchair before. I felt awkward around his curled up hands, but then again, I did like him. He was cute. Really cute.
I guess the real reason I didn’t want to go out with Jim was that I was worried about how it would look. You’d think someone like me wouldn’t care about appearances. But when someone who looks like me is dating a guy in a wheelchair, everyone feels sorry for both of us. Like I’m some loser who can’t get a normal guy and he’s some loser who can’t get an attractive girl. If I were pretty, I could date Jim in peace.
“I know he’s a little different,” Sandra said, “but he seems really sweet. Anyway, what have you got to lose?”
“I’ve got a date tomorrow,” I said.
I was immediately sorry I said that because she then needed to get all the details, but at least she stopped talking about Jim. I never went over to talk to Jim, but I couldn’t help but glance at him a bunch of times. Once or twice, I caught his eye and he winked at me and smiled. FYI, he has a really great smile.
I just got off the phone with my mother, which always puts me in a bad mood. Ugly girls have two kinds of mothers: the kind that are really wonderful and supportive and tell them not to give up, and the kind that tells them that they’re not going to find a man till they drop 20 pounds. Three guesses which one my mom is.
My dad is okay. My mother drives me crazy. Nothing I do is ever good enough for her. I know, it’s the oldest story in the world, cry me a river, but let me tell you, it would be nice to call her ONCE and not have her yell at me that I’m too fat. Just once in thirty years. That’s all I ask.
My social life is apparently going to give her a stroke, or so she says. I’ve made her old before her time. At first, she thought I was a lesbian. And that was actually preferable to her current conclusion, which is that I’m just too fat and ugly and no man will ever marry me.
Just to show you how desperate she is for me to get married, she doesn’t even care whether I marry a Greek guy. If you know how Greek parents are, you’d know this is a big deal. Luckily, my younger sister already married a Greek guy. The one Greek guy in all of California. By the way, is there anything better than when your younger sister gets married and you’re still single? The nine circles of hell, perhaps?
She’s old fashioned so it makes her upset that even though I’m not married, I live on my own. I should live at home till I’m married so my parents can protect me and my mother can focus every last bit of her energy on setting me up. Being 30 and getting set up by your mother is pretty much the most pathetic thing in the world, short of being 40 and getting set up by your mother.
I’ve allowed the set-up to happen a few times in the past, just because she was nagging me and I figured it couldn’t be worse than some of the losers I met on the internet. It was. There was one man that she set me up with that I’ve fairly sure was mentally retarded or autistic. Sorry if that isn’t PC or whatever, and good for him living on his own, but I don’t want to date a guy who doesn’t look up from his food once through the entire meal and only speaks to me in monosyllabic grunts.
Oh, and now that my mother has figured out how to email, I get daily diet tips emailed to me. I love getting a daily reminder in my inbox that I’m fat. It’s not as if I’m not dieting 100% of the time anyway.
At least this time I was able to tell my mother about my super exciting date tonight. She seemed pleased to hear about it. “What’s his name?” she asked.
“Harry,” I said.
“What’s his last name?”
I didn’t want to tell her, lest she try Googling him. That’s another thing my mother learned recently, which has been causing me endless grief. “He’s not Greek.”
“Why can’t you tell me his last name?”
“What if you disappear and I have to tell the police his information?”
“Well, if he’s planning to kidnap me, he probably didn’t give me his real last name anyway.” I always dignify her stupid questions with a response. I know I shouldn’t but it’s really hard to resist.
“Don’t have sex with him,” she warned me.
“Oh my god, Ma…”
“He won’t marry you if you have sex with him!”
In my mother’s head, I’m still a virgin and will be one until my wedding night. I don’t want to do anything to dispel this notion. I think if she ever started giving my sex tips, that would be the end. They’d find me curled up in a little ball in my bathtub, shaking and rocking back and forth.
Anyway, I have to go get ready for my hot date with Harry.
P.S. I don’t plan on having sex with him tonight.
So last night was my date with Harry.
I spent a lot of time picking out an outfit. I am embarrassed how much time I spent in front of my closet. I actually have a lot of clothes, but only about a third of them fit me at any given time. I have my skinny clothes, my medium clothes, and my obese clothes. My obese clothes are all really huge and loose and I wear them when I’m all bloated from PMS or somehow on a horrible upward weight swing. I would never ever wear any of these clothes on a date.
My skinny clothes are from a period four years ago when I managed to keep off some weight for a few months and bought all new clothes. Then the weight all came back. It is really depressing to try to pull up a pair of pants and not even be able to get them over my hips. I think they fit me maybe once a year, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them. I’m still hopeful.
Anyway, I selected a black blouse and pants to wear. I looked like I was going to a funeral, but I really look best in black. Harry had a lot of potential and I wanted to look my best, so I spent time styling my hair, trying to make it look less awful. Then I did something that I hate doing but is sadly necessary: got out the tweezers and started plucking. Mostly eyebrows but one or two in a few other places. We don’t need to get into that.
I was meeting Harry at a restaurant. You always have to meet internet dates in public places so they don’t murder you. He was already at the restaurant when I got there, which was nice because I could check him out from afar. It also meant that he wasn’t planning to check me out from afar and maybe make a quick getaway.
Harry looked worse than his photo, which isn’t a big surprise. Nobody looks anything close to as good as their photo. He was a lot balder and fatter, and he had a purple birthmark on his scalp. Still, he wasn’t too awful to have dinner with. My standards are fairly low.
I went over to the table and introduced myself to Harry. I could tell from his expression that he was a little disappointed with me too, but he was a gentleman and hid it well. “I already ordered some wine for the table,” he told me.
Trying to get me drunk. Nice.
Harry was an accountant, which is as close to an actuary as you can get. He had a bit of a lisp and spoke in kind of a monotone. He was probably close to forty and never married, and it’s not too shocking that the guy hadn’t found anyone yet. He was probably thinking the same thing about me.
I couldn’t help but compare him to Jim. Jim, who was so incredibly cute, and also had a great sense of humor. And Jim and I had a chemistry that I knew was never going to develop between me and Harry. Why did I say no when he asked me out? What’s wrong with me?
Ordering dinner on a date is a science. I didn’t want to order anything that would make me look like a fat pig, but I also didn’t want to order something that might get caught in my teeth. I ended up just ordering a chicken Caesar salad. Salad’s usually safe.
Harry didn’t feel the same way. He ordered a steak with garlic spinach on the side, and within a minute of the food coming, there was spinach stuck in his teeth. I didn’t want to point it out, so I kept averting my eyes because I just can’t look at a person with spinach in their teeth.
“Women always order salads,” Harry said.
Yup, we sure do.
Honestly, the conversation sucked. I’m not even sure what we talked about. Harry’s work, my work, both of which are incredibly boring topics. Then the check came and he said we should split it. That’s pretty un-classy. I mean, I can afford to pay for dinner and it wasn’t a big deal, but I think if the guy doesn’t offer to pay, it’s really lame. Also, we split the check right down the middle, even though he ordered a steak and I ordered a freaking salad.
After dinner, Harry walked me to my house. I live on the second floor of a three-story brownstone. I didn’t really want him to come up and I was glad he didn’t ask. But he did lean in for a garlicky kiss. And the bastard even tried to slip me a little tongue. It was one of those kisses where I couldn’t help but think being single wasn’t bad at all and it was in no way worth it to have to date someone as icky as Harry. Maybe I could be a lesbian.
What really pisses me off though is that as bad as Harry was, he will probably get married before I do. Because he’s a man and women are much more understanding about unattractive men. If I were a man, I’d be a great catch. I’m stable, I have a good job, I’m somewhat personable. My X chromosomes totally screwed me over.
“Can I call you?” Harry asked me.
“Okay,” I said. I didn’t feel attracted to Harry at all, but I wasn’t going to turn him down. The truth was, it would be better to be married to someone like Harry than to be forty and single and never have kids. It was worth a shot. I just had to stop feeling disgusted when he touched me. Eh, I could work on that.
To be continued...