Dating

Amy met Chuck online. Their first date was at a bar. He drank beer while she had gin and tonic. He chugged his down (and he had more than one) while she sipped hers daintily. They ordered a plate of nachos, which he ate most of. He had an olive stuck in his teeth the for the rest of the night, and his breath smelled like onions and cheese. When he tried to kiss her at the end of the night, Amy feigned choking on a bug and ran inside.

Amy met Bryan at the grocery store. He caught a can of beans she knocked off a shelf. He asked her to dinner and she said yes. They went to a sushi place, where he ordered one of everything on the menu. They tried combinations they had never considered before, laughing when things tasted good and grimacing when they were foul. He paid the bill, but she offered to pay the tip. He didn’t want her to know what the meal cost, so told her the amount to pay. Later, after he drove her home and they kissed in the car, she spied the receipt on the floor of his truck. She had only given a six percent tip. They didn’t go out again.

Amy met Danny on the train. They spied each other checking out the other over the spines of their books. They introduced themselves, and he suggested going for a drink. It was late, but they found a small bar near both their apartments and had a couple of glasses of wine. He walked her home and got her number, then kissed her on the cheek. When he called her to ask her to dinner, he stuttered and was unable to make concrete plans. He called her every day for a week, but he could never pinpoint a time. He finally stopped calling and she never saw him again.

Amy met Andrew. Then Patrick. Then Caleb. Then Marc. They met at the library or a bar or crossing the street. They went to the movies or for coffee or a book reading. They tried to kiss her or tried to fuck her or god forbid, tried to get her to sleep over. After a while she got tired of dating and started calling her friend Ben up for physical comfort.

Amy’s friends would try to set her up with their boyfriends’ friends. She went out Amber’s boyfriend Greg’s friend Steven. He blew his nose at the dinner table. She went out with Erik, a friend of Megan. He caressed her hand across the table and told her he thought she was the greatest woman he ever met, before their drinks had arrived. She went out with Jordan, who ended up being a woman because Jenny’s boyfriend Pete didn’t know that Amy was straight because she had been single for so long. She had a fantastic time, but at the end of the night realized she just wasn’t attracted to women.

Amy got tired of dating. She kept Ben on speed dial, but eventually he met someone and stopped answering. She stopped letting her friends set her up. She stopped going to bars or clubs. She refused to discuss dating with her friends, and they stopped bragging about their relationships. She became that sullen girl you only hang out with because you’ve been friends for so long.

Amy’s professional life flourished. She put all her efforts into writing the best reports her boss could ask for. She got a promotion and a raise. She celebrated with her girlfriends with glasses of champagne in her tiny apartment. She moved to a bigger apartment, got a cat and invested in a Kitchen Aid mixer. Her cat’s name was Arnold, so she could call to him, “HEY, ARNOLD!” like that 90s TV show. (Her friends didn’t get it.) She baked cookies and brought them to work to share. She made cupcakes and gave them out as gifts. She started baking her own bread.

But Amy was alone. Arnold was a fair companion, but the conversations were one-sided and Arnold slept a lot. Amy found herself talking to herself a lot. Once, she forgot she was in public and was caught talking quietly to herself in the elevator at work. Her boss thought she needed a vacation, and gave her two weeks off.

Amy went to Paris. She stayed in a tiny apartment near in the Latin Quarter, near the Sorbonne. She walked the streets for hours on end, popping into bakeries and bookstores and museums along the way. She sat outside cafes, sipping cafe au laits or glasses of wine. She ate macaroons and people watched. She climbed to the top of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre Couer. She ate crepes on the street, in the rain. She meandered through fruit stalls and fish stalls. She ate chunks of cheese and bread in the park.

Amy met Jean-Luc in the park. He took her to dinner, then dancing. He kissed her outside her tiny apartment. He showed up the next morning and took her for coffee. They spent the day walking through bookstores and drinking wine. They made love in her tiny apartment with the windows open. They did that every day until she left.

Amy returned home. She cried as she kissed Jean-Luc, before getting in a cab to the airport. He promised to write and to call and to visit. She smiled and nodded, but she thought could hear the lie in his tone. She slipped her address into his pocket then closed the cab door.

Amy came home to her cat. Arnold was happy to see her. She had dozens of messages from her girlfriends, asking when she would be getting home and asking for details. There was no message from Jean-Luc. Before she went to bed she made macaroons for work the next day.

Amy filled her days with work and friends. She and her girlfriends would drink wine and pretend they had gone to Paris with her. They would bitch about their boyfriends and Amy would talk about her trip. She didn’t mention Jean-Luc, because she hadn’t heard from him. She decided she wanted to keep the memory intact and not let her girlfriends pick him apart. She longed for him in secret.

Amy tried dating again. She had dinner with Harry, coffee with Stu and went to a play with Paul. She smiled and laughed her way through each date, but she couldn’t stop comparing them to Jean-Luc. Harry talked incessantly about his dog, Miss McCutie, and Stu kept picking his nose. Paul texted throughout the entire play. Amy continued to check her messages every night and baked a lot of cookies.

One day, about a month after she returned from Paris, Amy stood in her kitchen braiding bread. Just as she put the final loaf in the oven, someone knocked on her door. Amy assumed it was one of her girlfriends, not doubt fighting with a boyfriend. But when Amy opened her apartment door Jean-Luc was standing there.

Amy, without thought or reason, kissed him before he could speak and dragged him inside. She closed the door behind him and without a word they made love on the floor of the entry way. When she finally let him speak, Jean-Luc apologized for not calling or writing. He explained that he had been working around the clock to get the money to come see her. He told her he couldn’t live without her. That she was his soul mate.

Amy decided to believe him.

Amy met Jean-Luc in Paris. They went to dinner. They went dancing. They had coffee and took walks. He held her hand and whispered sweet nothings into her ear. She spilled her wine, he snorted when he laughed. He didn’t call for over a month and had a tendency to show up unannounced. His left shoe was constantly untied and his hair was always a mess. She never let go.

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