Mr. Terrible got up from his seat, walked to my side of the table, and kissed me. I can swallow a lot of pride on two bottles of sake. I let him. It was easier than hurting him. For as revolting as he was, he was fragile.
Mr. Terrible: We have so much in common. We’re like Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Annie Hall.
Me: They had nothing in common at all. And he’s married to his daughter.
Mr. Terrible: I just love pleasuring a woman.
The VC had spoken about her “exit,” how, when she’s evaluating a company, she wonders who will buy it, what’s the endgame, where will she find her profit? I had just spied my out.
Me: I actually think we are in really different places. You really want a girlfriend.
Mr. Terrible: I really want you to be my girlfriend. You’re exactly the woman I wrote about on my match.com profile. Here, I can read it to you.
Me: Please don’t.
Me: Look, I’ve been a girlfriend. I’m 38 years old. It feels great. I’ve swooned. I have been around the world in both directions. But if I never get on a plane again, I’m OK with that. I’m ready to move on to the next thing, a partnership.
He took my hand and proposed marriage.
Mr. Terrible: So what kind of ring do you want?
Me: I will wear my parent’s engagement ring, someday. But honestly, you don’t want to be married, you just want a girlfriend.
Mr. Terrible: Oh. Now I’m sad. It’s like the universe just showed me everything I want and won’t let me have you.
I will admit to understanding this feeling all too well, albeit not with him and not that night. I, too, feel mostly like I stand on one side of a plate-glass window looking at the things I want — a loving partnership, a family — and not getting any closer. And though Mr. Terrible was crazy and repellent, it mattered to me that he walk away in tact, no worse off, even as he made me hate my life and resent my spinsterhood and want, desperately, to shower off the evening’s accumulated ick.
Terrible walked me to my door, and I took comfort in the fact that the restraining order would be all I ever knew of the content of his pants. Well, that and the vasectomy. He kissed me good-bye and he took it as encouragement.
The next day, I received a text:
That was fun. Again? When?
Poetry. At least someone had fun.
I entered his contact details into my phone: DO NOT PICK UP is his name. He’s the 37th man I’ve met with the same name. Top that, Marie.