Reader, I expect your scorn, I anticipate it.
I hated the Martian’s flowers.
If someone sent you a funeral wreath, would you swoon? If the flowers were designed for a grandmother–not your grandmother, but your grandmother’s cleaning lady as she recovered from her bunion surgery–would you be flattered? A man who sends flowers that shout “These dead pretty things have nothing to do with you, or your tastes, or your desires, also we don’t actually know each other, they have everything to do with my neediness, because I want to be sending THINGS!” Would your toes curl? There is such a thing as creepy flowers.
I was feeling a bit stalked. A keen spaceman was preoccupied with visiting me. The flowers were timed to arrive the minute I got back from the airport. He was flying here from another country for a first date.
The first date was feeling more like a dude in a diaper and a cross-country drive and a kidnapping than anything resembling romance. I thought about hiding in a basement in Brooklyn as if I were the Anne Frank of obsessive astronauts.
My guru, the Bad Example, sat me down. I didn’t have to be nice to the foreign dude who couldn’t sail, or fly; who sent gloomy flowers; who was arriving without an invitation; who refused to book a room; who made leaky property buys in places he had not been granted a job, or a visa; and who voluntarily murdered religious zealots when he was feeling wimpy.
Me: Wait, what?
Bad Example: It’s not your job to be nice to every man who is attracted to you.
Me: That’s exactly my job.
Bad Example: No it’s really not. You sound like you’re feeling threatened. Tell him not to come. Why should you be uncomfortable on the entire island of Manhattan just because he’s here?
I could say no. That hadn’t occurred to me. I could disappoint the Martian in ways that were less than gentle.
He was a test case: I would have to violate my maxim that no man should leave a date feeling worse than when he started. But it would be ok because really he just wanted to visit the girl in his head who liked depressing flowers and who had the misfortune to look like me. That wasn’t me at all. I was a bystander in his fantasy. He was dating a fiction unafraid of astronauts in diapers.
I told him not to come. He came anyway. He was pissed that I wouldn’t see him.
Me: I thought it was important to be unambiguous. This is not something I’m going to pursue.
He negotiated for coffee. He said that he had yet another new girlfriend, in his hometown, so I didn’t have to be afraid. It did not make me feel safer. It made me feel right.
I enjoyed not seeing him while he was here. I could really like this new word, no.