June 23, 2013 by jamesessj
Yep, you read that right. Not “Connor,” but “Conor.” One n. Why can’t any of the guys I date have normal names? I don’t plan it this way, they all just turn out to have had weirdo parents who were trying to be all fancy-shmancy. Jeff or Tom weren’t good enough, so they went with Conor. Gimme a break.
Anyway, Conor is not really my type. He played linebacker in high school and is still built like a brick house — which I’m afraid means he has cement for brains. I like a guy who’s not smarter than me, but there has to be a limit. Your IQ has to be higher than your weight in kilograms. Conor once asked a waitress what was in the “Printed in USA.” He once said to Janis, a friend of mine, that she had “nice chickbones.” He keeps all his money in a coffee can not because he doesn’t trust the bank, but because he likes his bills to smell like coffee. He wants children, but thinks he’s still growing into his looks, so he’s waiting so that his kids’ll look more like older him than younger him.
He’s a dunce, is what I’m getting at. What am I doing dating him, then? Well, he’s handsome. And he’s got it going on, if you know what I mean. He takes me places I didn’t know a girl could go. And I don’t mean the priesthood. So, yeah, it’s mostly physical. It’s all physical. The man’s a slab of beef and I like mine well-done.
See what I mean? Barrett? He belongs in a soap opera, Barrett Smothers Worthington IV, the rich, spoiled rotten son of the guy who owns the perfume company. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a silver stick up his ass. But no, this Barrett’s last name is Bailey, and the only time there’d be an IV after his name would be on a chart in the hospital. Not rich, not spoiled, just a normal average guy who works as a house painter and during summers as an umpire for the city softball league. Not great-looking, not bad-looking, just somewhere in-between. Decent kisser. Shops at Target. Has a dog named Riley. Favorite food is pizza, followed closely by wings. One tooth is slightly crooked. A little under six feet tall. He’s just so damn ordinary. You couldn’t pick him out of a lineup if you’d taken a picture of him while he was mugging you.
But, I like him. I don’t know why. Just one of those things. Some people repel, some people attract. Met him at a softball game, I was arguing a call he’d made — another guy I was dating, Reynolds, Barrett had called out at home, though Reynolds was safe by a mile — and from the moment I looked into those plain brown eyes and called him legally blind, I knew we had something special. We went out that night and he stayed over, and though the sex was nothing to write home about, he’s a nice guy and he treats me well. What else is there to say? I like him. I’m never gonna marry him, but I like him, okay?
Christ. Gerrold. That’s not a first name, I told him, that’s a last name. What, Gerald wasn’t good enough? It’s good enough for President Ford, but not for you? You drive a delivery truck for FedEx. He said — they all say — he couldn’t help it, it’s what his parents named him. Well, it’s hard to argue with that, but I did. For a little while. Just to piss him off. He’s cute when he gets angry. He’s a big guy — he lugs those heavy boxes around all day — and he likes to think he’s intimidating, but really he’s just a pushover pussycat who’d back down from a small child holding a water pistol. He started to yell at me one time, for backing over his mailbox, and ended up apologizing for having put the mailbox in a place where it could be run over. Another time he got mad at me for being fifteen minutes late to a movie and all I had to do was bat my eyelashes and he said it was okay, the previews take twenty minutes anyway.
Not much of a challenge, Gerrold. Decent, kind, forgiving, accommodating — the kind of guy every woman says she wants, but once she gets him, not too long before she realizes that if she’d wanted a puppy, she’d have gone to the pet store. The truth is, I keep Gerrold around because sometimes it’s nice to be treated like a queen. And to act like one.
I’m not kidding. His name is Emerald. It was when I found this out that I considered instituting a policy of asking to look at a guy’s driver’s license before even saying hello. Because Emerald and I had been talking for fifteen minutes before I found out he was Emerald, and by then he was, hardy har har, gold. An investment banker who drives a Benz, wears Italian suits, and smells like he sweats Drakkar Noir? Jackpot! Except that he’s married. To a woman who, in photos at least, looks like she’s had more work done on her than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. They’re not happily married — who is? — but he can’t divorce her because her dad owns his company, or her uncle owns his dad’s company, or her mom owns his dad, or something…he starts gabbing and my ears close up like Venus flytraps, because I get lost in those deep brown eyes. Like falling into a vat of milk chocolate.
That talks. That’s Emerald’s one failing, and it isn’t minor — the man can’t shut his mouth. He even talks in his sleep. It’s all gibberish, but that doesn’t distinguish it much from what he says when he’s awake, which is also mostly gibberish. You’d think that after three or four hours of constant blabber he’d run out of topics, but Emerald doesn’t even need a topic. He just needs two lungsful of air.
I plan our dates carefully so that they only last a couple of hours, because that’s about all of Emerald I can take. His wife might have had that permanent look of surprise put on her face just so she’ll look like she’s heard a word he’s said. She’s not that much older than me — maybe half a decade. Though if you go by our faces she could be my great-grandmother, who’s been dead for thirty years. I realize I’m rocketing toward unmarketability myself, my days of playing the field are winding down, but if I ever go under the knife, just stick it in my ribs, because I do not want to end up like Mrs. Emerald Higginbotham.
Swear to God. Swear to God.
It’s a German name. Perfectly acceptable. But this Gert is black. From Tallahassee. He got the name because somewhere back in his family tree there was a Gertrude. She was a slave who escaped and swam to Africa and…I don’t know, founded a new country or something. Two hundred years later, Gert gets her name.
Gertie, is what everyone calls him. I’d rather call him the guy who gave me gonorrhea. Not that he gave me gonorrhea, you understand, I’m just saying Gertie is a stupid, stupid name for a man. Gert is not much better. One thing I’ve noticed about names, though, is that you can get away with not using them a lot more than you think you can — you give the guy a nickname that’s not so ridiculous as his real name, like “Matthew Mark Luke John” instead of “Gospel.” Or, instead of saying, “Gert, come here,” just look in his direction and say, “C’mere, you.” Names are not so necessary after all, not if you apply a little ingenuity to the situation.
Doesn’t make up for dating guys named Torrance, and Hummer, and Sherbet, and Pants, but if life was fair I’d be in the arms of the man of my dreams, rather than feeling like, somewhere along the way, he slipped through my fingers.