Hearts and Minds

The Greek philosopher Plato looked down over the proceedings with the stone-frozen face of a Renaissance painting. Of course, this was helped by the fact that he was, indeed, a painting. Oil on canvas, if you were wondering. He, Plato, was standing confidently amongst a group of fellow scholars in a marble Athenian courtyard, framed in gilded mahogany and hung high over the Euro-chic decor of the little hotel bar where Mike and Jen were just beginning their discussion of what exactly constitutes a fair rental price for a West Los Angeles apartment. Which was a greater commodity, size or location? Amenities or balcony? Parking or garden? Being the stronger of the two, Jen was winning the argument, at least in her eyes. Mike’s points and rebuttals were juvenile, ill informed, and, quite frankly, arrogant. If it weren’t for the gleam in his eye and the boyish smirk, she might have gone home a long time ago.

Mike didn’t even realize there was an argument to be lost. At least, not yet. He was just happy to have the attention of an attractive member of the opposite sex who a) could maintain a heated debate, and b) wasn’t his ex. Yes, he knew he was coming across as arrogant, especially since Jen was much more business savvy than he. But he was hoping his boyish smirk and gleam in his eye would carry him through.

Jen was way out of his league, let’s be honest. Not only was she beautiful, but she was smarter than he was, and he knew it. He’d be lying to himself if it at once didn’t attract him to and make himself insecure around Jen; the constant dichotomy of running toward and away from her.

“He’s not listening to me right now,” Jen thought. Great, another guy who only pretends to hear what I’m saying. It was at that moment that Jen realized she had actually been enjoying the conversation. That even though he was arrogant as fuck (well, okay, not as fuck, but still), he was at least engaging her. But now, with that gleam suddenly turned glassy and drifting – clearly, he was retreating to some self-indulgent place – she suddenly felt an incredible loss, bigger than expected. And this loss came with a sudden sense of self-consciousness. She wished she hadn’t talked as much. Maybe if she acquiesced in that last point, he’d still be with her. Even if he were looking at her tits, Jesus, it would at least be something. But, no, she had scared off another one. She should listen to her friend Gina more. Gina never has trouble keeping the attention of men, no matter what they’re talking about. But Gina dresses with the hanging promise of sex or at least some kind of heavy petting, and Jen wasn’t into that. She loved sex, just not on the first, second, or third date. How can you want someone to put their body inside yours after only knowing them for a small handful of hours?

But instead of voicing any of this, she just ran her tongue over her teeth.

Mike realized he had retreated way too deeply into thinking about his league and who was or was not in it, his ex, his confidence. Jen had suddenly gotten quiet, and he knew it was his fault. He had to do something to rescue the conversation, and fast.

He took a quick glance at her tits.

That will keep her thinking I’m interested in her, he thought. As a cover, he brought up the Michael Chabon book he was reading, then instantly regretted it – shit, I changed the topic of conversation. Jen still responded favorably, asking about Chabon’s style since she’d always wanted to read him but was afraid of the hype. Mike smiled, but still mourned the death of the previous conversation. As he began explaining Chabon’s story structure and word usage, he started to wonder if guys really thought girls didn’t notice when a guy takes a peek at their tits. I mean, I’d notice if a girl looked at my package, he thought. Then he realized he’d never noticed a girl looking at his package, then wondered if they had been looking all the time and he just never saw them, then his whole argument began to unravel–

Jen was halfway through talking about how the Dark Tower books saved her during her parent’s divorce when she noticed Mike look at her tits again. Maybe this isn’t going as well as I thought, she thought. That’s twice that he’s looked. Isn’t that one too much? She thought of texting her friend Becca and asking (not Gina, she knows what Gina would say), but who really texts a friend in the middle of a date? She could retreat to the bathroom, of course. Probably more women do it than she gave them credit for.

Oh God, how did this turn so weird? she thought. She was having a perfectly nice time with this guy, and now it was all going to pot. Maybe this was the fate of all dates founded from the electric fires of the internet. Flirty email after flirty email leading to a false sense of connection that is finally shattered in the second half of the first pseudo-blind date. It was like she was forgetting how to communicate, how to actually relate to someone. It was hard enough with her girlfriends. They complained a lot about her alpha personality, how she always took such charge with them. Their complaints made her feel alien. How else was she supposed to be except herself? It was sometimes worse with men. She either got the total wet noodles who let her do everything, or she got the power-hungry alphas who thought her aggression was a turn on until they felt it threaten their own sense of chivalry. That was typically after the fifth date. She didn’t really know why it was almost always the fifth. Well, truthfully, she could probably figure it out, but for some reason, deep personal psycho-analysis frightened her. And truthfully, she only said, “for some reason,” because she didn’t want to analyze her fear of psycho-analysis either, which would have been ultimately self defeating.

She told Mike she had to use the bathroom for a moment.

Mike watched her go. After she disappeared down the hall, his eyes drifted up to meet the oil-on-canvas gaze of Plato, and found himself simultaneously wondering what Jen was doing in the bathroom and whether the old philosophers would have blogged if they’d had the internet back then.

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Published on July 21, 2008 at 8:09 pm  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Dude, this is hilarious. You should definitely put this out. Really smart and well done.


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