I remember the lung-shaking sigh of relief after replying to the final respondent from my online ad (I used my daily message quota to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ to people who made more than a trifling effort to construct a whole sentence). I wrote the last one an ‘I’m overwhelmed and won’t be back in touch but thank you’ message, made my user account invisible, did a little jig and collapsed on the floor.
More than two months later he responded saying thank you for the thank you. Did I let things be? No, of course not. Only a well-adjusted, sensible person who can control her curiosity would do that.
He saw a sliver of light through the door and wedged his foot inside. I didn’t stomp on it.
I can’t kiss a man with a beard. Just can’t. Nor can I look a man in the eye who squints and winks after saying something risqué, as if I’m already a co-conspirator. I tried to imagine him naked, once, and couldn’t do it again.
I loathe my lack of forthrightness in trying to pay for my share of lunch. He waved my cash aside, with the oft-used lead-in for a second meeting by saying it was my turn next time. Sure, I said, regretting the word as soon as it sailed carelessly from my lips.
I have no issues asking for what I want, but I clam up when it’s time to state what I don’t want. I don’t want this sense of fucking obligation. I want those moments back so I can say thanks but no thanks and stop working out how I’m going to say it next time.