What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Part the Seventh: She has 'Crush' on you

It was like connecting positive and negative energy, but Luce and I were finally able to reconnect and set up a reconciliatory date. She had scheduling conflicts for most of my available times (school, a babysitting commitment and a best friend's birthday party were all pesky obstacles) so I ended up taking a couple hours off work so we could meet for a leisurely lunch and then walk around a local park.

If you're new to this tragic but all too real tale of failed attempts at love, you can check out the sordid and choppy history of Luce and my relationship here. Or, if you're the kind of person who flips to the back of the book to read the annotated version, it suffices to say that Luce and I have never clicked. I've either been too late, too dumb, too condemning or too verbose. Luce, on the other hand, has been everything; she's a charming date and beautiful companion. I've been borderline comatose.

Before heading out for date number four (or three, depending on whether your definition of a date includes an actual meeting), I sat down with a number of guy friends to put together a strategy. In retrospect, I probably should have had a girl on the consulting team, but I preferred the brand of advice my male friends provided.

Before asking for their input, I laid out my situation clearly, saying that my sensitive ego would not take another throw-it-down rejection. I needed to go into this meeting with a crash the board's mentality and approach Luce with a full court press. I wasn't going to be on the sidelines anymore.

OK, enough with the basketball idioms. Maybe I should add a girl to my team of advisers...

The guys and I reviewed my past experience and weighed reader comments for input. We were pretty sure that Luce's sister was in the military, which ruled out jdb and Adrialien's theory of a familial stand-in (the Luce of Part the Sixth had hair that was beyond regulation length). We also rejected matchmaker's input because it involved going to see a chick flick. In the end we settled on a variant of Frederic's idea and decided to strap on some metaphorical peacock feathers.

Throughout the date, I would be a bold, courageous beast in human form. By the end of our conversation, Luce would know every exploit, achievement and success I had ever caused or been a part of. I would pin her ears back with wordy tales of mighty victories, some embellished for grandeur and all told with wide eyes and guttural voice. I would spare no exaggeration and pull no punches. I would be Leonidas against the Persians, Achilles against the Trojans and William Wallace against the English. By the time I got through detailing my credentials of valor, Luce's crush would be that much more resolved and her affection secured.

"Spartans? Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!"

The end of our meeting involved some manly shouting, chest thumping and an arm wrestling match and one of my friends twisted his ankle while demonstrating a Bruce Lee wall-chop, but I was in the right frame of mind for a date as I hopped into my car and drove to the sandwich shop were Luce and I were meeting.

Luce was there when I arrived and, after we exchanged brief pleasantries, she felt a need to explain and justify her previous outburst. I put her at ease with the following reply:

"You know, Luce, a weaker man might have taken offense at your comments. A wuss or the guys who trim their eyebrows might have a hard time coping with such a letdown. I'll bet you Ewan McGregor would still be reeling. But not me. I once faced a whole room full of angry, condemning women. They were mad and I still don't know what I did. To this day, it doesn't bother me a bit. Not a bit. Your words were a drop in bucket compared to the kind of estrogen-filled hate I've been on the business end of. A drop in the bucket."

I think it worked, because she grinned while I was talking and shook her head slightly during the more fantastic portions. She even laughed when I mentioned Ewan McGregor and I made a mental note to thank Reginald for the line.

I didn't get a chance to be macho again until Luce had almost finished her sandwich. She looked down at her plate and said something about how "Mr. Pickles," makes large portions. Deep down inside, I think she was fishing for a compliment about her figure, but for me it was an opportunity to brag:

"Hah! This is nothing. How many calories do you think this sandwich has? 1,200? 1,500?"

"I have no idea."

"Well, I once ate almost 3,000 calories in ten minutes. I wasn't even hungry. I was like Takeru Kobayashi at the Thanksgiving table. Just boom; down the hatch. It was all gone before you could say "anorexia." They called me the Alimentary Vacuum and I considered a few sponsorship offers before staying an amateur. In fact, I'm going to have another sandwich. You want one?"

I don't think Luce knew who Takeru Kobayashi was and she looked more disgusted than anything at my comments.

Despite the fact that I was stuffed to the esophagus with a Mr. Pickles sandwich that was, admittedly, quite large, I walked over to the counter and ordered another. Food was never so painful.

Our walk in the park started off very well. It was a beautiful day and we made small talk for the first few minutes of our promenade. Then Luce brought up Reginald.

Luce wanted to make sure I didn't feel competition from my no-good house mate. She felt the time they were spending together might be perceived as more than friendship and she assured me the only reason she went out with him was because she felt sorry for his plight. I wanted to ask what Reginald's plight was, but my desire to appear strong lead me to feign confidence:

"You know, a lesser man might be concerned, but seriously, I've got this situation covered. Did I ever tell you the story about the guy at the place who tried to steal the girl from me? No? Well, he, you know, ended up...looking...less manly after I, uh, you know, finished with him. The girl's serving some time for an unrelated incident right now so you don't have to worry about her, you know, interfering with us. In fact, you could go out with the guy if you felt sorry for him and I wouldn't take that as a slight. I might even beat him up again although his reconstructive surgeon might not appreciate that..."

The more I spoke, the more ridiculous it sounded and I knew my face reflected my personal feelings of incredulity, so eventually I just shut up. My voice trailed off some and that's when I heard Luce's response.

"Why can't you just be the same person all the time?" She asked with a very feminine fire in here eyes. "One date you're Mr. Nice Guy and now you're trying on Macho Man...just give me the straight story. Don't be an arrogant tool. Be yourself. You don't have to try to impress me. You impress me; when you try you just look impotent and weak. And Ewan McGregor? That sounds like something from Reginald's playbook. Look, I know you're trying, but this isn't working. Call me when you are ready to be yourself."

With that, Luce marched to her car and, after a couple tries at the starter, chug-chugged her Bronco out of the parking lot.

I walked over to the playground set and began banging my head against a protruding monkey bar. How could I have been so idiotic? What could have been a great afternoon was ruined by my own meddling. What was that she'd called me? An arrogant tool? Ouch. I could count on one hand the number of times I'd been called that. And my stomach hurt like something fierce. Why did I have to eat that second sandwich? Why had I taken time off work for this torture?

Maybe Luce was right. Maybe I should try a date without any particular "strategy" and just wing it. I could try being spontaneously attractive. Or, maybe I could try coloring my hair or growing a mustache or something subtle but radical and very "me," whatever that is. How do you try to be yourself, when you've been working so hard to be something else?

I don't know. I definitely want to think about it before I call her again.


200 said...

You should have done the chick flick thing. It would have worked wonderfully, trust me.

adrialien said...

Ha! You call dying your hair or growing a mustache, "subtle?" Man, you are hopeless. UTTERLY hopeless.

Anonymous said...

AGH, I couldn't read past the first line. Positive and Negative Energies NATURALLY attract to one another. So where does the "but" come into play?

Anonymous said...

So, just what is the color of Luce's hair?

Gracie said...

You never learn.... *rolls eyes*
A worthy addition to the series~!

A City in Germany said...

I think I'll stay out of this one until I'm asked in...I know, I know. Rarely happens.

smccull said...

you needed a ladies input... lol

Me said...

Why isn't Jack Bauer in your poll? He's amazing. He could help you with Luce if you honor him.

Anonymous said...

WTF Put Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama in your poll man! THEY KICK @$$!