You worry sometimes about your cynicism. You were never a really happy child, but as far as you can remember, you weren’t miserable either. Perhaps, cynicism is born in this middle ground. Sad people are depressed. Happy people are optimistic. The rest of us live knowing things could always be different than they are.
Smile like you mean it is something your father always said to you and when you meet your parents it is on full display. They want to savor this moment. They really are pleased. Between your mother’s tears and dad squeezing the feeling out of your shoulder you do feel like a success. Even so, you jump at the chance to sneak away when your girlfriend shows up.
You and Heather have been dating for two years. Sometimes it seems serious, sometimes it doesn’t. The truth is you don’t really call the shots or any shots in the relationship. It was Heather that picked you. You were minding your business, drinking a beer on the porch at a frat party, when she approached you. Maybe you’d smiled at her once or twice before, but nothing that would be considered flirting. That she is beautiful made yes a very easy option.
She seduced you that night and you got together a couple times a week for the next month or so. Then she would disappear for a while. Then she’d show up unexpectedly and the whole thing would repeat itself. You’d slept over, but never more than two days at a time. You’d been to her parent’s house, but not stayed over. You had gone on vacations, but only when other couples were going too.
She could be very demanding. It’s not that she knows what she wants. She does know for sure what she doesn’t want. You cannot talk her into doing anything. She wouldn’t do it in the outdoors. An empty locked conference room is okay if it’s her idea. She can be a freak and sort of kinky. She is always the aggressor. You are the damsel in distress.
You don’t know if you love her and you don’t know if she loves you although you both say it often enough. The thing is you aren’t really sure about the whole love thing and maybe this is what it means to her. A lot of couples stay together because once they’ve had sex a few times with the same person they know that if for no other reason to be in a relationship at least they have an outlet for that. It’s a lot easier to sleep with someone you know than someone you don’t. Besides, if you break up with her and wind up in a five year dry spell trying to get laid again you’re an idiot.
As you walk with Heather to meet her parents she straightens your hair and fixes your tie. They came for her graduation and not to see you. They have always seemed a bit frosty towards you. Her father is a big man and he always looks at you like you are a potential serial killer. You imagine that he is obsessed with the sorted and vile things you make his daughter do to please you. Her mother is polite but very guarded. You have trouble seeing her ever call you son.
You make small talk and keep smiling. Your observations always include the words nice or great or wonderful. Your arms begin to tire from the shit you are shoveling. Just when you think you can’t take anymore Heather looks to you and says, “We’re going out to dinner.” With emphasis on the “we” meaning she and her folks. If you had been invited she would have said, “Let’s go to dinner.” You don’t know whether to be relieved or insulted by the exclusion. Relief is the likely winner.
As you say your goodbyes with as much earnest feeling as you can muster Heather whispers in your ear, “Be home by 9:30. No later, no sooner.”
You were hoping to get some tonight and now it’s been confirmed. The smirk you wear is genuine. There is little time to fantasize though because somewhere a beer keg has been tapped and in need of a good drinking. All in all, you begin to think that this is going to be a pretty good day.