The Literary Girlfriend: Origin Story
I wasn’t sure if Danielle was going to show up for our date. I didn’t have her phone number. I didn’t know where she lived. I didn’t even know if Danielle was her real name or not. She said she worked at Nero’s, a high-end topless club, but I didn’t know if she was even telling the truth about that. Everything about this date was up to her. She could decide to not show up, and I would probably never see her again.
The only reason I believed Danielle might show up for our date was because she had initiated everything. She had asked to share dryers in the laundry room. She had left her underwear with my stuff. She had come up to my apartment (without being invited) when I volunteered to give her garments back. And she had pursued me in the library when I wasn’t sure if I was going to talk to her or not. It was strange, but it seemed like Danielle was stalking me (and not the other way around). But I also knew that people can rationalize anything. Maybe I was being delusional.
I couldn’t figure out why Danielle would be interested in me. Danielle and I were a physical mismatch. I was a little over six feet, skinny, reddish brown hair, and very pale. She was almost a foot shorter, long dark hair, light brown skin, and curves. I had no curves. I could have worked out, lifted weights, taken steroids, and all I would have had to show for it would have been zits and a bad attitude.
We wouldn’t look right together. Danielle got stares just by being Danielle. As soon as people saw us together, we’d get perplexed double-takes. I’d be the doof with the hot chick. I knew I was too self-conscious, but I couldn’t help that. I would feel uncomfortable with people staring at us (even if they were only staring at Danielle).
Physically, I had a couple things going for me. I was tall (which helped) and I had wide shoulders for a skinny guy. When I wore long sleeves or sweaters, or jackets, the sleeves would bulk up my arms and make me appear larger than I really was. Maybe that’s why Danielle had told me to wear my professional clothes.
I was always nervous before a first date, but that afternoon my anxiety was even more intense than normal. There was too much uncertainty with Danielle, and I liked order in my life. I couldn’t concentrate on the Tom Clancy book that I had checked out from the library (looking back, I shouldn’t have cared about that). I wasn’t even paying attention to the college football game on TV (unheard of at the time).
At 6:00 Danielle pounded on my apartment door. It wasn’t a tap-tap-tap that I’d expect from a woman (hopefully that doesn’t sound genderist). It was a pound-pound-pound that the edge of a fist makes. It startled me. I almost expected a SWAT team to crash through my apartment. I should have known that Danielle would be a door pounder, but I was so nervous anyway that I jumped.
When I opened the door, I almost didn’t recognize her (again). Danielle’s hair was pulled back. She wore a light colored blouse that was buttoned up to show just a hint of cleavage. Her jeans were up past her hips but loose so guys wouldn’t check her out too much when she walked. But the glasses were the centerpiece. Big, black, thick rimmed glasses. Danielle was no longer the hot chick in a clingy t-shirt. She was the cute chick with glasses. And I dated cute chicks with glasses.
“Wow!” I said (yes, I really said “Wow!” out loud). “You changed your look again.”
“You like it?” she asked. “I don’t really need the glasses.”
After I invited her in, she glanced at my ragged furniture and said, “We’re not going to stay here long. What kind of food do you like?”
“I should be asking you that,” I said. “Mexican?”
“Not for dinner,” she said. “Maybe Italian. I know a nice place that doesn’t take too long.”
“Are you in a hurry?”
“I work tonight.”
“You’re still at…”
“Yeah, I still dance at Nero’s,” she said. “Saturday’s my big night, but most of money comes in after 10:00, so we still have lots of time.”
I had a tough time grasping this. “You’re going out with me, and then you’re going to go to… work.”
“Yeah, are you okay with that?” she asked. “Some guys can’t deal with it. It’s okay if you can’t. Just tell me now.”
“And you won’t go to work?”
“No!” she said. “We won’t go out. I have bills.”
“Okay,” I said, shaking my head. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. “I have no problem with where you work. I just can’t picture myself going on a date and then going straight to work. That’s all.”
“You work 8:00 to 5:00. If you worked evenings and nights, you’d change your mind.”
Danielle stepped toward my book shelf and pulled out Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. She inspected the covers. “Is Jane Austen a woman?”
“She was,” I said.
“She’s not some European guy with a name that looks like Jane. It’s not John Austen? Or Jo-Hann Austen?”
“No, it’s Jane.”
“Good,” Danielle said. “Then I’ll read one of these. Which one do you think I’ll like?”
“Um…” I hesitated. “I haven’t read either one of them.”
“You said you’d read all these.” She was right. That’s what I’d told her, that I had read all the books on my shelf, when she had come up to get her panties.
“I hate it when guys lie to me,” she said. “Guys lie to me all the time. Guys tell me they’re lawyers or photographers or gynecologists. You’re the first one to lie to me about books.”
“I shouldn’t have done that. I didn’t think I’d ever see you again,” I said. “Now that we’re dating, I wanted to tell you the truth.”
She tapped her foot. “Alright, but I’m watching you.” She paused. “And we’re not dating. We’re going on a date. I haven’t decided if we’re dating yet.”
“Okay.” Geez, I thought, she puts on a pair of glasses and suddenly she’s precise about word choice.
Danielle looked at both Jane Austen books and then put Pride and Prejudice back on the shelf and kept Sense and Sensibility. “I don’t want people to think I’m prejudiced,” she said.
“You’re taking that on the date?”
“It will make me look smarter,” she said. “I like it when people think I’m smart. They treat me different. And if you start telling me about your boring job, I’ll have something to do.”
“You do look smart,” I said, and I meant it.
Then she pushed her glasses down to the tip of her nose and held the book up to her chest. “I’m not just smart. I’m literary,” she said. “I am… quite… literary.”
Right then, I was pretty sure that no matter what happened, I was always going to remember this date.
To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: First Date.
And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.