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The Literary Girlfriend: Casual Love

October 6, 2013
Atlas Shrugged and love don't go together very well.

Atlas Shrugged and love don’t go together very well.

In our two weeks together, Danielle had surprised me in a number of ways.  She had flustered me when she cornered me in the library.  She had stunned me by going out on a date with me, spending the night, and then moving in the next day.  She had startled me when she replaced my beat up furniture with a much classier arrangement, and then flabbergasted me when it turned out that the new furniture had been stolen from a slutty blonde who owed her money.  And now she had just surprised (my thesaurus ran out of synonyms) me by invoking the word “love” after I’d dropped her off in front of the topless club where she worked.

True, Danielle had said “Love ya,” and not “I love you.”  The phrase “I love you!” would have been a formal declaration.  “Love ya!” was casual.  Maybe Danielle was the type of flirty girl to say stuff like that to all the men she was familiar with.  Maybe she said that to men she lap danced on.  Maybe she said that to every man who stuck a bill in her g-string.  I wasn’t sure.  I hadn’t heard her talk to many other men.

I couldn’t remember Danielle ever saying the word “love” before in any context.  She hadn’t “loved” any food.  She hadn’t “loved” any movies we’d seen.  She certainly hadn’t “loved” any books that she had pretended to read.  So maybe, just maybe, her use of “love” meant something.

Even if it did, I was pretty sure she didn’t mean that she “loved” me, not the way I would have meant it.  I was pretty sure I wasn’t in love with her, but there was a connection besides the living in sin.  Despite our differences, we got along.  We watched the same movies, enjoyed the same kinds of food, and even cheered for the same football teams.  A relationship can survive a lot of differences if partners agree on football and sin.

Even though Danielle had mentioned “love” first, I couldn’t reciprocate, not until I knew what she meant.  If her “Love ya!” had been a casual throw-out phrase and I gave her a passionate statement of true emotions and commitment that I probably didn’t feel, then that would kill the whole relationship.  And if Danielle really felt “love,” (which I doubted), then we would have a lot of time to figure things out.

I nodded to myself.  It probably meant nothing.  My best bet would be to wait this out and see if Danielle ever said it again.  If she did, then I could have a casual (and maybe confusing) response ready for her.  But what would an appropriate response be?

A car behind me honked.  I was still parked at the front of the valet line at Nero’s.  I’d spaced out and lost track of time.  Feeling like a doof, I waved in apology to the driver behind me and slowly proceeded out of the valet line toward the vast parking lot.

A head-shaved guy with beefy forearms, probably a bouncer, ran in front of the hood and put his arm out.  I slammed my brakes, and he ran to my open window.  “You alright?” he asked.

“Yeah, sorry about the wait back there,” I said.

“You Danielle’s boyfriend?”

“Yeah,” I said, without thinking.  “I was just… making sure… uh, she got in okay.”

“Hey!” the head-shaved guy suddenly bellowed out to a crowd of guys standing by the pillars out front.  “This is Danielle’s boyfriend!”

Uh oh, I thought.  The one thing Danielle had asked me not to do was to talk to anyone at Nero’s, and I had just blown it.  Before I could drive off, a couple other big guys were walking in front of my car trying to peer in through the windshield.

One guy looked in through the open passenger side window and muttered, “That’s the guy banging Danielle?”

The head-shaved guy to my left extended his hand for me to shake.  “You… are a fucking genius,” he said.

Genius?  I had been given many positive qualities in my life: nice, pleasant, polite, intelligent, sensitive, reliable, but I had never been called a “fucking genius” before.

“Uh, thanks,” I said, even though I didn’t know if he was being sarcastic, and I pretended not to see his hand.

Six or seven large men surrounded my car, big guys with shaved heads, big guys with long hair, and big guys with thin beards and earrings.  They were all muscular, and I was the skinny guy who was dating a topless dancer.  I had to turn my head right and left to keep track of everybody approaching me.

“I… I… need to get going,” I said, but my quiet voice was useless with all the bouncers and valets calling each other and making comments about me.  I was like an animal at the zoo.  I was even more out of place than that.  I was the geek who’d bagged himself a hot topless dancer.

“I… I….” I kept saying.

My monotone voice wasn’t going to cut it.  I had to resort to drastic measures.

I hit the horn on my steering wheel.  It was a high pitched blast, a womanly squeal of a horn, but every muscular guy stepped back from my car.  It was embarrassing but effective.

“Sorry,” I said, and then I added authority (or my version of authority) to my quiet voice.  “But I have to get to work.”

That was something the bouncers and valets understood.  A quiet nerdy guy in his car stuttering “I… I…” wasn’t something they could relate to.  Getting to work?  That was universal, even if it had been a lie.

The words “get to work” had the desired effect.  The bouncers and valets scattered, and my path was clear.  Amid all the conversation I heard tidbits like “…that guy?” and “…fuckin’ loser” and some guy said “Danielle’s girlfriend,” and that got some laughs.  I shook my head at the idea that some bouncer at a topless club thought I was a loser, and I drove slowly off the lot.

During the slow drive (lots of red lights) back to my apartment, I felt a little guilty.  I had broken Danielle’s rule.  I had talked (briefly) with some guys at Nero’s.  Danielle wasn’t going to be happy about that if she ever found out.  I didn’t believe that I had really talked to anyone, but Danielle’s definition of “talk” might be different from mine.  She might have said “Love ya!” a few minutes earlier, but once she found out that I had verbal contact with some guys at Nero’s, “love” would probably be the furthest thing from her mind.

*****

To be continued in… The Literary Girlfriend: Showing Off .

And to read “The Literary Girlfriend” from the beginning, start here.

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