The champagne lumberjacks were at it again. Hacking my poor brain like a redwood. I mean it was righteously splitting, not enough so I could star on one of those migraine commercials, but close enough. Naturally it was all the waitress’s fault – I wouldn’t even finish a glass and she’d appear, fill it to brimming, and tango back into the kitchen.
I cut the muffins in misdirected revenge and stared at Megan, who was half-smiling, like she had just sneaked into a midnight showing of The Muppet Movie on a school night. “I like this place,” she said. I nodded, mentioning that members of the waitstaff are always introducing themselves because they’ve seen me here so often and want to know who I am (in actuality it happened once, but how many times has it happened to you?) She was either impressed or doing a good impression of it. We slaughtered the small talk and closed in on my favorite conversational prey: dysfunctional relationships, with a side of sexual deviancy.
I blamed it all on Nabokov, citing both of my quasi-sexual experiences with a forty-two year old and an eighteen-year-old as evidence. She laughed – the way someone laughs when they haven’t read Nabokov and don’t understand just how devastating it can all be – but I didn’t mind. It felt like we were David Niven and Kim Hunter in the opening scene of A Matter of Life and Death – when she’s on the radio with him as his plane is going down and they experience this gorgeously spontaneous connection. By the time we were done she’d massacred the muffins and I’d had even more bubbly thanks to that damned dancing waitress. I realized I’d reached “the moment” of the conversation when I either mystify the participant with glamorous ambiguity or intrigue them with contradictory complexity. I remember picking a tactic, then saying something altogether different. It went something like this:
“My pelvis wants a man and my mind wants a woman.”
Her gaze was fixed, as if through intensity she could lift the hood of my head and see if the oil needed changing or if the transmission was toast.
Then she said: “Really.” just like that, just like you’re thinking she did, because there’s only one way to say really after a comment like that. I didn’t panic for a moment.
“Yes,” I said, “and I know I’m right, because just now, I want you in the worst way. I mean, in the way that I can.”
She put a different smile on now. It said, “you’re lucky you’re a Christian boy with androgyny to spare otherwise I might be offended.” Even though we both knew she couldn’t be offended, or embarrassed, for that matter.
“That’s fairly straightforward,” she said unironically.
I found myself agreeing with her.