Arrived. Friday evening.
Met up with a friend. A platonic friend who you’ve known for a long time. Had not anticipated the rain. Was ill prepared. Did have a new book to read on kindle app on the phone.
No internet. No cell phone coverage.
Stripped down to nakedness and jump into the hot pool. Friend was someone you went to Russian bathhouse with before. Had seen you naked, not attracted to you and vise versa.
Friend also knew everything about you. Someone you often saw on a regular basis. Someone you used to go and cry when B royally pissed you off. B only wanted what he wanted. It was all about him, his pleasure, and his interest. You knew at the core you played an insignificant role but you liked it nonetheless. The two of you would never survive a weekend. He would probably get mad of you for something. He would probably expect you do exactly what you were told. He would probably get upset if a guy looked at you in a flirtatious way. He would be mad. You sensed that about him. He wished that you were a doll, something he could take out and put back. That was B. But Friend was different. He knew a lot about you. Because when you formed a platonic relationship you could be yourself.
Slept naked, then went and got dressed to eat a meal, read a book or played a board game with your friend. He picked a game at the library, it was not that much fun, but he played it with you because you wanted to. Then went back to the couch to read. You read a chapter, he did too. So retreated back to the room. You had him sit on a chair while you were on a swing, first chatting about health care, or, lack of in this country, Japan (he liked Japan, a lot), France, and in general, exotic travel, then more personal matters, you came to find out that he had arrived in California eight years ago, after completing PhD in the best physics program in the country, an Ivy League school, and then proceeded by doing a post doctorate with his professor’s recommendation at another renowned school in the Bay Area. You mocked him, “Really, I did not know. You mean you are kind of smart?” He laughed. shyly, and said, “You never asked. I asked about you. I know about you, but you never asked of me.” You remembered meeting him for the first time. A Northface jacket, a messenger bag. Looked lost. You mocked him so then.
Said with sincerity this time, “what else do I not know about you?” Proceeded to find out that he was born into a doctor and architect family in New England, and his brother a doctor as well. Father and Mother in New England, divorced when he was fourteen, brother and brother’s wife in Indiana. “Yikes. Indiana. Corn fed.” You were disturbed by the Midwest connection. B was from there. He knew that about you as well. You knew that he did not care for his sister in law. Someone who was born and raised in Indiana, overweight and tedious, often complained. He did not like many people, especially women. He liked them smart, and beautiful. He often criticized them. Except you. He had an unique view of you. He talked to you about those women whom he bed, how they tend to be dumb or unusually demanding. Or smart but not attractive. And when you winced, he would say to you “stop doing that to your face. You don’t look attractive when you do that.” When you cried over B, he would try to hug you in an awkward way. He thought you could do better, but when asked, he offered no one to you. So you told him B would do. B was the only person who ever said “I love you.” He said, “Saying ‘I love you’ is easy. That’s what he knows to retain you. But does he really love you?” You then said, “I suppose not. He and I have never gone on a day date. He had never taken me out for breakfast. We’ve never traveled together. I’ve never met his friends.” He then scoffed and then walked away, and you heard him say “we need more wine.” He fetched the bottle you had brought to this trip, and poured some into your glass, and then his.
"So, you are kind of smart from a smart family." You snarled at him in that usual way and he looked at you, helplessly. "Fat Bitch." He said, jokingly, but more resigned. You looked hurt. So he said, "Bitch." He sort of adored you in a brotherly way. No matter what you said. You remembered once he got depressed and said, "I don’t know why you are still here. What did I do to deserve you?" You looked at him and said, "I don’t know. You will be fine."
Came to find out not only he was smart, but also aware. And deep down a person who essentially shared the same political views and of the same social economical status. On top of it all, he was articulate and easy going but firm on ideology. And you had very similar ideology. Thank goodness.
Never saw him like an equal though. Always got annoyed by his pathetic dating stories. Because he had severe insecurities. Not sure why. He good looking, tall, well educated and incredibly smart.
Smart like yourself but different kind of smart.
Post doctorate smart in some ways. You liked intellectual men who were in the science field. Nano science. What the fuck was that? Some space alien shit? You wondered sometime. Someone who had enough smarts to keep up with you. But you did not know that he was so easy going. Like you.
Easy going. Collaborative. Caring. Independent. And incredibly fun to do things with. Like SCUBA diving. He dove. He skied. He travelled. But he was insecure. No matter what his education was. He was insecure because he liked good looking women who were smart. And good looking women who were smart, were all taken. Thus his depression.
He came to discover more things you did not tell him before. Surprised by your complex and difficult past, he then asked. “Why is that you married someone who’s never around and get yourself involved with another man who’s never around? How do you feel?”
Stared at the sky as the rain was coming down. “I often look at myself as if I were not me and I am examining a stranger from far away. And I feel sad for her. She’s lonely and terribly afraid of intimacy. Desperately looking for love in the wrong places. I just feel so sad that I want to cry, for her. Yet, she does not feel the sadness. She just keeps on going. She’s always laughing and is happy as she can be.”
He did not say anything after that.
Read books between lunch and dinner. Felt tired. So put your head on his stomach and your legs kicked up on the firm bed pillow and drifted into sleep. He did not move. He did not touch you (you’d punch him if he ever did such thing), you fell asleep. He would not dare to touch you unless you were falling into the woods and needed someone to grab hold of you.
Woke up at 6:10 PM. He looked at your cell phone to check the time. Time to get up. Jeez you had never felt this content with another being. You hated yourself for thinking that way.
At 11 PM, in the dome hot springs pool, later in the evening, you drifted into sleep in the pool as he played in the water, rehearsing for a scene. He was an improv actor on the side. He acted when he was not doing some space alien science stuff. Dreamed of the pool drained of water. Woke up in time to grab his hands to head into the kitchen, where he poured himself a glass of water to drink. Drove back to the cottage soundlessly. Room # 11, it was 74 degrees. Just the way you liked it.
He did not argue about the warmth of the room, it was fine the way you set. Most men complained. Too warm. Too cold. But he let you. He was surprisingly easy to get along with. The best man you’d hope for to travel with. In fact so perfect you began to fantasize a life with him. He had an answer for most of the things you did not know. He explained things. He was even keeled. He was emotionless like a typical WASP. You two would never have sex.
Asked, “Do you want to get a massage?” He said, “Okay but I’ve never had a massage before.”
Massage lady liked him. He was good looking and pleasant. Smart and unassuming. She said that he had perfectly shaped ears. She wanted to know why it took him so long to come here. She also wanted to know who he came with. He said, “just a platonic friend”. You had a thin white hair man as yours, thin white hair man like John Slattery. He was firm and seductive, as they all were. At a nudist colony, even massage became a heightened sensual activity.
You suspected everyone was having sex but he and you. It was known for swinger conventions, polyamorous community lived around here. It was a nudist colony with lots of hidden messages passed among the regulars. You were here to soak and unplug. It was a much simpler intent. He was as good as a cat. Just someone to pass time with, occasionally you might need to feed him. And he paid his share. Even better than a cat.
Kept on talking. Or not talking. Kept on finding out things you two had in common. Kept on finding not obstacles to sustain the friendship but wondered what if you two found each other appealing in a sexual way? Would it be a match made in heaven or hell? Except that you would not. It would be gross and terrible.
Once he was feeling slightly aroused. So you said, “I’m warning you. I am not having sex with you.” He said, “If we did, there is no turning back.” You wondered what it meant. How to turn something back. Why should it be turned back. Would the road lead you to a totally different path if you two had sex? More importantly, how weird it would be to have sex with your brother, had you had one. You could not find him attractive even if you tried.
He described your anatomy to you. “They looked like those root beer pops.” He said. He was not into your large boobs with firm nipples, or anyone’s large boobs. He wanted a white woman with flat stomach and long legs. You offered none of that. You wanted a man who desired you and used you. He was cleaning your make up using his bare hands in the pool, your makeup was smeared after getting out of the wet sauna. He was wiping your running mascara off your nose when you all of sudden felt like letting it be smeared all over. Who cared what you looked? The nudist colony was filled with good looking and not good looking people. But nearly no one wore make up. He did that in a way out of politeness or pity. As if he was horrified by your smeared look. He did not want you to cut your hair also. He did not want you to make silly faces. He did not want you to wear that candy striped dress. You remembered once going out and he said, “Why did you dress like a candy stripe? Do you have anything else to wear?”
Woke up in the morning. He brought your clothes to you in the morning so you could get properly dressed. He looked at your naked body in a complete uninterested way; it made you less motivated to put your face on. But he thought you looked good in make up so you painted your face. Asked if you looked awful without it. He said, “you looked different.”
He’d be a great husband to someone. Straight out of Jane Austin novel. Polite. Tall. Handsome. Who read science books and discussed world matters in such a formal way, as if he knew everything. You bred his children and served him tea and biscuit in the afternoon in the sun room. In the evenings you retreated to your own bed chamber as he drank whisky and smoked a pipe. You counted the days since you two had sex. It would be two weeks. He was due to visit you in a couple of nights. You were ambivalent about the prospect of getting undressed in front of him.
You were tired and you wanted to sleep in the evening. You asked if it would be okay if you used vibrator. He said at first, no, then he said, “okay, no moaning”. You said, “fine, I would be super quiet”. You came, silently, with your vibrator. He already turned off his light and put his book down. You thought he already fell asleep.You turned off the lamb next to you. Pushing a large pillow between the two of you. Like a fort you separated your nakedness from his.
You thought, this was how a terrible marriage would be like. He who could not access his feelings. You who could not acknowledge your feelings.
He called you his Chinese wife. You rolled your eyes. How cliche to pretend!
"Yellow fever was very 1990s. Now it’s just status quo. You missed that trend by about 15 years." You broke his fantasy.
You laid on your stomach, hands on your cheeks, and asked him questions as he sat on the chair and answered them. Properly. You wondered if he was always like this or he was like this with you. He was a perfect conversationalist. Judaism, that was what you two discussed. He was an atheist, like you. Libertarian, like you. More social program would be good for the society. Higher taxes would benefit the greater good. But small government. Always small government. Gun control. For it. Your transformation from a hard core Republican in early nineties to a Libertarian in early two thousands. The contemporary history of the communist China: Great Leap Forward, the severed relationship with the Soviet. The Korean War, the Famine, the Cultural Revolution. You covered it in extensive detail. You had once written a book, published. Still getting residuals. He did not know that and was slightly taken off the guard. ”Is there anything you don’t do?” He asked.
You wanted breakfast. He woke you up. Still mellow and even keeled. He had been sitting on a Mission style chair. You stretched. “What are you doing?” You asked in your sleepy voice. “I’m reading.” He was always reading. Went to the cafeteria and it was serving a huge thing of vegetarian omelet. You felt happy. He was too. You brought organic jam to him. He tried some and liked it. You let him eat the rest. You two spent the most time together over the years. Every holiday. Every other Friday evening. Once you parked right by B’s place to see a show down the street with him. He held your hand as you walked down the hill with your six inch heels. Wanted to cry for no apparent reason. He was somewhere else that night. He was thinking about another failed attempt to romance. How strange two perfectly content people would be so discontent.
Asked if this was a good trip. He said, “Thank you for meeting me here. I’ve always wanted to come here but did not like do things on my own. You were so sweet to invite me. You were sweet to buy me a coffee and breakfast too.”
Sweet. Just great. Sweet was how you were to him. Sweet would not be the word you’d use to describe yourself. But sweet nonetheless to others. You were annoyed by him all of sudden.
But instead you said, “Thank god you are not pain in the butt. I was dreading that you’d annoy me. Turned out you were perfect to travel with.”
Ride home. He offered to drive. “Is it because I’m Chinese and a bad driver?” You asked. He said it was because he’s evaluating of buying a new car. Smaller. “Why not get a TDI VW”? You suggested. He owned an Audi. You used to own one. It was nice to be driven. He was a decent driver. Too tall for your car though. He was 6’2”. Every other boyfriend you had in your twenties were 6’2” with brown to dark hair. The other type of boyfriends were blond hair and blue eyes, less than 5’11”. Half of the boyfriends called you sweet and kind, generous and forgiving. The others called you a ruthless bitch with psychotic episodes accompanied by menacing laughs.
Ordered lunch. He would not let you order a burger. “It’s not feminine. Get the Croque Madame”. He often ate your food off your plate. You imagined him eating the bloody burger. You liked burgers rare, with blood dripping down, from Peter Lugers. Croque Madame was good, as it turned out. It had a nice egg on top, farm raised. “I like soft boiled eggs. They are common in Germany and Austria. But in Scandinavia, you find hard boiled eggs instead, but they serve pickled roe on top, and it’s equally delicious.” You talked about Europe as if it was your real home. You had homes in varying parts of the world. But only Western European countries made you whole.
Supposed the two of you were married. You’d be just as he wanted: intelligent, pretty, sweet, already financially secure and bring home the bacon. He’d be perfect to bring home to. He was tall, intelligent, more than educated, smart, good looking, and really good to you. He would never desire you. You’d never desire him. You’d have tons of things to say to each other. When he left for work, you’d be finally alone and you’d cry. Because you wanted to know what love was and who would love you.