“So, basically you just said anything so you could fuck me, is that it?”
He answered without hesitation.
“Yes. Of course!”
His blunt honesty dumbfounded me momentarily, the way an oncoming headlight blinds you. Disoriented by his unabashed admission, I blurted out a rhetorical, “But why?”
“Why do you think?” he said. “Because that’s what men DO. We tell you what we want to hear so we can have sex with you.”
I wanted this to not be true, despite the fact that I believed it was. I should have hung up on him right then. But now I felt like I had stumbled upon a tunnel into a secret room where All The Questions would finally be answered truthfully. And I am a truth seeker.
“All men, all the time? Or just you, because seriously, you were relentless!”
“Oh, you were definitely work,” he said, “but I knew if I kept feeding you what you wanted to hear, I’d get you eventually. But yeah, all men, all the time. Married, single, whatever. We say what we have to say so we can get laid. It doesn’t have to be true. It just has to work.”
I needed air.
I cracked my car window open and the cry of cicadas suddenly filled my car in surround-sound. They were louder than usual, and harsher, as if their haunting vibrato was the audio manifestation of my inner despair.
I was in my car driving home from open school night when I had called him to tell him that no, we weren’t going to be seeing each other anymore and that I didn’t like the way his behavior had changed. That he had gone from months of constant dogged attention to a more disinterested and sporadic communication.
After we had sex, that is.
Now I was pulled over on an unknown street, my car idling in the dark. Up ahead, I could see the lights of the stores still open on Route 9, and I fought the intense urge to drive to a nearby 7-Eleven and buy cigarettes. I hadn’t smoked in years, but suddenly I really, really needed one.
“So that whole first conversation we had, when we were on the phone for hours – was everything you said designed to get in my pants? I wasn’t even going to meet you, but you convinced me to have dinner with you that first night with all the shit you laid on me, about how women are emotional and sensitive and men need to be strong and supportive for them.”
“Yep. I knew that’s what you wanted to hear, so I said it. We had a great dinner didn’t we? We must have, because look where it led. I thought of it as an investment.”
“Dude, that is fucking cold! I mean, I’m jaded as fuck, but really?”
Fuck cigarettes. I needed tequila and opiates.
I said to him, “I don’t even want a relationship! Not a romantic relationship, but just friendship. So when I told you that I couldn’t commit to a relationship, but that I did want a man who would be there for me as a friend, you said you wanted to be that man just to fuck me?”
“Yep!” He laughed. “Why does this surprise you?’
I hated the way he sounded. Cold. Detached. The cruelty tingeing his voice gave him a hardness that didn’t even sound like the man I had spent time with.
“It doesn’t surprise me, ” I answered. “It’s just disappointing. Despite the fact that I think most people suck, I still want to believe that there might be a few decent human beings left. But this is exactly why I don’t get involved. This.”
“I thought you said you wanted to have this discussion in person,” he said. “Why don’t you come over?”
“Come over??!” I was aghast at his inane suggestion. “Because my kid is waiting for me at home, and also, I’d punch you in your face now if I came over!”
He chuckled. “I doubt that. How tall are you? I’m 6’4.”
“Are you drunk? You’re just shy of six feet! What, did you suddenly grow four-”
“Who is this??” I demanded.
“This is Michael. Who is this?”
I looked down at my phone.
I had dialed the wrong number.
Did you ever dial a wrong number and have a wake-up call?
Talk to me. I’m listening.