I met Wes after returning from two weeks in LA filming a reality TV show. When he came into the bar I worked at in Washington DC with his friends, I noticed him right away as the type of guy who rarely gave me more than an up and down glance.
Wes was the epitome of cool. He didn’t ask me stupid questions or talk incessantly about himself. He wasn’t looking around the bar in an anxious attempt to find someone to go home with.
Wes was hot. And for some unknown reason he kept grabbing my arm and trying to talk to me.
I thought he wanted a drink discount.
Two hours until 2 AM, I fell into the chair next to Wes, balanced my tray over my head and put my hand in my bar apron.
“What do you do when you’re not working the waitress at the local bar?”
He told me he worked out twice a week with a trainer and liked to find excuses to take his shirt of in public places to show off his ripped abs. I laughed. I thought he was joking.
He pulled my chair closer to him by grabbing it at the legs. “And what about you?”
“I do peacekeeping contracts for the government. Usually developing countries. You know, employment work shops, election monitoring. I once observed the Chechnya border for rebel crossings.”
His eyes glazed over. He was trying to drink three beers in the three minutes before the bar closed.
“Oh yeah, and I recently filmed a reality TV show”.
Then it was 2, the music had stopped playing, and I had legions of angry customers waiting for their tabs. Wes leaned in and took his phone out of his pocket.
"Give me your number. I'll call you. We'll go out and finish this conversation."
I stuttered out the numbers and then he and his friends left me to wash down the tables, pick up the chairs and mop the floor.
I wasn’t looking for anything serious. I had just ended an intense relationship and was busy with publicity for the reality TV show.
Wes was a chance to go back to high school. Except that in high school, I dated the newspaper geeks and exchange students. I thought Wes was going to be my ticket to the ‘in’ crowd, a fun-filled, shallow summer of barbecues, keg stands and copious amounts of meaningless sex.
On our first date, he picked me up in his brand new BMW and we went to brunch at a hip hangout along the Georgetown waterfront. Between bites of egg white omelet, Wes talked about sports, X-box and his ‘awesome’ relationship with his family.
Although he was animated about our topics of conversation, he barely looked at me. In fact, he seemed way more interested in catching his reflection in the nearby shop windows than the sight of my new Victoria Secret Push Up bra. I chalked it up as him being too cool to act overly interested.
I danced through a variety of topics trying to hold his focus. But the only one that seemed to catch his interest were the details of the Reality TV show I had just filmed. I was sworn to secrecy and had signed a five million dollar confidentiality agreement, but the experience made me sound so cool.
“Dude, no way!? So are you going to be in Maxim magazine? If you go to the Playboy mansion can I come? Can you get courtside tickets to a Lakers game?”
Shaking off the fact I had just been called ‘Dude’ for the first time since the 1989 summer release of Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, I sought comfort in the fact that in 1989 he was likely playing quarterback on his high school FB team while I was playing the clarinet in the marching band.
Since I was on a low-budget, third rate reality TV show that I wasn’t even sure would make it to air, I indulged him with stories of the experience and found it quite therapeutic to discuss it in length with someone. We began to speak easily. Maybe a little too easily.
Devoid of any flirting or intimate connection, I sort of felt like I was talking to one of my girlfriends or on a very cordial job interview. I was shocked when at the end of our afternoon date he leaned over and gave me a closed mouth kiss on the lips. I was even more shocked when he called the next week to ask me out again.
Over the next few weeks we went to restaurants that had Zagat’s rated stickers on the window. We met his friends out at the hippest bars and saw blockbuster movies on opening weekends. He loved telling his friends that I had been on a reality TV show.
One day we ran into some friends at an Italian café. I ordered from the waiter in Italian and I heard him lean over and whisper to his friend, “she speaks like eight languages, you know she was on a reality TV show, right?” I mistook his pride for genuine affection.
Something was definitely missing. Things were not unfolding the way I had hoped. While I often joined the cool kids for nights of drinking, watching the game or barbecues, Wes never accepted invitations to meet my friends. He said they were all freaks, geeks and gays.
I couldn’t get Wes to have a deep conversation about anything. We talked about politics and current events, I listened to long rants about sports and we shot the shit the way I suspect 75% of most intra-male conversations flow. We had become buddies. Except that at the end of each evening I got a “Cool Dude”, followed by a pained, closed mouth kiss on the lips-the equivalent of an ass pat between soccer players.
After two months of dating, Wes still hadn’t tried to touch my double D’s. After a night of watching him get drunk in a loud nightclub, I asked him why he hadn’t made the moves on me yet.
“Dude, can’t we just hang out?”
I said it was cool if he just wanted to hang out, but that the pained kiss at the end of the night was sort of confusing and he could just stop doing that if he didn’t enjoy it.
“Schmo” he said, calling me by my last name and pulling me into a headlock, “Don’t get so heavy. Just relax, it should just be natural.”
After he saw my pained expression, he offered the incredulous, “I just don’t want to disrespect you”?
The next night, we attended a No Doubt concert about 45 minutes outside the city. Since I didn’t have a car, he picked me an hour late up and I listened to him talk on the phone with his brother for 45 minutes while we sat in horrible traffic.
At the concert, he drank too much to drive and asked me to drive his car back to his place. When we got back to his place he told me he was too tired to set up the couch and I could just sleep on the other half of his bed.
Perhaps this was my chance. I got into the bed and waited.
He started kissing me. I kissed him back.
I had been so beaten down at this point, I just wanted to feel wanted. Before I knew what had happened, Wes had skipped over the foreplay, put it in me about ten times and was finished.
Three minutes had passed and somehow we had done 'it'.
Within 30 seconds he was up and headed towards the bathroom. I was still lying there catching my breath trying to figure out what had happened when I heard him opening a fresh bar of soap and jumping into the shower.
It was one of those moments when you could either cry or laugh.
I lay there recalling quirky things I had formerly overlooked. The forty bars of unopened Dove soap under his sink, the twenty minutes it took to fix his hair before we went out, the stubble on his chest when he hadn’t had time to shave, the way he would spend an evening out engrossed in conversation with a group of men at the table next to us.
After the shower incident, things changed for me. The fantasty began to wear thin.
We had fun together, we went cool places. We both wore cool clothes and everyone turned to look at us when we entered a room. I knew that Wes was never going to be ‘the one’ – But I wasn’t ready to stop being cool.
As much as I tried to keep the fantasty alive. My dream built on threads began to unravel.
After the publicity for the show ran out, invitations to the Playboy mansion missing from my mailbox, courtside tickets to the Lakers game clearly out of scope and shout-outs from strangers on the Subway lagging, I noticed a change in Wes.
It stopped being fun.
We ran out of things to talk about and our dates began to consist of me watching him top his score on X-box. My fifteen minutes under the bleachers with the Captain of the Football team were most definitely up.
But he continued calling.
Apparently he wanted some help redecorating his new apartment.
I moved to New York. He continued writing me with web links to furniture, rugs, drapes and lighting. He would call and ask me for advice on fabrics.
I stopped returning Wes’ phone calls.
I was tired of trying to fit in his world.
Being cool just doesn't seem that important anymore. This square peg wants movies with subtitles, lingering dinners with friends in tiny no-name cafes. I want to sing karaoke and be silly, wear sweatpants and refuse to shower on Sundays. I want to spend an entire day in bed with someone that can’t get enough of my naked flesh on theirs. I want to be where I'm not trying to be like everyone else.
This square peg.