Saturday, April 12, 2008

He "Hops" From Girl to Girl: Why Mr. Beer Man Left A Sour Taste in My Mouth

In the picture, my arm is wrapped around his shoulder and I’m laughing. I’m wearing a cardigan that felt soft on my body and, after a glass of champagne, so did my heart.

Aaron is looking at me and smiling. I used to like the way he looked at me.

I suppose it’s his secret weapon. He used it the night we were sitting across from each other at a wine bar, a table full of our mutual friends, obscure Belgian beer and plates of goat cheese and olives laid out before us. I was about to bring a piece of bread to my lips when I noticed him staring.

It wasn’t a casual stare by any means. It was a deep, piercing stare that I felt in my toes. And it lasted forever. There was nothing coy about the way he looked at me. His eyes seared into my flesh and suddenly I felt hot all over. And totally self conscious. So I looked away.

But you can’t look away from a guy like Aaron for long. Thoughts of him interrupt your sleep. Imagining what it would be like to feed him a grape, run your fingers through his hair…

I decided to email him. And I got a response back minutes later saying he was waiting for me to contact him. Apparently, he’d had a crush on me since the first time we met at a party months before.

“Let’s go for a drink,” he said.

It was that simple.

But then, beginnings always are, aren’t they?

Flash forward six years and several thousand beers later, to the two of us in his L.A. apartment. I came for a visit (on his request), under the premise that he'd take me out to dinner, we'd cook together and I could get a fresh perspective on the slightly turbulent life I was leading at the time.

Turns out I got none of that. All I got was the image of him splayed out on his couch, watching sports. I opened his apartment door after a night out with a friend, and he was belching and scratching himself.

"Did you have fun with your friend?" he asked in a tone far too syrupy to be real. "He's special, isn't he?"

If I thought he had a heart in his moldy little body, I'd say he was jealous.

Years ago, after the first time his eyes seared into mine, I would've given anything for his jealousy. His passion for life, confidence in his dreams and free-spirited attitude reeled me in, hook line and sinker. Every time he'd come into town on break from grad school, we'd spend entire weekends together, dining out and staying in. He would call while he was away, telling me where he ate and what he made for dinner that weekend. We'd talk about our dreams, he'd encourage me and I'd ooh and aah about his wonderful adventures.

Never, in all that time, did he make me feel insignificant. But he did when I stood in his apartment, still wide-eyed from people watching and celebrity spotting. I wanted to tell him all about it, share a part of my world with him, just as I suppose I always wanted. But he wasn't interested.

Unless I was bent over his couch, he didn't see me at all. Not a single part.

We had dinner once while I was there. And it was only because he was hungry. I ate off his plate. There was a giant pile of crab legs before us, and as I hungrily tore into mine, I told him he was bad at being kind.

"It's not what I do," he said. "I know it's what you need, but I can't be that guy for you."

"If you can't give me what I deserve, then I don't want what you have to give me," I said, shocking myself and him once the words escaped my lips.


I really meant it. I actually believed I'm worth more than second-hand seafood and a chorus of belching. Finally.

I guess I should thank Mr. Beer Man for finally revealing his lack of heart to me. All this time, I was lured in by his culinary prowess and his passion for life. I forgot that a passion for me should also be on the list.

The picture was taken not long after we met. The way he's looking at me was real. I know he saw me for who I really was. I know he still does.

One night, when he was drunk, he told me he doesn't treat other girls the way he treats me.

"Do you think everyone deserves the same respect?" he asked. "You're different. You're not bland. You're not boring. You're interesting. You have passion. You're better."

When my cab drove off, I watched him standing there in the middle of the street. He looked sort of small. Nothing like the tough, cocky guy he tries so hard to be. He stood there until he was a speck in my rear window. I'll never know exactly what he was thinking, and the good part is, I no longer care. I do know one thing, though. You don't always have to go back to the restaurant to remember the meal. Sometimes, the memory is enough to keep you full.

No comments: