My life has been filled with a regular peppering of experiences—all of my own doing—that leave me with nothing else to say but, “How the fuck did I get myself into this?”
I met Luke after a brief email exchange. Our first date was for a drink (I had another date for dinner that same evening). He was a gentleman from the moment I arrived. He stood as I approached the table, made sure I was comfortable and ordered my cocktail. We spent a relaxed hour talking and the conversation flowed. He was originally from Iowa and his Midwestern roots showed in both the inflections in his voice and no nonsense conversation.
I knew in a minute that Luke was the sort of man a woman could count on.
We arranged to see each other again and as I rode in a taxi to my second date I thought about what I was looking for in a partner. Luke certainly fit in most ways. He was handsome, a good father, kind, polite, interesting, successful and well dressed. He was also smart and confident.
BUT, there wasn’t an instant physical attraction from my end. There wasn’t a thing wrong with him. What was wrong with me?
Date number two was for Cuban food. Luke took me to a fantastic restaurant, Guantanamera. I had a couple of mojitos, a luscious chicken dish and lots of plantains.
Everything was perfect. Again, Luke was great–I couldn’t name one thing that bothered me about him. I even liked the way he chewed. He gave me a quick kiss goodbye and I walked home with my head filled with thoughts.
Why don’t I feel at least the beginnings of THE feeling?
Date number three a week later was for Thai food—a favorite of mine. Luke chose a great place—a hole in the wall restaurant in Hell’s Kitchen that didn’t seem to have a name. The food was terrific and so was the company. He suggested that we take a walk along the Hudson and then he’d take me to my building. A lovely idea.
Luke took my hand as we strolled. It was comforting but still no stomach-churning fireworks. As we walked through Riverside Park heading towards my street, I stopped him.
“Kiss me. Really kiss me like you mean it.”
And he did.
And it was an excellent kiss. A knee-buckling level kiss.
And I felt nothing but appreciation for his skills.
During the evening he’d mentioned twice that he was going in for minor hernia surgery in two days. Just day surgery—no big deal, but he didn’t know who he could ask to pick him up at the hospital and take him home. They wouldn’t release him without an escort. I knew both times he said it that he was hoping I’d volunteer. I didn’t want to.
When he dropped me off at my building after our walk home, I told him I would be happy to come to the surgical center and see that he got home safely. He looked relieved.
Now, I suppose you’re wondering why I would volunteer.
I felt guilty that I’d gone on three dates with Luke and didn’t have feelings for him. I felt a sort of obligation to do something nice since he’d been so kind to me. I felt that while I was was hoping a passion would develop; perhaps I was leading him on.
So, that’s how two days later I found myself entering the hospital and searching for the day surgery area. I had to text Luke the night before and ask for the correct spelling of his last name. It might be weird if the “next of kin” as I was listed on his admission papers didn’t know his surname.
“The family of Luke ________,” called the clerk.
“The family of Luke ________,” she said, louder.
“IS THERE ANYONE HERE FOR LUKE _______?”
Then it hit me. I’m the dummy who’s not answering.
The waiting room attendant walked me back to the recovery area. Luke’s curtain was drawn.
“He’s still groggy,” said his nurse, “but go say hi.”
“That’s OK, I’ll just wait here,” I said as I stood outside the curtain.
“Go ahead, it’ll help him wake up.”
I walked around the curtain and there was Luke.
AND there was his scrotum.
He had tossed the covers off and his gown must’ve crept up just far enough for the boys to get some air.
There are some things that you shouldn’t see while casually dating: bank statements, family videos, junk drawers, testicles.
I averted my eyes and I’m not sure that Luke was aware, but it was painfully uncomfortable. He was still loopy and I sat in the chair next to the bed while the anesthesia wore off. The nurse was harried and she handed me a sponge on a stick and a cup of water and asked me to wet his lips.
Eventually Luke was ready to leave. The nurse asked me to help him get dressed. She was slammed. I started to protest and Luke did too.
“It’s not like you haven’t seen it before,” she said with a laugh as she handed me his clothes.
Actually, Nurse, I’ve only seen his balls and that was within the last hour, but why not the penis too? What the hell–let’s just throw in his ass and the very uncomfortable position I’m going to have to get in to help him into his white briefs since he can’t bend over.
A woman doesn’t expect to find herself in that place until at least the fourth date.
Luke was dressed.
We slowly left the hospital and hailed a taxi. I got him home and settled in bed, then ordered food to be delivered. The meal would arrive in 30 minutes so in the meantime I took his prescriptions to the pharmacy across the street and waited for them to be filled.
Another, How The Hell Should I Know? moment happened when the pharmacist asked for the name of his insurance provider. I had no clue. More information that normally wouldn’t be shared after three dates.
“I’ll just pay for it.”
And I did.
I gave Luke his meds, sat with him while he ate and helped him get into something more comfortable. At that point he could’ve just stripped down and let me give him a sponge bath I was so accustomed to his nudity.
His adult daughter arrived as I was helping him button his shirt. She was able to leave work early. She gave me the stink eye. I didn’t blame her. I was, after all, a complete stranger caring for her father in a very familiar way. It was weird. I think if the roles were reversed, my girls (at least my oldest) would’ve called the police or at least pepper-sprayed him.
It was the perfect time for me to leave. Luke thanked me and I told him it was my pleasure. He thanked me again but didn’t make eye contact. He was mortified.
It has been a few days and I’ve not heard from him. I’m alright with that. He’ll be a great boyfriend or husband to the right woman. The one who’ll feel butterflies in her stomach when she sees his very sexy ass in or out of those tighty whities.
“When you go to take someone’s picture, the first thing they say is, what you want me to do? Everyone is very awkward.” Annie Leibovitz