One foot in front of another- left, right, left, right- step by step. I'm walking toward fate. I'm on the way to a blind date. Very scared. I've never been on a blind date before. This might be over my abilities.
I'm a shy guy, sort of a socially inept computer enthusiast who spends too much time in front of a machine. I don't do much to set myself apart from others, it happens quite naturally.
I find solace in my bedroom, a little sanctuary set up with all the modern conveniences. I get lost in music, magazines, videos, books, and of course, my computer. Even leaving my tiny studio apartment is an intrusion. I travel over the Internet. Live online.
I appreciate aesthetic efforts made by others. The electronica DJ's, science fiction writers, models, actors, video game pioneers, and journalists from Wired and Shift- I love everything about pop culture. I'm fascinated with the artistic and new.
But I like to keep it at a distance. I don't want to know the person behind the persona, that the hot young actress in the new independent film is a bitch. There is no reason to ruin my ideals. I make web sites. It's behind the scenes adoration. I'm a good fan.
Now I'm on a blind date. I haven't been with a girl in a one on one situation for months. This is a big step for me. I wipe my palms on my Levi's. Nervous energy surges through me. My stomach is churning cartwheels.
Robert set us up. He is a colleague at work. Not a friend. An associate. Sometimes we eat lunch together. We have never discussed our favorite music. Never went for a beer. It was a little strange when Robert asked if I wanted to go out with this girl he knew.
Her name is Natasha. My name is Joe. Compared to plain Joe, Natasha seems to evoke wild intrigue. But I thought that was it. Her name would be the best thing going for her.
Everyone has a horror date story to tell. And these aren't urban legends, but fact. We humans as social animals suffer awkward encounters gladly. No one can stand total loneliness.
Robert showed me a picture. I was quite impressed. Natasha has the girl next door Norman Rockwell painting quality with a hint of beatnik naughtiness. Light strawberry blonde hair; long straight and parted down the middle. Fair skin dotted with freckles. A twinkle of mischief in downcast doe eyes that enticingly looked straight into me. Pearl white teeth dug into her plump bottom lip smiling with a sexy smirk of suggestion.
After the stunning possibility of meeting somebody so lovely my psyche disappeared down a hole. There was no way, in reality, a girl like that would go on a date with me. Beauty might be skin deep. Sure. But it's attractive people on the guest list of good times. Loners soon learn their place. It's the losers who try to venture out of their league.
Robert reassured me. Natasha had just gotten over a bad break up. She was vulnerable. She just wanted some nice company. All I had to do, Robert said with a wink, was not be an asshole. I thought I was capable of that.
So the next night I called Natasha. The conversation went smooth enough, small talk about what we do. Turns out she works for a daycare center, taking kids to parks and that sort of thing. I asked what she wanted to do. She said stay in and cook.
This was a little strange. I was thinking we could meet in a public place, somewhere with lots of people, where embarrassing introductions could be blunted by bustling surroundings.
It was just overreacting anxiety I told myself. I was letting my neurosis get the better of me. This isn't an undercover terrorist exchange, just two people getting together on a Saturday night. Happens every weekend.
I told her that I could bring wine. She wanted beer. I picked up a six-pack of IPA, a clear smooth versatile ale light enough to go with most foods.
This is it. I check the address again in apprehension. Rub my palms together. Clutch the six-pack. Jump up the porch steps two at a time. Ring the doorbell. I hope my physical appearance doesn't make her lose her appetite.
I don't suffer any deformities. Nothing that makes little kids point and giggle. Everything fits in the proper place, with pretty much the right proportion, if not exactly handsome. I would never be described as hot. One time a girl told me I was cute. That was only once.
I'm mister average with short hair, slight build and medium height. The kind of person people don't remember going to school with. It's the reason I never attend reunions. Even my closest friends didn't know my last name. My life has been full of Roberts.
Natasha opens the door. In person she is even more breathtakingly beautiful than in the photo. The strawberry blonde hair flows over her shoulders. Her wide expressive crystal blue eyes blink and glow as she looks at me. There is only the warm air between us. It feeds my desire.
My eyes drift down. Taking in her body. She has slim athletic limbs. A voluptuous bosom, her flimsy tank top stretches over her breasts. Nipples are apparent, poking through the taunt fabric. The short shorts she is wearing only cover up the slightest part of her thighs. Natasha is barefoot, except a silver ring around her middle toe.
My mind is running wild. Every sexual fantasy I've ever had is flashing before my eyes like an orgy on fast forward. I try to control my excitement. I look up smiling feebly and hand her the beer.
"So your Joe," She says.
"Nice to meet you. Come in."
Her apartment is cozy. Small but not cluttered. I notice a computer set up in the corner. It's a little dated Mac Performa. Not the powerful Pentium III Xeon with the T-1 connection I have. I find it quaint.
I notice the lights are off. The room is lit by late evening summer sunset. A few candles burn in wine bottles. Flowing intricate jazz sails like drunken butterflies through the room. It's an ambiance fraught with romance. I definitely have to take Robert out for a drink.
Natasha opens two beers. She sits next to me. Her arm brushes mine. I get a tingling sensation throughout my body, like a sexual shock wave pulsating through me, turning my skin into one big erogenous zone.
"So you work with Robert at one of those .com companies?" Natasha asks.
"Yeah, they work you pretty hard but I got in early enough for the stock options."
"You going to be one of those guys who retires when he's thirty?"
"I don't know, maybe."
"Fuck that must be nice."
"Yeah, I guess so. So you work with kids?"
"Fucking little brats. Nothing but headaches."
"Oh. I thought it would be nice."
"I have no tolerance for that shit."
I sip at my beer. Natasha seems a little upset. I want to keep the mood pleasant. I try to think of a joke or something interesting that has happened to me lately. I draw a blank.
"So what do you wish you were doing?" I ask.
"I don't know. I always thought I would be great at twenty-five."
"I don't know."
"Didn't you have a plan?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you said great. Like do you want to be a singer or artist or something? What was it you wanted to do that was great?"
"I don't know."
"You mean you just thought life was going to make you great?"
Natasha gets up. Grabs my unfinished beer and walks around a corner.
"Aw, fuck," she grunts from the kitchen.
"What?" I ask tentatively.
Natasha reappears in the hallway.
"I forgot to get some ingredients. You mind going to the store?"
"No. What do you need?"
"Here. I need Manwich and a few other things for the dinner tonight." Natasha hands me a piece of paper. I put it in my pocket.
I walk the few blocks to the grocery store. When Natasha said she wanted to make dinner I was thinking of delicious dishes. Nothing too elegant but at least pasta or a stir fry. I guess she isn't a gourmet.
I can remember having Manwich as a kid. It used to soak through the bun and dribble down my front. My mom would call me sloppy Joe. I've been a vegetarian for a decade. But I'm not going to say anything. Natasha is so beautiful I would eat anything she put in front of me. I don't mind bending my personality to appease her tastes.
Inside the grocery store I take out the paper. It unravels longer than a greedy kids Christmas list:
Produce-apples, oranges, bananas, pears, tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes. Dairy- milk, eggs, butter, yogurt. Frozen- pizza, ground beef, chicken pot pies, peas, ice cream. Canned- baked beans, Manwich, corn, tangerine slices in light syrup. Snacks- popcorn, peanuts, pretzels, potato chips both barbecue and sour cream, soda. Condiments- mustered, ketchup, pickle relish. Beer- it just says LOTS of beer.
The list also contains nonfood items:
A carton of American Spirit cigarettes, feminine hygiene products, toilet bowl cleaner, paper towels, toilet paper, bathtub disinfectant, tile cleanser, a mop, batteries, thumbtacks, bags for the vacuum.
I get a shopping cart. Make my way through the market aisles. It fills up the cart. It's going to be a struggle to carry it all back.
I stand in line. I notice the periodicals professing they have the insight to passion. Most of them are women's magazines. I don't buy one.
The cashier double plastic bags everything and rings in the total. $178.98. I look at the clerk. A 90's geek type I see everyday at work. He looks back at me through thick glasses. He doesn't appear too bright. Despite the glasses, I feel he doesn't see the world. I forget not all nerds are brilliant new money millionaires these days. He has many pimples on his nose.
I sigh and pull out my wallet. I put it on a credit card. There are five heavy bags to carry. The plastic strains under the weight of the groceries, the way the tendons in my neck strain from the weight of the heavy sacks.
I struggle to Natasha's apartment. Opening the front door is a hassle. One of the bags drops. A bottle of ketchup smashes. Natasha comes out. She gives me a hand.
"I dropped a bag," I tell her.
She helps me to the kitchen.
The ketchup oozes into the bag but is contained within. It covers a few of the other items. Natasha picks them out and runs them under the sink. She throws the broken bottle and bag away.
She goes through the other bags dispersing the items in drawers, cupboards and closets. Then she looks around frantic. Whips open the drawers and doors.
"Where is the Manwich?"
"I don't know."
"Did you forget it? Huh, did you?"
I'm sure I bought it," I say.
There were so many items I can't truly remember. Natasha doesn't look so good. I see the extensive receipt curled up on the table. I pick it up. Scroll my eyes down the list. There it is. Manwich!! $1.75!!!
Whew. The check out geek must have missed putting it in the bags.
"Look," I demand. I show her the receipt. Point out the Manwich.
"Oh, those fucking bastards," she says.
She goes to the phone book. Looks up a number. Dials. She looks at me and winks.
"Who is this
this is Natasha, who the fuck are you? I want to speak to a manager
well who is fucking in charge?
She waits. I grab a beer from the fridge. Sit on the couch.
"Yes I just sent my boyfriend to the store and he came back without Manwich
no he fucking paid for it, it's on the receipt. Well, I want you to fucking fix the problem
well if I come in and get it free it won't be free will it, asshole? Because I already paid for it, you fuck
And anyway it's not convenient
She has a point. Boyfriend!
what do I want you to do, you stupid motherfucker?
I want you to send someone over here
Well you better fucking do it! Yes! It's 264 East Spring Street. Apt. # B."
Natasha comes out of the kitchen. She stands in front of me.
"They are sending some kid over with the Manwich," she says.
"Good," I say. I definitely decide not to tell her I'm a vegetarian.
"They are going to think I am a fucking psycho," she says. Her eyes bulge rather insane. "What should I do?"
"What do you mean?"
"I don't want some kid coming here. Tellin' his friends what a bitch I am."
"You can call back."
"No. We have to fucking eat," she turns on me. Runs into the kitchen. Then out the front door.
I gulp my beer. I'm trying to finish it when she returns. I could use a buzz.
"What'd you do?" I ask.
"I left a note on the door saying to leave the Manwich on the step."
Natasha sits down in a frenzy. Her ample breasts palpitate with labored breathing. Beads of sweat have developed between her cleavage. The tank top sticks to her moist pallid skin. The thin damp fabric becomes slightly transparent. I can trace the outline of her substantial aureoles.
I look at Natasha without trying to stare. My excitement is mixed with confusion. I have never been this aroused. She could request the most preposterous form of chivalry and it would be no problem.
She pops back off the couch. Walks over to her computer.
"I just got a modem. Can you set up an email account for me?"
Natasha is now speaking my language. I can dazzle her with my brilliance. I'll give her a Hotmail account. I stand up slamming the rest of my beer, take two steps forward and trip on the ratty Oriental rug.
I am in a dream. I am either dreaming a dream, or levitated to a dream state. All I know is that I am not awake. There is an alternate universe going on here. Strange things are happening to me, very strange indeed, but far from bad.
Not that the environment has changed. I am not floating over the city or battling sea monsters. I am still in Natasha's apartment. We are both on her couch. And we are both naked, except Natasha is still wearing her toe ring. I know this because the toe is in my mouth and I am sucking on it. Natasha is also sucking. Only not on one of my toes.
So like I was trying to make very clear in my muddled unconscious state, this must be a dream. If not a dream, then this is heaven. Maybe I have died and gone to heaven. What a wonderful place.
Yes, yes, warm feeling.
I don't want her to stop. The experience of head is changing...Natasha stops administering masterful pleasure. My head, the one I think with, not the I'm guided by, is starting to ache in a big way. It's not the orgasmic thrill I was so close too. This is hurting with pounding jackhammer force. It is getting more and more intense.
Heat surrounds me. I am on fire. Tied up. Boiling in a huge black cast iron skillet. Robert and Natasha are cooking me. I am to be dinner. They are doing a ritualistic satanic dance. Robert is waving his hands in the air, covered in bloody ketchup. Natasha is pouring vats of Manwich over me. Yelling, "Sloppy Joe Sloppy Joe!"
I want to go back to heaven. This is hell. The dream is now a nightmare.
I open my eyes. Natasha is standing over me. Hands on her hips. She is looking down at me with curiosity.
I look back up. From my vantage point I'm staring straight up her legs. It's hard to focus through my shaky vision.
"Are you alright?" she asks.
"You got up, tripped on the rug, hit your head on the table and blacked out. For like two minutes."
"Uh..." I still can't speak.
"I was worried."
I blink away the pain.
The first thing I am aware of is- I can see orange glistening curls poking out from the bottom of Natasha's shorts. The juicy flesh of her vagina lost in shadows. She must not be much for undergarments.
The second thing I am aware of is- I have a huge erection. My stiff penis is trying to poke through my blue jeans. Maybe not huge, but it's as big as I can get. I also seem to have come. My pocket feels like a gooey swamp. I'm the victim of a premature nocturnal emission.
I stand up, hunched over, still unsteady. I dash out the door.
"Wait," Natasha calls after me.
I don't listen to her. Just need to get out.
I stumble down the porch steps, right past the cashier geek. He is reading the note. Holding a can of Manwich.
- written by McCutcheon