Mostly rambles, few brambles
Tag Archives: romance
The car dealership owner took one look at me and said I was perfect. It was little offended at how fast he made that decision, but I thought it better than to look a gift horse in his smarmy, gold-toothed mouth. There was no entry fee, just a waiver with a cool skull on it that I had to sign. “It’s all boiler-plate: gross-negligence this, waive all right to that,” he said, the toothpick dancing on the edge of his mouth as he assured me that it was all standard eating contest liability.
I had struck out at kickball, had an allergic reaction at singles’ wine tasting, and had remained on the waitlist for a class called ‘Birdwatching for Those Wishing to Settle.’ I had looked in all of the right places for love and was now down to the wrong places, the compromising places, and the places that smelled faintly of pee.
Saturday arrived and I donned my snappiest elastic-waisted sweatpants. I told myself I wouldn’t even mind if they became irrevocably caked in barbecue sauce and chicken viscera if it meant that I had been swept off my feet by the man of my dreams. He’d be a guy who, obviously, likes wings but who is not afraid to also cry while we’re watching Armageddon. A guy who, like me, isn’t above looking for love at a car dealership that smells, just a tad, more like pee today. Maybe I wouldn’t win free roadside assistance for a year on any new or pre-owned Kia, but, maybe—just maybe—I’d find that aimless romantic who, also, found themselves competing at the Kia Karnival Sideshow—hoping for true love, though willing to settle for free lunch.
They took me back to the green room. My competitors were stretching their jaws and tossing back handfuls of Prilosec and Lipitor. At first glance, no one else seemed to be looking for love. Eye contact or friendliness appeared to be discouraged, so I pretended to text someone. I had one unread email: the birdwatching class had been cancelled after the instructor had shot himself. I chose to read this as purely information and not as a horrific foreboding omen about ever meeting someone.
Right then I looked up as this clean-shaven, doe-eyed peach stepped inside. No spouse to speak of, I called him “Number Twelve” since that was what was printed on his sauce smock. He looked kind, like he would make a point to remember to call his mom back and that he wouldn’t respond to a charitable request with “Why should I?” the way I do. Alone, he, too, immersed himself in his phone.
I was most taken by his lack of routine. I imagined that he would prefer to spend his Saturdays on the couch, under a big blanket, eating cold pizza through sobs as they leave Bruce Willis on the asteroid.
They issued me number fourteen on my bib. “No way,” said the flesh mountain whom they had given number thirteen, “I ain’t switchin’; your candy ass ain’t the boss of me.” He sort of snorted through a shout, his hot lardy breath assaulting my pores. I explained that this was for love, but Number Thirteen wouldn’t hear it. The die had been cast: I would have to out eat Number Thirteen.
Is it “out eat” or “eat out?”
I really didn’t have time for puzzles, I thought. Once Number Thirteen had been defeated, I’d slide right next to Number Twelve. Scorching tongues, hickory lips, or meat breath wouldn’t matter, the adrenaline would seize us. We’d take one look into each other’s eyes and we’d know. We’d both know we were finally home.
Kissing would be both so wet and so electric that we’d both tingle like we had actually been shocked. The dealership owner would gape, his toothpick tumbling onto the dirty tile. He would be so moved that he’d commandeer the emcee’s microphone and say something like, “The contest, stop. Stop in the name of love!” For teaching his greasy soul that love wasn’t a lie that everyone told themselves, he’d gift us a Sorrento, with the free year of roadside assistance.
Yet it turned out I couldn’t “eat out” Number Thirteen. That rage-filled glutton outlasted everyone and won the bandolier filled with golden chicken wings. Most people in the crowd seemed more revolted as opposed to being moved to consumerism, though Number Thirteen didn’t mind. He stood atop the small podium roaring, his sauce-stained tank top still brandishing that he had “No Fear.”
I wiped off and gathered my belongings from the green room. Number Twelve, though, caught me on the way out the door, amidst the commotion of the EMTs trying to revive Number Thirteen. Number Twelve said his actual name was John and he asked if I wanted to get a coffee sometime. We had that coffee and I found out that he works at a non-profit, and that he loves his mom, and that he likes cold pizza…
…and now, save the date, because he’s going to marry me on July 18th!