The same week in April that I was house-sitting for a friend and hitting on Girl 66, Geek Girl, I talked to Girl 55, Gap Toothed Limey Girl. Gap Girl had a friend who was 38 years old, available and supposedly beautiful.
Funny thing about women. When one tells you her friend is beautiful, stand by for a pig to lumber up to the bar. Yet another feminine lie. They will decry a gorgeous enemy or even an unknown female stranger as trashy or slutty or vulgar. They’ll praise a butt ugly friend as lovely. Women love it when another woman is less pretty. They consider that a condition of friendship, that the friend is uglier. Therefore less competition. But think about it. If Girl A thinks Girl B is uglier and hence worthy of friendship, and they do become friends, Girl B thinks A is uglier! It’s a mutual prettier-than-thou society.
This even holds true within families. One female friend I knew -- call her Gal Pal -- had two sisters, and the three of them were always hassling each other about who was prettiest. Gal Pal nsisted the older sister was the pretty one (in an annoyed tone) and that she herself was the funny one, and the youngest was the smart one. I had trouble believing it. Gal Pal was so damned intelligent, beautiful and funny I didn’t think she could be outdone at all. I met the older sister at an airport while picking her up after a trip to the Caribbean. I smiled to myself. Older Sister of Gal Pal could have been Gal Pal’s TWIN! Hence, it was okay to call her the “pretty one!” It was tantamount to calling herself pretty. Other than that, Gal Pal’s friends were hand-picked to be uglier. There wasn’t a cute friend in her entire society. Her brothers would roll their eyes as they regaled me with tales of Gal Pal’s friends.
“Oh yeah,” Younger Brother of Gal Pal said over a beer, “she’ll say, ‘oh, go out with my friend so-and-so, she’s a hair model, gorgeous, men faint over her.’ I’ll show up, and there’s a lesbo plain girl at the bar, and I’ll say, ‘have you seen a gorgeous hair model who makes men faint?’ and the lesbo will say, oh, that’s me. I’m telling you, she thinks her pals are all beautiful and her enemies are all skanks.” He smiled. “Let’s just say I dated a lot of her enemies.”
Family politics notwithstanding, the man had a point. So when Gap Toothed Limey Girl mentioned how gorgeous her friend was, I was skeptical at best.
She managed and co-owned a famous restaurant on the Delaware River that was a historical landmark and had probably hosted George Washington back when he was a corporal. There had just been record rainfall. The river flooded, and the restaurant was submerged. A week later, when the waters receded, the place was filled with muck, mud and brackish water. It was a wreck. Underwater Girl’s job was to be the project manager of its record return to glory, to restore the place in one month. I can imagine her now, her fingernails worked clean off, a scarf in her hair, mud up to her waist, working and sweating like one of those heroic tough women in the Soviet World War II propaganda posters.
So Gap Toothed Limey Girl insists that Underwater Girl is the one for me. Fine, I say. Give me her phone number. I’ll call her right now. I write it down, roll my eyes, take a deep breath, and dial.
Of course, voice mail.
So I leave a detailed message at the beep. It’s a funny, warm, self-deprecating voice mail including a reference to my Match profile, so the woman won’t have to guess what I look like. Of course, I don’t have the same privilege.
As much as I frown on using a stopwatch as an indication of communication, in this case it was relevant. A voice mail left at 5 pm Sunday afternoon reaches its expiration on Tuesday. Maybe Wednesday.
There was never anything heard from Underwater Girl.
It happens, I figured. She may have found my profile and found me hideous. Or she didn’t appreciate Gap Girl pimping for her. In any case, what the hell, I went on with life.
A month later, I’m at the bar having drinks with Gap Toothed Limey Girl, laughing about how fucked up dating is in our middle age. I told her the story of Medical Publisher Girl, a gorgeous 34 year old, blonde, tall, slender, huge chest, model’s face, with a lovely molasses Mississippi accent who hit on me and lives in my town. The gorgeous blonde states she rejoined Match just to contact me. Of course I jump to the bait, like a puppy lunging for a Milk Bone, and what do I get? Oh, I’m in therapy, I simply can’t see anyone right now. So, let me get this straight, you want to spend hours on the phone and instant message, talking about how you want to be sexed up by me – eventually – but for the foreseeable future, you can’t even meet me at a bookstore for coffee? Because your therapist thinks you should detox from men for a while? That’s right, she said. What is it with you chicks and your “taking breaks” from dating? Does that solve anything?
Sometimes, Gap Girl said. I tried to understand, but it just didn’t sink in. Why, if the approach to romance fails, would you go into seclusion and expect for better results? We just need to get centered, Gap Girl said. You know, grounded. What the fuck is it with chick lingo? Centered. Grounded. Validated. Can you imagine a guy talking about needing to be centered so he can resume becoming grounded and needing validation from his mate? A dude who does that gets punched in the face.
Bar Maid, another Chivas, please, and a Grey Goose martini for lovely Gap Girl? Anyway, I said, did I tell you about Rocket Scientist Girl?
An hour later Gap Girl settles back in her bar stool and says, so whatever happened with Natalie?
Who? I’m honestly confused. Who is Natalie?
You know, Underwater Girl?
Oh. I frown. Bitch never called me back.
Well, Gap Girl says, with that same damned Mona Lisa smile all females have when they harbor a delicious secret, I talked to her. She was really busy with the restaurant being underwater and all, but now she’s ready to talk to you.
My frown deepens. Fuck that, I say. It’s what, five weeks later? She doesn’t get a second chance.
Gap Girl begs. Please, I say. She wasn’t into me. No, Gap Girl pleads, she was, she listened to your voice mail over and over again and pressed me about every detail about you.
Did she ask you about my cock, I asked sarcastically. Gap Girl never complimented me on it, and it annoyed me. I get a pro football player’s penis, and almost every single woman gasps when she sees him, but not Gap Girl. I suppose she was used to big guys, but still, a guy and his ego need stroking.
Oh no, Gap Girl says, I told her we were platonic. What? No way, I say.
It was all very interesting, but as far as I was concerned, I had things to do. And sluts to do. I didn’t have time for Underwater Girl.
So I’m in Baltimore in a construction trailer at the jobsite of my client, who had gotten into deep shit over a mechanical contract gone wrong. As they so often do. I take a call from the toughest construction litigator on the east coast, and after he’s done pissing in my ear, my cell phone gasps in pain, as if it had just taken one of those nasty ones from an ex wife, but it’s another call from an unknown number.
It’s Gap Girl, the voice says. Gap Girl, I say, I know your numbers, and this isn’t one of them. I know, she says. I’m in a restaurant on the Delaware River. There’s someone here who wants to talk to you.
“Hello? Book Boy? It’s Underwater Girl.”
She actually said that. There was a shy smile in her voice, but also an assertiveness. But more to the point, the voice was feminine and beautiful. She could have done voice-overs for light beer commercials.
I wasn’t that nice. Where you been, Underwater G? Did calling me back just slip your mind?
“I’m so sorry,” she said. “Gap Girl didn’t know how bad it was here. I’m really sorry, but after that week went by, it just got too embarrassing to call you back, too much time had passed, but I never stopped thinking about you. Once the restaurant was back in business, I can be human again. I hope you don’t mind, but I’d love to see you.”
I stood at a fork in the road. It’s always a good thing when the girl owes the boy a favor. After Rocket Scientist Girl, my wounds needed salve. And truth be told, there was just something about that fuckin’ voice.
What are you doing tonight? I asked. I’ll meet you at the Princeton Brew Pub.
Two hundred miles and six hours later, I stood at the corner of the upper bar and waited for the appearance of the mysterious Underwater Girl. As the clock ticked off the minutes she was late, I began to scold myself. What the hell was I thinking? This date couldn’t be anything but a disaster.
Let me count the ways. First, I had no idea what she looked like. Second, this was a chick who thumbed her nose at the idea of just giving me a simple returned phone call to say she was too underwater to get with me. Third, she had a permanently hidden profile on Match. The timid types were never slutty enough for me. Fourth, fuck, here I was standing like a boob in the Brew Pub with no date.
I scanned the crowd, wondering if perhaps I could salvage the evening. I was never much of one to hit on chicks in bars. The last time I’d done that, the woman had faked a Scottish accent and had me going for an hour that she was from the Highlands. Then it turned out she was visiting from Montreal and wanted to have a bit of fun.
And they say men lie.
So I was ready to jump out when my cell rang. It was Underwater Girl’s number. That sweet voice poured honey into my ear.
“Hi, Book Boy, it’s Underwater Girl.”
She loved the whole nickname thing. I’d done it my entire dating life. It came from an old Harold Robbins novel, later made into a terrible movie with Tommy Lee Jones, called “The Betsy,” in which the macho automotive engineer and racecar driver Angelo Perrino has so many women throwing themselves at him that he supposedly can’t keep them straight, so he calls one Michelin Girl, the other Track Reporter Girl, a third Engineer Girl, and so forth. As a twelve year old lad, my eyes popped open at the thought of Track Reporter Girl actually asking for Angelo Perrino to piss in her mouth before a race. That Harold Robbins. The new generation missed out. That was one racy, trashy writer. People ask me where my writing style comes from. I give them the high brow answer, that I worship Hemingway and Faulkner, emotional and sexual writers both, but my dirty little secret is that no one ever did it for me like pulp author Harold Robbins. My mind would spin with tales of stiletto pump’s heels thrust up a pro boxer’s anus while a second woman thrust her bare vulva in the boy’s face and a third sluttily sucked his cock.
Therefore, if you were a romantic prospect, I’d find something about you and give you a Girl name. Without one, you couldn’t show up at the party. And if you objected to it, you were automatically off the roster. But never had anyone so gloried in her nickname as Underwater Girl.
Where are you, Underwater Girl, I’d asked. I’m about to demobilize.
“I’m walking toward you right now.”
I saw her and I almost fainted.
She was breathtaking. Lovely. Gorgeous. An angel. Mere words can’t describe the ethereal creature gliding toward me, a long gleaming mane of blonde hair arrayed on her shoulders, her perfect oval of a face tilted to one side as she held her cell phone in the crook of her shoulder. She wore a tight blouse that highlighted perfectly shaped B-cup breasts and tight jeans that accentuated her achingly long legs and her delicious curving ass. She wore pointy-toed high heeled boots, and instantly I wondered what Harold Robbins would have thought of her. I’m sure he would see her with black thigh high stockings, garter belt, push-up bra, stilettos and a riding crop. And so did I.
I smiled and reached for her hand. It was as warm as her smile.
Underwater Girl, I have to tell you, I heard myself say, you were worth the wait.
Her smile got even wider, revealing a row of movie star perfect teeth.
I remember how suddenly nervous I became as this lovely mysterious beauty smiled at me over her merlot. I felt I needed to entertain her, so I began with the story of Girl 25, Penis Picture Girl. I don’t know why I did that, but I have a theory. I believe that one of my fears is falling in love with a beautiful, nonsexual woman, and then being trapped in a relationship with a gorgeous beloved non-fucking woman I can’t bring myself to leave. Which is pretty much the story of Girl Zero. So I entertained her with dirtiest stories I had, trying to gauge her reaction to the dancing penises and pussies and tits and asses. She blinked, smiled genuinely, but gave away little. I got her laughing, but I had no idea what was inside.
She told me her sign was Libra. I rolled my eyes. The most evasive, elusive and lying sign under the zodiac. Later, I would see the correlation, but for that night, it was just our good-natured jesting.
I kissed her good-night, walked her to her Suburban – a good sign when a chick drives a boy truck – and planned a second date.
Date two was fun, a quieter restaurant and intimate conversation, and I could feel myself slipping deeper into this beautiful woman, but still there was no sign of sex.
The hour the sun rose on the day of our third date, I told her the third date joke. You see, I told her, before you can go on a third date with me, you need the third date joke. The one about the elderly couple who argue about where to vacation, and the husband wins the argument to go on a cruise despite the wife’s fear of water, but because of a stateroom mix-up they get bunk beds instead of the queen size. They make the best of it, dancing and dining at sea the first night out, and at bedtime the husband asks courteously, “up or down?” And the wife fucks him like she hasn’t since the honeymoon. The second night at sea, the same thing happens. The husband asks, “up or down” and the woman turns into a wildcat slut. Every night at sea the same scenario repeats. Finally, on shore at a Caribbean island, in a dry land hotel, the husband expects the same evening of wild, passionate sex, but when he makes the evening move on his wife, she slaps him so hard he almost falls down. “What the hell is that about?” he asks, wounded. The wife glares at him. “That’s because every night before bed at sea, you said, ‘fuck or drown!’ ”
Underwater Girl laughed politely, and I said, Underwater Girl, it’s time for our third date. Fuck or drown.
I’m sure that set the mood for the evening. To overcome any apparent threat, I brought her to the Snake Ranch with candles and wine and soft music. It did no good.
It was like fucking a corpse. She was cold and cardboard and unmoving, the coldest fish I’d fucked since Girl Zero. I was so put off by it that I didn’t call her. What was the point?
But from then on she pursued me. I gave her a second audition, and in her soaking tub, she climbed in and lowered herself down on my hard, throbbing cock, and for about ten minutes it was good. The expression on her face could have graced a porno movie poster. But when I dried her off and took her to bed, it was terrible again. Later that night, I tried again, and what I found was that when the woman was fucked in the missionary position, face-to-face, she was fine. Animated and passionate. But just flip her on her knees and she faded out. I got the spookiest thought that when I was fucking her from behind, I was alone in the room, the only soul present was me. It so creeped me out that any position but missionary made my hardon go soft and squishy.
So I tried morning sex after waking up with her one fine Sunday morning in her elegant home. The first thing I tried for was the Sunday morning blowjob. She had her face pressed to my chest, and I tried to push her face down to my crotch, where a gigantic raging erection waited for her. But she wouldn’t budge.
What are you doing, I asked. You’re in Boston. I need you in Miami.
As funny as she thought that was, she refused to suck my cock.
What the hell was that all about?
I smiled, got up, started getting dressed, and said, Underwater Girl, I’m sorry, but you’re fired.
“What?” she said as she sat up in bed. I’m not kidding, she had the sheet wrapped around her breasts as if this were a Lifetime Movie for TV. “You’re firing me because I wouldn’t go to Miami?”
That’s right, I smiled. Actually, it’s my traitorous penis, Tyrannosaurus Rex, who’s firing you. He doesn’t like to be disrespected. I actually waited for her to say, come over here baby and let mommy take care of you, but she didn’t. She just smiled.
“No way,” she said, laughing. “No way you’re going to fire me for not blowing you.”
Oh yeah? I said. Just watch me. Thanks for the evening, Underwater Girl. Have a nice life.
I walked down the hall and down the stairs and opened the front door. She ran after me, holding the door shut so I couldn’t leave.
“You’re not really doing this, are you?”
I looked at her seriously. Underwater Girl, it’s a test. A diagnostic, if you will. You failed it. There’s no shame in that. You have a sexual thermostat at a different setting than mine. That’s life.
I kissed her forehead and left.
A couple of sad weeks passed. I thought about Underwater Girl a lot, because I could have loved her. She could have been The Girl. I loved her heart and her soul. But her fatal flaw was that she simply wasn’t sexual enough.
Predictably, the call came in right on cue from Gap Toothed Limey Girl. I could tell what she would say before the words came out, and against my better judgment, I agreed to give Underwater Girl a third chance. The first had been the initial sexual audition with the manikin. The second had been the Boston-Miami debacle. This would be number three.
Fuck or drown, Underwater Girl, I thought.
It was no better, and the woman had trouble cumming. Why wouldn’t she just admit that she wasn’t sexually attracted to me? She neither took care of the cock, nor wanted her pussy taken care of. She was just a facsimile of a woman. I know those kinds. I married two of them, females who just weren’t quite all there in the bedroom. Religion did it to them, Catholics both. Or overbearing parents. Or stern female role models. Or life itself.
The reasons barely mattered. The reality was, this was not a life partner who would delight in being with me sexually.
She begged me not to fire her again. She practically tried to tell me that my world was an illusion, that people were not as sexual as in my fantasy life. That women cooled, all of them, and that I would be giving up nothing to be with her, and that she would try, she would really try, and as she got to know me better, the sex would improve. And besides, sex was overrated anyway.
I remember where I was when we had the conversation. It had been a difficult day of meetings with our Kansas City client, a mechanical contractor who didn’t seem to understand that construction was a nasty business, and we were trying to inject some New Jersey Tony Soprano into the Midwestern nice-guy company that didn’t seem to get us. Just as Underwater Girl didn’t get me. My partner and I had sat out on the hotel’s pool terrace and poured rotgut Mexican food into our gullets and washed it down with a bottle of Jack Daniels purchased special for healing our business wounds. Back in my room, a little too looped on the sourmash whiskey, I listened to Underwater Girl make the case one last time, begging me to give her a fourth chance.
I thought of that body and that face, that temple to femininity, spoiled by a nonsexual spirit, or perhaps by one who simply wasn’t turned on by me, and I thought of the seventeen years I’d spent imprisoned in marriages to women equally cold.
Underwater Girl, I said into the phone, trying desperately not to slur my words, listen, I am firing you, and that’s final. You’re terminated for default. Your crime, your mistake, is that you just don’t fuck good.
I hung up on her just as I heard her crying into the phone.
I fell into an exhausted, drunken sleep.
The next morning, the world seemed a cold, dusty, black-and-white place, like the old photos of the Great Depression.
Maybe the chicks weren’t so wrong, I thought. Maybe there was something to be said for taking a break from dating.
Maybe it was time to be centered. To get grounded. To be validated.
I took a breath. I went about my business. I finished the page proofs of my next novel to be published, the magnum opus I’d written in the heart of the hurricane hurt from Alayna, Girl 6, the one who had taken me to the brink of suicide the second time in my life. I played with book proposals for a romance novel based on her, but the words didn’t lie on the page well. I tried to think about a new submarine novel, but somehow my war hero characters seemed as tired and burned-out as I was.
Underwater Girl took me to a dark place, a Hell where beautiful women are cold as a January breeze. What is it with American culture, I bitterly wondered, that it turns our females into proper upstanding creatures uninterested in cocksucking?
When the email came into my author site’s email, where my fan club president watches for emails that need attention from agents, publishers and Hollywood producers, I got the word – Mike, take a look at this one, it’s personal from a girl who says she knows you.
I’d never heard of her, but one thing was clear from the female stranger’s sentence structure – she was a degenerate, cocksucking slut.
Thank you, God, I thought. I could really use one of those right now.