See, there's this guy who hangs out with my circle of friends, who I've known for not quite a year, who is one of the guys with whom I hang out as one of the guys. That's me, yeah. I'm a girl, but since I was, like, six years old I've always been one of the guys. First it was climbing trees. Then fixing cars. Then being in a band. Lately, karaoke.
Sometimes you hang around with the guys for months, even years, and then one day, for no particular reason, you think to yourself, hey, that one's kind of interesting. I think I'd like to get to know him better. Maybe talk to him without all the others around. There's a guy like that in my circle. He was named after a Viking, but I won't tell you which one, and instead I'll refer to him as The Viking.
So last week we were at a different karaoke place, not the Rivoli, and the larger circle wasn't there, and The Viking and I were sitting with some of the locals, and one of them, Ronnie, in the course of commenting about one of the other singers, says to me, "Oh, I thought you two were brother and sister."
Not again. This is getting too funny.
The Viking was sitting on the other side of me. I turned to examine him, a look of amused frustration on my face.
"What?" he asked.
"Ronnie thinks we're brother and sister, too."
The Viking laughed.
"I don't get it. I don't look like you, do I?" Realizing that my words could be taken as an insult, I added, "Not that I'm saying that would be a bad thing — hey, you have much better hair!"
"Well, I'd be insulted if someone said I look like me."
"If we do look alike, then what does that say about the people here who think we're a couple?"
"Who thinks we're a couple?"
"Rob. And his girlfriend."
"Now you should definitely be insulted," The Viking says.
"Have you seen my ex-girlfriends?"
"Just the stripper." To be fair, she's not a stripper, but a burlesque dancer. I've not only seen her, I've seen her perform. And I'm in awe of what she can do with tassels.
"I don't get it. Are you saying I'm not your type?"
"No, I'm saying, if I were you, I'd be insulted if anyone thought I was my girlfriend."
My head spun, trying to parse that sentence. I eventually concluded that in a strange, backhanded, sideways, upside-down sort of way, that had been a compliment.
So I asked him out.
I have not asked a guy out for, like... wait; have I ever? Oh yeah: once.
When I first met X, I not only didn't like him, I actually disliked him. He was a peripheral member of my circle of friends, and I knew him for two years before I ever had a private conversation with him. I didn't like him: he was too sarcastic, too cyncial, and seemed to have an enormous chip on his shoulder. Then one Saturday night, at a house party — at my house — I went down to the basement in search of something, and found him sitting on my dryer. Alone, with a beer. I asked him what he was doing there, and he said, I heard the best parties always happen in the laundry room.
We talked for two hours, until my roommate finally came looking for me.
I decided I liked him. It seemed like he liked me. I waited for him to ask me out, because, you know, that's what girls do. I tried flirting with him, joking around, hoping he would figure it out. Years later, I was told by a gay friend that most men are pretty dense when it comes to that. They don't "get" that you like them. They are, for the most part, insecure.
You have to drop a house on their head. You know, tell them.
So I asked him out. To a Violent Femmes concert.
I drove him home. He kissed me — just once, and quickly, and then practically jumped out of my car. And that was the beginning of a 17 year relationship.
He lived with his mother. He was a student. He had no money. He had no car. He didn't even have a driver's license. He was socially awkward. He had never had a girlfriend before.
I liked him anyway. He was smart, and witty, and sarcastic. He was also Irish Catholic.
We were together a long, long time, but when he left my new mantra became, "I'm done with the fookin' Irish."
I was watching a rerun of Sex And The City last night, and thinking, Carrie was right. We're just dating the same person over and over again, and then
The Viking turned me down.
I'm sure that, in a week or two, three at the outside, I'll stop feeling like the biggest dork on the planet, and maybe, maybe, in another ten years or so I'll work up the courage to ask another guy out. But probably not.
In the next story, part two of what will become known as The Viking Trilogy, Sass explains why, exactly, she was such a dork.