"I'm famished," my most recent date noted as he glanced at the last bite of mushroom terrine situated between us, one of two small-plates meant to pair with our drinks, not represent a meal.
"Yours. All yours," I said with a nod and a smile before enjoying a sip of my Tempranillo.
"Fine. But once I settle up, we're walking across the parking lot to enjoy something more substantial. I insist."
We closed the second place down. That was last Thursday. No future plans have been made, though there have been hints. Tonight he even rang to propose spontaneity and margaritas. It was already half past nine o'clock. Tomorrow morning I set off for a three-day work adventure taking me to parts of the south where two-star hotels dot the horizon. I declined out of common sense and self-worth.
"Why can't most men bring their A-game any more?" I asked a guy friend.
"Because when we do, you freak out and say we're creepy or aggressive. You say we're spineless and smothering you and then you push us away."
He had a point. Or a point were he speaking to my younger self. Those were the days before texting and Match.com. The days where you ran with a crowd, met friends of friends, and were blindly drawn to men who fit your yet-to-be-dissected-and-analyzed disfunction. But that didn't make me accept his argument just yet.
"Wait, so you're saying that when a caveman would go out to hunt and got charged by a buffalo, he'd come home, throw his spear down and announce, 'Today we become vegans?'"
"Sure. Yes," he replied.
He did agree with one opinion. I said I had a belief: I will treat you like a king but I expect to be treated like a queen.
"No, on that you're right. Men these days don't know how to treat a woman like a queen."
This is why, after cooking E dinner for months, lavish meals of ceviche and Chicken Marbella, I had to ask him to take the trash out, ask him to help me with the dishes. The same thing happened with Ex, except he fought back arguing he liked being taken care of. And with both men, I happily folded the clean laundry they curiously tossed on the dirty floor. I made the bed in the morning out of personal habit, E once claiming it as his own effort when his mother praised the improved state of his bedroom. In summary, I was nothing more than an unappreciated nanny who put out.
"Did you ever hear from that baseball player guy?" Leslie asked earlier this week.
"Actually, no. Which is odd considering he texted to make sure I got home, said my kiss was fantastic and even asked my real last name so he could update it in his phone. Oh, whatever."
But it wasn't a cranky whatever. Unlike my younger self, I'm not taking any of this personally. And I refuse to be bitter. I will not, under any circumstances, reference my age or my married friends or the lack of good men. There are plenty of good men. Age with women is like age with wine, we only get better. Plus, there are very few marriages I look at and aspire to one day have.
For the first time, perhaps ever, I welcome the relationship stalling out before it can begin. This, I think, this limits the amount of time wasted with the wrong man. If I chase him, if I pine for him, then what? I want a man who shows his appreciation of my cooking, who embraces my need to board a plane in Zone 1, and randomly brings me flowers because he loves seeing my face light up.
Maybe E's dating advice of 'Supply and Demand' is valid. There aren't many women out there like me. I'm part Julia Child, part literary genius. I can talk politics just as easily as I can discuss any Real Housewives franchise. People, my backhand is stronger than my forehand. So if I'm this unique, this rare of a commodity, the markets would dictate my value is high. No, correction, exceptionally high.
I'm a Porsche 911 Black Edition. A first print edition of Where the Wild Things Are. A pour of Glenfiddich aged twenty-one years. And yes, sometimes a piece of homemade parmesan kale chips will wedge itself between two teeth in a way that might challenge my worth. I will talk and laugh and have no clue about that dark green super-food marring my appearance. However, one could feasibly argue this human quality, and appreciation for leafy greens, only makes me cuter.