Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Without The Benefit Of Knowledge

He walked out of the bathroom; she sat on her bed. Her hands clasped and then pulled the straps over her shoulders. "Let me ask you something."

He walked over and grabbed his trousers off a chair. "Okay." He pushed a limb through each leg and then pulled the denim over his hips.

"Why don't you ever write about me?"

He buttoned the snap and stopped and stared. "What?"

"I'm wondering why you never write about me."

He sat on the chair and pulled his shoes to his feet. "What brought this up?"

"I told a friend about you and she read your blog. She asked me. I didn't have a good answer for her."

He bent at his waist and pushed his sole into a shoe. "What would you want me to say?"

"I don't know. When she asked me I didn't say anything."

He bent over and pushed his left foot into a shoe.

"So why don't you write about me?"

He scratched the skin covering his heart and grabbed a t-shirt from the back of the chair. "Well, what would I write?"

She stood up and walked into her closet and took her robe off a hook. "About us." She wrapped herself.

"There is no us." He sat back in the seat and looked into her eyes; she sat on the edge of her bed.

"We've been getting together for over a year." She saw the glaze over his gaze. "What are you thinking?"

"I'm thinking I hate these conversations. And I'm wondering why I always have to have them in a bedroom. How come women never ask these questions in a bar or over dinner? Why does it have to happen in a bathroom or a bedroom? Is it because the space is confined and there's not even room to avoid or ... hell ... breathe?"

"There must be room enough for you to avoid because you're doing it now."

He pulled the neck of his shirt and straightened it; it sat askew on his shoulder. "No. What I'm avoiding is a relationship. I told you I didn't want one." He bent and wed elbows with knees. "No. You said it first. You said we didn't want a relationship. Friends with benefits. Remember? The benefit being no responsibilities."

She stood up and walked over to pull open the blinds. "That was before we knew each other."

"We still don't know each other."

"That's not true."

"Yes it is. Do you know my family?"

"Well, no."

"Have you met my friends?"

She shook her head.

"My best friend calls you 'Fictitious Sarah' because he's never met you. Do we go out together?

She sat in silence.

"We get together a couple of times a week at lunch. Yeah, sometimes I stop at The Cleveland Wok and get us food but that's food; that's not courtship. We do some pretty marvelous things to each other and then I leave before your daughter gets home from school. I've seen you a couple of times on weekends when she's staying with her father. We don't know each other. This is sex."

"It's more than sex to me."

"No it's not. And it's not to me either. We don't even go out together. Look. I can't have a relationship right now. I can't financially, physically, or emotionally have a relationship right now."

"Don't you think you're being awfully self-centered?"

"No. I think you are. This whole thing was your idea. What started as a one-time thing became more at your suggestion."

"Yeah, I forced you."

"No. I'm not saying that. The sex is great. Why else would I do it? Seriously."

"That's insulting!"

"No it's not. It's the truth. Look. I don't know you. This is our first real conversation."

"I talk to you all the time when we're together."

He took his hand and whisked the sweat from his scalp. He started to laugh. "Oh my God! I don't know you at all! You don't tell me anything you don't put on your Facebook wall. Which we're not even friends on!" He shook his head from shoulder to shoulder. "Okay. Yeah. Let's talk. Hey. You have a scar at the top of your inner thigh. Every time I see it I wonder how you got it. But I never ask. You've never told me. And do you know why I don't ask? Because an explanation isn't why I'm down there. Do you get that?"

She left her hurt unsaid.

"I'm in a hospital and you text me that you hope we can get together soon! Christ! You didn't even ask how I felt. And you know what? For like two minutes my feelings were hurt. I was devastated. But then I remembered that I was expecting too much. Because this is only sex."

"Don't you think of us as friends?"

"No. I think we're a couple of hedonistic bastards!"

"How can you say that?"

"If you knew me, you'd know how I can say that."

"I think of us as friends. I do."

"You know what we are? We're scum."

"No I'm not!"

"We fuck a couple of times a week across the hall from your daughter's bedroom. You don't even know my middle name. Do you know what the R is for? Look. We have no emotional connection at all. This is just reciprocated mutual masturbation. And the best part of this entire thing is that I don't have to worry about pregnancy or STDs and you're in walking distance from my house."

"My God! You're such an ass!"

"I don't get how I'm the only pig in this. You're too old for this fantasy bullshit. But whatever. Well. I guess this is the end of it. I won't lie. I'll miss the sex. You're great sex."

"I thought we could be friends."

"No. You felt we could be friends."

"What does that mean?"

"My buddy is always laughing when I say thought instead of felt."

"What does that mean?"

"It means I've made a huge mistake here."

"I think I don't want to see you anymore." The snide shadowed her smirk.

"It's all right. The only thing I feel is shame."

"I don't think you feel anything."

He picked up his coat. "I told you you didn't know me."