Mike was the first boyfriend I had that I confessed my attraction to. He was my first boyfriend in New York as well. He worked at an advertising company as an intern, which meant that he mostly just fetched coffee for the executives. He was fairly attractive in a generic kind of way, like the kind of guy you might see in an Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue. At least, he dressed that way.
I didn’t mean for Mike to find out about me, but I was on a marathon of stupidity and left my folder of “pornography” open on my computer desktop one day while I went to the bathroom. I put pornography in scare quotes, because it wasn’t really porn. Not like Mike’s gigabyte of girls sucking dick. But it was pictures I had collected from around the web of (mostly clothed) men that I found attractive, and they all had one thing in common. Three guesses what that was.
“Do you have a wheelchair fetish, Sam?” Mike asked me when I emerged from the bathroom and found him clicking through images on my desktop. He looked up at me and grinned proudly at his discovery.
My stomach turned to ice. I had hinted at Mike that I had a fetish, but had refused to tell him what it was. He had guessed everything he could think of, but hadn’t even come close. Devotees weren’t even on his radar.
I could have denied it, but that would have been an exercise in futility. Mike knew I had a fetish and he wasn’t an idiot. So I said, “Not just wheelchairs. All disabilities.” As if that somehow made it better.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” Mike said, rising from his chair to put his arms around me. “I think it’s pretty cool that you’re a little kinky.”
Actually, Mike was incredibly cool about the whole thing. After that, he would frequently question me about what I found sexy. Like was it sexy when he sprained his ankle and was on crutches for a week? (A little.) Or how about if I tied him up and pretended he couldn’t move? (A little more. Being dominant in bed always was a turn on for me.)
One day when I arrived at Mike’s apartment, I went to put my coat in his closet, and instead of his old computer boxes, there was a wheelchair inside the closet. I don’t know what Mike was expecting me to do, but when I saw that wheelchair, I screamed.
He rushed over to me, grinning, totally oblivious to the horror on my face. “You saw my present. Do you like it?”
“No!” I yelled, slamming the closet door closed. “Where did you get it anyway?” I imagined he swiped it from some cripple on the street.
“I got it on eBay,” he said, looking perplexed. “What’s wrong?”
“Please get rid of it,” I said. And then I went to his bedroom and hid under the covers. Not my finest moment.
Mike followed me to the bedroom and stroked my head under the covers. “But, Sam. I thought I could sit in it and you could pretend—”
“Get rid of it,” I said through my teeth. “Right now.”
“But why?” he asked. “I thought you liked that?”
I could only shake my head, unable to article the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach.
To this day, I have no idea why that wheelchair freaked me out so much. It felt like there was something dark and scary about it. The idea of Mike sitting in that chair and playing at being disabled just felt wrong.
Mike got rid of the wheelchair and we never talked about it again. My life would have been easier if I could have been happy pretending, but I just wasn’t. I need the real thing. And now that I have it, I’m not going to let anything mess it up.
A major bonus to Chris is that he gets along with my best friend. That is key in any relationship.
Not only does Chris get along with Kate, but he doesn’t flirt with her. I give him a lot of points for that, because Kate is gorgeous and she’s very flirtatious herself. She pretty much begs men to flirt with her. I can deal with her flirting a little with my boyfriends as long as they don’t flirt back. It’s actually a great test of character.
For example, several years ago, I was watching a movie on TV with Kate and my then-boyfriend Duke. Kate was making comments throughout the movie, and I guess Duke thought they were clever comments or whatever, because he said at one point, “Kate, I want to watch every movie with you for the rest of my life.”
And I was like, “Hello?? Your girlfriend is right here.”
Needless to say, that relationship didn’t last much longer.
Chris is friendly with Kate, but definitely doesn’t flirt. Actually, I think he might be a little afraid of her. If so, I don’t blame him because I was afraid of her for probably the first three years we were friends.
Of course, the big problem with Kate liking Chris so much is that she is pissed off with me about not being honest with him about my attraction. She reasons that I’ve got to tell him sooner or later, and the longer I wait, the worse it’s going to be. I, on the other hand, don’t understand why I’ve got to tell him sooner or later.
“I don’t understand it,” Kate whines during a lunch the three of us are having together at one of our favorite diners. She’s eying the bacon cheeseburger the waiter just laid down in front of Chris. “You are so skinny. How do you eat like that?”
He just smiles and shrugs apologetically.
Kate looks down at her salad and sighs. “It’s so unfair. I eat practically nothing and I’m fat like a pig.”
Chris looks at Kate and shakes his head. “What are you talking about? You weigh practically nothing.”
“That is so not true.” Kate leaps to her feet and does a little twirl for him. “I’m hippy. My hips are huge! See?”
Chris stares at her. “Uh… I have no idea what you’re showing me…” He turns to me. “Samantha, she’s crazy, right?”
In all honesty, Kate’s right. She’s a little hippy. But friends don’t say things like that. “She’s totally insane,” I say, which is the truth.
“Anyway,” Chris says. “I may look skinny but I actually have really fat feet.”
Kate stares at him in astonishment. “You… what?”
“I have fat feet,” he says. “Everything I eat… goes straight to my feet.”
Kate ducks down and looks down under the table at Chris’s sneakers, carefully positioned on his footplate. I’ve noticed lately that Chris is very particular about the placement of his feet. He likes them right next to each other. If they slide apart, he will do a subtle adjustment and get them where he wants them.
“They look normal to me,” she reports.
“That’s because I’m wearing shoes,” he says.
Kate looks very skeptical. “Sam, does Chris have fat feet?”
I happened to have paid a significant amount of attention to Chris’s feet, and yes, they do look “fat.” Although he explained to me that they actually just swell up easily. He wears larger than needed shoes to account for this swelling. “Yes,” I say. “He totally does.”
“I’d show you,” Chris says, “but I doubt you want me to take off my smelly sneakers while we’re eating. Not that anything could make that dry salad you’re eating less appealing.”
“Fine, I believe you,” Kate says. She shakes her head. “Fat feet, huh? Sam, where do you find these freaks?”
“You know what they say about guys with fat feet…” I say.
Kate laughs. “You’re right. I’d take fat feet over my fat hips and fat ass any day of the week. Maybe then I’d have a boyfriend.”
Chris has this confused look on his face. “Is there something I’m missing? You two are both extremely beautiful. Kate, you could have any guy you want.”
I see a bit of an evil glint in Kate’s eyes. “The thing is, Chris, dear, I am quite particular. I have a certain type that I very strongly prefer. Isn’t that right, Sam?”
“She only dates redheads,” I explain.
“There’s something about redheads that is just so, so sexy,” Kate says. “I can’t help it. Even if the guy is a jerk, if I see red hair, I go weak at the knees. The redder the better, that’s my motto.”
“That’s unusual,” Chris comments.
She raises her eyebrows. “Nothing wrong with it though, is there?”
I know what she’s getting at. I’ve known Kate long enough that she’s about as transparent as my water glass. I look down at my grilled chicken Panini and try not to get sucked into this conversation.
“Of course there’s nothing wrong with that,” Chris says. “Everyone is especially attracted to a certain type of person. So your thing is redheads.”
“Exactly!” Kate says, flashing me a pointed look. I take a bite of Panini. “So Chris, what’s your type?”
“I love smart women,” he says. “The smarter and the geekier the better. There’s nothing sexier than that.”
“Well, then,” Kate says. “Samantha here is perfect for you. She’s the worst geek ever.”
“I know,” he says, and throws his arm around my shoulders. Since Chris isn’t big on PDAs, the gesture surprises me so much that a fleck of chicken pops out of my mouth and lands on my water glass. But I’m surprised in a good way. Any unexpected touch from my boyfriend is very welcome.
“So, Sam,” Kate says to me. “What’s your type?”
Luckily, I could see Kate’s little game coming a mile away and I’ve got an answer prepared. “I like guys with glasses,” I say instantly.
Chris seems totally satisfied with this answer, but Kate interjects with, “But Sam, Patrick didn’t wear glasses. In fact, I don’t think any of your previous boyfriends have worn glasses before Chris here.”
“Hey, that’s true,” Chris says, looking less satisfied.
Kate, I am going to kill you. Kill. You.
“Right,” I say. “And that’s why none of them were right for me.”
Kate rolls her eyes, but thankfully, she doesn’t push it further. For one more day, my secret is safe from Chris. I know Kate thinks I should tell him, but seriously, she just doesn’t get it. Liking red hair doesn’t make you a pervert.
Chris’s older brother Joe lives in the city, in a two-bedroom apartment that he shares on weekends with his six-year-old daughter Lily. Joe’s been divorced for a couple of years, and he’s apparently not had the best luck meeting women, especially when he’s got a small child to look after on the weekends. I remember being six and feeling like such a grown up, but when I look at Lily, I realize that is definitely not the case. Six is a real baby.
Joe is a very nice guy. He’s very quiet and stoic, like Chris is. But between you and me, Chris got the looks between the two brothers. Joe is not great looking. He’s overweight by about 20-30 pounds, his strawberry blond hair is thinning, and he can’t grow facial hair. I know that a lot of fairer-haired men have difficulty sprouting facial hair and that’s fine. But if you can’t grow it, don’t even try. Because that’s just gross.
But if you’re in the market for a nice, slightly overweight, recently divorced high school physics teacher, you can’t do better than Joe Barrett.
The first time I met Joe, the three of us went out to dinner together and I was super nervous. I really wanted Joe to like me, but I was getting the feeling he didn’t. He was smiling politely and nodding at everything I said, but not saying much in return. And that just inspired me to talk more, until there was basically word vomit coming out of my mouth.
By the end of the meal, I was almost ready to cry. When Joe got into a taxi, I was convinced he was going to tell Chris to break up with me. Then Chris’s phone dinged with a text message. “Hey,” he said. “It’s from Joe.”
“Yeah?” I said, my stomach sinking.
Chris grinned and held up his phone. “He says you’re cool. Wants to know if you’d like to come by and meet Lily sometime.”
I almost fainted from relief. “I thought he hated me.”
“Oh no, not at all,” Chris said. “Joe doesn’t say much unless he doesn’t like you. Then he’ll tell you off.”
Well. Okay, then.
Since that time, we made a point out of coming by Joe’s apartment maybe every other weekend, just for a short time. I actually adore Lily, and already feel like a cool aunt. Not that I’m cool or anything, but to a six year old girl, I totally am. And shopping for dresses for six year olds is just plain fun.
This week, I’ve got a Hello Kitty necklace for Lily. Hello Kitty was around back when I was a kid, but the saleslady assured me that kids still like it. And if Lily doesn’t like it, then I’m tempted to keep the necklace myself. It’s pretty nice.
While we’re waiting at the door for Joe to open up, I take out the necklace to admire it. Chris catches me and smiles up at me. “You were lying before,” he says.
“Huh?” I say, my stomach freezing up.
“About hating kids,” he says. “You don’t hate kids at all.”
“Oh right,” I say. “Of course I don’t hate kids.”
Chris looks at me in a funny way, and then says, “Good.” And I get this burst of excitement, that maybe he’s thinking about that because he’s thinking about the future, about him and me having kids someday. Maybe he thinks that this is it, that I’m the one he wants to settle down with. Because more and more, I’m thinking that way about him.
Joe opens the door and he shakes Chris’s hand, which is what he always does. It’s sort of hilarious that they always shake hands when they see each other. It makes me wonder what their parents are like that they were trained to do this.
“Hi, Joe,” I say, grasping the bracelet in my fist. “I brought something for Lily.”
“Good luck prying her away from the television,” Joe says. “I turned on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids half an hour ago and she’s hooked.”
“Wow, I saw that movie when I was a kid,” I say. “That’s the one where they shrink real small and have to navigate through the backyard, right?”
“Right,” Joe says.
“I’m guessing you don’t like this movie,” Chris says to me.
I smile innocently. “Why do you say that?”
“Because it’s not consistent in its own universe,” he says. “It’s not possible to shrink people or objects.”
“Well, you could,” I say thoughtfully. “But you’d have to shrink the size of a quark.”
Joe, the physics teacher, looks at me with newfound respect. “Wow, A+ in physics, young lady.” He adds: “You’re right. They have some bullshit explanation about getting rid of empty space between cells. Why bother to explain it if the explanation is stupid?”
Luckily, at that moment, a commercial comes on and Lily is able to be detached from the television. When I present the necklace to her, she throws her skinny arms around my waist. “Thank you, Auntie Sam!”
I’m about to go to the bathroom with Joe and Lily to help her put on the necklace and see how it looks, but Chris tugs on my shirt to hold me back. “Hey,” he says to me. “I just thought of an idea.”
Lily and Joe disappear into the bathroom. My heart thuds in my chest. “An idea?”
He glances at the bathroom to make sure the door is closed. “How about setting your friend Kate up with Joe?”
I almost choke. Joe is not Kate’s type. He’s sweet but Kate has no interest in sweet guys. Before I can answer, Chris points out, “He’s a redhead.”
He’s got me there. Joe does have reddish blond hair that does appear red in most lights. Still. “There’s more to it than that,” I try to tell him.
“But she said she has a redhead fetish,” Chris says. “Joe’s a redhead. Why wouldn’t she like him?”
He doesn’t get it. He really doesn’t. The same way I didn’t go for Rob, Kate would never go for Joe.
“I’m worried it might be awkward for us if they break up,” I lie. “And you know how Kate is. She’s really fickle.”
“That’s true,” Chris sighs. He looks at the bathroom door again. “I just wish Joe would meet a nice girl. It’s been such a long time for him. I want him to be as happy as we are.”
So do I. But seriously, Kate wouldn’t touch Joe with a ten foot pole.
To be continued.....
Question for the readers: What do you think--should Sam tell Chris she's a dev? Is honesty the best policy in this case?