Sometimes I ask myself, why am I a devotee? WHY? What made me this way?
The answer is, I have no freaking clue.
I can’t think of any early experiences that might have triggered it. I didn’t really know anyone with a disability when I was growing up.
I could blame my parents. That would be the easiest thing. My mother is actually pretty obsessed with disability. Whenever she reads about any celebrity becoming paralyzed in an accident, she immediately tells me about it. I was hearing about Christopher Reeve nonstop for about a year.
For example, just last week, she sent me an email out of nowhere that said: “This man Charles Krauthheier jumped into a pool with no water and was paralyzed from the neck down while in medical school.”
WTF, Mom? What an odd email to send your daughter, right? Also, who is Charles Krautheier? (Google complete told me that the guy’s name is actually Charles Krauthammer and he’s not cute, so I stopped reading after that.)
Is my mother secretly a devotee? Is she a devotee and doesn’t even know it?
I’m thinking no. I think she mostly tells me these stories because she believes that getting a spinal cord injury is just about the worst thing that can happen, and that fascinates her. That does not bode well for me if I ever bring home a man in a wheelchair. She will undoubtedly think I’ve completely lost my mind.
Luckily, it doesn’t look like that’s a situation I’m going to have to worry about any time soon.
I don’t even dare to hope that there will be a message from Kurt when I get out of the shower. I’ve mostly given up. But I check anyway, just to be sure. And there it is! My stomach does little flip-flops as I read his response:
“Hey Sam. Love your profile. I’m around right now, so if you’re available, why don’t you give me a call and we’ll get to know each other a little better.”
He leaves me his phone number and now the ball is in my court.
Of course, God knows, I am available right now. I can call him on my landline, which has a blocked number, so there’s no risk. And Kurt does look pretty cute in his profile. And he’s articulate—no annoying abbreviations in his message and he didn’t call anything “awesome sauce.” Maybe Kurt is great. Maybe in a year, we’ll be, like, engaged or something. Maybe he’ll cut off the ponytail if I ask him to.
I brace myself as I pick up the phone and dial Kurt’s number. I sit in front of the computer and fix my gaze on his photo as I grip the receiver in my hand, counting rings.
Kurt picks up on ring #3. “Hello?” he says. His voice is deeper than I expected somehow.
“Hey,” I say, and my own voice cracks like I’m a freaking 13 year old boy. I try again: “Hey, this is Sam. From Match.”
“Oh, hey!” He sounds pleased. And as far as I can tell, there are no other women on the line. Double bonus. “This is Kurt. I’m so glad you called.”
I smile, encouraged. “Me too.”
“So how is your evening going, Sam?” Kurt asks.
“Oh, fine,” I say. Aside from the worst date ever.
“What are you up to?” he asks.
“Just had dinner with some friends,” I lie. “You?”
“Ate at a really great Thai restaurant,” he says. “It wasn’t entirely wheelchair accessible but still worth it.”
I pause, taking in his statement. This guy is the real deal.
“You saw in my profile that I’m a wheelchair-user, right?” he says. “I hope I’m not shocking you. I like to get it out there in the open.”
“Yes, I did,” I say, hoping he won’t ask what the hell is wrong with me for answering the ad.
“I lost both my legs above the knee in a car accident,” he explains. “I just have very short residual limbs.”
“Oh,” I say, swallowing hard. I have to admit, the mental image of this is turning me on. “How come you don’t use prosthetics?”
“I just find the wheelchair easier, to be honest,” he says. “Prosthetic knees aren’t the greatest.”
I want to ask more questions, but I’m too scared to give myself away. So I just say, “Oh.”
“Anyway,” he says. “Tell me, Sam, what attracted you to my profile?”
“Well,” I say, furiously skimming through his profile. “I also really like, um… the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And also…” I’m drawing a blank here. “I like guys with ponytails.”
God help me.
“You’re adorable in your photo,” he says to me. “Is that really you?”
For the first time, an alarm bell goes off in my head. Why would he ask something like that? Why would I sign up for a dating website with a photo of someone else? “Of course it’s me.”
“You have beautiful eyes,” he says. “I bet you hear that all the time.”
Not really. I receive far more compliments on my ass, sadly. “Yes, thank you.”
“So Sam, have you ever dated an amputee before?”
More alarm bells. Why would he ask me that? Is he testing me to see if I’m up for the task? Something doesn’t seem quite right about this. “No,” I reply honestly, glad he didn’t ask me if I’ve dated a guy in a wheelchair before.
“Well, you’re in for a treat,” he says.
“Oh, yeah,” Kurt says. “The stumps get very sensitive, believe me. It’s like dating a guy with three penises.”
Now I’ve got a symphony of alarm bells going off in my head. This conversation is getting too kinky too fast. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but I feel like the word “penis” should not be uttered during a pre-first-date phone conversation. And saying “three penises” is… well, I’d imagine it’s three times as bad as saying “penis.”
“Interesting,” I finally say.
Kurt laughs. “I’m not freaking you out, am I?”
Yes. “No, not really,” I say.
“Well, you did answer my ad,” he says. “So I thought maybe you knew all about amputees.”
“Sorry, I don’t…”
“That’s cool,” Kurt says. “I’ll just have to teach you.”
All right, either this guy is my soulmate or I need to hang up right away. I’m not entirely sure. I clutch the phone tighter, turning my knuckles white. “Um, okay.”
“Would you like a lesson?” he asks. “I can give you one right now.”
“For starters,” he says, “what would you do with them?”
I swallow hard. “With who?”
He laughs again. “My stumps. What would you do with my stumps?”
Okay, I’ve got to end this conversation right now. This is way weirder than what I was expecting. I have to admit, I’m a little titillated, but probably more disturbed than titillated. “Listen, Kurt…”
“Would you lick them with your tongue?” he asks. “Lick them all over till they’re covered in your hot, sticky saliva?”
Omigod, this is going too far. “Kurt…”
“How about if I fuck you with my stump?” he says. “Do you think I can fit it into your little pussy? It might hurt a little.”
“I think I should hang up,” I say in a meek voice, although I’m somehow unable to tear myself away from the phone.
“Would you like that?” he breathes into the phone. “If I fucked your tight little pussy with my stump?”
“I’m… going to go now,” I say, a little more firmly. Why am I giving him a warning? I need to just hang the fuck up!
“Wait, don’t hang up!” he says. “I’m about to cum…”
Okay! Enough of that. I quickly press the button to end the call and slam the phone down on the table next to me. Then I cover it with a newspaper and run to the other room, as if Kurt might escape from the phone, waggling his three penises in front of my face.
I’m so freaking depressed. I’ve now gone on two dates with disabled guys and they were possibly the worst two dates of my entire life. I contacted a third guy who turned out to be a huge pervert who probably wasn’t even disabled. I feel really disillusioned. So disillusioned that I spend the rest of the week moping around, and as soon as it’s Saturday, I decide I’m going to spend the whole day in jammies and not leave the house. I don’t want to date anymore. Too frustrating.
I should have stuck with Patrick. He was nice, he was cute, and he liked me. Like my mother always says, I got greedy. I thought I could do better.
My skin is a wreck too. Whenever I’m depressed, I eat junk food, and my skin pays the price. If I use the right lotions and creams, and don’t eat any fat, I have great skin. But the second my love life falls apart, I start getting blotchy and breaking out. By mid-afternoon on Saturday, I feel so ugly that no man will ever want to date me again.
What if that really happens? What if I can’t find a boyfriend ever again? Omigod, that would suck so much.
Then again, there’s always Rob…
Ugh, I hate my life.
I’m on my second pint of Rocky Road ice cream of the day when I see Kate’s number pop up on my cell phone. I almost don’t answer because I know exactly what she’s going to say, but she knows I’m home, so she’s going to keep calling until I pick up. May as well answer.
“Are you eating ice cream?” Kate asks me.
“No,” I say, swallowing a mouthful of Rocky Road.
“Liar,” she says.
“You had two bad dates, so what?” Kate says. She doesn’t even know about my phone rape. “How many bad dates have you had with regular guys? You just need to be patient.”
“It’s so hard,” I whine. “I mean, Jake was perfect. Why did he have to be such a bunghole?”
“I don’t know,” Kate says. “Maybe he has low self-esteem? Redheads are sometimes like that.”
“Well, redheads should have low self-esteem,” I say. “They’re butt ugly.”
“Now you sound like the old Sam,” Kate says. “Get out of your plaid pajamas and come out with me.”
I stare down at my gray and red plaid pajamas. How’d she know? “I don’t feel like it.”
“You don’t have a choice,” Kate informs me. “I need your help picking out an iPhone.”
I freeze up. Any new phone shopping will involve going to the Apple store and running into Chris. Which is the last thing I need right now. “I know what you’re up to…”
“Oh, get over yourself,” Kate says. “I desperately need to upgrade my phone. I am the last person on earth with a stupidphone. Do you know my ten year old nephew sent me an email from his iPhone? I feel like an old fogie. If I don’t get a good phone, the next step is going to be writing checks at the grocery store and lathering myself with Bengay. Is that what you want for me, Sam? To be an old lady who stinks of Bengay?”
I think about this logically. Chances are, Chris won’t even be at the Apple store. And if he is there, it seems like he’s usually in the back. The chances of running into him are pretty slim. “Fine,” I say. “But I’m only spending 15 minutes there, tops. Then you’re taking me out to dinner.”
Kate agrees to my terms. I throw on a pair of jeans and sweater, and go down to meet her at the Apple store. I don’t look my best, but definitely reasonable enough to leave the house. I decide not to go inside without her, so I stand outside waiting. I glance through the window and am relieved to see Chris doesn’t appear to me inside. At least, I think I’m relieved.
Kate arrives looking kind of fabulous. Her chestnut hair is flowing and she’s wearing a yellow summer dress. “Check you out,” I say. I’m actually really glad Chris isn’t around, considering how bad I’m sure I look in comparison.
“I had an awesome date this afternoon,” Kate says, doing a little twirl. “Mega hot. Red hair, no freckles.”
Kate’s fetish mainly restricts her to Irish men, but occasionally she’ll meet a Jewish redhead, and sometimes an Other European. No sexy Latino guys for Kate.
We go inside the Apple store, and Kate makes a beeline for the iPhones. As she fingers the latest model, she nudges me. “He’s not here, huh?”
I made a face at her. “Do you need a phone or not, you liar?”
She sticks out her tongue at me and goes back to looking at phones. I start browsing too, because despite everything, I could use a new phone. The 3G is really old and incredibly slow. I felt so high tech when I bought it and now I feel like a dinosaur.
I look up, and of course, it’s him. Chris. When I’m wearing my mom jeans and my face is broken out like I’m fifteen. I want to hide or at least cover my face with a paper bag. Especially since Chris looks so cute today. His hair is adorably tousled and his tie is just a little crooked. I also love the way he puts his hands on his knees to straighten his posture.
“Hi,” I say, my palms breaking out in their usual sweat.
“Finally looking to upgrade, huh?” he says.
“Actually,” I say, “I’m here with my friend, Kate. She’s looking at iPhones today.”
Almost regretfully, I gesture at Kate, who’s pretending to browse but actually spying on us. She looks amazing compared to me, plus she actually wants to buy a phone. Chris basically has no other reason left to talk to me.
I watch him glance in her direction, then he turns back to me. “That’s great,” he says. “I hope she finds something she likes.”
He doesn’t go help her though, which is pretty weird. Why not? Isn’t that, like, his job? Well, I guess he said he’s not a salesman, but still. He works in an Apple store. It seems like his job description probably involves helping customers who are interested in buying phones. I assume he’s going to go over there in a minute, so I try to think of something to say to keep him talking to me.
“By the way,” I say, “I never asked you how the Avengers movie was.”
“It was great,” he says. “And I never asked you how Ashton was…”
I’m glad I reminded him that I voluntarily went to see that awful movie. I make a face at him. “Terrible. I never learn not to go to those kinds of movies.”
Chris laughs and I notice he shifts his weight. It’s a quick movement where he grabs the wheels of his chair and moves his butt slightly. It’s so fast and subtle that I would have probably missed it if I didn’t know exactly what he was doing. “No Ashton movies, huh?”
“So… only Justin Timberlake?”
I gasp in mock insult. “Justin Timberlake is a very fine actor, I’ll have you know. Haven’t you seen The Social Network?”
Chris shakes his head. “Missed it, sorry.”
“I think you need to remedy that,” I say. “You have to rent it ASAP.”
“I don’t know,” he says. “I hate watching movies alone, and I can’t imagine asking one of my friends to come watch a movie about Facebook with me. They’d lose all respect.”
“Yeah, but it’s a great movie,” I insist. “You really should.”
“You think so?”
I’ve got my fingers and my toes crossed that he’s going to ask me over to watch the movie with him. And maybe he would have. Except at that moment, Kate comes bounding over to us like a bulldozer, her brown eyes flashing. “I’m sorry to interrupt,” she says, “but I swear, I can’t stand another minute of this.”
Chris stares at Kate like she’s a crazy woman. No, Kate, no… please don’t do this!
Kate points one of her long, manicured fingers at Chris. “You need to ask her out right now,” she declares. I mentally smack my palm into my forehead. “It’s obvious you want to, and it’s obvious she wants you to. Do it right now, before I rip all my hair out from listening to the two of you. Do you want me to be bald, people?”
Chris blinks a few times, a baffled expression on his face. I’m sure he’s going to get creeped out and run (well, wheel) away. But instead, he gives me this sort of shy smile and says, “Uh, would you like to go out with me sometime, Samantha?”
I duck my head down, barely able to look at him, and squeak out, “Yes.”
Chris heaves a sigh. “Great. That’s great…”
Kate looks so pleased with herself right now. She smiles at us. “Now that’s better. I’ll just leave you alone then.”
I can’t tell who’s more embarrassed by the whole thing, me or Chris. I finally manage to make eye contact again with him, and he’s grinning very sheepishly. “So, uh, when do you want to do this?”
“Uh, I don’t know…”
“You’re probably booked up for weeks, huh?”
Nothing could be further from the truth. My social calendar is totally blank. That’s what happens when you’re in a couple for two years and then suddenly you’re not. I’m free tonight, but I’m not sure if I should tell him that. Then again, if I have to wait two weeks for a date with him, I’ll probably lose my mind. “I’m free tomorrow, actually,” I finally say.
He looks amazed. “Oh, that’s great. So am I.”
“Where would you like to go?” I ask.
“Uh…” He thinks a minute then flashes me the most adorable smile. “So there’s this restaurant that opened recently that I’ve really been wanting to check out. They’re called Cupcakes and Burgers and that’s the only thing they serve. Just cupcakes and burgers.”
I think I may be in love with this man. Not only is he incredibly sexy but he just suggested the most wonderful restaurant I’ve ever heard of in my whole life. “That sounds great. I love burgers. And cupcakes.”
“Me too,” Chris says. “I don’t have a car, but… do you want me to meet you at your building? Or we can meet there?”
I’m a little afraid I’m going to be tripping over my feet if I take a walk with Chris, so I say, “Let’s meet there.”
He gives me the address and we figure out a time, then we exchange numbers just in case. At that point, I know I need to hightail it before I say something dumb and he changes his mind. I drag Kate out of the Apple store, practically squealing with happiness. “Let’s have dinner to celebrate,” I say.
“Can’t,” Kate says. “I’ve got another date with the Jewish redhead.”
“Wow. Lunch and dinner in one day. I’m impressed.”
“It might be true love,” Kate says, winking at me. Then she adds, “Probably not though.”
I’m so happy that I’m practically skipping as I walk back to my building. I would have thought that nothing could spoil this mood I’m in, except I’m wrong. I see Rob at the entrance to the building just a second too late, before I can run away.
“Sam, wait!” he calls.
I’m tempted to keep walking away, but I don’t think it will look good to have a guy in a power wheelchair chasing me down the street. Plus, that thing looks fast. I turn around and give him my most evil glare. “What is it?”
“Please don’t be mad at me,” Rob says. He’s trying for the puppy dog eyes, but he just can’t pull it off.
“You realize you’re practically stalking me,” I point out.
“I’m sorry,” he says. “I can’t help myself. I’m… I’m in love with you, Samantha.”
“Oh, please!” I snort. “You don’t even know me.”
“I know enough,” he says. “I know you’re amazing, and that I did something really dumb and screwed it up. All I’m asking for is one more chance. I’ll do anything.”
I shake my head. “Rob…”
“We had a connection,” Rob says. “I felt it. I know you felt it. Then I did something stupid and I blew it. But I know we could have something great together.”
People on the sidewalk are looking at us. Staring at us, is more accurate. I want to end this conversation, but I’m not sure how. I should probably be honest with him and admit that I don’t really like him. Except somehow I can’t bring myself to do that. I am just so bad at being honest when breaking up, especially face to face. Often it takes me several tries to successfully break up. I mean, the guy just told me he’s in love with me. What kind of cruel bitch would I be if I shot him down point blank?
“I need some time, okay?” I say to him. “What you did really upset me, and I need some time to figure out if… you know, I’m still interested.” Even though I’m absolutely not interested at all.
Amazingly, Rob seems to accept this. He nods at me. “All right. How much time?”
“I don’t know. A few months.” Maybe I’ll be married by then. Ha.
“All right,” Rob says. He smiles at me. “I guess I’ll see you in a few months.”
God, I hope not.