Maybe I’m not really a devotee.
That’s all I can think of. Because seriously, here was a nice enough guy in a wheelchair and I had zero interest in him. Okay, he wasn’t that nice… he made me touch his penis… but before that happened, I was equally disgusted. What’s wrong with me? Maybe this whole devotee thing is just an excuse to avoid all men. I can spend the rest of my life living in my fantasies.
I was a late bloomer in that it took me until I was twenty years old to have my first orgasm, even though I was far from a virgin. That seems really late, considering I could hear my brother jacking off in his bedroom when he was only eleven. David Hasselhof aside, I just didn’t get turned on enough by my boyfriends’ clumsy attempts at foreplay. Eventually, I realized I was probably going to have to do it myself.
One summer when I was home from college, I went on Mission: Orgasm (cue theme music). I bought a book called The Female Orgasm, which was an illustrated book about five women who, to put it mildly, masturbated a lot. I mean, every freaking second. I remember reading about how one of them was sitting on a tree branch and she had an orgasm. And all I could think was: what the hell is wrong with me? I’ve sat on tree branches and got diddly squat! Everyone else in the world can cum but me!
I would lie in bed at night, fingering myself, breathing quickly, wondering, “Am I doing this right?” I wasn’t. One night, I snuck into the bathroom and borrowed Tom’s electric toothbrush. I am so, so sorry, Tom. I did clean it off afterwards, I swear.
By the end of the summer, I decided Mission: Orgasm was an utter failure. I still hadn’t experienced an orgasm. I was so cranky. Tom and I were fighting non-stop, mostly because I resented that he had a penis and it was so easy for him that if he didn’t jerk off during the day, it would happen at night on its own. Tom had asked me a record number of times, “Are you on your period or something, Sam?”
Then one night, I woke up in the middle of a dream. In the dream, I was sitting on the lap of a guy and he was in a wheelchair. I realized that I was all wet, and I thought to myself, “Hey, maybe I should try masturbating now.” I stayed with the dream, imagining myself kissing the guy in the wheelchair, and I realized everything was different now. Instead of feeling like nothing, every touch was electric. The sensation mounted until I had to cover my mouth to keep from screaming out loud.
Other people might watch porn, but if I want to get off these days, I can watch a youtube video of a quadriplegic going grocery shopping (there are a surprising number of these). Regular porn does nothing for me.
Of course I’m a devotee. How could I doubt myself? It’s just a matter of finding the right guy.
The next morning, I’ve got three emails and two voicemails from Rob, but I delete them all. I can’t imagine anything that would convince me to go out with him again. Or ever speak to him again. He also sends me some e-flowers, which I think is just about the tackiest thing a person can do.
I tell Kate all about my date that afternoon at the gym, and I’m a little bit miffed that she can’t stop laughing. We hit the gym together after work, because I had to devour a pint of Rocky Road ice cream after my horrible date with Rob and now I feel guilty and fat. Sometimes only ice cream can make you feel better, and I love Rocky Road.
Kate and I bought gym memberships about six months ago, because we wanted to get in shape. The first month, we went four times a week. Then twice a week the next month. The third month, I think I went once. Kate told me she stopped in last week, but then realized she forgot her sneakers and went home. We can’t bring ourselves to cancel the membership though. It’s like we’re sort of doing something healthy by being members, even if we never go.
We’re on stationary bikes while I tell Kate my story. Both of us are kind of half-heartedly peddling. I don’t think I’ve shed one drop of sweat yet into my green track suit, and my heart is thumping along at its usual slow speed. And my story of The Worst Date Ever does nothing to improve the intensity of our workout. Kate starts giggling so hard that she has to stop peddling. By the time I finish, she’s got tears running down her cheeks. “Oh my god, Sam, you are so mean!” she cries. “You wouldn’t even give the poor guy a hug?”
“He probably meant he wanted me to hug his penis,” I say.
Kate laughs harder, wiping her eyes. I stop pedaling my bike too. I hate stationary bikes. They seemed so neat when we first started using the gym, then I realized how lame it was to sit on a bike that doesn’t go anywhere. It feels so futile. I feel that way about most of the equipment. If I’m going to be lifting weights, I may as well agree to help a friend move or something.
“Poor Rob,” Kate sighs. “He probably just got overexcited. I think you should give him another chance.”
“What did I tell you?” I say. “Even prior to the penis incident, I didn’t think he was attractive.”
Kate shakes her head at me. “You’re always complaining there are no single males in wheelchairs. So here’s one who likes you, and he’s not good enough?”
“It’s not enough for him just to be a wheeler,” I explain, even though I’ve struggled with this myself. “He has to be attractive otherwise too. I mean, you like redheads, but would you date… Conan O’Brien?”
Kate blinks at me. “What’s wrong with Conan? He’s really sexy.”
“Okay, bad example,” I say. “What about Carrot Top? Would you date Carrot Top?”
“I guess I wouldn’t,” Kate admits.
“Fine, I get it. But what now?”
"I have an idea," Kate says. "We got a membership to this stupid gym. Well, why don't we use it for something useful?"
I squint at her. "What do you mean?"
"I mean," she says, "I bet they have some sort of wheelchair sports here. Why don't you ask at the front if they have wheelchair basketball? Then we can go check out the game, which will be full of young, fit guys."
I have to admit, she's got a good idea. Not only would I be able to meet guys, but the idea of watching a live wheelchair basketball game was practically orgasmic. I've only seen a few clips on youtube, and I've watched those over and over. This idea has potential. "All right," I say. "I'll try it."
Kate and I finish "working out" and subsequently spend more time showering and fixing our hair and make-up than we did during our workout. "Do you want to go to a movie tonight?" Kate asks me as she applies her too-dark red lipstick in front of the locker room mirror.
"What happened to..." I dredge up the name of the last guy she was dating. "Ryan?"
"He didn't call me after our date last week," Kate says, making a face at me in the mirror. "So screw him. Anyway, I hate staying home on Saturday nights. I feel so pathetic. Come on, let's see a movie."
I'd been considering curling up with a good book tonight, but it might be nice to get out of the house. Kate's right—I do kind of feel like a loser when I stay home on Saturday nights. "Fine, but I get to pick the movie," I say, even though I know Kate will bully me into seeing whatever she wants.
As we're walking through the lobby of the gym on our way outside, Kate pokes my shoulder and points to the front desk. "Hey, ask them about wheelchair basketball."
I glance over at the front desk. The desk is manned by a lone woman in her fifties whose dark hair is gathered into a neat bun. She reminds me slightly of my mother, especially when she tucks a pen behind her ear. I cringe slightly. "Maybe I shouldn't..."
"Stop being a wuss, Sam!" Kate says, practically shoving me in the direction of the front desk.
I take a deep breath and square my shoulders as I walk toward the desk, where the woman, whose nametag says Mary, is typing at a computer. She glances up at me over half-moon glasses. "Yes?"
"Hi," I say. I clear my throat. "I'm a member here and I was just wondering if... if..." My voice drops an octave or two. "If you have wheelchair basketball games."
Mary looks me up and down, quickly assessing that I'm not in a wheelchair myself. "For women?" she asks.
"For men," I say.
Mary's eyes narrow.
"It's for my friend," I quickly add.
"Is your friend a member here?" Mary asks me.
"What's his name?" Mary's hands are poised over her keyboard, ready to type in my "friend's" name.
I stare at her. Shit.
"Well, the thing is," I stammer. "He's not sure he wants to do it. He just asked me to ask if they had it. So I don't want to, like, sign him up or anything..."
Mary folds her arms across her chest. "What do you want to do? Watch and make fun of them?"
"No, of course not!" My face is so red that she must know I'm busted. "That's not... I mean, I would never..."
"We have ladies basketball games on Tuesday evenings," Mary says in a clipped voice. "If you're a member, you're welcome to join."
"Thank you," I say in a teeny tiny voice.
As I race away from the front desk and Mary's judging stare, I see Kate is laughing almost uncontrollably. I grab her by the arm and shove her out onto the street. "Oh my god!" I yell at her. "No wonder she thought I was up to something. You were standing behind me laughing the whole time!"
"I couldn't help it!" Kate snorts. "That was so funny!"
I want to get angry, but it's hard. It was pretty funny, I guess.
"Anyway, you did us a huge favor," Kate points out.
"Yeah, now we finally have an excuse to quit the gym."
Why? Why did Kate force me to go to this romance movie with her when we’re both so hopelessly single?
I can't think of anything worse than two single girls going to see a sappy love movie together on a Saturday night. Everyone else in the theater is coupled off, some of them actively making out, and Kate and I are just sitting there, both of us miserable. Plus everyone definitely thinks we're lesbians. We may as well start making out.
We're about thirty minutes into this film and I feel like I'm going to throw up. This is totally Kate’s fault. I wanted to see The Avengers.
"I'm going to get some popcorn," I whisper to Kate.
Kate looks at me in alarm and grabs my forearm. Her hand is ice cold and I let out a little scream. Luckily, everyone is too busy making out to notice. "You can't leave," she hisses. "Then I'll be alone in here!"
"Kate," I say, extricating myself from her grasp. "I will be gone five minutes. I won't even pee, I promise."
She reluctantly lets me go, and the first thing I do is pee, because seriously, I gotta go. But I'm quick about it and then I head right for the refreshment counter. I actually wanted to get popcorn on the way in, but Kate and I recently looked up the nutritional information about popcorn, and there are actually about 10,000 calories in a bag of popcorn. Okay, maybe not that many, but a lot. I don't know how that's possible, considering popcorn is mostly air, but it is. I guess it’s all the oil and fake butter. I'll get a diet soda to compensate though.
I find the shortest line, and to my shock, I see a familiar face. It's Chris, the Apple guy. Does my subconscious like him so much that I'm inadvertently stalking him? I mean, he’s probably lived here God knows how long and I’ve never run into him before. Well, at least this is better than when he caught me singing at Trader Joe's.
And he looks so cute. Like, impossibly cute. His dark hair is a little mussed and he’s wearing this black T-shirt that isn’t tight, but still shows off the fact that he’s got great muscles in his shoulders. And I can see from his biceps and forearms that there’s nothing wrong with the muscles there either. Not a quad, that’s for sure.
"Hey," I say to him as I get in line behind him.
He moves one hand against his wheel in order to turn around. Maybe it's my imagination, but his face seems to brighten when he sees it's me. "Samantha!" he says. "I keep running into you! That’s so weird!"
It's funny because nobody ever calls me Samantha. It's always just Sam. But I sort of like it when he calls me that, so I haven't been correcting him. You know you’re into a guy when the way he says your name gets you hot.
"It's fate, I guess," I say, then blush.
"What are you seeing?" he asks me.
"Oh, that stupid Ashton Kutcher movie," I say, blushing harder. Why can't I be seeing a good movie? "It's already in progress but I snuck out to get popcorn."
"I can't believe your date let you get your own popcorn," Chris says, shaking his head. "Not very chivalrous."
"I'm not on a date," I explain. "Just with my girlfriend tonight. The date last night... didn't go so great."
"Sorry to hear that," he says.
I shrug, as if it were just a typical bad date, rather than the single worst date in my entire life.
"We're seeing The Avengers," he says. Damn it, that’s what I wanted to see! "Need to finally see what the hype is about."
My heart sinks. “We’re” seeing the Avengers. He’s on a date. Of course he’s on a date. It’s Saturday night, first of all. And he may be disabled, but he’s also adorable. And he looks like he’s on a date, now that I think about it. Actually, he smells like he’s on a date. He smells great. A nice aftershave always gets me—I’m like one of the ditzy girls in those Axe commercials who’s swooning over a guy just because she likes his musky scent.
And because he’s a gentleman on a date, Chris is chivalrously getting popcorn for his girlfriend. And because I’m a loser with no boyfriend, I’m getting my own damn popcorn.
What subtle question can I ask him to figure out if he’s on a date? I mean, I suppose I can just ask him. But how lame would that be? No, I have to be a little more subtle.
“Looks like you get a dollar off if you get the extra-large popcorn and soda,” I comment, trying to gage how many people will be sharing with him.
“Are you kidding me?” he says. “Look at the extra-large popcorn container! It’s like the size of a bathtub.”
“Are you trying to maintain your girlish figure then?” I say. A little flirting never hurt anyone.
Chris shakes his head. “Forget about my girlish figure. I think if I ate that much popcorn, I would die.”
The cashier calls for next in line, and Chris wheels up to the counter, where he orders a medium popcorn and soda, which gives me no freaking clues whatsoever. After placing his order, he turns to me: "What do you want, Samantha?"
I freeze. "Oh, um, it's okay."
"It'll be faster for you if we order together," he says. "I don't want you to miss another minute of Ashton."
The cashier is staring at me, so I say, "I'll have a small popcorn and small Diet Coke."
Together, the food comes to $19.95, and Chris plunks 20 dollar bill on the counter. I reach into my purse, fumbling for my wallet. "I think I owe you nine dollars," I say.
"Don't worry about it," he says.
I find my wallet and pull out a ten dollar bill. "No, I should be treating you. You're the one who saved my phone."
Chris puts his hands on the wheels of his chair and shakes his head. “I’m not taking your money, Samantha, so just put it away.”
I’m never sure how much to insist on paying in this situation. I always feel weird when people try to treat me, and usually I end up fighting to get my bills on the table, and likely insult the other person. Also, I’m getting the distinct impression that this is flirting. I mean, why would he offer to pay for me if he wasn’t… interested? “Thank you,” I say.
I watch as Chris balances the soda between his knees and the popcorn on his lap. He glances up at me and grins, “This isn’t as precarious as it looks.”
“I didn’t say anything…”
Chris and I stare at each other for a minute. I imagine some alternate ending to this evening, one where Chris and I end up in the same theater. I sit next to him and we share popcorn out of the same bag, and my hand grazes against his rough, calloused palm. And then, sometime before the Avengers save the planet, we start holding hands.
I guess if this were real life, we’d start kissing at some point, but in this particular fantasy, I can’t get past the holding hands part. I just want to sit with him and hold hands.
I look at Chris’s face and he’s looking everywhere but at me. He seems a little antsy or nervous or something. Maybe he’s worried his date is going to come out and look for him. Finally, he opens his mouth to say something, but I accidentally cut him off by saying, “I better let you get back to your movie.”
He stares at me for a second, then nods. “Right,” he says. “I better get back.”
Crap. He was going to say something and I cut him off. What was he going to say?? Probably nothing important. Anyway, he needs to get back to the theater. Back to his maybe date.
Of course, if he were really on a date, would he have paid for my popcorn and soda? That seems like kind of a douchebag thing to do and he doesn’t seem like a douchebag. So maybe he’s not really on a date.
“Well, maybe I’ll see you around then,” Chris says.
I nod. “Yeah, see you later.”
And then we go our separate ways.