Last night, as I lay on the couch draped across Wine Guy's legs, he looked down at me with his overwhelmingly sincere gaze and said, "You're hot." My reaction? I wrinkled up my nose and shook my head in tight, little "no, no"s, trying to pretend like he didn't say it. Thinking I'm just one of those girls who doesn't know how to take a compliment he tried to insist, "Uh yeah. You are. You're hot," emphasizing that word even more, as if it's just a fact. I unwrinkled my nose for a second to look back and say, "I hate that word - hot. It's such a guy word."
He didn't quite get it but (God bless him) tried for another in it's place - "OK, sexy, then." Nope, that didn't do it either. I shook my head again. "What? Why don't you like sexy? Go ask any of your girlfriends. They would all like sexy."
I conceded. "OK, sexy is better than hot. Maybe in a few months, when - or if (awkward moment) - things progress, I'd be all over you calling me sexy. But at this, um, early stage (we've only kissed), the word sexy makes me feel a little embarrassed."
At this point I know I'm blushing and acting like an 8th grader. But he clearly perked up because, being a guy, this is what he heard (allow me to translate): "At some point in the near-ish future we will have sex and then you can call me sexy because, dammit, I will be sexy. But right now - this ain't sex. It's cutesy cuddling." (OK, maybe that isn't what he heard, but that's actually what I meant).
So he tries a third time. "How about beautiful then?"
I let that sink in for a second, look back at him and smile, "Beautiful I like." He returns the smile and before he can say anything else I remember my manners, "Thank you for the compliment."
Ever since I dated Vain Guy last year (and even before then), the looks thing has been a major chip on my shoulder. I spent the first 30 years of my life thinking I was some tall, goofy looking chick that nobody noticed. When I started to finally understand/believe that I actually do get noticed for my looks, I began to resent getting attention for something that, frankly, I had little to do with. Part of me wants to say, "Thanks, I'll tell my parents you appreciate their genes."
I met Vain Guy at a Jewish singles event when I tried to talk to the tall guy standing next to him (yes I'm a hypocrite when it comes to height). I quickly noticed that the tall guy liked my friend Skinny so I let her have at it and, to keep myself entertained, turned to introduce myself to his shorter friend. Granted, I didn't notice him right away (not that I ever told him that), but after talking for awhile I did start to notice how he kind of looked like Mark Ruffalo - and he had nice shoes. I gave him my number and by the following weekend we had a date.
He was the first guy I'd dated since Naval A-hole (a painful story I have yet to tell) who was actually excited about me. No aloofness there at all. Like I said in my earlier post, I was just so excited that he was so excited, I overlooked a lot. So much in fact that when I think about it in hindsight, I get a little disgusted with myself. There were red flags flying all over the place, blazing neon red, begging me to see. But I let two months go by before they all started waving at once, right in my face.
Vain Guy loved to look in the mirror, posing at himself with his eyebrow and chin lifted to give the best effect. Vain Guy loved to show me his wardrobe, explaining exactly how much each item cost. Vain Guy did not make much money, so clearly he was willing to go into debt for clothes that apparently only I ever saw (he had no friends that I ever met, no wonder he was enthusiastic about me). Vain Guy had his teeth whitened and hinted that he'd had some sort of extreme skin treatment/chemical peel that I never quite understood. Vain Guy used to be overweight and was constantly worried that he was getting fat again. He jogged almost manically to keep the weight off.
These are just a few of the reasons why he's called Vain Guy and I'm sure you are probably starting to understand why I feel sick to my stomach when I think how I was able to convince myself for two whole months that we might be a reasonable couple. So thank God for that one day when I just woke up.
When I broke up with him I told him why. He was too vain and "our values were just too different." He reacted only as a truly vain person should. He agreed and said, "Yes, appearance is very important to me." And that was that.
As is my normal M.O., we ended on friendly terms and over drinks a week later he told me about his plans to take out a major loan to get more skin treatments. He had a few small dents in his skin from teenage acne, which actually made him kind of sexy, but he thought they were absolutely disgusting and unacceptable. Clearly his self image was massively distorted. I knew this would probably be the last time I ever saw him, so I decided to put it out there on the table. "Maybe you should put that money towards therapy instead?" I was quite surprised when he softened, considering the idea at least for a moment. It was in that small window that he gave me a glimpse of what he truly was beneath that dimpled skin - an insecure, lonely guy looking for a way to connect to the world around him. I guess somewhere along the way (perhaps after hearing the word "hot" too many times) he got the wrong message of how to go about it.
I knew tonight I was going to write about Vain Guy. What I didn't know was that I would walk right past him this afternoon while he was jogging intently along the boardwalk. He didn't see me, but I had enough time to notice his top-notch $65 Nike jogging shirt with matching black shorts and video iPod.
OK - I know I have to tell you what happened with Wine Guy (and my mom!) this weekend. But it will have to wait til next time.