Two weeks had passed since Anna dumped me. We had not been in contact, which was not as I wanted it. I meant to follow through, to pursue some way of continuing a relationship—a “thing”—of some sort.
Even if we can’t find satisfactory common ground in a romantic relationship, I don’t want to lose her friendship.
But ugh, the prospect of once more having those long “what I want/what I need” conversations was tedious to contemplate.
Neither of us would have anything new to say. It would be agonizing to pass that ice-cold potato back and forth, hoping to feel some new heat.
I couldn’t escape the dread suspicion that it would be a waste of time.
And if we tried to find a way to continue, I suspected we would wind up back in bed—because the fun parts are fun!—only to be back at endgame in a few well-rehearsed moves.
So to my chagrin, two weeks passed without contact.
I was working when I received an instant message from Anna.
As we chatted, I tried to keep things cordial yet removed from romantic innuendo.
Anna: Hey baby. Just wondering how you’ve been.
Henry: Been better, been worse. I’m enjoying a very quiet weekend. I just showered and will soon go look at art.
Anna: Just had a shower myself. You have time for a drink later?
Henry: Today? No. Last night, yes, but that is unfortunately in the past.
Anna: Yes. Still working on the time travel thing. Haven’t gotten it solved yet.
Henry: When you figure it out, let me know. I want to give Hitler a piece of my mind.
Anna: Just thought I’d try to see you in a public setting, doing things like other people do . . . drinking, hanging out, talking, blah, blah, blah . . .
Henry: A fine idea.
Anna: Well, just a thought.
Henry: And a good one for another time.
Anna: So, any chance you’re free for a drink either Monday or Tuesday evening?
Henry: Tuesday, no. But Monday maybe—I have dinner plans at 8pm. Maybe before?
Anna: Monday it is. Too bad about tonight. I was feeling kind of horny and my evening plans fell through.
Henry: That is too bad.
Anna: I’ll manage.
Henry: Too bad you weren’t horny last night. Last night was just Bill de Kooning and me. I’m reading the recent bio.
Anna: Who says I wasn’t? If I had known you were free, I would have come over and done you and Bill simultaneously.
Henry: A necrophiliac threesome . That would be novel.
Anna: I’m sorry for the other night. I’d like for us to be better friends. Is that possible, given that we are so into the sex? Or are the two mutually exclusive?
Henry: Being better friends sure beats the hell out of not seeing one another at all.
Anna: D’accord. What can we do then, if the previous was an affirmative to my first question?
Henry: Umm . . . we could be better friends?
Anna: Yes, silly, of course. But how do we do that? Given everything we know.
Henry: Maybe we can sacrifice some of the time we spend having better sex than anyone deserves to have, in order to see the occasional movie or art show?
Anna: That’s a start.
Henry: So, once again, art trumps sex.
Anna: Listen (lol), we can always decide what to do with the time, whether it’s more movies or more sex or more laundry or more Scrabble or more Parcheesi or whatever. I just want more time. Perhaps a little, a wee tiny little itsy bitsy bit more effort. Though I’m not voting down more sex.
Henry: More movies, that depends on the film. Some of them really suck. I’d rather take you out for a slice. Most fresh pizzas are better than most fresh movies.
Anna: I can agree with that. What would you like? Pepperoni?
Henry: Well, you know, I am the adventurous sort.
Henry: Black olives. Green olives. Jalapenos. All available anchovies.
Anna: Will that just be for you?
Henry: I like to share.
Anna: “Yes,” she thinks as she types, mouth watering. The question is: do you want to share? Cos you can have the entire pie to yourself if you want. Freeze the leftovers for the kids. Eat the cold slices for breakfast.
Henry: This is not a pie I can share with the kids. And while cold pizza for breakfast is one of life’s greatest pleasures, I think that pleasure is surpassed by sharing it hot with an appreciative mouth.
Anna: I think I know someone who would like that. She likes De Kooning, and would like to know more about him. And more about you—aside from your tastes in pizza and art.
Henry: Uh huh.
Anna: But I dunno, J. You got a lot of mouths to feed. She’s got a pretty big appetite.
Anna: Well, we can mix more metaphors if we meet on Monday. I should get going. As should you.
Henry: I should go. I have art to castigate. A meal to masticate. It will get late . . . I may masturbate.
Anna: You may? Oh, give me a break! Again, tant pis about tonight. I was in the mood for . . . well, you.
Henry: Serves you right for breaking up with me.
Anna: Taking a break. Not the same thing.
Henry: One of these times, I will be able to make that distinction as it occurs.
Anna: I think it’s better you’re not available tonight.
Henry: Less messy?
Anna: Yes, less messy. I think you once said that old habits die hard. Wheels often roll into the same familiar ruts.
Henry: I said that? I am so wise.
Anna: At times, yes. Talk to you tomorrow.
Henry: Have a good evening.