I am in the middle of a self-imposed Man Moratorium. Initially it stemmed from the emotional fallout of my last relationship but now it’s more that I’ve developed a general state of disgust when it comes to anything with a penis. The idea of dating just feels daunting these days. I’m not in the mood to wade through the sea of pleated-pants-wearing, workaholic, overachievers to find the lone intelligent, funny, snappy-dressing-but-still-not-gay manicorn that has miraculously managed to avoid full-blown Douchedom. Yeah, I’m bitter. And chancing another Wasabi Death Incident or potentially encountering Puker: The Sequel is more than I’m willing to endure. Instead, single, with on demand battery-operated sexual fulfillment, is working out just fine. My taxi light is firmly off and I’ve accepted that by taking a dating break at 30, it is totally possible my future could involve Crazy Cat Lady. But being in a Man-cation doesn’t mean I can’t look. Or shamelessly fantasize about random men.
Anyway, last night I left Lawyer Utopia kind of late. When I log the hours, I typically grab the 38B instead of Metroing home. There’s a stop directly in front of Soviet Safeway and my single state has devolved to a nightly dinner of box wine and the hot bar dregs. The other 38B appeal is the cute 30-something guy who gets on right before Georgetown, sits somewhere in the back of the bus and reads intellectual books. Last week it was Nixonland. This week it’s The Lazarus Project. He’s pleated-pants free and so far, I’ve not spotted any indications that he’s in a relationship. We’ve never talked, let alone made actual eye contact. But he’s reasonably attractive, seemingly harmless, and a fixture on my evening commute home. Thus, he qualifies as the perfect target for my reoccurring Bus Boyfriend fantasy.
Aside from Bus Boyfriend, my Fantasy Man Life usually involves Prince William, David Hasselhoff: The Early Years, or Scott Baio. It’s always G-rated. Sorta heavily-edited Harlequin or slightly tawdry Disney. Anyway, in my daydreams, Fantasy Man and I meet in a generic yet still great-story-to-tell-the-grandkids sort of way. Often it involves a random run-in at a Metro stop or a blind date we were both reluctant to go on. Because the greatest love stories of all time involve boy initially hates girl/girl thinks boy is a schmuck scenarios, we don’t get along. But fate keeps throwing us together until Fantasy Man Du Jour and I realize our love is destined. He proposes in some romantic yet still unnauseating way and that’s it. End of fantasy.
I’m sure my therapist would go all Freudish about these, especially in light of my current Anti-Man Stance. But whatever. To me, they’re just flights of imagination. Like a trashy romance novel in my head. And until last night, my imaginary Cinderella-like existence with Bus Boyfriend and his cronies was great. But, as fate would have it, I now have to remove Bus Boyfriend from the fantasy lineup.
Per usual, Bus Boyfriend got on the 38B last night. It was surprisingly crowded and instead of following his normal head straight to the back M.O., Bus Boyfriend looked around, spotted a free seat and beelined. Within nanoseconds, he was sitting in the empty next to me. I was eight shades of thrilled. This was my chance. An honest-to-God Metro Bus encounter that would make for great Ahhhh-isn’t-it-cute-how-they-met type wedding toasts. All I had to do was strike up a conversation about something innocuous, flutter my eyelashes enticingly and if that wasn’t enough to keep Bus Boyfriend enthralled, flash a little boobie. My breasts are like a dating tractor beam: point, shoot, score a number. Yet, instead of employing my usual flirtactics, I sat there. Mute. For 23 agonizing minutes I didn’t say a word. Opening lines kept popping into my head but I’d instantly reject them as not witty enough or as feeling rehearsed.
As the 38B went over Key Bridge, it hit a meteor-sized pothole. My iPod flew from my hand and landed on Bus Boyfriend’s lap. It was a moment ripe for a witty remark. But instead, I reached over on a retrieval mission and accidentally fondled his package. Still, I said nothing. No apology for the inadvertent molestation; not even an awkward complement on the endowment of his Man Parts. Speechless mortification had set in.
When the bus pulled into the Rosslyn Metro, I realized time was running out; the next stop was Soviet Safeway. But not even that was enough to get me to make a move. Instead of professing my undying fantasy love or my belief that we’d produce Gerber-label-esque babies, I just pulled the Stop Request cord, did the universal bag shuffle that signaled to Bus Boy I needed to get off, and scotched past him. As I inched around his knees, I finally broke the silence.
Me (in mumbly sort of way): Excuse me.
Bus Boyfriend (with a disturbingly knowing smile): No problem. Good night.
If my life were a trashy romance novel, those four words would have been the quintessential, defining sentences. But Katherine Land is a far cry from Danielle Steel; Bus Boyfriend’s voice was pitched astonishingly like Alvin’s, of “And The Chipmunks” fame. Except an octave higher and with a squeakiness reminiscent of somebody taking a hit of helium.
It was enough to reaffirm my singlehood and move Don Draper into the Fantasy Man rotation.