I’ll bet you like the pretty kind. Someone skinny with dainty wrists. She sends you emails with exclamation points and describes herself as “fabulous” in conversation, as if it’s not a mockery of the word she’s looking for, which is self-conscious or needy or fragile. She hides behind smoky eye shadow, sequin blouses, cocktails, her iPhone, Starbucks cups, Twilight movies, and “the girls,” a term she uses for both her best friends and her breasts.
I wonder if you could ever want someone like me. An oddly-proportioned mesomorph with ruddy skin, big feet, and an ego that just won’t quit. A girl who lives in hoodies and thinks that wearing jeans is dressing up. I’m not pretty, and if I am, it’s an accident.
I’ll bet your girl played field hockey for one season in high school, thinking the skirts were a cute nod to Catholic schoolgirl uniforms and Britney Spears in “Baby One More Time.”
After a brief bullimic phase in college, she “got serious” about her fitness, huffing on the elliptical three days a week, head-to-toe in Lululemon and reading Us Weekly. She frowns and squeezes her love handles and has already tried or at least considered the Master Cleanse Diet.
But me? I have a six-inch scar down my shin from sliding into second in a beer league softball game. I’ve had more blisters than boyfriends. And no matter how many times I fuck up my ankle, I just can’t seem to give up playing soccer.
At five-foot-four and 111 pounds, I’ll bet you love her body. You tell her “you’re too critical of yourself,” and “girl you’re amazing just the way you are.” I’ll bet you like her chicken legs, skinny back, and that she asks you to carry her suitcase. I’ll bet it makes you feel strong.
I’ll bet you like how she clacks around in stilettos and wedges and knee-high boots. I’ll bet those shoes make you think about sex. I’ll bet you like her black leather skirt and leopard print shirt. I’ll bet you feel like the king of the fucking jungle when she wears that.
I’m over here clacking around in my track spikes, trying to walk on my heels so I don’t dull the points. Or maybe I’m smacking my cleats against the pavement to get the mud out. There’s no poetry or melody to the way I walk, but there’s swagger. I rock the high top Dunks, custom Cortez, and every shade of Free. And while you’d rather borrow from my sneaker collection, that’s not really your interest, is it?
I’ll bet you don’t mind answering her when she asks you if you think she’s pretty or cute. The correct answer is “both,” but you learned that the hard way. When she wants something, I’ll bet she calls you babe or baby or honey. I’ll bet she uses babytalk and a pitchy inflection that you cherish on good days and fucking loathe on the bad ones. I don’t meant to ruin it for you, but I bet she has Daddy Issues.
I wonder if you could get used to the fact that I, a logophile, speak in appositives. And unless I’m yelling, my voice is steady. I just don’t have that bouncy affect that you’re used to hearing on the phone. I wonder it baffles you, if it’s cumbersome, and if you have the equipment to stay dry while wading through complex sentences. I wonder if my love for vocabulary would make you jealous.
I’ll bet you know she’ll always be there for you. Because she was there for you, even after you cheated on her, even when you promised her you wouldn’t. I’ll bet she took you back because she understands that love is complicated and you fucked up and this is the last time and that you are really, truly sorry. I’ll bet she loves you. I’ll bet she wants you. I’ll bet she needs you in a way that I never could.
I guess my heart isn’t big enough. I believe in justice over clemency. I’m cold and decisive, so when it’s over, it’s over. When I walk through that turnstile and there is no re-entry.
I’ll bet you love women like her. I’ll bet she’s the only one for you. She lets you be the man that you are, but more importantly, she lets you be the man.
But let me ask you this. If she always lets you anyway, are you even trying? How would you ever know what it takes to be a man?