“Once You Have Sex, That Offer Is Always on the Table”
“Rufus” is a graduate student in his mid-20’s. At the time this story took place, he and his previous girlfriend had broken up just a few months ago. He had been having a bit of a rough time, and needed to take his mind off his troubles. One of his good friends lives in Washington D.C., and when spring came around, he planned a spring break trip to visit the dude. Also in the back of his mind was the fact that another, yet earlier ex-girlfriend lived in the same city.
He had dated this woman, “Lily,” about five years ago. They had only been together for three months, so there wasn’t any intense lingering drama between them. This was good, because relations were cordial. But he hadn’t seen her in all the intervening time, so he didn’t know what to expect. He had in the back of his mind, though, that something might happen between the two of them, as it so often does with exes. As he puts it, “when you have sex, that offer is always on the table.” The two of you have already breached the gap between sexual and non-sexual, and that boundary will evermore seem more mutable than it does with other sorts of people.
Was her offer on the table for him? Rufus sent Lily a Myspace message telling her that he would be in town, and saying “let’s hang out.” Wait a second, I just realized something. Everyone’s raving these days about how Facebook is trendier and Myspace is in decline. But I think Myspace will hang in there, because it’s more conducive to getting you laid. It’s sexier, because it doesn’t offer as many opportunities to reveal your character flaws. With Facebook, you’re online available to chat all the goddamn time, unwittingly showing the world that you lack either the steely resolve to devote your full attention to your work, or the devil-may-care abandon to leave the computer entirely. You join Facebook thinking “this will be a great way to keep in touch with my professional contacts” or some such, but next thing you know, you’ve been sucked into its topsy-turvy madhouse logic, and you’re filling out horrible quizzes on subjects like “How Big a Nerd Are You?”, and everyone can see the results. Beware, youth! The factoids about which you are “updating” your friends are neither charming nor entertainingly quirky; they are the very dregs of your personality! The equivalent of coffee grounds and pizza crusts, they need not be shared with the world. How much better to maintain a dignified reserve. You can e-mail when you have something to say. But Lily and Rufus had been out of touch, she hadn’t spent the past five years hearing about how “Rufus likes the new season of Nip & Tuck” or “Rufus is dubious about these nachos” or whatever, and she was actually curious to see what he was up to. She said she’d meet up with him.
Some weeks previously, Rufus had bought some new shirts at American Apparel. He had a friend who worked there, and she recommended some stuff. One of them was a heathered blue 50/50 shirt, and it quickly became his favorite t-shirt. He brought the new shirts on the trip with him.
Rufus got into town on a Friday. He and the young lady had planned to meet up that night, and went out to dinner at a bistro. They had a nice time, so when his friends wanted to go out drinking, he asked her to join them. The place they went to proved to be a “douchey bar.” Lily invited her friend, and they had a “meeting of the friends.” The situation would have seemed promising, except that Lily had revealed she had a serious boyfriend. But they were in a long-distance relationship! One never knows how such people will behave. Sometimes you ask them how their significant other is doing, and they’re like “I don’t know, I haven’t talked to him in three weeks.” In this case, Rufus and Lily spent some time “reminiscing,” and ended up making out in the bar. Her friend saw it happen and “freaked out.” Lily went home after that, but “it was awesome” nonetheless.
He wanted to see if more would happen, so he called her the next day. They had a brief phone chat, she said she “felt bad” about the making out, and when he invited her to hang out again, “she blew me off.”
Oh, no! But our hero didn’t let this temporary defeat bother him. It was Saturday night, he was feeling fit and confident, and he went out partying again, wearing the favorite blue shirt. He and his friend went out to what he calls a “cheesy-ass club” in Adams Morgan. (But what club? I used to live in that city, so if Rufus remembered specifics, I could make this story all detailed, like Ulysses, but he was maddeningly vague. Perhaps it was Madam’s Organ?)
At the club, it wasn’t long before a young lady grabbed him and pulled him out onto the dance floor. She was about 5’4″, with an average figure and curly brown hair. She was “cute.” I’ll call her Ramona. They started dancing and making out. She was also making out with her female friend at one point. Then he and she went out to smoke a cigarette, and she said “you should come back to my apartment and fuck me.” He assented to this.
She didn’t mean right away, though — she was just planning ahead. First, they went to another bar, where they hung out in a basement and played songs on a jukebox. (What the hell bar would this have even been? Does Adams Morgan have a basement bar? Did they take U Street to 14th and go to Saint Ex?) Rufus got talking to an Iraq war veteran who had been in Walter Reed hospital, and told him it wasn’t as bad as the media made it out to be. He had been suffering from depression since coming back from Iraq.
Then he (Rufus) and Ramona walked to her apartment to go do their thing. “I was really drunk.” They had to stop at a convenience store to get condoms. It was the kind of place where you have to pick out what you want from a selection behind the counter. The clerk was joking around with them about their condom needs. This sounded to me like an unprofessional thing to do, but Rufus says it was all in fun. He started the joking, being like “oh man, I am gonna fuck you all night long, this is gonna be crazy.” So he bought two 3-packs, just in case.
They went up to her apartment; there was a cat there, and it was hot and dirty, with stuff all over the place. “I didn’t care, I was gettin’ laid.” They had sex with “lots of positions,” and then they “woke up at six and did it again some more.” I would never have known, because he seems so mild-mannered. A gentleman in the streets, a freak in the sheets, that’s him.
Dis-entangling themselves in the morning wasn’t complicated. They woke up and got dressed, she walked him to the nearest subway station as her neighbors were walking back from church, and they said goodbye. This night of consequence-free sex was exactly what he was looking for, and even his therapist told him that “emotionally speaking, it was perfect.”
He never saw Ramona again. He did text her once, just for the hell of it, and she responded with “you should come back.” But he has a new girlfriend now. He met her a few months after the D.C. trip — and he was wearing the same shirt!