Monday, November 1, 2010

In which Ted comes over for supper and tells me that he and I think exactly alike

I finished the birthday cake and called Ted to arrange the return of his cutting board and roasting pan. I asked if he was going to the wine tasting the next night -- he could come by before that. He was not. Disappointed, I said, "But I wanted you to help me with my attic. The cord has been snapped off and I'm not tall enough to reach the edge of the door."

"You're probably going to need a new cord put on," he sighed.

I stared to say, "Yeah, but I can do that," but then I caught myself. I have read Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus and now know the rule is that men like to rescue women. True, opening recalcitrant attic doors is not exactly slaying dragons, but it's better than nothing. By the time a woman is 37 years old, she had better have learned to take care of herself. But it doesn't hurt to play the game.

"Yes," I said, trying to be coy but probably failing miserably. Down to earth Texas girls don't do coy well. Helpless and clinging are even further away from my lexicon. I stuck with a simple "yes" and hoped that did the trick.

He came over that night and we cooked risotto. When I got out a chunk of parmesan to grate, I realized it wouldn't fit into the rotary grater my mom sent for my birthday. Ted looked at me and said, "You have to cut a chunk of it off."

I turned to him, surprised. "You don't know that's what I was thinking!" I said.

"Yes, I did," he assured me.

Later, I was refilling our water glasses. I didn't remember which is which. He looked at me, then said, "Mine is the one on the right."

"How on earth did you know what I was thinking?" I asked.

"All I have to do is look at your face and I know exactly what's in your mind. You and I think exactly alike," he answered.

It was one of the sexiest things anyone has ever said to me.

Weeks later, he told me, "I've never had that happen with anyone else in my life. It was eerie."

While we were cooking, I asked him about his job. How did he avoid being overwhelmed? He told me that he had had to learn to leave the pain with the patient. He washed his hands every time he finished a session. "I imagine myself washing everything away," he said.

"I had lunch with a customer today," I told him. "He is middle aged, divorced, new to the city. I tried to keep the conversation very businesslike, but he kept talking about his life. His loneliness was so strong. I had to fight it. I didn't want to hear it."

"Why not?" Ted asked.

I stirred the risotto and thought. "I don't have room for it," I said.

"Why not?" he asked.

I just shrugged. "Everyone has pain," I said. I hardly knew this guy. It was not appropriate to say, "Let me tell you about my father's excruciating eight-month battle with and subsequent death of cancer."

After we ate, he went to fix the attic. When he pulled the attic door open, he realized that the cord was not broken but that it was just pulled through to the other side. He drew it back down so I could reach it, then asked, "How do you want me to leave this?"

I answered flirtatiously, "That depends on whether you want to have to come over here every time I need to get into my attic."

He turned around, pulled the cord back through the door, then turned to me and smiled expectantly. I caught my breath and held it. I couldn't figure out what this guy wanted from me. He made me a cake and was flirting openly, yet had told me we couldn't date. I didn't know what was going on. Right then, we were in a perfect kiss moment, but he was not kissing me. I sighed and said, "Better leave it out so I can get to it when I'm alone."

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