It wasn’t the most romantic proposal, but I was down.
I probably should have worried about it. In fact, I definitely should have worried about it, since the single tryst in the bush in the alleyway of a café resulted in your older brother. Life Lesson #3: Always use protection, Janelle. Always. I’m lucky I didn’t end up with an STD.
Damn, it was good, though.
What did that mean?
It took the moment down from 100% fun to 100% concern. Not about that I was being called easy. I’m not in any way ashamed of the fact that I liked to have sex, that I wanted to have sex. Even before my first time, it was always something I wanted. Like I said, Janelle, sex was fun. I had always known that—my mothers made that very clear. I wanted what they had—the fun.
But why was he saying that I couldn’t afford not to be?
I tried to brush it off.
There. Problem solved. The sex had been fun, it would stay fun, and we’d go inside and flirt more, and that would be fun, and it would all be fine and dandy.
It was not all fine and dandy.
I didn’t understand it. Certainly, he didn’t owe me anything. We’d had sex once, after all, I didn’t expect flowers or a phone call or commitment. But I at least figured that, on the date that he asked me on, he would be flirting with me over some other random girl.
I looked at Max beseechingly, figuring that he would correct her mistake. He said nothing.
She hadn’t even turned to look at me as she said it. Like I wasn’t worth her time. Like I wasn’t worth the energy. Like I was something less than human.
Because I was what… A little heavy?
I had never bothered myself much about my weight. I mean, sure, my parents had always been sure to stay slim. And they never seemed to serve much besides salad (and, occasionally, ice cream, which mommy loved in her last years). But when I had matured into a curvy, voluptuous teenager and, now, adult, they hadn’t commented on it. And it hadn’t bothered me a bit. Why should it? Maybe I ate a few more calories than I should but… I was healthy! I could do what I wanted to do! I could walk upstairs without panting, I could dance my heart out at the club. What law was there that I should be slim at the same time?
I guess the boycott that my mother always had on TV affected me a bit… I never had the opportunity, as a child and teen, to realize what the “ideal” body was. Apparently, it was something I was meant to aspire to. I hadn’t known it. I was too busy with other pursuits and, later, keeping myself alive. Who had time to stay in perfect shape??
My weight had never bothered me before.
It bothered me now.
Suddenly, sitting there in that café, I was excruciatingly conscious of the sides of myself that didn’t quite fit on that narrow barstool. I was conscious of the shirt I was wearing, that had rolled up in between my belly and my boobs. I was conscious of the sweat in the crevice between my stomach and my hips. I was conscious of my thighs, pressing together and ever so exposed in my shorts.
Suddenly, sitting there in that café, I was excruciatingly self-conscious.
Is what Max had meant? That I had to be easy? That I was too fat for anyone to want more out of?
I smiled the pain away, before he saw how much the words of Lisa had affected me.
Surprisingly, the tactic worked. Not only did he leave without being concerned for my emotional wellbeing (though he probably would have left anyway), but it almost made the pain go away.
After all, it was just the words of one person. Why should I care what she thinks? There were plenty of other people who didn’t think less of me just because I was a little heavier than most.
I waited by the bar, finishing the croissant (though it now tasted decidedly less delicious). I figured that, in a popular place like this, at this time of day, there would certainly be people to talk to that wouldn’t be so judgmental.
This was going better than I expected! See, I knew that there were people that—
He handed me a business card, saying, “Give it a thought.”
The fun that Max and I had had earlier in the day seemed ever so distant, like a lifetime ago. It was so far out of my mind, I hardly remembered that it had happened (and that there might be consequences). I did not think about the sex with Max for a long while.
Instead, I was only (and painfully) aware of my thighs rubbing together as I walked out the door.