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Hard Candle Shell

After realizing PR wasn’t the one for me, I was ready to move on. I liked him a lot, but I felt we’d be sacrificing ourselves to stay together, and that’s not fair to either of us.

I had been talking to a cutie with glasses on OKCupid for a little while before finally asking him for his number and ultimately to go out for a drink.

Wednesday night after work, we made plans to meet down near his neighborhood for some cocktails. I let him pick the place, and he told me where to meet him. When I arrived to the corner where he was, he immediately came off as shy. We shook hands and introduced ourselves, which always feels forced and awkward for me. I sometimes wonder if a hug may be more appropriate considering we’re about to embark on a date, but I never have the guts to go in for it from the start.

We walked towards the bar he had in mind while we struggled to make small talk. I asked him about his day and how work was. In turn he asked the same questions, and I detailed my boring day at the office.

Finally, we arrived at the establishment, The Dove Parlour and took our seats on two bar stools on the corner of the bar. We ordered our drinks and returned to our awkwardly forced conversation. Again, we returned to the topic of work. Every question I asked him was returned with a quick short response. It was like pulling teeth to keep the conversation going. There were long periods of silence I wasn’t sure how to deal with.

When we finished our second drink, the bartender approached and asked if we’d like another. This is where I failed miserably. This is why I’m too nice. I defaulted to him, expecting him to have felt as awkward as I did, but instead, he asked for another round. I was shocked. Did he think this date was going well? How could he?

I sat there and struggled to find a subject to continue to talk about over the next round of drinks. I was ready to leave, but I felt I’d be rude. I was in for another night of wasting my own time due to my lack of confidence to say, “I’m sorry, but I think I’m going to go.”

I ended up staying for two more rounds — Four in total. Things were slowly improving. As the drinks passed his lips more words finally came out the opposite direction. He was finally starting to hold a real conversation. The topics were nothing exciting, but at least it was bearable.

By the end of our fourth round, he wanted a kiss. He moved in to make a move, and I allowed it. It’d been a while since a man kissed me, but I wasn’t entirely weak in the knees from it. He really did have soft lips and was a good kisser, but that didn’t negate the fact that our date was not going well.

He beckoned me to change stools so we weren’t straddling the corner. He wanted me to be closer. At this point, he wanted a makeout session. I wasn’t having any of that. I don’t make out in bars (not unless I’m hammered and don’t know any better, and the last time I did that was with a woman).

I told him I thought it was bad manners to make out at the bar. I pointed out how it always turns into a spectacle, especially when it’s two men kissing each other. He pointed out the lack of people in the bar and asked if I wasn’t comfortable with my sexuality in public. I pointed out if he was a woman, I’d feel the same way. There’s never a need to make out at the bar. Take it outside. This was going to be a point we differed on, because he did not stop attempting to convince me to lock lips. This is when I basically told him to back off. It wasn’t going to happen.

When we were ready to leave, he decided to walk me to the PATH — The complete opposite direction of his apartment. He was going to take a cab home and mentioned something about his supervisor paying for it.

When we got to the PATH station, he took the opportunity to pin me against the fence so he could have his makeout session. Again, I’m too nice and too accommodating, but at least he was a good kisser. It was an amazing change of pace from the night before, in which my “date” tried to eat my face.

Finally, I pulled back and said goodbye. He mentioned his desire to meet again in the near future, and I left that door open for possibility (seeing the too nice trend beginning here). When I got to the other side of the Hudson, I had a text waiting for me: “In spite of being terrified, I had a really good time! Hope to see you soon!” I simply responded, “Terrified?” “Oh, I have panic attacks before dates,” he added.

I didn’t respond, but in the morning, I had another text waiting for me: “Those French Lavenders (the drinks he was having) pack a punch. Sorry :/” I simply put his mind at ease and said, “No worries.” That would be the last I would hear from him. I was happy to skip all the awkward texts and requests. He simply took the hint I wasn’t interested and moved on…

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Chauffeur

Waking up with the feeling of dread is never a good thing. Upon opening my eyes, I immediately knew something was wrong. It all came crashing back. I remember the conversation I had with Smiles the night before in my bed. It didn’t go as well as I would have liked it.

I needed to reassess the situation and make a decision before proceeding. One thing was for sure; I was going to proceed with caution. No longer was I going to invest so much of myself into a one-sided relationship. Smiles was still interested, and I had optimism the relationship could still progress towards something good. However, I could no longer devote so much of myself to someone who wasn’t doing the same for me.

I had that day off, but I had to wake very early. I needed to get my friend’s car keys before he went to work so I could take Smiles to the airport. When I volunteered to take the day off from work, I thought it would be a perfect way to see him off. I wanted to be both helpful and selfish. I wasn’t going to get to see him for a week, let alone on Christmas. The next best thing I could get was sending him off at the airport.

I climbed out of bed, put on clothes and rode my motorcycle over to my friend’s place. I swapped the bike for his car and drove back to my apartment. When I got back to my room, there were a few minutes left before Smiles was supposed to wake to get ready for his flight. I undressed and climbed back into bed.

Since we went to see the stage-show the night before, and he was working through the day before, he wasn’t able to pack yet. When my alarm went off, we woke and got ready to make our way into the city so he could pack.

I drove him through the Holland Tunnel and stopped in front of his apartment. There were no legal spots available, so I had to sit in the car while he got ready. When he got out of the car, Smiles checked out another street and texted me from his apartment: “If you wait another five minutes, you can park on the other street at the meters.” It was nice of him to check that out so I wouldn’t have to sit in the car alone the whole time.

I joined him upstairs and tried my best to assist. When he was ready, we got back into the car and set off for the airport.

My question from the night before was still in the back of my head. The car ride was rather quiet. It was as if we were both searching for something to talk about. I had yet another question burning a hole in the back of my mind. I had no New Year’s Eve plans, and all my friends did. I didn’t want to spend it alone, but Smiles hadn’t mentioned it to me. I had no idea what his plans were, but I wanted to spend it with him. The conversation from the night before didn’t change that. I was about to ask him if we could spend it together, but as we neared the airport, things got hectic because he wasn’t sure which terminal he was flying out of. That question would have to wait until later.

Once we had that settled, I found a space at curbside and helped him unload. We exchanged a very quick hug and kiss as he set off for home for the holidays. It was very unceremonious. I don’t know if he was self-conscious because we were in public or if it was because he still felt awkward, but I was very disappointed. That was not the way I wanted to be kissed by the man I was dating but not seeing on Christmas. That was not a proper goodbye.

As he walked away, he turned back and said, “I’ll call you later tonight.”

Since I had my friend’s car and the rest of the day off, I decided to run an errand I’d been neglecting. I took a route home that allowed me to stop by Michael’s to pick up a large panoramic photo I had framed. All that alone time is NOT good for me. It’s a sure to produce over-thinking and slight depression. I really didn’t know how to proceed. There was a fork in the road, and I wasn’t sure which road to take.

I decided to make a stronger effort to engulf myself with my friends. I wasn’t going to give so much of myself to Smiles, and in turn, I would fill that void with friendship. After I ran my errand, I went home and watched TV on the couch. I needed to distract myself with some form of entertainment, but it wasn’t working. I was still thinking about what I was going to do. I hopped on Facebook while watching TV and got a message from N: “I miss you buddy.” I hadn’t hung out with him since we broke up with the exception of my holiday party. Maybe it was time to give friendship with him another chance. I hit him up to see what he was up to. He was going out that night and told me he would keep me in the loop regarding his plans so we could hang out.

I know Smiles was settling in the with family, and I wouldn’t expect him to call. But, it would be nice if he called, even if just to let me know he landed safely. That night, I never heard from Smiles…

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