Ben stared at Sara from across the table. It had been several dates now, and as he watched her daintily stab at her penne rustica, he realized that this was not just another in a long line of short term flings; this one meant something. The realization caused the contents of his stomach to shift and jumble involuntarily, because he knew that meant having the conversation that defines the status of a new relationship. He took a deep breath and began.
"Sara?" he said softly over the hum of jazz standards and polite conversation that populated the restaurant.
I feel like it's time for you to learn my sexual inadequacies and insecurities so you have something to tell your friends about while you cry over chardonnay. "Mm?" she said, plowing her way through another garlic knot. It was disgustingly adorable.
"I was thinking," he began, pausing often, realizing that even the slightest bit of preparation would have done him well. There was no way out of it now. "I was thinking, that, I mean, I'm not dating anyone else, and I don't think you're dating anyone else…"
She stopped mid-chew. That had gotten her attention. Ben studied her face in the brief pause. Was she smiling? Frowning? No, that look was as neutral as any he'd ever seen, which somehow seemed worse than a frown. He thrived on feedback, and she was giving him nothing. He continued.
"Yeah, so, I just thought, I mean…do you maybe want to hate each other in a few months? Or, if we're lucky, a few years?"
He exhaled. It was done. Out there. Hanging in the air, waiting for a response. A response that seemed to take hours. His heart raced.
"Oh my God, Ben," she began.
Shit. "Abort! Abort!" Ben thought.
"That is literally the sweetest thing anyone has ever asked me! Of course! Of course I'll hate you in an undetermined but ultimately inevitable amount of time!"
Ben practically exploded with joy. The nervousness he felt turned to elation in an instant, and he was flooded with a sense of confidence and purpose.
"I'm so glad to hear you say that!" he said. "I was just sitting here, looking at you, and I mean…this restaurant and the mood and everything just seemed so right, and I thought to myself, ‘God, I can't wait to never be able to set foot in this place again!'"
Ben watched as Sara's eyes danced back and forth between his. He could feel her melting and he swelled with pride.
"Sara, I didn't know you were going to say yes, but just in case, I got you this card. It's just, you know, a thank you…for everything."
"Awww, Jesus, Ben, just when I thought you couldn't be any more sweet!" She greedily lifted the envelope flap, tore out the card and studied every word carefully. When she was finished, she lifted her gaze back to meet Ben's. He noticed a single tear forming. "You have such a way with words. I can't wait to keep this card long after we've resolved never to speak again, and long after my therapist has repeatedly told me that the best way to move on is to destroy everything that reminds me of you!"
He couldn't believe how well this was going. He felt an intense connection between them, and he knew that, despite only going on a few brief dates, that his hunch had been right. The physical and emotional chemistry he felt with Sara was palpable.
"I meant every word," he said. "And I thought, things being what they are, that tonight could be, I don't know…the night?"
He was really swinging for the fences.
"Oh," she said softly. "I don't know…"
"I'm blowing it," he thought, and contemplated backpedalling. She continued.
"I mean it is a pretty special night…" she said coyly. He was almost there.
"Look, I just feel like it's time for you to learn my sexual inadequacies and insecurities so you have something to tell your friends about while you cry over chardonnay and they tell you that no man worth being with calls out his own name when he reaches orgasm."
She flushed red. "That actually sounds really nice. And someday soon I'll wish we'd waited a little longer, and I'll wonder how dumb I could be to think this one would be different, and…oh! Break-up sex! We'll have pointless, meaningless break-up sex in a failed attempt to re-start the relationship!"
Score. He was turned on. He could tell she was turned on. He began to talk in low, hushed, forceful whispers.
"How do you feel about talking dirty?" he said, slyly.
"I mean, I've never done it before, but I'm up for anything. What am I supposed to say?"
His confidence temporarily vanished. It was one thing to blurt something out in the heat of the moment, but pre-empting dirty talk left open the possibility that she'd be offended or disgusted.
"I…I'm embarrassed," he said, abruptly.
"Don't be!" she giggled. "Seriously. Let me have it."
He took a deep breath. "Ok. I want you to say… ‘Why won't you give me your passcode? It's not like I'm going to read anything. What don't you want me to see?'"
"Ooh, I could definitely be into that," she said, taking on a sultry demeanor. He could tell it was a front, and it made it all the more appealing. "How about…'How come I'm not in your profile photo? Do you not want people to know we're together? How come you never do anything romantic anymore?'"
"God, she's good at this," he thought.
"Yep, yep," he said quickly. "That's exactly what does it for me."
"Grrr," she growled, flustered, "I can't wait for my parents to tell me they never liked you!"
"And for mine to say I was a completely different person around you!"
Her face was suddenly sincere. She smiled one of the most genuinely contented smiles Ben had ever seen. "You are seriously one of the nicest guys I've ever met. Even in our brief time together, I've never felt this way about anyone."
Ben swooned. The night had exceeded even his lofty expectations. She continued.
"You're the type of person I could…"
"Have a long, drawn out and ugly custody battle with?"
"Yes!" she exclaimed, "Imagine it…we could be a family for a little while!"