I was warned about Hotman by my friend before we met: “Carmen you’ll looove him, he’s hot and charming, and you can fuck him, or be friends with him, but he’s nooot a viable dating option. Just remember that.” I Googled him and he was indeed a tall, chiseled-jaw model that I’d never go for anyway. I think I’m attractive enough to date hot people but in my limited experience, hot people who make a career of being hot have an extra layer of self-conscious fragility that can interfere with their personhood. As I was getting ready to go out that night, I observed myself feeling self-conscious about how I looked. Judging oneself like that is akin to picking up a big, heavy lens and putting it over your own eyes. I hadn’t picked up that lens since I used to go out to bars. These days, where my own being and body is concerned, I’m a perfect 10, an expression of nature, a child of God.
Even so, with all my self-love intact, I showed up at the restaurant ready to be a little extra.
Not only is Hotman tall and handsome, he also has a deep, booming, buttery voice and a style that not many straight men would try to pull off. Three of us at the table work in the same office so the conversation is dominated by work stuff, but he engages where he can, orders us our shared plates of food, chooses the wine which the three of them are drinking fast. An Instagram-famous woman who knows Hotman comes to our table and sits down. I squeeze in a little closer to him and he responds in kind – his warm body language is very familiar. Now it’s the point in the night when the drunk people are getting loud and yelling over each other and I start wondering how much longer I’ll last when Instagram-famous lady asks Hotman who I am. “She’s my future wife,” he says, putting his arm around me and squeezing tight. I’m amused because this is the kind of thing I usually say. Hotman is using all my moves.
We move onto another bar. I’ve hit my second sober wind and tell Hotman my stories. These are the kind of moments when I feel most self-assured, in any situation really, because I’ve done a number of interesting and impressive things including write a book and he also seems to be well-traveled and well-read. I sort of half grimace and shrug when I mention I’m divorced, but he responds with, “No, you know, you took a risk, you went all in. I admire that. Nothing is guaranteed, but you took a chance. I’m bad at that.” The drunkies finish their final sips and we head out. My friend runs across the street to get into her cab and Hotman and I are nuzzling a bit, taking our time. I take out my phone to call an Uber when he offers to take me home in his. I’m wearing these insane green suede Lanvin stilettos and my feet are yelling at me so I appreciate his gentlemanly gesture.
Hotman gives me a drunk, sloppy kiss as I get out of the car and we promise to hang soon.
The next morning I’m half buzzed from the fun of the evening, but I’m also mildly annoyed: It’s been explicitly communicated that he’s only interested in having fun which has unintentionally set me up to want to conquer him. My unavailable man spidey sense is tingling and I deeply resent it. But I do hear from him and get an invitation to his place on Sunday evening. Thankfully between my Saturday morning resentment and our Sunday evening date, I’ve managed to turn my annoyance and his unavailability into the possibility that we might just be friends. I basically turn my desire off. Or I try to anyway. On the way there, I look up into the window of a senior’s centre and face the reality that one day I might be housed in a place like that but decide that I’ll be satisfied because I tried everything and went everywhere and looked beautiful while doing it. I will be full of grace because I loved my life and filled it with beauty.
He’s dressed down in quality linen and making chicken with hot sauce on the BBQ. As he busily grills the chicken and steams some yellow beans, I have time to look at his form. He’s very manly in a Javier Bardem kind of way; thick; a body that makes you want its protection. It dawns on me that being a big man looks kind of heavy, like wearing a giant suit you have to carry around all day. I wonder: who protects and comforts men like him? I can tell that he’s been around a lot of people with big personalities because he’s not acting surprised at how forward I am – this is especially apparent when he says he’s always wanted to eat on his roof but there’s no table. I immediately volunteer to scope it out and climb the ladder. He tells me to wait there and re-emerges from the apartment with the food laid out on plates on a big tray. What happens next is perhaps the most impressive and romantic moment I’ve ever experienced on a date. With one hand on the ladder rungs, the other carrying the huge tray, he maneuvers upward, narrowly passing it through a circular railing to me where I lay on the pebbly rooftop ready to receive. He moves with the grace of a real superhero.
Under an iridescent dome of psychedelic sky, sitting knee-to-knee (mine a little bloody from the pebbles), our fingers sticky with chicken, we talk and laugh, both of us our handsomest selves. Later we walk to a nearby fountain with bowls of ice cream and cuddle on a bench. We learn our astrological signs (both Aquarians) and I read him a story I’d recently written. He explains semiotics, tells me about his father. There’s a tiny bit of warm rain falling and we kiss long, enthusiastic kisses as tiny drops wet our noses. I ride home on a Bixi in the rain and ruin my pale blue dress but I don’t care because I’m so happy, so so happy. Impossibly so.