“The definition of insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.” –Albert Einstein, as frequently reiterated in the 12-step rooms.
Bend is too hot for me, and we both know it. He makes appearances in my hot yoga classes, the sweat rolling along his caramel-colored infrastructure while all the girls in Lululemon watch him execute a perfect scorpion-handstand. He pretends not to notice us staring. His hotness defies gravity.
In October, before the shit with Sketch had a chance to bury the fan, back when he was just eyeballing the exits, I had secretly snapped a picture of Bend as he reclined in supta baddha konasana to show a friend of mine, but the crush was more akin to bird-watching than hunting. I had talked to him before, always in weird, Mobius strip conversations, revolving unsexily around yoga-related injuries. I was too nervous to try out any new material, and I consistently limped away hating my own guts, dripping from class and magenta with embarrassment. One day I finally just scribble my phone number on the back of an inversion workshop flyer to break the monotony. I tell him to let me know if he was teaching, or if he wants to hang out.
It is March, the break-up with Sketch still so fresh that I keep realizing I am holding my breath. Texts from Bend are a welcome distraction, and I sweat each one like a dissertation. There are air punches as he upgrades my suggestion of juice after class to dinner on a Friday night. His treat. I enlist friends in obsessing about the underlying meaning of each emoticon, and throw a mention of my date into every single conversation I have for the next week, including the girl behind the counter at the juice place who now thinks I’m weird.
We plan to meet for Ethiopian food in now-trendy South Harlem, a venue I choose for its proximity to Bend’s apartment. A freak tropical storm makes a mockery of the meticulous care I have taken with my clothing, my carefully organized hair dripping and snared in my umbrella before I reach the end of the block. Since I know this man from practicing vinyasa in a room heated to holy-shit temperatures, he’s accustomed to seeing me with wet hair and eyeliner on my neck. “You’ve only ever seen me sodden!” I joke when I squish into the restaurant, where he presides over a corner table, dry and immaculate. I wonder if this will happen every time we meet; we will be walking down the aisle at our wedding and someone will be waiting with a bucket.
The conversation is interesting, the food is delicious, and things seem to be going well. Then an elderly white lady dodders up to our table on her ancient pins and whispers in my ear, “I just needed to tell you, your boyfriend is beautiful.” I smile and thank her, and tell Bend what she had said after she walked away.
He laughs. “It’s funny how WRONG people can get it, looking at a situation from the outside,” he chuckles, continuing to look charming and handsome as fuck.
“Yeeeah…” I allow. “Hilarious!”
There is a certain kind of woman who knows when to quit, when to simply surrender to the inevitable. And I am not that kind of woman.
“Hey, let’s get out of here,” I suggest, while Bend is still chuckling at the idiocy of a stranger who thought he was dating me. I try to bump his foot under the table with my stiletto, and made an amorous connection with a table leg, my handbag, a stranger’s sandal. I literally can’t make the connection.
He pays the check, and we walk out under an apocalyptic sky. Even the man’s umbrella is sexy and expensive, unfurling like a Fred Astaire prop. Leaving aside my own wonky zebra-striped number, I get under his, and this is his cue to put a hand on the small of my back or offer me his arm. Or perhaps tap dance. But he does none of these things, and I get soggy on one side, drenched on the other. I tell him I’d love a cup of tea, hoping he will bring me back to his house, and maybe offer me a bathrobe.
Instead, he takes me to a Starbucks, and then sends me squishing home on the subway, admonishing me to call him when I got in so he would know I had arrived safely. I send him a text like those obligatory thank-you notes my mother used to make me write: Thank-you-very-much-I-had-a-nice-time.
I lay down on the floor for a while, and wait for things to get better.