I pucker my lips into a duck face. My face looks better like this. My cheekbones are more prominent this way.
I’m in front of my bathroom mirror, shirtless and doused with hairspray. My hair is slicked back in a not-slicked-back way. It’s supposed to be a pompadour, but “pompadour” sounds like I know what I’m doing. I don’t.
My laptop patronizes me from my nightstand with the My Best Friend’s Wedding soundtrack: “Just wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’, plannin’ and dreamin’ / His kiss is the start that won’t get you into his heart…”
I’m 27 but act like a teenage boy. I spend too much time in front of the mirror, double and triple checking my hair, combing it back and to the side again and again, looking at it from every angle, all to impress a guy on a date.
When I deem my hair acceptable, I spend another ten minutes on it. And then it’s okay.
I’ll probably tweak it more later.
I spray on some cologne—YSL, three squirts—and flex in the mirror. I spent an inordinate amount of time at the gym today and my “muscles” are swollen. I’d like them to stay like this. I want my date to see me this way, before the swelling goes down and I’m small again. Should I take a picture and send it to him? I could take one right here in the bathroom and naughtily caption it with, “Can’t wait to see you!” And then I can follow up with: “Also, marry me. Marry me while my muscles are swollen and my hair is fixed. No, really. Marry me. I need a man dammit!”
I walk out of my bathroom and into my bedroom. I did a dress rehearsal earlier in the day: ten outfits tested in front of my bedroom mirror, none successful, and now I have clean shirts and pants strewn all over the floor.
The Ronettes start playing from my laptop. “Be My Baby.” The song makes me want to live in a gay-friendly version of 1963.
I walk into my closet and kneel down to rummage through clean laundry on the floor. I study every non-wrinkled article of clothing for several seconds, mentally pairing it with other clothes I have, then tossing it on the floor outside my closet. This activity is both consuming and stressful, but exciting nonetheless.
A text message interrupts me.
I walk—no, skip—into my bedroom just as the Ronettes hit the chorus, I snatch my phone off my nightstand and jump onto my bed, mouthing the words to the song, dancing while I open my text messages. The bed is my stage, and there is love on the dance floor. The boy is cute, and I do want him to be my baby. I do!
Okay, I met him at a bar and we’ve spent a grand total of 30 minutes together. But still.
“Almost there!” reads the text.
Wait. Almost there? No. No. No. I’m no where close to being ready.
The Ronettes stop playing (how long was I looking at clothes?) and my excitement turns into stress.
I drop my phone onto my bed, run to my closet, and start filing through shirts on hangers. How far away is “almost there?” I mean, I don’t know him. I don’t know his idea of “almost there.” “Almost there” could mean that he’s five minutes away or ten or maybe he’s just around the corner or maybe fifteen or…
My phone starts ringing. I poke my head out of the closet and look at my phone on my comforter. His name is on the screen. Seriously?
I hurry to my bed. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” starts playing from my computer. Loudly.
I unlock my phone while fumbling for the volume controls on my laptop. I stump my toe on one of the legs of my bed.
“Hi. Hello? Hi,” I say, hopping on one foot, phone in the crook of my neck, reaching for my computer.
“Justin?” he says just as Frankie Valli blares the line, “You’re just too good to be true.” My date’s going to think I’m psycho.
I mute the music and fall back onto my bed, pressing my stumped toe between my thumb and index finger. I squint my eyes to gut out the pain. Shit like this always happens to me. Do I live in a fucking romantic comedy?
“Hi, yes. Hi. I’m here,” I stutter. I’m so awkward.
“You sound like you’re out of breath. You okay? I’m pulling up now.”
Pulling up now? RIGHT NOW?!
My heart’s racing. I’m out of breath. I’m sweating. My hair is messed up. I have nothing to wear. My meticulously-made bed is now a mess. There’s a wet towel on my bathroom floor, hairspray and toothpaste on my bathroom sink, and clean clothes all over my bedroom. I also randomly realize that my kitchen sink is full of dirty dishes.
“Great! Just buzz my number at the door and come on in,” I say happily, totally nonchalant.
“Awesome. See ya soon, sexy!” he says and hangs up.
I drop my phone on my chest, let go of my toe, look up at my ceiling, and pucker my lips into a duck face.