You, Me, and a Bit of Bubble Wrap

So what that he stood about half a foot shorter – he carried himself with such confidence, I couldn’t help but be charmed. Plus, you know I’ve always had a thing for musicians. It was about a year after the end of what had been my only true love affair, and my heart was still out of commission. But that didn’t mean I wasn’t in need of physical comfort, and even mismatched physicality is better than nothing at all. Or so I thought.

He was a great singer, and his charisma made him an excellent front man for his 70’s sci-fi themed rock band. On stage, he looked so capable and cool in leopard skin pants and platform boots, thoughtfully manipulating his electric guitar. I imagined this was the way Sonny looked to Cher, just with more exciting musical stylings. We met through friends, and shyly circled each other in public, sharing a noncommittal laugh here and there. There was minimal chemistry, so months went by with nothing.

It was the 4th of July. I spent the day on a friend of a friend’s couch, getting stoned and watching a Led Zeppelin concert video on repeat, probably ruminating on why my boyfriend had dumped me (that’s all I did for a few years, so it’s a safe assumption). By the end of the day, I needed a fix. I needed to feel loved. It’s funny how from a certain angle, one person’s rejection can look like the end of all possible connection from that point forward. I just hadn’t figured out how to change my vantage point yet.

I took a brief accounting of my man situation, realized I had no options, and got a girlfriend to drive me over to the short musician’s house. We were supposed to have a beer, but then one thing led to another and we were soon having lackluster sex. My friend later mocked me for sounding so disinterested – she’d overheard my bored moans. But I wrote it off. My mind was in another place. I needed comfort, and this was all I could come up with.

A week later, he invited me over again, sans friend. The pretense was that we were going to hang out and drink, maybe watch a movie, but we both knew why I was catching a cab to his place. I let my hopes buoy the rest of me for a moment, too. Maybe this was the start of something good. Surely it was time to be moving on with my life. He was a fan of Boo Berry cereal – how bad could he be?

Once I got to his house, we hung out for awhile, listening to music and drinking beers. We talked about his favorites – Frank Zappa and Steely Dan. We discussed Star Wars, and how difficult it was for a guy to find leopard skin pants. He told me he was thinking of moving on to something a bit more mainstream, like gold spandex. I can’t recall saying anything clever; I was only there to feel like a viable human again. I needed to top up with something approaching affection. It wasn’t long before the conversation devolved into slightly-less-than-heavy petting. It was all going according to plan.

But then out came the bubble wrap, and there went my night.

It was that jumbo type of bubble wrap, where the squishy plastic bubbles are about a half an inch thick, and almost as wide. He had it in a box under the bed; as we kissed, he’d had one hand fishing around past the dust ruffle, and now he held a large swath of plastic triumphantly. There was a new light in his eye. I didn’t like it one bit. We should use it, he told me, hold it between us and try to pop the bubbles mid-coitus.

A few years ago, someone told me that my poker face is shite. Apparently my eyes speak volumes, even when I’m desperately trying to maintain a cool facade. I wonder what the musician saw. My initial reaction was a deep, soul-shaking hysteria. I wanted desperately to point and laugh. But as new as I was to the game in those days, I still understood how cruel such a course might have been. So I remained calm, told him no thanks, and left it at that, anticipating that we’d go back to making out, and the sex might be slightly more than lackluster – maybe even somewhat satisfying.

Instead, my rejection touched off a chain reaction. He heard the laughter in my voice, no matter how I’d tried to hide it, and immediately dialed for a cab to take me home. It was the first and last time a man kicked me out of his bed. We never spoke again.

I can’t say I miss him, but I do miss those leopard skin pants.

 

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