I am competitive by nature.
Probably absurdly so.
But it is a part of who I am so I have come to live with it.
The thing is, I just hate to lose. We’ve covered that, haven’t we? Granted, I don’t actually know anyone who LIKES to lose, and I am certainly not saying I'm an ungraceful loser. I’m far too prideful to not lose gracefully. But certainly I don’t like it.
And that’s why, when standing face to face one of my failures, I tend to lose my footing just a little bit.
After spending the majority of the afternoon with my girl celebrating her birthday, drinking as many drinks as Saturday’s hangover would allow, we decided to grab some food and then head to our respective homes. (Well I went home. She mighta went to get a birthday present, knowwhatI’msayin’knowwhatImean?)
A few blocks from the house it occurred to me that the poor puppy needed dog food in the worst possible way, so I detoured to the 24 hour grocery store not too far from my house. Briefly, despite my 4 inch platforms and it being considerably after midnight, I contemplated doing all the grocery shopping I’d been too busy (read: drunk) to do over the weekend. I love grocery shopping in the middle of the night, especially on a Sunday. There are no crowds, the food is fresh and newly on the shelves, and did I mention it’s not crowded? I figured I would get a jump start on my week and have at it.
I even grabbed a shopping cart.
And ran it right into Peter Parker.
My mind barely registers that it’s him before he his filling my senses; I smell his John Varvatos right in the middle of feeling like I am falling into his blue eyes, but right before my skin warms at his smile. His smile is so wide, so sincere, it looks like outstretched arms. I feel almost hypnotized by his deep dimple, caved in like scooped ice cream. He’s wearing the blue Express shirt we picked out together to interview for an administrator position. He smells like the memory of standing in Nordstrom with him, my face burrowed deep in the seam of his neck, inhaling him, and telling him without a trace of irony, “You smell like everything good in the world.”
Without any assistance or guidance from me, my own lips have turned up at the corner, retreating from each other over my teeth, my cheeks hurting from the effort.
“Hey you,” he says to me, his eyes on mine, his voice all dim lighting and intimacy as though we were on his deck under the moon and not standing in the land of muzak and fluorescent bulbs. I am scrambling for something witty and impossibly cute to say, having rehearsed for this moment in my head more times than I have practiced my Oscar speech. But I am without an ounce of grace at this moment.
And just when I think I am about to regain my charming footing, I see her. Standing quietly to the side of him, not inserting herself into our orbit, but most certainly asserting her permission to be present. I’d be lying if I said her sense of entitlement wasn’t in the least bit infuriating. She’s watching us, taking in all the thousands of silent words we’ve said in these ten seconds, like some cute little animal, a bunny maybe, curious as to what’s going on but cautious to investigate any closer.
Finally, I actually SEE her. And I mean take her in. This bitch is no bunny. This bitch is flawless. Impeccable. If there were a cheat sheet for plastic surgeons on how to build the perfect face, it would be a picture of her. She’s not merely cute.
She’s fucking beautiful.
And holding a box of condoms.
Great. She is also a whore. Who can compete with a beautiful whore?!
This is no ordinary box of condoms. Oh no, this is a black and gold festooned testament to the fact that size does matter and lubricant is vital. And it’s a 12 pack.
Fuck my life.
The next few minutes are a blur of handshakes and introductions, forced smiles and corporate laughs, none of which I am exceptionally privy to because it feels far away. Muffled. Like if I blink hard enough, this will all go away.
No such luck.
There is that moment then, that quiet moment that lingers a bit longer than it should before it errs over to the side of uncomfortable, when he is looking at me, and I am watching him look at me, and wishing I had at least gone for a run today and wasn’t coming off of auditioning for the sequel to The Hangover. He starts to say something, I watch his full lips part to give life to something that he probably shouldn’t say here, next to wine and cheese and in front of this beautiful woman I turned him over to because I was not ready to have him. He thinks better of it, closing his lips firmly, his square jaw flexing under the weight of clenched teeth.
If this were a movie, this would be the part where all the machines start sputtering and steaming, red lights glaring and sirens blaring, and all signs would point to get the hell outta there!
I make my exit, and not gracefully, muttering something about the dog having diarrhea and escaping to the animal products aisle.
Did I just say the word ‘diarrhea’ in front of the world’s most beautiful, impeccably dressed and perfectly coifed woman who’s about to go home a steamroll through a 12 pack of condoms, on the Lord’s day no less?
I idle there, sitting on a stack of boxed canned food until I think they are done buying their entertainment for the evening. After peaking out from the aisle and realizing the coast is clear, I haul ass through self checkout and to my car. It’s only there that I exhale.
And by exhale of course, I mean sigh.
I know. I know the reasons. I know I did the right thing. For us both. I know I forfeited the game, showing up to the arena, but refusing to suit up.
I know this.
But I do so hate to lose.