Once or twice a year, I let a man take me on a date. Something fancy that I picked and I take everything out on him. I show up petulant, murder in the eyes and crazy.
“I have to move.”
I pick at my asparagus.
He is of average build, intelligence and dress.
“My house is haunted.”
He kind of smirked a little and I watched him. I knew
I couldn’t chew and swallow the asparagus in a short enough amount of time that was acceptable on a date so I am suddenly unsure why I ordered it. I am unsure where to take the story but
“It’s the second haunted house I’ve ever lived in.”
I am wearing a low cut red dress and avoiding all eye contact. I am not wearing a wig.
“Why do you think it’s haunted?”
“How do I KNOW it’s haunted?”
I didn’t look at him to know that he was smiling.
“How do you know it’s haunted?”
“A little girl takes over my body at night and whispers secrets in a southern accent.”
I enjoyed recounting all the ways I had been discounted by men in front of them. There are people who pay hundreds of dollars to have mediums enter their house to release spirits. There are people who pay for tarot daily and I know because they pay me. There are people who pay for past life regression therapy in which a stranger tells you that you were once plated in gold before being slaughtered at the throne and then reblooming as a tamarisk in Egypt cut too soon. When you wanted legs, you had to start back over on a slow crawl through Earth as a dung beetle before you would learn to cross a bridge in combat boots. People pay for all of these preternatural things but you are here, ordering a ten course meal you can’t swallow just to be painted as both cross and deceptive for the evening. It is dangerous to believe everything you hear or think. I take a gulp of water. Mental note: this is my fourth glass of the evening and we are only on the fourth course.
“I have an anxiety disorder,” I tell him later.
He nods too expectantly so I throw out some others.
“I can’t have wine because I’m an alcoholic. I once drank so much I threw up on my coffee table and because I had no more liquor left in the house, I slurped it up with my tongue.”
We will not be going home together. He will not be seeing me naked.
“I once came to holding a knife over my wrist apparently about to text someone for help.”
That’s my favorite highlight in the reel. But there is more.
“I am guessing at a 95% accuracy rate.”
He has grown more tepid with time, a little more guarded but still inquisitive. We are eating sorbet now. I know that he will invite me home and I know I will suck his vape on the way towards the corner and part ways last minute. I know what he can’t verbalize.
“ I went to Busch Gardens and I guessed every single color correctly. On the sky tram, there are three different color trains in no particular sequence. Randomized. While Leana and I waited, I would guess which color we would get. I was right every single time.”
“That’s 100 percent,” my genius pointed out.
“Yes, but I am not right all the time and around other people I sometimes acquiesce away from my own favor. i do better alone or in teams in which we both believe strongly. Leana and I played games like that all the time as children and I usually guessed right but as I aged, doubt set in. Confusion,” I wave my hands towards the other patrons. “Like on St. Patricks day, my friend and I bought a lottery ticket and we had to guess the numbers…”
“Wait, you’re mad you didn’t win the lottery?” he interrupted, his mouth full of banana.
Disgusted, I still withdrew a snarl, “I’m not finished.”
Silence from both parties.
“St. Patricks day is considered a lucky day and we both felt lucky. We wanted to play the lottery. Thought it would be lucky. What is the luckiest number of all time?”
He paused, I raised an eyebrow, beckoning, showing there are no tricks.
“Is that what you picked?”
“Nope. Guess what I picked? The unluckiest number of all time.”
“Thirteen. We didn’t win. Superstition got the best of me.”
“It’s just numbers,” he shrugged.
“Numbers have meaning and my intuition told me today is my lucky day if
I pick the luckiest number of all time. Thoughts have meaning.”
“So why didn’t you pick seven?”
“Thirteen means a lot to me. I was confused. But anyway, it was the person I was with. We play the lottery together. We do other things too but sometimes I think something and say something else or start walking the wrong direction CONFIDENTLY she would say. And it’s not always like that but when it is, I don’t get it. It comes out around her more.”
“Like she put that thought in her head? That you will lose?”
“No, she told me I have a strong intuition, that in am one of the most self sufficient people she knows and that I should trust myself. More her power. I submit so I can be taken care of in a way. I don’t know. Sometimes I feel pressure to perform a psychic circus. With her, many strange things have happened but she believes in randomness and I believe in other things,” I wave my hands around, catch him peeking at my cleavage. “But something else.”
The waiter drops the check and I make no move.
“The other day I was walking down the street and saw a cricket running.”
He pulls out his card.
“Running, not hopping, which I haven’t seen often. I thought the threat of danger must be upon it to make it move so fast in that direction under the streetlights like that. Kind of out in the open.”
He is leaning forward. The date is over. He will invite me back to his place despite me giving no obvious clues that I want that and he will offer an alternative.
He will want to walk me home.
“So I avoid it, walk over it, thinking it to be a cockroach at first, and I have a good eye. I walk only a few steps further and see a fat ass caterpillar, plump, crossing the sidewalk. That cricket was running towards a mouth, not away from one. It was hungry.”
I am starving. He didn’t blink. I cocked my head slightly, waiting for his friendly incursion which he was sure to give. He blinked and waited.
“So you were…wrong?”
“I am only guessing at a 96% accuracy rate now.”
I held my hands out like the little “duh” emoji.
“I was wrong. I thought the cricket was running from something, not towards something.”
The waiter came back to drop the check for the last time.
“Believe it or not, I used to bat a solid 99 every time. It’s how I made Summa Cum Laude.”
He followed suit, sort of standing to sign for the tip as he could see I was about to dash.
“But you don’t know the cricket went after that caterpillar.”
“There is literally no other explanation for a cricket to leave the cover of leaves on a public sidewalk under that kind of light with those kind of footsteps unless it was after something or fleeing something. Insects are instinctual only. They would never put themselves in such a vulnerable position. That caterpillar was fat and close.
I would have eaten it too I would have definitely stayed on its trail. And why would I have noticed any of these bugs? Why then did I look down to see both in action at that moment?”
Even though I didn’t want to, I flashed a flirty smile. We began to walk. He had no rebuttal. I threw in my penchant for straight As to thwart him. The truth is I didn’t stick around to see the crickets next movement. Stalking prey can take hours and as whimsical as I can be, my knees are tired. I have let pragmatism envelop me in her warm, protective cape. He handed me his vape.
“So I live around here but no pressure, I know you said you were busy.”
“I am extremely busy and enjoy spending time alone,” I cut in.
“Well, and I know you’re self sufficient and can get…”
“I am completely capable of walking home alone.”
I took his vape again.
“There’s a park around here if you don’t want to go home yet.”
I blow a plume at his face.
“I am looking forward to my long solo walk home.”
I start batting with 97% accuracy.