"Okay, I'll tell you this. It's not advice, it's a thought... one that came to me recently, although I think it also came to me thirty years ago, but I ignored it then." He paused as if second-guessing his impulse to say anything at all. "Falling in love with someone's potential is usually a bad idea." With that, he kissed me on the cheek and headed for his car.
"Wait, wait," I said. "That's it?"
"That's it," he said. "What do you expect? You're smart, you're pretty, you're funny, but I'm not getting any pussy out of it."
"Now that's a good exit line."
I guess the ideal is a man to whom you can surrender who also happens to be a Mr. Maybe. Not easy when you're attracted to bad boys. The authentic ones. The ones who work hard and play hard. The ones whose spirits demand diversity. The ones who seek truth and embrace ambiguity. The ones who don't pretend life isn't messy but who also believe in surprises. The ones who fuck you in such a way that it transforms your life.
I did worry a little though. After it was all over, when we were lying on the bed drenched in sweat, I had to ask, or explain, or disclaim.
"Was I hideous? I'm worried that I was too aggressive about wanting to surrender."
"You were flawless," he said.
And even though I wasn't, and never will be, his saying so made it a permanently flawless moment.
"At the risk of asking every cliché question in the book, are you in love?"
He waited a moment before answering. "When I was growing up there was a girl in my high school I always wanted to go out with. The night before she left for college, three thousand miles away, we had a date. The date turned out to be a disaster, but this is what I'll always remember. I'll always remember how excited I was as I walked out the door and got into my car. I'll never forget how great it felt driving to her house to pick her up."
I knew exactly what Jake was talking about. Mimi would have looked at him like he was crazy, but I got it thanks to Norman Mailer. "The Deer Park," I said.
"What?" Jake seemed bewildered.
"Did you ever read it?"
"Yes, for a lot of reasons, but mostly because of this line: 'The only faithfulness people have is towards emotions they're trying to recreate.' "