I'd practically purged Pat from all recollection until I recently spotted her in a store lineup. I steel myself. Don't space-trip down memory lane - just play the "I don't see you, you don't recognize me" game.
She lets the people behind her go ahead and greets me like a long-lost lover - arms draped around my neck, holding tight. I draw heavily from my civility reserves. It seems Pat is an interpersonal historical revisionist. She slips me her business card after scrawling her home number on the back. I lie that my coordinates haven't changed. She pays up, lays a stealth kiss on me and jets.
The cashier, whom I'm relatively friendly with, can't help asking: "So who was that?"
"I've got no fuckin' idea," I tell her. And that's mostly true.
Pat and I had hooked up purely for the sake of carnal curiosity. It was a thing of beauty, really.
Here's how it happened. I was minding my own, when devious pal Linda summons me to meet her and fellow hellion Pat for drinks. "Trust me," she urges, so I oblige and find them already half-lit and laughing uproariously about how easy it is to fake orgasms, dudes being so clueless and all.
Their tales of phantom O's and easily duped bozos make for some pretty good comedy - even for this boyish interloper.
"And what are you laughing at?" Linda chides. "I'm sure it's happened to you, too".
"So?" I respond. "If you dig faking yours while I really get mine, let's get naked!"
That sets off a meandering sexuality dialogue, and I start to imagine Pat's giving me the eye. Linda's phone rings. She slinks off to take the call and comes back announcing her intent to go and simulate getting off, "if Pat's okay with that." And she is, provided I'm still hanging around.
We rap easily for a couple of strangers and - who could have called this? - we're soon off to see if our parts fit. They do indeed, and repeated clinical trials are conducted over the next few months.
This organic system, with no predetermined days or time, no pretence of romance or dating and a big X on any expectations, is working fine. It's consenting-adult playground fun.
That is until she calls me up one night to tell me she's ready for me to come over to her place for the first time - but with a "no sex!" proviso. Sex is all we've ever done together. But I decide not to split pubic hairs over the issue and agree to hang out.
However the echo of "no sex" is eating my brain as I make my way over. It's one thing when the sex just doesn't wind up going down, but this pre-emptive contrivance just has to be the prick of death.
Pat looks me over suspiciously as I enter her pad. "You're mad at me. I can tell," she insists. Perhaps I've been betrayed by my poke-her face. I try to take the nip out of the air by asking if everything is cool with her.
"Well, why wouldn't it be?" she retorts. All right, then.
I offer her a beer from the six cans I'm packing and she refuses, scrunching her nose like a born-again teetotaller. "Can't you ever have a good time without drinking?" she wants to know.
If this was any sort of meaningful relationship, her new 'tude would surely generate an all-out scrap. Luckily, she holds no influence over me, so I make the tin really sing when I crack it. Childish? Yes. Satisfying? Hell, yeah!
Pat leaves the room and comes back with a bag of movies. Trying to keep it light, I play along by picking what seems to be the lesser of the dramatic evils, but of course she prefers to watch a different one. So be it.
We're on the couch, settling in to her selection, and I cop some feels. She recoils and huffs, "I told you - no sex tonight." Duly noted, and won't happen again. But playing touchy-feely isn't sex, I posit. She thinks it is, so I bide my time until the stand-in entertainment for the night has run its course. And as the credits roll, I'm fixing to do the same. Inexplicably, she wants me to stay the night.
The stench of impeding disaster is in the air, yet I bite, and we're off to bed to take in nondescript flick number two. I'm on the nod and come to during a fairly raunchy sex scene of what seems like a totally different movie.
Ah, looks like the gravy train is back on schedule. She feels my newfound awareness stirring up against her rump. Her hand ceases its subtle yet steady movements down below, under the covers. "Stop it already, will ya? Jesus!"
Christ almighty. I reposition and pray for morning to come quickly so I can graciously extricate myself.
However, the morn is bereft of all grace. I am jostled awake. Seems my somnambulant morning wood was slapping against her thigh - and she's profoundly pissed. That's my final cue to bolt, yet she's indignant about where I'm going in such a hurry. Home, then work. Why not stay and call in sick, she suggests, "so we can spend the day together." Huh?
No can do, mama. I'm confused, horny - and my intent is to get far, far away from you.
"Bet you'd already be on that phone if I'd let you fuck me last night!" she fumes. "Do you really expect to fuck every time we get together?"
"Expect" is a very strong word, although I do embrace the notion with cautious optimism. But now, according to a quick cost-benefit analysis of the situation, work has never looked so good.
The way things are going, an ugly zipper incident is the last thing I need on the way out, so I'm somewhat deliberate about stuffing the remains of my would-be morning glory back in my trousers.
Sitting up in bed, eyes full of fury, hugging her knees with the blanket and rocking back and forth a bit, she catches my eye. "You and your precious cock," she sneers. "Whoopee! You never stay inside me long enough anyway!" Nice.
I can't even elevate my level of outrage enough to engage on this battlefront. My exit strategy is my sole focus, my emancipation now mere seconds away.
"Don't just stand there looking at me like that. Say something!"
What? Perhaps something like "You realize that it was never you that I wanted, but that thing between your legs. And without unfettered access to it, the rest of the vessel is of no use to me."
Could have been interesting for effect, but in truth I was more saddened over the suddenly toxic vibes than put off by the one-time denial of entry.
I leave without another utterance, knowing that this fling has just ceased to exist and content to let Pat have the last word over its corpse.
An incredulous Linda calls to check in a few days later: "What the hell did you do to that girl?" she jokes.
Turns out Linda fully expected me to "just hit it a time or two" but "not be carrying on." She confides that her long-standing friend is "a piece of work" - as if I hadn't noticed from the get-go. Let's just say that I was pleasantly distracted - but how about a little disclosure next time?
"Beggar boy bastards can't be choosers," she scoffs, then laughs until I crack up, too.