A date with your high school ex-boyfriend

If your life is as fucked up as mine

It’s one of those times you think A or B will happen: you’ll either sleep with the guy and want a real relationship even though he doesn’t, or you’ll sleep with the guy and you both go on being friends amidst sexual gratification. Maybe, just maybe, there’s scenario C, in which you’ll both fall in love again. But then you remember he’s not the settling-down type.

It’s Friday night, and he wants to pick you up from work and take you to one of those fancy restaurants near Union Square because cost doesn’t matter if it means spending time with you. This is him making you feel special, not like a booty call at all.

You wear the stockings you know he’ll love, the ones that look like fishnets only with more class. And the nice dress you got for half off. You wear heels even though you know your feet will hate you for the next two days. Don’t worry, it’s the weekend, so they have time to recover. He dresses up too. Suit and all, because he knows you like that shit.

He kisses you when he sees you for the first time in two years. He links your arm through his. Suddenly, you’re that fancy-ass couple and you want to hate yourself but can’t.

As you wait to be seated, he can tell you’re wearing a mask. You curse how he always seems to know how you feel, how he has always read between the lines of your texts.

When the food arrives, he tells you you’re gonna want to take three more gulps of your drink. You wonder if he’s only trying to get you drunk, so you take a single sip. He notices. He tells you to drink more, so you put the glass down, splashing alcohol onto your hands like you’ve already had a few to pregame.

He tells you he has a ten-month-old kid, and you ask him if the tofu you’re eating is spoiled. Though, it probably just tastes like guilt and shame and blindness. You don’t know whether to say Congratulations or I’m sorry, so you repeat I’m happy for you when there’s a gap in conversation, which happens quite often. He lets you process the news. He knows it takes times. He apologizes and holds your hand from across the table.

You ask him why he’s here if he and the other woman (or are you The Other Woman?) are “working it out,” and he tells you they won’t work in the end. Besides, he misses you.

You want to ghost. Or go to the bathroom to phone a friend or your mom. Or cry at the table because the image of the two of you and a family had just been shattered in a heartbeat. It’s confirmed that he is no longer the soulmate you once thought he was and kind of still considered a possibility. But you babble on about how you’re doing really swell and haven’t been happier working three jobs and going to graduate school full-time, how you have a shitty therapist and pay too much for health care, how you basically have a kid too only he’s a dog but also wears a diaper.

He was right; you needed more alcohol.

He offers you the ring on his finger, and it’s so covered in irony you refuse it even if it’s all you want. Instead, you share a cigarette outside because you share the same bad habit. Then you get lost along the way to the 24-hour doughnut shop, or maybe you’re stalling because you want to spend time with him, but his son’s crying echoes in your ears sounding like New York traffic.

He insists on taking you back to your apartment even though he has to take the subway uptown and back. He blames it on the night. He wants to arm you with pepper spray and a switchblade. He worries about you. You think it’s sweet, or maybe he’s still trying to sleep with you.

On the subway, you ask him all of the questions you wanted to ask over dinner but couldn’t. You want to cut the sexual tension and reassure him that you both are still friends. How did he feel when he first held his son? When is he seeing his son next? Did he ever think you’d both have one of those together?

At your apartment, you realize it’s 11 pm. You invite him inside even though you know it’s a terrible idea. He says he needs to use your bathroom. You remember the bag of doughnuts in your hand.

In your bedroom, your dog wants him to get the hell out. He pets your dog then forces himself on top of you while you think about his son at home with the other woman. You sing her name in your head.

Initially, you don’t feel anything at all. Then he removes the cotton layers between the two of you. For the first time, you see him unwrapped and in-person and up-close. You shove the bag of doughnuts in front of him.

He eats the one with blackberry jelly. When you were a kid, you loved the jelly-filled from Dunkin’. Yours has apple in it somewhere, but you don’t want to find the center, so you put it back in the bag for later when you’re stewing in regret.

Within minutes, he sits you in his lap and tells you that you have the sexiest legs, the sexiest ass, the sexiest pussy he has ever seen. And he’s seen a lot. You believe him because you want to. It helps your ego. But then you wonder about your face, though you don’t ask in case he responds with honesty.

He doesn’t stop whipping out his dick. He begs you to lick it, even just once, pushing your head so close to “his” you have to fight his strength. One of your prouder moments will be in saying no.

Then he grinds against your thighs. When you ask him to stop, he won’t — he can’t. You see how difficult it is for him to try. He wants to be your bad decision, the “fun” decision, and you’re so damn good at making awful decisions. Your outfit is “unfair.”

After eight and one-half years of wanting, there is only thin lace between him and the inside of you. And another life. You think about the durability of cloth, but you don’t need to because his son is enough of a cockblock. You say, Not today; don’t say, Not ever. He whines into your neck and grips your hands above your head, tells you he has never wanted anything more than to fuck you right now. You wonder how often he thinks about his son, if maybe you’ll think about his son more than he does now.

Be strong. You have to push his body off of you. He acts like this is some kind of negotiation, and you have to remind yourself that it’s not, though if it was, you’d always get the shorter end. Not after the baby, you say, then retract that statement: Not after telling me. Not yet. You want to keep the possibility open because you want him to still want you because you can hardly remember a time when he hasn’t. He replies, At least I told you.

It’s midnight when he leaves your apartment. As he takes the subway downtown, you smoke a cigarette — your own cigarette — alone. It doesn’t do anything, so you put it out before it’s done. You feel like throwing up. You feel drunk. You feel him all over your body, so you take the hottest shower possible. Maybe it works just enough to wash his excitement from your legs but not enough to get him or the pictures of his kid out of your head.

He texts, I hope I didn’t ruin the night…
You answer, No of course not.
Good.
That’s the type of friendship you two have, one held together by wanting — by dancing.