Breakfast with Brian
His profile included the words “poly,” “kinky,” and “mostly awful,” and he sported serial killer glasses that he was actually able to pull off.
Although intrigued and attracted, I was hesitant.
We made plans regardless.
I last-minute cancelled on him once, and then a-few-days-before flaked on him the following week. When I could tell that he still wanted to see me after all of that, I resorted to honesty.
“My head and my heart aren’t up for it,” I explained, referring to the “end of an arrangement” I was dealing with — I was missing someone, and I just wasn’t my best self.
“It won’t be fun for you,” I assured.
“You won’t regret it,” he insisted.
I passed the diner and parked my car farther away than necessary. This is something I do this on most dates; the extra physical space sets a precedent. There is comfort in my longer-than-needed walk to meet him. I have enough time to pump the brakes on my accelerating heart. I have enough time to change my mind.
He picked the place. The Coffee Pot: a seaside restaurant in Morro Bay. It was a generous compromise on his part — 20 minutes for me, nearly 40 for him. Despite this I am 4 minutes late and try very hard to look very casual as I scan the block.
I am surprised, briefly, that he is not there yet, until I see him step out of the door. Excitement tingles through me as our smiles align. We hug and he thanks me for he time we haven’t even spent together yet.
Brian has a presence. At only two inches and one year more than me, he seems much more than that. He’s handsome. His shoulders look strong and his pants fit very well. It’s hard for me to resist a just-snug-enough pair of slacks. He does not look nervous — comfortable, rather. I do not have to wonder how I look because I am seated opposite a wall-length mirror. I make a joke about being vain, but then position my reflection behind his head to avoid making eye contact with myself.
We bounce banter back and forth until interrupted by our waitress, who laughs knowingly when we’re not ready to order. Correction: I’m not ready. Brian knew what he wanted before we sat down.
I power-scan my options and impress him with my quick request. He doesn’t know that usually I bumble back and forth through the menu four or more times. This time I had decided before I arrived though. "Just order a simple egg breakfast with toast," I told myself on the ride over. Easy peasy.
When he applauds my speed, I fold. I admit to my pre-game decision and then make ironic comments about how (not) chill I am.
"I’m so chill I could cry.”
It’s not very funny but I let myself laugh at my own joke. Two sentences later he tells me that his grandma died last night — for real.
"Well, this morning, actually."
It’s not very funny but he lets himself laugh at his own loss. I laugh, too, but only because he is. I’m too uncomfortable to decide how to react on my own so I just did what he was doing. Emotional assimilation or something.
Our conversation has no rhythm. It is unpredictable in topics and depth and pauses and reactions. He fascinates and entertains and alarms me. He’s been married and divorced, and has moved twice — to Buffalo and Portland— each time for a different girl. He hasn’t drank in 12 years, which is exactly the amount of time between now and the DUI he got when he was 15. He corrects me when I say “everyone likes to hike,” because he doesn’t. Going to the beach doesn’t do it for him either. He enjoys “simple” things, his favorite being good conversation. The pressure is on.
I am uneasy talking about myself as always, and Brian is aware of this. He is careful to balance when he pries and retreats. I ask him questions he is not used to and questions he’s been asked before.
He charges that I use jokes to avoid talking about myself and I make a joke to deflect that very accusation. Fortunately he seems to think I’m funny, regardless of what I’m using my humor to do.
A few minutes after our food is in front of us, for no reason that I can identify, Brian says “I’m sorry about your breakup.” His accompanying grin is neither sincere nor malicious.
I start to say “It wasn’t technically a breakup,” but I know I can’t explain what it technically was without the risk of crying (or sounding mental), so I don’t. I channel the cool girl who orders eggs quickly and try to convince both of us that “It’s fine.”
I am wary of people who make a point to convince me how happy they are with their life, or — in this case — how “fucking awesome” it is.
To be fair, Brian did warn me of his arrogance beforehand. As I sit across from him it is easy to detect. Still, he seems grateful that I am there. Grateful that he is not alone with himself, regardless of how great his life is.
In turn, I had warned Brian of my tendency to be shy. More than once I catch him delighting in my predicted discomfort. Each time I start rambling to escape a very personal question his head tilts slightly and he gives me a look that makes me feel more broken than I am. He does this often. It feels earnest but calculated. At one point he holds his stare for so long that the potato he had pronged on his fork fell back onto his plate. Comic relief.
I listen as he talks about fixing guitars and cars and motorcycles with his hands, and I can tell he thinks he needs to fix me as well. This offends me more than it should and I want to reply to what he has not said. I want to square up with his semi-sympathetic gazes and tell him "You’re broken, too."
He notices that I have only eaten a fraction of my meal and I admit that I never eat a lot on a first date.
Some guys insist that I “be comfortable” and eat in front of them, not considering how uncomfortable it is to force feed yourself on command for an audience that you one day might have sex with.
Brian doesn’t insist on anything like that and instead we both make fun of the way I’ve torn apart my toast crust. I appreciate this more than I let on.
When the waitress comes and exchanges a check for my nowhere-near-empty plate, I ask Brian if he’d like for me to pay for mine.
“Only if you want to,” he says, which I don’t.
After breakfast we walk along Embarcadero. The sunshine feels good but the breeze chills both of us. In a way, the weather matches Brian. I can feel some warmth from him but other factors do not let me bask in it for too long. We jut between a seafood restaurant and a saltwater taffy shop to lean side-by-side against weathered deck wood. He tells me more about himself and makes me laugh a few more times.
When we start walking again I ask him about romance.
“Are you romantic?”
He balks and immediately throws around the words "no" and "hate" and "pointless.” After a few hearty chuckles he explains how “stupid” flowers are.
I start to explain that romance is more than flowers, but then I stop and accept that I’ve approached a mountain too high. I let my mind wander to the non-floral gestures from my past. Like the time I was pumping gas on a shitty day and Ryan came out of the mart with peanut butter M&Ms. I couldn’t even remember the conversation we had when I told him that they were my favorite but he apparently did.
I smile to myself and almost tell Brian that romance is remembering each other’s favorite M&Ms on a bad day. But again, this incline is too steep.
“I’m not a huge fan of second dates,” I admit.
What I mean is that I don’t bother with second dates if there’s no spark. Brian interprets this to mean that I only want to be taken out on a date just once.
He thinks he is reassuring when he says “Oh there wouldn’t be a second date — after today we’d just figure out if you were coming to my place or if I was coming to yours.”
I provide no response to that but genuine laughter. He’s not kidding, but between that claim and the way he denounces of romance, I know there won’t be a second date or a whose-place.
We walk past the active shops and busy sidewalks until we find a half-shaded bench to settle down on. One of my shoulders is in the sun, which I don’t realize until later that night when it stings hotter than the other in the shower. Brian’s hips point straight forward, and I twist mine to half-point toward him.
I am genuinely fascinated by Brian. He is funny and smart and unapologetic. Occasionally he mentions his girlfriends and occasionally I ask questions. From what I can tell, he has two. A beautiful kinky girl, whom I’ve actually met before. I’m oddly flattered to be grouped into the same league as her. Brian’s league. Then there’s also a “vanilla” girl who “likes to fuck black guys.”
It seems that Brian wants to seem fulfilled by his arrangement. He is frat-bro enthusiastic about being able to bang more than one girl, which is balanced by a quiet-but-admirable pride regarding the care and attention that he gives to each.
Eventually, though, he vents about the emotional exhaustion of having multiple partners. He talks about two year-long relationships that recently ended at around the same time and how that “sucked.” He tells me that he wants something long term. His kinky girlfriend is moving far away in June and he’s understandably bummed.
In his own way, Brian tells me that he’s looking for a main squeeze. This person has to be okay with his other girlfriends and should eventually want kids, too.
Brian is also looking for a “rope bottom,” which is a term I’m familiar with but a role I’m not interested in — at least not with him. I don’t admit to this out loud, but he intimidates me.
I theorize that he is trying to fill a quality-type void with a quantity-based approach and he disagrees. I learn that it’s “rare” for this type of “opening” to present itself. Like a good salesman, he tries to create a sense of urgency for me to buy in. He makes an offer to me on the bench. “Do you want to date me?”
As I try to explain that this type of arrangement is exactly what I’m not looking for, Brian tries to appeal to my competitive side. He drops a stat about me being one of 7 girls that he’s gone on a date with to fill this “spot.” Yes — 7. He is talking as if I should be honored to be on his radar. I raise my eyebrows and let him stumble out of the conversation on his own.
My approach to polyamory is passive compared to Brian’s. I know I can connect and give affection to more than one person at a time, but I don’t hunt for multiple connections. Brian has “slots” to fill. A quota of sorts. I could be satisfied with one, whereas I don’t think he could. There’s a desperation to his approach that he doesn’t seem aware of.
Inexplicably, I develop a secret urge. I want to be the one that is enough for Brian. I want him to pour all of himself into me and find complete satisfaction in what I give back to him. I shake this thought from my head as quickly as I can; he’s made it very clear that rough anal sex is required for his fulfillment.
When we pause the heavier conversations, we kiss. Even if our dating ideals don’t line up, there’s undeniable physical chemistry between us… or maybe we’re both just horny.
We kiss light and sweet, and hot and heavy, with no regard to who is walking by. He tries to guess if I’m wearing panties and moves my hand to his excited lap more than once. I am not turned off by his perversions, nor is he by mine. It’s mutual and fun.
Brian asks me several times to come to his house. I say no in a dozen ways — trying to be creative or coy or straightforward. He thinks I’m pretending to be prude.
“You know…I won’t think any less of you if we hook up on the first date actually, it would be the opposite,” he offers.
I am not worried about Brian thinking I’m slutty. He does not realize that my non-desire to go to his house is pure: I simply don’t want to. More than that, though, I don’t want to keep explaining myself or beg him to stop begging me.
Halfway back from the bench to our cars, we stop across the street from a clam chowder shack. With both of his hands, he grabs as much of my ass as he can, almost as hard as he can. His hands are big, but my butt is bigger, and I enjoy a few more kisses before wriggling free from his mitts.
Eventually we end up in my car where I try to justify my Now 55 CD before our mouths meet again. I can feel the skin of his neck get sticky under my fingertips as my car broils under the Pacific Coast sun.
Between our tongues, Brian mutters "You are so beautiful." It is oddly vulnerable; I don’t think he meant to say it out loud. Shortly after he says something else with undoubted intention and far less endearment.
“Ugh, you have such nice tits,” sounding both satisfied in the moment but frustrated that he will not have them later.
“You’re nuts,” I giggle, as he paws at them some more. There’s something about the word tits that I just can’t take seriously.
We’re even better at making out than making conversation, so we continue until it gets too hot and too hot. I can feel my sweat on my palms and his sweat on my fingers as he retracts his hand from my skirt.
We unroll the windows and welcome the cool breeze with deep breaths and half closed eyes. My efforts to readjust my clothes are half-ass. The new silence worries me. I do not want either of us to try and fill it with words, so I put in Oh Wonder and let my favorite track take over.
After no more than 10 measures, Brian smirks and says "this music makes me think that you like to fuck black guys."
In our last 20-or-so minutes together, Brian tries to figure me out in more ways than one. He’s puzzled that I won’t go to his house, and that I don’t want what he’s offering, and that I don’t want to talk about myself or my feelings.
“Do you just not like yourself?” he asks like he’s solved something.
I’m annoyed by this question and chalk it up to his ego.
“No,” I state, as plainly as possible. By the time the “o” leaves my mouth I am already over it. But my curt response makes the air awkward for him and a few minutes later Brian decides he should go.
We kiss quickly a few more times and then I pout, genuinely. I know I’ll want to kiss more later.
The door opens immediately after it’s closed. A smile crawls across my face and he crawls toward me.
“He is romantic…” I think, “Coming back for one last kiss.”
As he leans across the console and our lips connect for the last last time, he reaches into the backseat for his jacket.
I laugh the hardest I have yet. We tease each other before he leaves again.
I am in a daze from how dense our date has felt. My mind is clouded by equal amounts of want and not.
I watch Brian walk back toward the restaurant. I lust after his frame and once again admire his perfect-fit pants.
It’s hard for me to resist a just-snug-enough pair of slacks.
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