Artist Date 85: Cooking Up A Happy Ending

chef 3

I’m waiting for a call.

THAT call.  From a man I’ve been dating.

I hesitate to use the word as I’m never sure when it applies.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever really dated.  I’ve fucked.  And I’ve been in relationships.

We have gone out three times.  He has done all the asking, and all the paying.  This last time he invited me into his home, the home he shares with his two daughters (they were with their mother), and cooked me dinner.  He is a chef.

I believe this would be considered dating.

He tossed a salad of arugula and chopped endive with his hands (a decidedly sexy move) laid over a bed of ripe, juicy figs (a decidedly sexy fruit) and sprinkled it with knobs of goat cheese and homemade croutons.  Then fed me roasted chicken and vegetables.   Simple.  Elegant.  Delicious.

He bought me sparkling waters and sodas as he knows I do not drink.  And told me his 12-year-old daughter was suspect about their shopping trip to Whole Foods.

I set the table.  And we continued sharing our stories.  It felt easy.

At 10 p.m. he asked me if I “wanted to have a sleepover.”

I told myself I would not sleep with him.  I told my girlfriends I would not sleep with him.  I know how sex can escalate my expectations.  I know how it can short-circuit the dance of dating.  I like this man.  And so, his arms around my waist, his fingers tucked down the back of my skinny corduroys, I smiled at him and said, “I can’t.  I’m not ready to have sex with you.”

It was painful.

But more painful was his response.  “I didn’t ask you if you wanted to have sex.  I asked you if you wanted to sleep over.”

I had not woken up with someone since moving out of the bedroom I shared with my ex-husband more than two years ago.  I desperately wanted to stay, but feared not honoring my commitment to myself.

I cast my eyes down, my shirt half unbuttoned and heard him say, “Lesley, go move your car into the garage.”  Secretly relieved, he made the decision for me.

We did have sex that night.  And in the morning too.  And I discovered he was the same sweet man who cooked me dinner the night before.  Who wrapped his body around mine as we drifted off to sleep.  And gently rubbed his fingers between mine when I woke up in the middle of the night, easing me back to unconsciousness.

He kissed me and rubbed my head, told me I talked in my sleep and sent me through his youngest daughter’s pink bedroom and into the closet for a toothbrush.

Downstairs, we drank tea in the kitchen and talked.  I shared my fears about this being a one-night stand.  Just sex, as I was looking for more.  I had voiced them the night before.  Both times he responded, “I wouldn’t have invited you into my home and cooked you dinner if I just wanted to fuck you.”

I felt foolish harping on it.

I haven’t heard from him since.  It has been three days.

My head is spinning as I’ve played this over and over in my head.  Looking at the erratic nature of his communication – always, since the very start.  Wondering if I insulted him with my fears and blaming myself for being too needy of his reassurance.  Or worse, being too much.

My friends tell me that nothing has changed. That his timeline is not my timeline.  They remind me he has a big new job, is going through a divorce and has two children.  That nothing has changed.

And they give me solid advice: Do your work.  Make your art.  Go on Artist Dates.

And so I am here on a Saturday night at the Century Theatre watching Chef – Artist Date 85.

Perhaps it wasn’t the ideal movie choice this evening, but I’d been wanting to see it.

The cooking scenes are lush, gorgeous, sexy.  They remind me of the chef.  As does the relationship between the lead and his son, as he too is a divorced dad.  I am teary.

And then, blessedly, I am pulled out of recognition and identification and into the parts of the story that have nothing to do with me and my chef.  A story of friendship and road trips and standing up for what you know to be true.  Of unchecked emotion.  The power of Tweeting (I’m woefully behind).  And the ability, and responsibility, of each of us to be both teacher and student.

It is a story of happy endings.

So far, mine is not.  At least not this particular one.

I turn on my phone as I leave the theater.  No text.  No voicemail.  (And as I complete the writing of this, a week after leaving his home in last night’s clothing, I still haven’t heard from him.)

I don’t like it.

But I trust, if I follow my friends’ words — Do your work.  Make your art.  Go on Artist Dates – mine will be a happy ending.  With or without the chef.

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