The Woman Who Loved Men

Photo © 2007 Randal Cooper CC BY-SA 2.0

Mark, timid little creature, he stammered through, asked me to “dinner or something, sometime.” I smiled and told him I’d love to, because he’s cute and sweet, and he plays a beautiful guitar. He’ll never dominate the top of the heap, but you always know where you stand with him, and you can trust him always to be faithful and to do the right thing. Mark, it turns out, is also a great kisser, which I knew he was going to be. And deeply passionate. Sigh.

Tony, on the other hand, he lives the life of the stereotypical alpha male. Six feet, 190 pounds, works out at the gym every day and benches 350. Top dog in his world, and he knows it. So when asked me to drinks, he already knew I’d say yes. You could see it in his eyes. He strolled by while I was halfway through my run on the treadmill, stopped for a minute and admired me— I wanted him to take me right then and there.

Then there’s Sean. Everyone else thinks he’s stuck up, but he makes me laugh. I stare through his glasses, and I can see mathematical formulas projected from his eye-lenses. And then he opens his mouth, and tries to explain them. He literally has no idea that no one can understand a thing he says. But he patiently answers—or tries to—every question I ask, explaining complex theorems in great detail. I’m no rocket scientist—though as Sean would quickly point out, this has nothing to do with rocket science. I could hardly care less how to find large prime numbers or whether the Goldbach Conjecture can be proved. Sean never asked me out. I asked him. And that meant I could ping him to see how he would react. Lots o’ fun! Like I said, he makes me laugh.

And then the three found out about each other.

Now, you’d think by now that I’d have a fair amount of experience with my lovers finding out about each other. And you would be wrong. Most of my boyfriends move on long before they see enough to suspect anything out of the ordinary, and I have become very good at appearing “too busy for a real relationship,” as one of those past boyfriends put it. That hurt, I’ll admit. But it’s better that he believe me a busy, high-powered executive, rather than a merely adventurous, high-powered executive—in other words, the truth.

Boyfriends quickly learn to expect not to see or talk to me at work. It’s better that way. The office is off-limits to personal issues. Sue, my assistant, has developed dodging into a fine art. More than once, she’s covered for my private life, because she thinks it’s strictly my own business what I do with it, and because she feels important when she’s indispensable, and probably because she enjoys having a little dirt on me, too. All told, we have an effective relationship.

Office. Home. The gym. The supermarket where I buy groceries. The bar I hang out at sometimes. My favorite coffee shop. Each is a separate world unto itself, and ne’er shall any of them overlap. That’s how I keep the compartments of my life separate, and organized. And it keeps me out of trouble.

So, you’re wondering now, how did this all blow up in my face? Well, it wasn’t anything I did, at least, and there was no way I could have prevented it. I mean, what are the chances that a starving artist, a jock, and an egghead would all accidentally meet each other?

Seriously, you’ll get a kick out of this.

It all started at a chocolate shop. Yes, a chocolate shop. It seems, Mark and Tony ran into each other both buying the same sports-car-shaped novelty sweets for Valentine’s Day, each for his own girlfriend, who drives a red Camaro. Apparently, that coincidence wasn’t bad enough; they had to start sharing— Who ever thought it? What guys “share” stories of their love lives with each other?

Of course, both quickly realized that they were dating the same woman. Tony threatened Mark, which was probably not the way to chase Mark away. I mean, just think about this for a moment: you don’t scare away a passionate artist by threatening him. Stupid idiots, the lot of them. As if that weren’t bad enough, Tony naturally obsessed over his suspicions, hired a private dick, who had no trouble discovering Sean.

The first I heard of any of this was when the lot of them barged into my office at work, all three of them together, despite Sue’s warnings that I was meeting with an important investor.

After summing up the situation, Tony ordered me to tell the other two to “jack off.” I felt a little flush and wanted to rip his shirt off, breathed deeply to calm my nerves. Mark apologized for the loss of his Valentine’s gift to me, but informed me that he was in love with me, and that threats meant nothing to him. I mean, I love him, too. But this is the exact situation I was trying to avoid. Sean looked like he was going to cry, but agreed that I should choose, and warned Tony that he had already contacted his lawyer.

Men are too much to handle sometimes.

Sue still stood in the doorway, panicked. I thanked her, so she wouldn’t have to witness any more of this travesty. Then I sat the other three down and explained to them in my most professional tone that each of them was special to me, and while I was sorry that they “found out this way,” they were being unfair in asking me to choose one over another. I told them I hadn’t lied to any of them, that really felt strongly about each of them, and that I wanted to continue to see all of them. I had heard of multilateral romances of that sort. Maybe it could work. I was going to find out.

“But if you really can’t handle that,” I admitted, “I guess it just can’t work out between us. I’m sorry.”

Whereupon all three of them stood and, without another word, walked out the door and left my life forever.

Good thing I have a liquor cabinet in my office.

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