I had been seeing this guy for a record breaking two months. He was tall with stormy blue eyes and honey blonde hair. Devilishly attractive yet painfully shy. Unlike me, he calculated every thought before speaking and only let his mouth run with tentative abandon after a few beers. No matter how hard I tried, I always found myself holding the talking stick. I swung it around as I spoke with gusto, while he sat there, silently judging my every word. Each encounter was a combination of quite frustration and sexy mystery that always left me confused.
One night, we met up for drinks after work. I made my way to the dive bar on South Broadway and found a seat at the back of the bar. After a few minutes, he sauntered in and ordered us some drinks. He had just moved out to Denver a few months ago and was surfing the wave of unemployment while calling his brother's couch home. We talked job opportunities and Craigslist roommates as we drained a few rounds of beer.
The beers chiseled away at his inhibition while my frustration melted away with my common sense. Devilishly attractive yet painfully shy took the stage with a confidence that's only found at the bottom of an empty cup. He held the talking stick with an appetite I rarely saw, talking about where he'd traveled and where he dreamed of going. Eventually his mouth ran dry, prompting him to ask me where I wanted to travel to next. I had just finished reading Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a non-fiction book about the slum of Mumbai, which led me to answer, India. While he fantasized about gondola rides and barrels of aged wine, I painted a picture wrought with economic disparity and slum lords. Given the opportunity, I'd travel almost anywhere in the world. It just so happened that India topped my list that particular night. I did not intend to sound "holier-than thou," but Devilishly Attractive Yet Painfully Shy interpreted my answer with blatant moral superiority. He looked at me like I was a fraud. Here I was sitting across from him in heels and a new dress from Nordstrom talking about visiting India's slums. In hopes of revealing some twisted truth, he asked, "can you even name one city in India?" Without thinking, I confidently answered, "Dubai." He looked at me with those pretty blue eyes and said, "would you like to stick with that answer, sweetheart?" I nodded, unsure of my mistake. Before I had the chance to think about correcting myself, he shouted, "Mumbai! Dubai is part of the UAE... The United Arab Emirates" as if I didn't know such a place existed. Mortified by my mistake and insulted by the demeaning way he had corrected me, my embarrassment quickly turned to anger. Mumbai...Dubai...tomato....potato, it's a mistake anyone could have made after a few beers. As a woman who prides herself on intelligence, I decided to hail the waiter and close out our tab. I was embarrassed but more importantly, angry by the fact that he had made me feel so small.