The Beijing Express

The humidity seeps in from outside my window, smothering me in a layer of heat my body would rather not experience as I try to fall asleep. Numerous topics roll through my head, like how working in an office can become toxic, the likely consequence when people are forced to spend long hours together. I think about the shrill whine of a dog earlier that morning that was getting mauled thirteen stories below. Part of me wished I could have done something, the other part recognizes that sitting solemnly on a chair doing nothing is part of who I am. It’s so hot. I think about all the women I meet here, how the universe wisely introduces me to people that are not relationship compatible. Man, it’s so hot. And then I think about my friend that oscillates between telling me he envies how carefree I am, and also thinks the way I behave is a plague on society. “What feminism did was create a system where the top ten percent of men are fucking fifty to sixty percent of all the women.” I can only assume he tells me this because he sees me as being in that tenth percentile. I’ve been in the other ninety percent. It gets lonely, in all honesty.

None of it matters anyway. The amount or quality of women each heterosexual man dabbles in is not the defining characteristic of his life story. I don’t think most people sit on rocking chairs in their geriatric years and wish they had more or less lovers. Ultimately, we all are just trying to find someone to share our life with while trying to safely navigate our hormonal apex.

I recently tried to make the transition from an unhinged Tinderizer to a man willing to try a relationship out. Key emphasis on try because it likely would have not worked out, if my past behavior is any predictor. Her and I had been seeing each other for a few weeks, an appropriate amount of time (in my opinion) before I popped the question. “Would you want to be my girlfriend?” I confidently asked as we sat down and waited for our smoothies to be brought out. She looked at me, clearly shocked. I’d be lying if I said I had no doubts about her response. I knew she’d be on the fence, which made the spontaneity of it all the more exciting. “Um,” she finally got out after a few seconds, and once her head had been removed from my shoulder. “Could you give me two days to think about it?” This was only the second time I had ever asked a woman to be my girlfriend.

When someone says “let me think about it,” the answer is usually no, and they’re likely too nice to posses the malice to tell you straightaway. And I don’t think too many everlasting marriages started with a “let me think about it.” The older I get, the more I realize what those old-timers mean when they say life is short. In that spirit, when I got back to the subway, a little drained from the rejection I had just been served, I dialed up my two best friends.

The way that night transpired can be best described as tumultuous. I arrived ten minutes early for my date so I could buy my hopefully new girlfriend flowers, and then got rejected while fries dipped in ice cream sat on a plate two feet to my left. So once she rejected me, my elaborate, fairytale vision for us was quickly dismantled. Thankfully, feminism is alive and well. “I’d be down,” a woman I had unsuccessfully courted once before informed as the night wore on, in reference to my invitation for her to spend the night. In the matter of six hours, I went from a guy that society would applaud for appealing to convention, to the person I’ve been for the last five years. The overarching theme is that right now I can’t be in a relationship, no matter how much I keep trying to convince myself I can. One day I’ll get off this roller coaster, but it’s not going to be today, no matter how humid my bedroom gets.

***

Want more Quentin Super? Buy his debut novel, The Long Road North

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