Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Gas bubbles and long division

Wednesday, February 23, 9:30am
Steve's office

"Did you say something to Lila about her and me?"

"Did I have anything to say?"

"Seriously. Did you?"

"I am serious. You should have just told me instead of beating around the bush, Dom."

"What, do I need your permission to have sex now," he asks with a sarcastic smile.

"With her? Yeah, it would have been nice."

His face turns hard. He actually looks angry, for the first time since I've known him.

"I don't work that way," he sneers, through squinted eyes.

"Good. Neither do I."

We stare at each other for a long moment. We both know what I am talking about. Or WHO. We both understand that Dom is not the only person who can fuck somebody else's girl.

"I'll keep that in mind, Steve."

"You DO that."

He storms out.


Friday, February 25th, 8:45pm
Steve's car

I've just fled Tim's place, and I am driving way too fast across the winding roads to my house. But no matter how hard I push the pedal, I can't get away from myself.

I should have left earlier. I should never have gone at all. I knew exactly what she wanted, and instead of avoiding it, I INVITED it.

My ego was bruised. I admit it. I was deeply hurt that Lila did that to me, and that Dom did too. It bothered me very much that both of them were so inconsiderate of me that they were capable of .... fucking.

I wanted to hurt Dom the way he hurt me. I wanted to prove to him that I could take something away from him just like he took something from me. And I wanted to show Lila that she wasn't the only curvaceous, long-haired young hottie on the eastern seaboard.

Stupid? Petty? Juvenile? Beneath me? Yeah, agreed. I never claimed to be perfect, folks. Far from it.

Yes, I knew I was making a mistake. Deep down, I didn't want to fuck her. There was guilt inside me, buried under the semi-digested blob of chicken parmagiana. It floated through the mess like a gas bubble, but it took time.

No, I didn't have sex with Tim. But I came closer than I should have. I thought I was beyond this type of shit. But, like when we were together, Lila is an exception to the rule.

I am reminded of the long division problems I used to do in school. The example at the top of the page was always something simple, like 240 divided by 20, and I'd understand the concept perfectly.

I'd cruise through the first couple of problems without even slowing down. Then, I'd get to the bottom of the page, to that last row of problems, and freeze in my tracks, finding myself face-to-face with 1289 divided by 37, or 2746 divided by 94. Suddenly, I'd realize that I wasn't nearly as good as I thought I was. I wasn't the math prodigy that I felt like a few minutes earlier; I was just a school kid, struggling like all the others in my class.

Cherise from new year's eve? No problem. Marissa from Angelo's restaurant? A joke. I never seriously entertained trying to seduce either one of them. I was the star student, ruining the curve for everyone.

Then I hit that last row of long division problems. Lila.

Just like that, I was Old Steve, womanizing, plotting, scheming, inconsiderate, selfish Steve, and for a moment, every single thing I had learned was completely forgotten. I was shamelessly punching numbers into my calculator, convinced that I would never be good enough to figure out the answers myself.

I somehow stopped myself from going all the way, and for that I am very proud. I am sure that Stephanie would not see things that way, but I'm not going to tell her.

Am I?