Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Chris crosses the line

Monday, May 28, 2007, 1:10pm
Steve and Tim's house

I'm not one of those guys who keeps a leash on his girl as if she were a pit bull.

I can spot jealous guys a mile away, the ones who pull their women close, leering suspiciously from side to side as if guarding Paris Hilton's jewelry collection. I find insecurity unattractive, so I consciously avoid it. No matter how much I'm burning on the inside, I pretend to be busy reading labels while some muscled Fabio wannabe strikes up a conversation with Tim as we wait in line at the drugstore. Then I'll make a joke, and the three of us will laugh, and he will realize he's getting nowhere and move on.

Five minutes after sitting down at a bar, she's got enough free alcohol in front of her to put Lindsay Lohan in a coma. She's the center of attention at every party we go to, and she's barraged with a steady stream of pickup lines as she works or does her errands.

I won't lie to you: Dating a beautiful woman is hard. I'm not the tallest, tannest, or sexiest man in the world. I don't have Donald Trump's money or Tommy Lee's dick. I do well professionally, and I'm happy and in decent shape, but Tim is an all-star. She can have any man she wants! I fear that, eventually, one of the guys who hits on her is going to be too good to pass up.

Tim says that she jumped from guy to guy for a long time and that she's tired of it. She says that she loves talking to me and learning from me, and that she can count on me when it's time to buckle down and solve a problem. She enjoys taking care of me, making sure that I eat like a restaurant critic every night, and that I blow more loads than a porn star.

She talks about our wedding and our future family all the time; when we go out, she stares at every passing baby the way I stare at the Victoria's Secret catalog.

I believe what Tim tells me. I trust her more than I have trusted anyone in my life. But that sliver of doubt never leaves, nagging me like a pebble in my shoe, and I've always wondered how I would react if some dude crossed the line.

"I hate to have to tell you this," Greg says on the phone, "but I heard something yesterday you're not gonna be happy about."

"What did you hear?"

"Tim was... she..."

My stomach drops. What is it? Did he catch her with another guy? But yesterday was a family picnic for Memorial Day. No available guys were even there, and no one who would have had the balls to hit on her, except...


"Chris walked up to her in the kitchen, and he--"

"Greg, for Christ's sake, spit it out!"

"I was outside, changing the propane tank on the grill. The windows over the kitchen sink were open and I could hear them talking. He said, 'You look bored. Is my brother boring you?'"

"What did she say?"

"Steve, you have to promise me you're not gonna get pissed at Chris. He's just under a lot of stress--"

"Too fucking late. And unless you want me pissed at you, you'll finish telling me what happened."

"I heard her say, 'Stop!' Then he walked out."

"That bastard."

"I figured Tim might have told you herself, but I needed to let you know just in case--"

I hang up and dial Tim's work. Someone was having a party at the restaurant, and she got called in.

"She's really busy," a young man's voice says.

"It's an emergency."

"Honey? What's wrong?" Tim says.

"What happened with you and Chris yesterday?"

"Nothing. Don't worry about it."

"Don't worry about what?"

"Steve, he's obviously miserable, he was drinking all day, and he said something stupid."

"What did he say!?"

"I'm really busy here."

"Tell me what he said."

"No. You're gonna fly off the handle, and it's not necessary. Nothing happened!"

"Did he hit on you?"

"Steve, I think he was just kidding."

"What did he say!?" I shout, my heart thumping almost audibly.

"Baby, it's very hectic right now. My steaks are burning, I promise we'll discuss this for as long as you want when I get home," she says, sweetly, but I get the impression she's as close to snapping as I am.

"For Christ's sake, why can't you just tell me?"

"Fine," she huffs, her voice sharp and angry. "He asked me if I was bored with you. He put his hand on my ass and tried to kiss me. Are you happy now?"

I'm gonna fucking kill him.

"You're such an asshole sometimes. What, you think I'm too immature to handle being hit on? Or do you just not trust me?"

"I'll see you when you get home," I say, in a Hannibal Lechter monotone.

"Don't do anything stupid--"