Big Boned


Page 3




This, undoubtedly, is due to the fact that he takes off his glasses before we go to bed.
Cooper tried to warn me, of course, in his own subtle way. He ran into us while Tad and I were grabbing lunch at Zen Palate one day. I've never brought Tad home because… well, Cooper never brings his lady friends home. And I'm pretty sure he has some, because there are occasionally messages on the answering machine that can't be explained any other way… a woman's voice, purring sexily,Coop, it's Kendra. Call me. That kind of thing.
But I hadn't been able to avoid making introductions at Zen Palate, which Tad goes to because it's vegetarian, and Cooper goes to because-well, to tell you the truth, I have no idea why Cooper was there that day.
Anyway, later, I hadn't been able to resist asking Cooper what he'd thought of Tad. I guess this part of me was totally hoping that, now that Cooper had seen me all happy with a killer Frisbee-playing hottie, he'd regret telling me I needed a rebound guy, and that he didn't want to be it.
But all Cooper had asked was, considering Tad was a vegetarian, what on earth we could possibly have in common.
Which I found sort of insulting. I mean, there's lots of stuff I care about besides food.
And, okay, Tad isn't really interested in any of them. Like, he's more into the Cartesian plane, and I'm more into the Cartoon Network. He likes Neil Young, and I like Neil Diamond (as an ironic pop culture figure, not to listen to. Except "Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show," and only when I'm alone). I like movies with explosions in them. He likes movies with subtitles in them.
That kind of thing.
But still. Who goes around asking people that kind of thing? What they have in common as a couple, I mean? How rude is that? I wanted to ask Cooper what he thought WE, as in he and I, had in common as a couple… until I remembered we're not a couple.
The scary thing is that Cooper and I have tons of things in common… we both like good food (such as Nathan's hot dogs, oysters on the half shell, and Peking duck, to name a few), and good music (such as blues, all jazz but fusion, classical, opera, R and B, any kind of rock except for heavy metal, although I have a secret soft spot for Aerosmith), and good wine (well, okay, I can't really tell the difference between a good wine and a bad one, but I do know the good stuff doesn't taste like salad dressing or give me a headache).
And, of course, really bad TV. Which I hadn't known Cooper liked, too, until recently. I'd come across him in a moment when he'd clearly thought he was alone in the house. He'd reached hastily for the remote, attempting to switch to CNN before I got a look. But I saw. Oh, I saw.
"Shame on you, Cooper," I'd said… though inwardly, of course, I'd been thrilled. "The Golden Girls?"
"Shut up," he'd replied affably.
"Seriously," I'd said. Because who doesn't love The Golden Girls? Well, except for Tad, who doesn't own a TV (I know. I know, okay?). "Which one are you?"
He'd just looked at me like I was insane. But not for the reason I'd thought. Because it turned out he knew exactly what I was talking about. "Dorothy, of course."
My heart had nearly stopped. "Me, too," I'd murmured. And then I'd settled onto the couch beside him, to watch.
Cooper and I have a lot in common-even down to the fact that we both can't stand to see a social injustice go unpunished (or a crime go unsolved), even when we might have to risk our own lives in order to make things right. Not to mention, we are both somewhat emotionally estranged from our families.
But that doesn't mean I'm not totally into Tad. I am.
I'm just maybe not into running with him.
Which was why, when Tad passed me for like the eighth time, and slowed down to ask, "Heather? Are you doing okay?" I suddenly developed a limp.
"Um," I said. "I might have pulled something. If it's okay with you, I was thinking maybe we could call it a day, and go back to your place and take a shower. Then I'll take you out to breakfast. They're serving Belgian waffles in the café today."
It turns out you should never underestimate the appeal of Belgian waffles to a vegetarian killer Frisbee-playing tenure track assistant professor. Even one who is trying to get his girlfriend to embrace physical fitness.
Then again, it could have been the shower. Tad is convinced it is environmentally unsound for two people to waste water by showering separately when they could shower together.
I have never been a big fan of the shower until now. And the fact that Tad has to take his glasses off before he gets in, so I don't have to huddle against the wall in an effort to hide my cellulite? Well, that's just an added plus.
Especially when Tad, as we're soaping each other's chests, asks, a little diffidently, "Heather. There's something I've been meaning to ask you."
"Oh?" It's hard to keep your voice neutral when a guy is massaging your naughty bits with a washcloth. Even if he can't really see said naughty bits due to being extremely myopic.
"Yeah. Do you have any, er, plans this summer?"
"You mean, like… for a weekend share, or something?" Is he asking if I want to split a rental on the shore with him? Well, this is awkward. I am so not a beach girl. Because beach means bathing suit, and bathing suit equals sarong, which equals social awkwardness when it comes to everyone asking,When are you going to take your sarong off so you can join us in the water?
"No," he says. "I meant… could you maybe take a few weeks off?"
"I don't know," I say slowly. A few weeks at the beach? How can I plead disfiguring case of heat rash and therefore cannot remove sarong for a few weeks? "I'll only have accrued about a week of vacation time since I started… " Would he believe me if I say I'm allergic to sand fleas?
"This'll take longer than a week," Tad murmurs, as his hand moves even lower. "What about a leave of absence? Do you think you could wrangle one of those?"
"I guess I could ask." What's going on here? I mean, I know what's going on downthere. But what's going on up there, in my boyfriend's head? This is sounding less and less like a weekend beach share and more and more like… I don't even know. "How long are we talking about? What have you got in mind? Cross-country road trip?"