I hear a knock at the door and smooth down my hair. My blonde curls bounce back immediately, rebellious. I once read a fashion magazine which said that making a man wait at the door a few minutes longer than necessary, is a good strategy. I consider this, as I straighten my nylons and plump my already plump lips with lipstick. I blot them with a tissue, knowing you don’t like it when I leave a trail of red.
“What if she sees it?” you complained, the time my lipstick smeared on the zipper of your pants. You didn’t complain too much, however. Clearly, you know a good thing when you have it.
If only you knew how much work it takes to perfect my casual appearance. The way I hurl open the front door, excitedly, as if I’d forgotten you were coming over. You breathe me in. Your eyes linger on my breasts- how they fill my green angora v-neck, cinched in at the waist over a form fitting black skirt, and black pumps with dangerously high heels. You drop your hands to the back of my knees and run them under my skirt. You don’t rip my nylons off quite yet, you’re saving that for later. You did tell me you’d bring dessert, after all.
I invited you over promising I’d make my grandmother’s chili. Chili is your favorite. You fretted, initially, claiming you had dinner plans later. I could guess the guest list. You eventually acquiesced, suggesting an early meal at my place, saying you could probably squeeze it in.
The only problem is that I’ve never once made chili. It took two hours to clear the air from the stench of burnt kidney beans. Eventually, I went to the store and bought four large ready made cans of chili. I hid the evidence in the outdoor trash bin and cut some fresh onions to re-season the air. I kept thinking about my grandmother. I hate to bring my grandmother into our love affair, but she always told me the way to a man’s heart was through his stomach.
I tried baklava, once, when you and I met for a picnic. I slid the crispy flakes between your lips and you smiled. For a moment I thought it had worked. Then, you began talking about her apple tarts and I knew I hadn’t. The next week I tried pecan pie. You glowed at the yumminess of the recipe, but then asked if I had any vanilla ice cream. I realized, then, that my usual methods weren’t working. Dessert wasn’t potent enough, you needed a satisfying dinner and to fall in love with me. I’d tried my usual tactics. I’d kissed you for weeks, with my tongue full throttle, expecting a declaration of love when you came up for air. I’d even tried the gentle approach, my head resting on your shoulder as if surrendering to your manliness. You know what I got? Nothing.Chili was my last resort. You smell the mixture as you step inside and head straight to the kitchen.
“I’m really hungry.” you enthuse. Usually, this means that you’re hungry for me and we head straight to my bed. This time, you sit tall at my wooden table and tell me I should refinish the tabletop. I think, that’s what boyfriends are for, but say, “Oh, really? I should have Ben come over and do it.” Ben is the contractor I’ve dangled in front of you, hoping to make you jealous. As I said, I’ve tried just about everything.
I fumble for a ladle and dish up a hefty portion into a soup bowl. I add the end of a french roll and your eyes flicker at the sight. I try and walk over in a sexy way, but balancing the hot chili negates my attempt.You begin to eat. I serve myself some and take dainty bites for each round heap you spoon into your mouth. I blow on my bowl, as though it’s too hot- hoping the image is a different kind of hot. You finish your portion faster than I expect and lean back in your chair.
“Darlin’, that was delicious...” you grin like I’m a 1950’s housewife and you’re the bloated provider who brought home the bacon. Only I’m overdue on my rent and the only thing you bought me was on my birthday.
Your voice has a sudden drawl to it. I wonder if you’re setting up an after dinner game of role playing.
But, then you pull your chair out from the table and explain that you hate to do this to me, but you’re already late for your other dinner reservation. My craving for something sweet turns in my stomach.
“Wh-what about dessert?” I demand, trying to feign a sultry tone that I don’t really feel.
“Ah, sweetie, you know I’d love to stay. I’ve wanted to rip those tights off your sexy legs since I got here.” You nod toward me and give my bottom a gentle pat.
We walk to the door and you push my body into it. It’s a conciliatory act to make up for your unexpected departure. My hip bumps into the doorknob but you don’t seem to notice my wince.
“You know, I’ve been meaning to tell you something...” you whisper in my ear, then press your mouth against mine, momentarily. My breath quickens, I can feel it coming on like a wave. Here it is, the moment the scales will tip in my favor, the moment I become the one and only woman you love.
“Yes...” I sigh as I say it, giddy off the pepper of your breath.
You get right to it, “I loooove....” you stare into my eyes and surely my soul, “your cooking.”
The room begins to spin. My grandmother would never have stood for this. I say all sorts of things. First, that I never want to see you again. Then, that you should lose my number. The comment that really seems to get to you is the one I say as you’re walking away.
“And by the way, that chili you liked so much? It was from a can.”
published 10 March 2012