He paused and considered options at the top of the subway stairs, in contrapasto and with his hands rested not at his natural waist but higher on his ribcage, and as we stopped and considered places to eat he did it over and over. As a fellow ex-athlete I recognized this immediately, something I did on the field playing soccer and sucking enormous volumes of air—the pleasure and the feel of my ribs moving so mightily. And the simple pleasure of feeling one’s body under exertion. I still will find myself, in odd moments before I get up from a coffee out, with my hands on my ribs.
Sharing this gesture did not make me like him any more.
At dinner, I gradually gained more confidence that it was not my outsider clumsy questions about theory that was the failure.
Somehow to be really effective or at least exciting, theory has to be mediated with kindness.I honestly believe that part of collective derision for Ayn Rand is simply hard-sighing boredom.Ignoring bodies and feelings and their own logics and intelligences to strive for machinelike functioning—is boring.
He was not interested in finding me through the words we were putting out there between us.He didn’t ask what I wrote, he didn’t ask what I read.At the end of the meal he told me I could give him cash for my half.Then he got up to go to the bathroom.
How could someone who reads so much about self, time, networks, connection, love, society, democracy, be such a dud on a date? Where did all the learning and thinking go when it came to any human interaction? Which lead me back to the late-adolescent confusion I felt when I made out with a boy for the first time.How could people experience sex and not feel different?I did. Was I the only one?
But more importantly, why couldn’t I say this out loud and have Edward deliver the chatty supportive response all his vast learning reading made him capable of? The one in my imagination?
He sat back down across from me one last time, check jowls forming as he tucked away his pocketbook, his glasses.I offered my hand to shake, which he did, looking offended, and I went out the door and into the night.
Kirsten Major was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was educated at Emma Willard School in Troy, NY Carleton College in Northfield, MN, and Cornell University, where she received an MFA from the writing program. Recent work has appeared in Crannog, No Tokens Journal, and LitBreak, among others. Find her on twitter @kirstenamajor