Posts Tagged ‘Xenopus’

Xenopus

April 27, 2018

“And then the little girl says ‘No, what did it look like before it died?” Melissa said. “And then the guy goes” Then she made a great show of looking surprised and then she burst out laughing. I heard myself laughing but I know that it was not real. The joke was not all that funny and I was distracted. I was out of my element and more than a little uncomfortable.

I slowly cut into the steak in front of me and pushed each forkful into my mouth one by one. It was probably fine but I was used to a mouth full of earthworm instead. I thought of the delicious variety of worms that I had enjoyed at lunch which had been far superior to the steak. I understood that I was in the minority in that opinion. I knew very well that most would shake their head at me with a gentle yet smug smile and tell me that I would figure it out eventually. ‘You’ll see’ they might say as if I did not know myself.

“Do you get it?” Melissa asked. She looked expectantly at me and I smiled back at her.

“Yeah,” I said while nodding. “I got it. Very funny.”

It is not that Melissa was a bad person or that I did not enjoy her company. In another world, she could be my friend and I would definitely enjoy that. However, it was really the pressure of the situation. I was expected to be here. Not specifically the restaurant but specifically on a date. Which was weird because I did not want to be on a date. Yet here I was, talking to a perfectly nice person about perfectly nice things. All the time I was thinking about how I wished I was back home in the water, swimming around. The chair was uncomfortable and I felt dry.

“Is anything wrong?” Melissa asked. “You’ve been really quiet.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m just not used to this fork and knife thing. I usually shove things in my mouth with my claws, you know?”

“Oh,” Melissa said. She blinked and looked back at her food, suddenly finding her salad very interesting.

This date was a setup. I could not believe that I had gone along with this. When Raina had suggested that I go out with her friend from work, I shrugged and tried to move to a different subject. She never got the clue and persisted to bug me about it. I could not shake her no matter what excuse I made and finally, I had been forced to give in. If I told her that I Was content, she probably would have shaken her head and told me that I was just being shy. Nobody wanted to believe that a guy could wake up alone and feel good about it. For the record, they did not believe a woman could do the same.

“So,” Melissa said. “Do you watch Blue Bloods?”

“What?” I asked. “Um, no, I don’t have a television. It’s a bit difficult with all of the water.”

“Oh,” Melissa said. She was clearly disappointed.

“What’s it about?” I asked, not wanting to take the air out of her balloon yet again.

“Oh!” Melissa said with a smile. “It’s about a family of cops and one lawyer. They fight crime and deal with family stuff.”

“Well, I can approve of fighting crime for sure,” I said. She did not immediately chuckle at that softball so I blurted out. “I had an uncle who was a lawyer.”

“Cool,” she said, clearly uninterested. “Do you get out to watch movies ever?”

“It’s hard to get out of the stream, really,” I said. “This is the longest I’ve been out of water for a while.”

“So have you seen any movies?” She asked, her opinion of me clearly falling lower every second.

I shrugged. “I’ve seen Die Hard.”

She laughed. “That doesn’t count. Everybody has seen Die Hard.”

I nodded and smiled, feeling like a complete jackass. Obviously, I had just failed some test. I searched my mind for something to talk about with this girl. She deserved pleasant conversation at a minimum. I was definitely failing at that task. I thought about every topic I was even remotely knowledgeable about and nothing seemed like it would be up Melissa’s alley. She was approaching something ‘normal’ which was a bit frightening to me. I am anything but normal. I am a freak. I am broken.

“This is a bad date, huh?” She asked. She smiled at me in a way that inspired honesty.

“Yeah, uh, it’s pretty bad,” I said. I tried to smile to soften the blow.

“Sorry,” Melissa said. “I made all the decisions for this date and now you’re not having any fun.”

“It’s not your fault,” I said. “I think it might be my fault a little bit. I didn’t want to come out and I did anyway. Maybe nobody’s at fault. We can’t blame Raina, for sure.”

“She’s great,” Melissa said.

“She really is,” I said.

“Do you have a thing for Raina?” Melissa asked as if that would explain everything. If it were true, it would explain everything. It also would be pretty danged convenient and I would definitely not be in the position I had put myself.

“No,” I said. “I don’t have a thing for anybody. There’s nothing wrong with you. I just don’t want this.”

“Don’t want what?” Melissa asked. She looked as confused as I often felt.

“Dates,” I said. “A girlfriend. A boyfriend. A significant other. To impress anyone.”

“Wow,” she said. “That’s really weird.”

“Tell me about it,” I said. “Are you going to tell me that I’m wrong.”

“No,” She said. “I don’t get it but I guess I get it.” She shrugged.

“Thank you,” I said. “Can I drive you home?”

“No,” She said. “I’ll just take the bus.”

I nodded. “Okay. Sorry.”

She nodded in return and walked out.

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