It's In Her Eyes
I swore that I would relax, clear my head. Writer's block was shackling my fingers and, anyway, I was dying to read a new trashy novel I had picked up a few days ago. Having experienced this kind of brain haze before, I knew that I just needed to leave the world behind and immerse myself in anesthetization. I also knew I'd get frustrated listening to the frat boys upstairs blare their music, so I went to a quiet coffee shop around the corner with comfy couches, only the soft din of an espresso machine and occasional employee laugh to contend with.
I bought a mug of hot chai, settled on a soft, cushiony love seat, wrapped my leg under myself, and dove into the book. Some time passed before I saw a large figure out of the corner of my eye enter the café. I glanced up and there was a man in a dripping wet trench coat. At some point it had started to rain outside and I hadn't even noticed. But I noticed this stranger, wavy short black hair, striking cheekbones, large dark eyes, neither very short nor very tall, and wonderfully fat.
Yes, wonderfully fat. Those striking cheekbones were offset by a hint of jowly flesh and a chubby double chin. His trench coat opened and revealed a pinstriped buttoned down blubbery belly that surged over his gray trousers, hiding most evidence of a belt. I couldn't see any more detail of his body than that, but I gazed at his width, imagining his exceptional shape underneath the coat. I was thinking he looked rather young to be dressed so professionally, spending too many seconds lingering over his soft middle and noting he had no ring on his finger. When I looked back up, I caught his big, dark eyes looking at mine. I tried an embarrassed smile, but with discomfort in his eyes, he looked away too quickly, pulling his coat around his gorgeous tummy. Buttoning up, he grabbed his cup and hurried out.
A part of me wanted to run after him and profess my lustful need explore his body, but I dutifully stayed right where I was, left to feel both the lingering warmth of his face and the regretful sting of his self-conscious exit. I read the same lines in the book over and over again, unable to get his wounded eyes out of my head. I wanted so much to right what seemed to go wrong in the moment that our eyes locked.
I continued to think about him non-stop for a week, hoping I would see him coming around the corner every time I headed in the vicinity of the coffee shop. Yet another week had passed and while I gave up hope of ever seeing him again, his adorable face and rotund shape still smoldered in my imagination. Still no Mystery Man.
My best friend called to meet me at a pub nearby for happy hour drinks, as we hadn't seen each other in weeks. I walked into the pub, alone. There were plenty of open seats, so I chose a small table in the middle of no one. I sat down to wait and looked around.
Then I froze. There he sat, the Mystery Man, with two friends at a table several yards away, closer to the bar. I could hardly believe it possible to feel an even more urgent desire than the first time I saw him, but I did. This time he was casual, wearing a green rugby style shirt and khakis. The table covered up some of his amazing body, but I could see from his broad shoulders and round arms that he was still the perfectly built guy I had first noticed two weeks before.
Seconds passed like hours while I waited for my friend. The waitress came over to ask if I'd like a drink. When I spoke, "I'd like a stout," the Mystery Man and his friends turned to look in my direction. I glanced back and locked eyes with him. I tried to smile and looked away. Self-conscious, I grabbed a book from my bag and stuck my nose in it. Of course, I didn't focus on a single word, as I couldn't stop feeling the anxiety of being in the general vicinity of this man whom I so deeply wanted.
I watched two minutes pass before the waitress brought me the beer. Once again, the threesome was looking at me. The two friends were smiling, but my Mystery Man was not. I smiled back in hopes he would warm up, but he just looked away.
My heart sunk.
Just then my friend entered, bouncing in with a smile on her face giving me the warmest hug. Cynthia is my opposite. She's a bubbly, outgoing cutie with wavy blonde hair and big round curves. She casts a stark contrast to my calm introspection and lean figure. I'm usually described as anything from sophisticated, to aloof, to downright difficult, but I'm actually just far too shy for my own good. No matter how well I am able to express myself in the written form, verbally I'm a mess. I've been told that my even my non-verbal communication skills leave much to be desired.
Cynthia and I have had many 'heart to heart' conversations about how much each of us would like to be the other. "Cynthia," I always tell her, "I would give anything to have your fearlessness, to command a room the way you do."
"Lauren," she rebuts me, "I would give anything to command a room with my beauty the way you do." She exaggerates. I think she's the attractive one, the way that people flock to her. When she was in high school she was the head cheerleader, president of the student body and basically belonged to everything. I didn't have a normal high school experience like she did. I was a teen model with tutors. I didn't begin to know a normal life until I went to college and met Cynthia, my social savior.
"Check those guys out, they keep looking over here, " she laughed, I glanced at Mr. Mystery Man and he remained uninterested in my fleeting glimpses.
Cynthia began to tell me about her business trip to Asia. She's a buyer for a well-known couture house in New York. When we graduated from college, I introduced her to the head designer they hit it off, as I knew they would. She's perfect for that world. She's the consummate mover and shaker.
"Jesus, Lauren, you have to write a book about the industry, it would be fabulous!" She was referring to the fashion world. I misspent too much of my youth there. My writing style was already sarcastic enough. Any tome I would write about that world would be caustic to say the least. I'd burn many bridges if I did it any justice. So I just smiled. Cynthia was having a ball with it. She didn't even seem to care that her plump body didn't conform to the severe expectations of fashion, which was something I deeply loathed about that business.
Cynthia ordered a frou-frou drink and we chatted for about a half an hour, with my occasional glances at my Mystery Man going unnoticed. At one point he got up to head toward the rest rooms and passed by our table. I mindlessly watched his marvelous body move past us, noticeable mounds of flesh on his chest, big round love handles and that belly, undulating with his gate.
Just a few minutes later, Cynthia's cell phone rang. After a quick upbeat chat she was on her way out the door, "Lauren... I'm sorry... emergency... you know how these people are... I'll call you later!" She rushed out and there I sat with my freshly served second stout, alone.
Almost as suddenly as Cynthia left, I looked up and there in front of me was one of Mr. Mystery Man's friends. "Hi, I'm Troy, I saw that your friend left you here..."
I looked over at his friends and they were both watching Troy swoop in for the pick up. I'd seen that annoyingly self-assured look in men before. The Mystery Man smirked. I felt completely dejected by his disapproval.
"Hi Troy," I reluctantly spoke, realizing what was happening. Troy was one of those overly confident pretty boys that spent much of his time at the gym or looking in the mirror.
"Would you like to join us?" he asked.
I reluctantly spoke again, "I don't want to intrude."
"You wouldn't be," he gushed, "it's not often we see a beautiful woman at this place," like I hadn't heard that line in it's numerous forms before.
I was becoming frustrated. "I don't think your friends would appreciate it," glancing at the still sour Mr. M.
Troy tuned around to look at them, "Well, then," he sat down where Cynthia had been sitting, "maybe I can keep you company while you finish your drink." This has always been a hateful thing for me to figure out. How to be pleasant when you're not interested and not amused. "You can ask my friends, I'm a nice guy," he chuckled.
That gave me an idea. Emboldened from the frustration and negativity coming from Mr. M, I called Troy's bluff. "Then let me ask, can you send over your friend in the green shirt?"
Troy looked at me with a dubious smile, but then yielded, "Okay." He stood up and walked over to his friends, asking Mr. M to come over. He seemed annoyed with the request, said something back to Troy and stayed seated. I was crushed. He had absolutely no interest in talking to me. Troy seemed to persist and my Mystery Man finally got up and walked over, following behind Troy. Troy sat down and the man of my dreams remained standing.
"Troy, could you give us a minute," Troy looked confused, so I smiled, "please?" He walked back over to the third friend at their table and watched us. Mr. M stood in front of me, his arms folded across his big beautiful body, his soft belly surging outward and downward, the exquisite way I remembered from the coffee shop.
"Um," I sputtered, "I'm Lauren. Do you mind sitting down for a minute?" He did sit, without saying anything. "You're?"
"Nick," he admitted. Finally, I had a name for him.
"Nice to meet you, Nick," I smiled, He just nodded. "Apparently you're not too amused with all of this," I blurted.
"Should I be?" He stated back.
"I guess not, but I can't understand why you're so negative toward me," I retorted.
He looked surprised, "If you're interested in my buddy, you should just talk to him, don't drag me into it."
"First of all, I'm not interested in your friend..."
He cut me off, "then why are you playing with him, dragging me over here?"
"I'm not playing with him, I just wanted to talk to you," I reasoned, "besides, you were giving me the evil eye before he ever approached me."
"Why do you want to talk to me? So you can make fun of the fat guy again?"
"I've seen you before, you know," he still seemed angry.
"I've seen you too," I smiled, still trying to soften his mood.
"I suppose it's hard to miss me," he sarcastically berated himself.
"Yes, it is, it's hard to miss someone as attractive as you. If you didn't have such a chip on your shoulder you'd be even more attractive." Nick was totally stumped. He looked at me like I was an alien from another planet. I boldly continued, "I had hoped you noticed me..." I was going to finish saying, "looking at you" but he cut me off.
"I saw you in the coffee shop the other day, you were looking at me, gawking at my body like it was the most amusing thing in the world to you. You know I didn't appreciate that much."
I was really shocked and didn't know what to say. I was so lost in his beauty that it didn't occur to me at the time that he could notice my gaze and then be offended by it.
"Nick, trust me, I am not making fun of you. I never..."
He cut me off, "just because you're a supermodel or whatever doesn't mean you can treat the rest of us like we're inferior."
Those words cut deep. I was done. I had done no such thing. "I'd like more than anything to have a pleasant conversation with you but you seem to have prejudged me into a neat little package."
I angrily stood up. Then he stood up. I was in awe of his marvelous face and substantial size. I melted again. He started to move away when I grabbed his arm, "Wait!" I grabbed a pen from my purse and scribbled my number on the bar napkin in front of me, "This is for YOU, not for your friend."
I grabbed my bag and left. As I passed their table, I heard Troy say, "what the f...?"
I sprinted home, fell into my pillow and cried, feeling doomed to be alone forever. I thought about the horrible conversation I had with Nick. It painfully reminded me of my first boyfriend, Derek, a boy I met when I was 15 and working in London. He was the 17-year-old son of a photographer and he would hang around shooting locations after school. I was in awe of him. I loved his accent, his wild black wavy hair and his round, soft body. We romped around the city for a couple of week after I finished the shoot I had been working on.
One night we were sitting on the banks of the Thames and I leaned over to kiss his cheek. When he looked at me I kissed his lips. He let my hands roam his plumpness while we made out and I loved every extra inch. After a few days of flaunting my first boyfriend, my mother found out from my tutor that I was spending more time cuddling with Derek than studying and requested my return.
Derek was upset when I told him I'd have to go back to Connecticut. When I said I wasn't sure if we'd be able to carry anything on, he said words like Nick had just said, "being beautiful doesn't give you the right to use me and then tromp on me." I never heard from Derek again and I supposed Nick wouldn't call me either.
As I lay there enduring my own little pity party, I reflected on all of my relationships. There actually were not very many and it made me feel even lonelier. The next day I hammered on my keyboard all day long. Social anxiety and loneliness always broke down my walls and cleared my writer's block. I certainly had experience with it.
Later in the day I was still obsessing about Nick. I called my friend Jonathan to get a reality check.
I met Jonathan in college. He was in my dramatic writing class and I was wildly attracted to him. The class involved a lot of team exercises and stage acting. He was so good at it. Funny, direct, honest and compassionate, I was utterly hooked on him. Of course when I found out he was gay, I had to put my crush away, and then we became good friends. One day after class, he questioned me.
"Lauren, are you... how can I put this... into fat guys?"
Of course I was, I always had been, as far as I remember feeling attracted to boys, but I never talked about it, "What?"
"You heard me."
I was defensive, "I don't know what you're getting at Jonathan, but you're gay so I can't be in to you," I teased him. He was always patting his big belly and referring to himself as a sexy Buddha boy.
"Lauren, you know what I'm talking about. You're so obvious the way you look at big guys; the way you blow off the hard body boys that hit on you and gaze at the fat ones? I've seen you check me out. Hello?" He laughed, rubbing his sweet belly. I turned red.
"It's okay, if you are, I mean, if it weren't for chubby chasers I would never get a date!" he laughed more.
"Is it that obvious?" I conceded meekly.
"It's obvious to me, then again, I'm used to looking for it," he shrugged his shoulders.
From that conversation onward, Jonathan was my confidant in matters of the heart. When it came to relationships, Cynthia was too flippant. Jonathan understood me.
"Hey Jonathan, this is Lauren," I had him on the phone
"Hey you, gorgeous thing! What are you doing?" His voice always cheered me up.
"Writing..." I murmured.
"Okay, what's wrong, when you call me when you're writing and it usually means you're bummed about something," he teased.
"Yes it is... come on, talk to me... fat boy trouble?"
"Jonathan," I laughed, "stop it. You always tease me about that," I whined.
"I tease because I care," he laughed.
"Why can't I find a guy that doesn't judge me for my looks?" I whined more.
"Oh, you won't get any sympathy from me or most people on that one. You poor beautiful thing," he laughed. "So who's judging you?"
"This guy...he's really amazingly great looking and..."
"Is he fat?"
"Very..." I gushed.
"Fatter than me?"
"Yes!" I giggled out loud. "Well, actually I haven't seen you lately, are you still with that feeder?"
He called me a bitch. "So what's this guy's problem, is he blind?"
"No, just dumb, he thinks I was trying to insult him when I gawked at his hot bod."
"Lauren, you have to be careful with us Tubbies. You know you have a way of not keeping track of where your eyes go. Most fat guys don't think there are women who want them. A stare could be misconstrued as mocking. Even as confident as I am, when a cute guy visually appraises my body, my first reaction is that he probably thinks I would be much cuter if I hit the gym."
Jonathan and I talked for a while. He always gave me perspective on the fatter set of men when I needed it.
I moped for a few days with no call from Nick, not that I expected it, before Cynthia called me to reconnect, "you know I owe you a drink the way I ran out on you the other day," she apologized. I agreed to meet her at the same pub, figuring it would be too much coincidence for Nick and company to be there again.
I walked in and Cynthia was already waiting for me, and the coast was clear. We gabbed for a while, talking mostly about Cynthia's new boyfriend. Her love life was never dull. Sometimes I felt like I lived through her, listening to her escapades like I was following a soap opera.
She asked about my love life. "I have no love life," I answered.
"Is that a good or a bad thing?" she asked.
"I don't know, it just is. I just can't meet the right guy, I guess." Cynthia rolled her eyes. She had heard me say those words before.
And just then, the right guy walked in: Nick. He was with another guy, not Troy or the other friend from the week before. This time he was wearing a button-down shirt tucked into Khakis that accentuated his full form in the most sexy way. He stood at the bar waiting to order and still had not seen me. I gazed at his magnificence for a moment.
Cynthia watched me watching him. "Lauren, you have the hots for that big guy don't you, I noticed him in here last time and you were checking him out." I turned red and smiled. "You want him! I knew it!"
"Shhh..." I giggled.
"You've always had eyes for heavier guys, haven't you?"
I just smiled sheepishly.
"You're this sickeningly beautiful woman who likes fat guys, and there's a great looking one right in front of you, and yet here you sit alone. Why don't you approach him?"
"We've kind of already talked."
"And, he's not interested."
"Bull!" she hit back.
Just then he turned around and looked at us. Cynthia waved him over to our table. "Cynthia!" I exclaimed through clenched teeth, "don't do that!"
"Oh, whatever," she pooh-poohed my embarrassment.
Nick walked over, and I forced my eyes to stay above his neck.
"Hi," she held her hand out with a huge smile, "I'm Cynthia, and this is my friend Lauren," she beamed.
"Yes, we've met," he smiled at us, seeming a little less peevish.
His friend walked over, "Nick, listen, I just got paged by the office, I'll have to catch up with you later," and he was gone.
"So," Cynthia sighed, "then you can join us for a drink?"
"Um, Sure," he sat down with his beer.
Cynthia quizzed him about everything and he answered politely, occasionally glancing at me. He was a self-employed attorney fresh out of law school. He had come from a small town in Michigan to go to school in the city and stayed to start his small practice.
She finally let up on the quizzing and got up to use the restroom.
"Cynthia's inquisitive," I reassured him, blushing.
"Yes, she is." He half smiled, and asked, "Are you setting me up with her?"
"No! No," I laughed, "She's got too many boyfriends already, I wouldn't do that to you."
He nodded with another half smile, "then why is she showing such an interest in me?"
"Because... well she's a friendly person?" I offered.
We sat in silence for about five seconds, which passed like hours when Cynthia returned. Then Nick asked her, "Why did you call me over here?"
Cynthia was never ashamed of the truth. "Because Lauren has the hots for you. You haven't figured that out yet?"
We all went silent for a several seconds when Cynthia popped up from her seat and said, "well you two have something to talk about so I'm outtie." She hugged and kissed my cheek, "Later, Sweets."
So there Nick and I sat, alone, quiet.
"I'm sorry," I said, hating the silence...
"No, I'm sorry, I was thinking about the way I talked to you the other day, and I'm embarrassed, I was going to call you but I didn't think you really cared one way or the other."
"You were going to call?" I asked.
"Yeah, I just thought it was crazy..." he trailed off.
"When I saw you at the coffee shop I recognized you as Lauren O'Malley, the author, and I was shocked at the way you looked at me."
"You knew who I was?"
"Sure, you had that best seller last year." People sometimes recognize me, but I never think of my work in the same realm as my love life, or lack thereof. "And then you were toying with my friend Troy and I thought you were really full of yourself."
"But I didn't...."
"I know that now, I talked to him and realized it afterwards. I felt bad, but I didn't think you would care if I apologized, so I saved us the added embarrassment.
"Okay, so now you know, I wish you would have called," I sheepishly smiled and for the first time, he looked at me with warmth in his eyes.
It was getting too smoky in the pub, "Do you want to go for a walk?" I asked.
"Sure," he smiled.
As we walked, we began to talk easily about life in the city. I stole occasional glances at his beefy body, feeling such excitement being next to him.
After about ten minutes, he stopped and looked at me intently, "you have to tell me why you keep checking out my body, it's making me crazy!" He laughed nervously.
We stopped and I walked over to a park bench a few feet away. He sat down with me.
"Nick, I'm sorry if I make you uncomfortable, it's just that I'm attracted to you and I can't keep my eyes away from you, you have a really nice body," I stammered.
He smiled, "Okay, women have said I'm cute or whatever, you know, maybe they've been attracted to my personality or my great sense of humor, but they never say I have a great body. Especially not models."
"I'm not a model you know," I smiled.
"You were," he smiled back.
"It's a job, not an identity," one of the many things I hated about that job.
At that moment I was entranced by his eyes and lips, I moved close, put my finger under his chubby chin and kissed him.
Happily he kissed back, giving way to more kissing. Which gave way to more dating and more of everything, even a little more of Nick for my happy eyes.