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Whodunnit?

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 PERSONAL ESSAYS

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Nine o’clock on a cold December morning. I’m riding the Franklin Avenue shuttle back from Sadie’s apartment with my collar popped to hide my hickies, and I’m wishing I had some sort of disguise. Because even though I’m not the kind of guy to be walking home in the party dress he wore the night before, high heels slung over my shoulder, make no mistake: I’m doing the walk of shame.


Sadie and I met two nights prior at a bar known more for hanging out than hooking up. It’s also the sort of place where it’s okay to sit on your stool reading a dog-eared paperback while the snow gets serious outside. My Sherlock Holmes book had been occupying me between bites of burger until a new pair of eyes appeared at the end of the bar. Sadie did, and still does, look like the oft-ballyhooed "naughty librarian."

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Bespeckled in horn-rimmed glasses and a polka-dot dress, she was an NC-17 Nancy Drew. She met my gaze and smiled in a way that indicated she wanted me to buy her a drink. But then, with Sherlockian subtlety, she pointed to the empty stool to her right. Sitting on the bar next to her was a second drink, and I deduced from the empty barstool and the half-full beer that she was here with another suitor.

Sure enough, Sadie’s date returned from the bathroom. He was a decent-enough looking guy, a little shorter than her, which made him a lot shorter than me. People on dates aren’t necessarily off limits, especially those in bars. I’d met at least one girlfriend while she was on a bad Internet date, so the feelings of quiet competition weren’t totally unfamiliar.

Sadie continued to send me glances, and I couldn’t help but start quietly humming that terrible ’90s pop song about sex and candy. Someone was casting devious stares in my direction, and this probably was a dream. Her date’s back was to me, allowing Sadie and I to engage in optical intercourse without fear of being caught. Her demeanor toward him wasn’t quite the naughty-librarian routine she seemed to be giving me.

I couldn’t help but start quietly humming that terrible ’90s pop song about sex and candy.

In regard to her date, Sadie seemed to be a very nice librarian. If this guy was looking to check out some books, they appeared to be on hold for somebody else.

Returning to Holmes, I found him talking to Watson about the differences between real life and fiction: "Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent," he sagely informed his assistant. And as I looked up to see Sadie heading for the bathroom, my life took one of those sudden little leaps in which I knew exactly what Holmes was talking about. I got up and discreetly followed her.

In the dark hallway, we whispered our names to each other. She proclaimed her date boring and said she would rather be sitting with me. With beverage napkins, we exchanged phone numbers with vows to meet the following night. I returned to my barstool and immediately began to text her. I caught her furtively smiling at my messages as she casually texted back. Our phones chirped like crickets signaling to each other across the night. When I got home, I had a voicemail. Sadie was giving me directions to "a great dive bar where we can make out in the corner" the next night. The instant familiarity was bizarre, but exciting. Like a romantic comedy mashed with softcore porn. Something for everybody.


The following night, Sadie was determined to prove she could drink me under the table. And while I was hardly putting up a fight, she managed to get me halfway toasted and back to her apartment in under an hour.

        

  

 PERSONAL ESSAYS

  

        

  

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On the subway the following morning, I reflected on saving Sadie’s name in my phone as "Sexy Sadie." But really, "Sadist Sadie" or "Superfreaky Kinky Sadie" might have been more accurate. I wasn’t in any real pain, but in the eyes of a true believer, my back might have incited references to the stigmata, or at the very least, The Passion of the Skinny Geek. Sadie was a biter, and she slapped, scratched and generally abused me. In short, it was great. But the notion that I was auditioning for any role other than "random hookup guy" was dashed just prior to our getting down to business.

"I have a boyfriend, Ryan," she said. "Do you have a problem with that?"

"Not at all," I said. Of course I didn’t. I was a twenty-first century kind of guy, and she was a twenty-first century kind of girl. Neither of us were married, and it turned out her boyfriend was in San Francisco. In the evolution of my sexual enlightenment, I felt as if I were growing legs and taking to the land.


I talked about the situation on the phone with my old girlfriend, Gabriela, a few weeks later. Old girlfriends have many magical powers, and the ability to sense when you’re getting good sex is chief among them.

"If the sex is really good, what’s the problem?" she asked.

I told her the problem was that I felt like I was a perpetual booty-call.

"Now you know how I feel when you call me drunk." This is another magical power old girlfriends have: the ability to remind you how un-evolved you actually are.


It soon became apparent that Sadie’s modern approach to sex wasn’t limited to me. The next time she texted me to come over was from some kind of swinger party in her building, where she had supposedly just gone down on another girl. When I entered the foyer, there was indeed a girl leaving at that very same moment, high heels literally slung over her shoulder. She looked at me with both mild contempt and affected apathy.

There was every chance this girl had not actually just engaged in a sapphic tryst with my would-be mistress. I could have been projecting this character on to a perfect stranger.

I reflected on saving Sadie’s name in my phone as "Sexy Sadie." But really, "Sadist Sadie" might have been more accurate.

Indeed, it was possible that I was projecting the character of swinger onto Sadie in an attempt to sexually deify her in order to assuage my sneaking suspicion that being modern or progressive had nothing to do with all this, and that I was actually just an ordinary slut.

When I entered, Sadie was topless, wearing a skirt, garters, high heels and crotchless panties. She started telling me about how one of her female neighbors had just made her come. She was a little drunker than I was, and it wasn’t clear if we were getting turned on by each other, or by Sadie’s dirty talk. There’s a good reason why porn often includes dirty talk, girl-on-girl action and crotchless panties. It works.


Our relationship continued exclusively in the confines of Sadie’s apartment, where she existed in a permanent costume of underwear and pajamas. Often, we would dirty text-message each other while at work, which is a funny thing that happens between people these days.

"What kind of panties are you wearing?"

"The one’s you like." As if I don’t like all of the panties. I may have well been asking, "Which naked body are you wearing today?"


While removing a gag (my necktie) from Sadie’s mouth one night, I finally decided to ask her what she did for a living. She told me she worked in the offices of an upscale salon in the Meatpacking District. I told her an old flame of mine worked there, Allison.

"Yeah, I know her." Sadie said. "She’s cute. Maybe we should have a threesome with her." Which was a very interesting thing for Sadie to say, because Allison was very, very bisexual.

"We should do it at your job," I texted Sadie from bed later that night.

"Just text me sometime when you’re in the neighborhood, and we’ll fuck under my desk," she replied. "Maybe Allison can watch."

If Sadie was serious, it would be one of the greatest sexual conquests of my life.

  

        

  

 PERSONAL ESSAYS

  

        

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As I strolled through the Meatpacking District on the late January afternoon in question, I pulled my tan overcoat tight around me in a way I imagined to be very Sherlock Holmes-esque. In moments of indecision, I find thinking of myself as a stoic intellect to be sexually empowering. I didn’t have a pipe, but lit one of my cheap Parliament hipster cigarettes instead. Then I texted Sadie.

"I’m around the corner from your job, wanna mess around?" I walked around the block, and finally settled into the only diner nearby, ordered a coffee and a plate of fries. Really sexy stuff. I figured I had been eating greasy food when Sadie and I first met. I should recreate my previous nonchalance. When you’re trying to get laid in the middle of the day, everyone else suddenly seems like they’re cruising too. Moments before Sadie texted me back, I could have sworn the hostess was getting ready to flash me.

"Hey, just finishing up with a meeting. Come up in five?"

I was pumped. The porno flick Sadie and I had been making would no longer be just a home movie. It was going public. Metaphorically speaking, maybe even to the internet.

As I rode the elevator to the top floor, I was half-relieved I didn’t bump into Allison.

I was going to see Allison out of the corner of my eye while really giving it to Sadie under the desk.

Because that wasn’t the way the fantasy was supposed to work. I was going to see Allison out of the corner of my eye while really giving it to Sadie under the desk. At the very worst, maybe I would see Allison as I was leaving. I would be struggling to get my tie back on. I had even worn one for the occasion.

Emerging at the top floor, I removed my overcoat and casually draped it over my arm. Then I saw Sadie. She was talking to some clients in the kind of way I imagined an ambassador chats up some foreign dignitaries at the U.N. If I could pull this off, it would not only make me feel normal about my strange desires, but it would also be one of the best examples of a dorky guy like me doing some honest-to-goodness trading up.

When Sadie noticed me, she briskly took me by the arm and led me around a corner near the restrooms.

"Listen. This meeting is going to take a little bit longer than I thought."

"Oh, that’s okay." I said. "Maybe we can just make out in the bathroom a little bit?"

"No, sorry sweetie, that’s not going to happen. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have told you to come up. It’s all a little too weird. I don’t even have a real office. It’s all open and stuff. Maybe if it were later, when no one was around."

Sadie had never before called me sweetie. Not once, ever. Sweetie was something I called my old girlfriends. Girls like Gabriela, and Allison. Sadie and I weren’t like that. We were hot young lovers in the city, determined to fuck each other’s brains out no matter the cost. And yet here she was, proving me wrong. Proving me to be the slut of the two of us.

"Is Allison working right now?" I asked.

"No, no. I think it’s her day off." She paused and cocked her head to one side in a very adult manner. "Actually, I haven’t seen her around in a couple of weeks."

At that, I told Sadie I would go, and was sorry if I’d embarrassed her, and she told me it was no big deal, and that she felt guilty, but really it just wasn’t going to work out. I found myself wishing she’d added the word "today" to that final statement. But she was right: it wasn’t going to work out. As I nodded to the security guard who’d signed me in, I was doing a whole new walk of shame.


Sadie notified me via text message a few days later that her boyfriend from San Francisco was moving in with her in a few weeks. If we saw each other again, it would have to be different. I figured it was still kind of a progressive gesture, almost sweet. "Hey, we were just fuck buddies, but if you want, we can still be regular buddies." Maybe she was a lot more twenty-first century than I understood.


I did run into Sadie again. She was wearing a Mets cap and jersey. We were at a bar where you get a free hot dog with the purchase of any beer. She was with her friends and her boyfriend, fresh from a game at Shea Stadium.

Here she was, proving me wrong. Proving me to be the slut of the two of us.

At her request, I sat in the booth with them and chatted a bit. Her boyfriend and I somehow managed to figure out we both like Battlestar Galactica. As we talked, I watched Sadie watch us, and wondered what kind of depraved sexual acts she was imagining between her boyfriend and me. I secretly kind of hoped she would mention me in some of her dirty talk to him later. But maybe they weren’t that kind of couple. In between hot dogs and beer, I did notice her eyes wandering a bit. Maybe it was my imagination, but I could have sworn she was checking out some of the girls in the bar.

I gave her a hug as I left.

"Hey listen," I said. "You’ve got to cut that out."

"Cut what out?" she said.

"I can see you checking out all these girls."

"Am I that obvious?" she laughed, but I couldn’t tell if she was laughing about getting caught, or laughing because I was totally off the mark. Maybe she hadn’t been checking out anyone. Maybe she was just trying to be for me what I thought she was. And maybe I was just trying to be the person she thought I was too. To this day, the answer eludes me.  

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©2008 Ryan Britt and Nerve.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Ryan Britt’s stories have appeared on Nerve, Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood and Really Small Talk. On stage, he appears regularly with The Moth, The Liar Show, SpeakEasy, Stripped Stories and others. Every day, he writes a short piece of flash fiction and posts it to his website "Side Affects". His plays have enjoyed full productions from The Longest Lunch Theatre Company and several staged readings at The Tank. He lives in New York.