I was standing on the third step of a brownstone stoop, late on a work night, with a man licking my face.
I wasn’t quite sure how I got there. That morning was a typical mundane Monday. I trudged to work, answered phones, made marketing collateral, chatted with friends online about where we would go drinking later that night. The morning was hazy in my memory and I couldn’t connect the dots to determine what went so tragically wrong.
The man who was furiously lapping my lips, (and my chin and my nose…) was a coworker, Dan. He was the tall, hot guy next door who, based on first impressions, everyone loved. But I knew better. He was really the guy that charmed you to get his way, and when you didn’t buy it, he turned cruel and manipulative. He enjoyed taking whatever he could get and all of my hatred at my life situation was regularly directed at him, while his hatred of women who saw through him was regularly directed at me. Our mutual hatred of each other made this situation even more confusing. At what point had this become "a date" and when had I agreed to a face washing?
I hadn’t been out with anyone but friends for months. My heart had been broken by an older man who had, after three years, finally succumbed to his fear of commitment and attachment to a woman ten years his junior. It was the kind of broken where your soul was sucked out of your body and you wandered like a zombie, day to dreaded day, hoping that eventually, it returned. At 23, I was convinced that my life was over, and I was less than ill-prepared for the advances of a man like Dan.
Dan and I had been chosen to be the company representatives for a fancy client party in one of the new club/gallery spaces in the Lower East Side. I knew that I should be excited about these opportunities, but at the same time, I was never sure why I got elected to go to such events. Much more of a wallflower than the life of the party, I tended to stake out locations in dark corners where I could take in the whole room, be prepared when someone tried to make an approach, and befriend the waitstaff so I got first dibs on the best appetizers. My tolerance level for the New York elite was lower than rock bottom and I could never keep my sarcasm hidden long enough to stay for more than an hour.
When my patience was on its last leg, I glanced at my phone, preparing to make my escape. To my surprise, Dan materialized next to me. We hadn’t arrived together and other than a few sidelong glances, I had successfully avoided him the entire evening.
“Where are you slinking off to?” he asked while checking out a tall blonde woman in heels.
I rolled my eyes, “Oh, just heading home before my bedtime.”
“I’ll walk with you.”
I felt my eyes widen in shock. I was positive he was only leaving with me because he was bored and wanted an excuse to leave. His type was that Nordic woman, who represented everything that I wasn’t. I couldn’t be bothered to sport the six-inch heels that would make me scarcely average height and the short, tight, brightly colored dresses just weren’t meant for my curvy brown body.
My vintage dress rustled as we walked towards Greenwich Village on the sparkling sidewalk. I loved roaming the city at night, when the dirt and grime were hidden by shadows and the pavement appeared to be made of glitter.
“I’m just going to meet a friend at one of the NYU dorms,” I said. My eyes looked everywhere but at Dan. “It’s just up the street. You don’t have to walk with me.”
“It’s nice out and it’s late. You shouldn’t walk alone.”
I glowered silently. I had never appreciated men telling me what to do or their need to protect me. My Asian-ness, small stature, and feminine appearance made it difficult for me to feel heard and I despised when those traits were used against me as arguments for what I needed. I wished Dan would just disappear so I could retreat into my daydreams.
The buildings slowly went from block-sized warehouses to single-family brownstones as we walked silently towards Fifth Avenue. Whenever walking the tree-lined streets of Greenwich, I imagined what would happen to my life if I were in a movie or a character on Sex and the City. The happenings in my mind were always more fun than my reality.
Somewhere near Tenth Street, Dan paused. He propped his foot on a step and adjusted his laces. I audibly sighed and crossed my arms in annoyance while I waited a few feet away and gazed down the street.
“Hey, come look at this!” Dan exclaimed.
Working for architects that specialized in historic preservation meant I was often pretending to be excited about a stone here and a façade there. I figured the excitement in Dan’s voice was related to some enthusiasm about the building that was in front of us. As I shuffled closer to Dan, he turned to me, his face that of a small boy eager to show their mom a worm they had discovered.
Before I could back away, Dan’s hands were around my waist. He picked me up as if I were a feather and placed me on the brownstone stoop, three steps up. I was in such shock that I couldn’t move or even make a noise in protest. I gaped at him as his face moved toward mine. I couldn’t close my eyes as he gently kissed me and then quickly moved to licking and sucking my chin, his tongue flicking in and out of his mouth. His eyes were closed and he was making little moaning sounds as he slurped off the minimal amount of makeup I had worn.
At some point, Dan finally stopped; maybe he realized that I wasn’t an active participant in his bliss or maybe his mouth didn’t produce enough saliva for him to continue with my face washing. He pulled back and gazed at me, a Cheshire grin on his face and his eyes half-open. My disgust was written across my face.
I waved my little red Nokia in his face and said much too quickly and loudly, “I’ve got to go meet my friend!”
I hopped off the stoop and scurried down the street. As I rounded the corner, I leaned against the building. How unfortunate that my meet-cute fantasies had come true with someone with a lizard tongue.