In the siege of Leningrad, 1944, people ate their own shoes. During the Great Depression, people ate the paste from book bindings. The Donner Party ate each other. Starvation is a cruel mistress.
Three weeks without a prospect had left me shamelessly destitute. I began a flirtation with a local woman whom I knew to be loopy, mentally unstable, and disliked by several people in the community.
It was a bad idea. But so is eating your own shoe. These were desperate times.
I’d met The Rejectionist months before at a bourbon tasting, and although she was attractive I immediately knew that she wasn’t the best prospect. I knew it the way I know hugging a porcupine is a bad idea. Call it instinct.
But tough times make strange bedfellows. It started out as a “friend” date to the Lebowski Festival. I figured it would provide me some distraction from my previous failed relationship and be some fun. I’m a huge fan of the film, and Louisville is the progenitor of the event.
The first night we enjoyed music and White Russians. During the outdoor screening of the movie, I put my arm around her, and she responded by resting her head on my shoulder like some 1950s drive-in cliché. This non-date was getting “datey” very fast, and I’d been the one to cross the line. I had no one to blame but myself.
At her doorstep my mouth was met with a warm embrace while my hand was simultaneously slapped away from the inside of her thigh – followed by a brusque goodbye and a door slammed in my face.
I’d actually thought I’d be invited up for a nightcap.
We’d made plans to go back to the festival, but when I texted her to ask what time she wanted me to pick her up, I received the answer:
“No, thank you.”
Although a woman breaking plans is not unheard of, there’s usually a reason. I was suspicious.
Twenty minutes later I received: “Aren’t you going to send me a pic of your costume? What should I wear?” I was confused. I sent her a picture of my costume and received a text back:
“What time are you picking me up?”
I dismissed the weirdness and got ready for the party – you could hardly say no to the Lebowski Fest, Day Two! I lent her my bathrobe and she went as Maude.
Sometime during the middle of the costume contest, she walked past without looking at me at all. I thought that maybe with the sunglasses on she couldn’t see, but I got a text from her afterwards:
“I’m going to get a ride and go home. You apparently don’t want to be here with me.”
I called her to find out what happened, but she found me instead and shoved me into a corner while kissing me, hard. Then she slapped me and walked away. Was I supposed to follow? I was confused.
After the bowling lanes closed, we had a nightcap at (the now defunct) Recovery Room on Frankfort Avenue, which was a few blocks from her apartment.
This time I was invited in.
I must have passed some kind of test, because things got hot and heavy in the kitchen. The bathrobe came off after a few minutes and we headed to the bedroom.
I chose to leave in the wee hours of the morning. I don’t know why. I’m not usually one to flee the scene, but I was in the mood to sleep in my own bed. Perhaps her rejectionist tactics had worn off on me.
My abrupt departure that night was not a term of endearment.
Our next date was brusquely ended at the sidewalk. The next after that was right after dinner. It was clearly her design to continue rejecting me at every advance until I looked like a complete imbecile, or got down on my knees and professed my undying love. I chose to move on.
Using rejection as a tactic is cute for teens, but in the adult world it’s simply juvenile. I didn’t want games. I wanted a girlfriend. Just like those starving citizens of Leningrad in 1944, I’d let my desperation make an unpalatable item appear appetizing.
But no matter how hungry you are, at some point you’ll realize that you’re eating your own shoe. And that’s just gross.
Contact R. Chase at YourVoice@voice-tribune.com.