‘The Boy Who Smells of Apples’ by Lily Steedman

Tindering becomes a daily habit. A “dating” app that functions around mutual attraction was so effortless, so emotionless, so easy. Left swipe, left swipe, oh! Right swipe. Hello there, kind of cute man with dark eyes and a few shots of random tattoos. We messaged; he told me he was an artist, coffee enthusiast, he mentioned a motorcycle. I’m bored and desperately trying to play the game and fight the urge to reveal my genuine interest in the boy who smells faintly of apples. So take me to dinner, Tinder man!

I walk into the restaurant, a candlelit hallway of an establishment and I get a text saying he’s at the bar. As I approach, he turns his head, swivels his body around on the bar stool and hops down.

“Hi! I’m—” Short. He is very short. And he has moved his little self surprisingly close to me. He does not smell like apples. My eyes roll down—all the way down—to find him gazing up at me from the tip of my nose.

We’re led to a table by a waitress who’s flicking her eyes over this disproportionate pair. A tinge of simultaneous pity for both me and for my date seeps in. Time to get to business though; I focus on what’s before me.

“Frog legs with spicy Dr. Pepper glaze! Celeriac soup with jamon serrano and brown butter maple! A foie gras doughnut? What? I want it all! Isn’t this great!?”

“Well if you get the frog legs, don’t be hopping out on me!”

I cringe. I can appreciate a good pun every once in a while, but this is just ruining the mood.

“Nah, I’m thinking the foie gras donut to start anyways.” That sweet wave of excitement spills in and I slip into curiosity about what kind of donut they’ll be stuffing with foie gras. Glazed sounds weird, too sweet, and cake doughnuts would be too dense with something as rich and decadent as foie gras.

“Donut expect me to catch the bill!” My sweet wave is recedes into low tide and is rapidly replaced by a sweet urge to grab my shit and bounce. Our waitress returns to take our orders and brings me a much needed tequila shot and she looks at me with the same pitiful smile I’ve been serving my date.

Ok, I’m going to try and make conversation that will not inspire puns. I ask about his art.

“Here, I’ll show you if you promise not to fall in love with me.”

Deal.

Little man pulls out his iPhone and proceeds to show me a series of objectively appalling comic-book-type scribbles. My sweet, sweet angel waitress of perfect timing arrives with our food and another tequila shot. This one I didn’t request but me and this lady have an unspoken understanding at this point.

I watch over dude’s shoulder as my golden angel waitress walks away. Be free my savior, I’ll be fine back here. My date puts his fork down and gazes past me, mouth slightly ajar. I know what’s brewing. Another pun is coming.

“I’m going to run to the bathroom.” I shoot down my tequila and snatch my phone, heading downstairs to brainstorm an exit strategy. But I get distracted because The Boy Who Smells of Apples texted me.

“What ya up to girl.” A simple text and I am blushing in this bathroom like nobody’s business.

I complain about the puns, the lack of conversation flow, the man-height issue.

I make my way back to the danger zone. I sit back down, and dude’s words are coming out like Charlie Brown’s teacher. I lay my eyes over what sits before me. An elegant square puff of crisp, golden brown dough generously sprinkled with powdered sugar. My fork plunges into this pillow, meeting the resistant crunch of the fried coat, and reaching into the moist, dense, foie gras center. My date fades out of vision, out of sound. In soars a choir of Mariah Careys singing O Holy Night on this warm April evening, coming together in soulful harmony, just for me. Just for my donut.

I place my fork on my empty plate and solemnly nod in response to whatever my date is blabbering about. The check comes and there is no feigned attempt to buy each other’s meal.

Meal complete! And I announce that I have to meet a friend for like a school-type project-thing that’s totally not made up and due tomorrow.

“You, uh, you want a ride on my motorcycle?”

Putting the disappointments of the evening aside, I take a moment to contemplate. I consider that it would be nice to skip the bus. Looking down, I see this little guy looking right back up at me with high hopes for his last effort. I take a moment to picture that motorcycle, sleek, shiny and black, vibrating with force, that warm summer night’s breeze blowing fast past my cheeks. Yeah I can work with this. I sigh, slightly disappointed that this cliché, romantic experience will be with this mini Mister but okay. I do really, really want a ride on that motorcycle.
He leads me out to the sidewalk. Now, I’m not a motorcycle expert. No bike enthusiast here. But this man proudly struts up to what my best efforts identify as a delicate, light blue street bike, tenuously connected to a chunky, exhaust-coated engine of some sort.

I give him a pat on the back with my comparatively enormous ogre hand and a genuinely piteous half-smile, and walk myself rapidly to the bus.

I swipe open my phone to see apple boy’s reaction. In response to the somewhat detailed, and (I thought) funny stories of this sorry encounter, all I get is:

“Ok.”

“Ok? That’s all? (The boy is usually quick to say something entertaining or silly or sexual—) “You jealous?”

“Yeah.”

Shit fuck shit! Fuck. I jump on the defense, trying to explain that I just thought it was funny, and I only agreed to the date out of boredom and hey! I kind of like your silly face. But the feeling sinks in deep, hitting me hard in the stomach where my lovely donut lays to rest. (Damn this boy and his ability to make feelings in me.) My attempts to boost my silly ego are causing some damage to his silly ego, and potentially to any future we’ve got.

Frustrated, I draw up a plan. I know that if this means anything to me I might as well drop the self-protective Tinder habits and embrace it.

“No more hungry attempts to steal meaningless attention and affection!” I declare to an empty Bed Stuy street.

“No more silly games to try and damper emotions!” I stomp down the street with power and newfound inspiration for personal growth!

“No more! No more—wait.”

A sickly, savory-sweet taste slides up my tongue and I grab my abdomen as my stomach muscles flop. Throwing myself on top the nearest trashcan, one shaky arm clutching the sticky metal edge (NYC baby!), one grabbing back to gather my hair. I push my mouth forward and down and let go.

“No more tequila and foie gras doughnuts.”


 

 

lily-steedmanLily Steedman is a senior at Eugene Lang, majoring in Urban Studies and minoring in Food Studies. NY transplant and California native, she enjoys cheesecake and not thinking about calories.

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