Sooo...as a journalist, it's not often I get a vacation. And when I do, it's gotta be cheap, one due to an already low salary and two because I do have child support that crimps into what I earn (not that I'm complaining; there's nothing more I'd rather spend money on than my sons).
When a friend told me he is gathering a bunch of people together and renting a lake house for the week, and to join would only be $250 per person, I was in with bells on. Why not? A relaxing week where I could bike, stroll, and catch up on some reading that doesn't involve Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.
The house is a beautiful manse directly on a boating dock on South Lake Tahoe with 10 bedrooms. Well okay, seven bedrooms, but mine along with others are "staff quarters," if this gives you an idea of the type of house. So, that's nine singles and a married couple. The married couple are lifelong friends--both went to my high school, and we've been close since. They love trapping a bunch of 40-something singles for a week in a place like this to see who hooks up. They even go out of their way to split the invitees between men and women.
But yes, if you do the math, you can see there's an odd man out. It's not been stated, but I am the token odd man out. That's because I'm overweight. Maybe not grossly, but enough so I tend to have to hike up my pants while I walk on occasion, can't run very much without getting winded, and would rather have my fingernails pulled off by a Mossad interrogator than take my shirt off to go swimming.
So, yeah, I understood my place in the pecking order early on, and I honestly didn't mind. As I said, I rarely get vacations--at least ones that don't include me having the boys at my apartment--and especially ones where I'll probably spend less than $1,000 for a week.
As you can imagine, it's a booze-fueled week with lots of laughing, story telling, frolicking, and for many, sex. I knew a couple of the other people on the trip already--a fellow reporter who is normally imbedded with a US Army unit but is about to be reassigned--and a twice divorced lady who is kind of a known name in various Broadway performances. So, you have a lot of creative, diverse people that lead to a lot of compelling talks and late nights.
By Monday, I was having the time of my life--even without swimming.
So, it was a surprise when the Broadway diva's friend (let's name her Carol) started to flirt with me. And flirt with me hard. It began Monday evening as we were walking home from a nearby pub, talking as the sun dwindled behind the treeline, the lake's perfume wafted across the lane and the ciccadas were singing their chorus. She joked, "I really could use a piggy back ride!" She then turned to me, grinned and asked, "You game?"
"Sure! Why not? Better than Uber."
By then, most of the singles had, indeed, hooked up. We were also less one guy (my coworker I mentioned earlier, who stayed behind at the pub chatting up a young journalism-wannabe and probably wouldn't come back until the morning). So in some ways, I was the only one she could request a piggy back ride on without pissing off other paramours. Still, as she nested on my back, I swear I could feel her hips undulate against me, rubbing herself in a way that was nearly inperceptible except that I had grasped her thighs.
The night went on much like that. She sat next to me, making all the cues that expressed interest--laughing at my stupid jokes or war stories, patting my arm or touching me occassionally. I may be ugly, but I'm no dummy as to flirting.
On Tuesday, I was on for cooking duty. Being a South Carolina native, I can make a mean Low Country boil. I decided to bike to the local seafood market, and to my surprise, she joined me. We chatted about this and that, but nothing too deep. Just an enjoyable conversation that never seemed to tire or find a lack of things to say. Sure, there was a real chance that I was simply being "Friendzoned," as you youngins like to say, but it sure didn't feel like it.
She helped me prepare the stock pot, prep the seafood, sausage and corn and potatoes, asked me probing questions to my recipe since her family apparently had their own secreet sauce as well. By dinner, sitting next to one another, and after a few drinks, she was leaning against me and actively toying her foot and thighs against mine. These were not friendly caresses either. By now, all I was considering was how to segway between our guests and the bedroom with her.
After dinner, I plodded to the kitchen to fix another batch of my appletinis, so I was out of earshot, or at least to her I was. I could hear her chatting with her friend, who was calling her on her flirtations with me.
"He's a great guy. You should totally spend the night in his room, girl."
"What? I'd never sleep with that tub of lard!"
To saw the air suddenly chilled with discomfort was an understatement. I know she caught her friend and the others off guard. And certainly everyone tried to play it off when I reentered the kitchen, assuming I never heard a thing.
But I did. I heard every stinging, confusing word. Needless to say, her demeanor toward me made a complete 180 for the rest of the trip. She eventually hooked up with some guy she met at the pub.
For the remainder of the trip, I began to enjoy the things I originally intended: I read three books, spent a lot of time at a great little coffeehouse nearby during the mornings and afternoons, and even caught up on some sleep, purposefully ignoring political news until I left Sunday afternoon.
Look, being fat, I have to expect this. I get it. I really do. I wouldn't want to be seen with me either. I was lucky once, and got three great kids out of that. They are my life, outside of my career. I guess what's most painful about this incident is that for one brief, shining moment, I thought I found something again. A connection, both intimate and sexual. I mean, I wasn't imagining church bells and rings, but I remembered again how nice it was to have someone, to feel those early sparks of a budding love.
I guess I was wrong? I was played the fool? Well, whatever. I'm a total loser anyway, so the end result really comes as no shock.