I think I’m a freak. I’m in love with a little green dot. I’m under its spell, and when it enters the room, via my Facebook page, I’m rendered immobile, simply rooted to the floor, or couch, as case may be. This dot addiction is starting to affect my day to day life. My house looks like an episode of Hoarders. I’m not writing. My friends are sending me desperate messages asking if I’ve been eaten by rabid wolverines. (Sometimes I answer. Sometimes I don’t, depending on whether or not the green dot is around.) Why, you ask, as I knew you would, are you so enchanted with a little green dot? Well, this little green dot is connected to the name of a man I am incredibly smitten with. It signals to me that he is online and available to chat. Even though I would never dare actually message said man, it makes me feel close to him to just be sitting in the same damn room with his little dot.
Often, when I am watching the little dot, I sip bourbon. The green dot owner is a bourbon drinker. Drinking bourbon while I stalk his dot makes me feel like we are drinking together (which we actually sometimes do–when I am stalking his dot, I remember these encounters fondly). I found out years ago that whiskey turns me into a shuddering mass of snot and tears, but that doesn’t stop me from drinking it when I hang out with the dot owner, and it doesn’t stop me from drinking it when I stare at his dot. Dragging my mouse back and forth like a violin bow, I sing the Titanic song, rocking and weeping gently: “Far across the distance and spaces between us, you have come to show you go on.”
Did I mention the green dot has a girlfriend? Sometimes, he posts pictures of them doing, you know, couples kinds of things. Disgusting things. Eating dinner. Playing table tennis. Reading. It sickens me. I’ve thought about reporting the green dot to Facebook for posting inappropriate content, but you and I both know those assholes don’t do shit about this kind of shameless internet bullying. (For the record, those spells they put on the internet telling you how to make couples break up don’t actually work. And egg yolks mixed with cat urine and ashes from a recently burned candle wick starts to smell bad after a day, especially when you put them in your panty drawer.)
Sometimes, one of my children will wander into the living room and ask, “Mom, will you make us lunch?” I will say, “Just a minute, honey. The dot is online. I can’t leave.” They don’t even argue anymore. They just roll their eyes and skulk out of the room. My dogs have learned the language of the dot. Often, they will scamper to the door and make the whimpering noise that means, “Let me the hell out before I piss on the floor,” and I will say, “Dot! Dot!” And they will immediately sit and wait, knowing they must hold their bursting little bladders until the dot disappears from my computer screen. I feel sorry for them, but what can I do? Sometimes, I fantasize about the dot. I fantasize that I will be sitting there staring at it, willing it to talk to me, and it actually will. It will say, “hi.” And I will fall out of my chair, and maybe break my arm, but you better bet your ass that won’t stop me from typing “hi” back, even if I have to do it with my toes.
Truth be told, my relationship with the dot isn’t all roses. It’s a sort of love/hate thing. I’ve come to resent the dot and the power it holds over me. As I mentioned, it has driven me to drink on more than one occasion. And sometimes, when I see the dot, I lose all restraint and post ridiculous things on my Facebook wall, hoping to get its attention. Weird cat pictures. Memes touting political beliefs I don’t actually hold. Songs by Taylor Swift. It’s ugly. I share the first thing that pops up in my newsfeed, just to signal to him that I’m online, should he, you know, want to chat with the girl who just posted the Neo-Nazi slogan. If the dot and I were actually on a date, these posts would be the dating equivalent of walking up to the dot, tripping, and dumping a beer in its lap. If the dot is watching, it thinks I’m a freak.
Which brings me to my actual, in-person exchanges with the dot owner. I’m even more of an asshole in real life. I have two emotional speeds. “ Hyperdrive” and “park.” Even though I’ve had more than my fair share of boyfriends, I’ve only been in actual love a few times in my life. So when I found myself falling in bonafide love with the dot owner, I was overwhelmed and reacted with an enthusiasm that, in hindsight, may have been off-putting. As they say, hindsight is 20/20, but you never know, in the moment in time when you are playfully threatening to bust a man’s kneecaps (yes, I actually did that) that it might come off as overkill. Suffice it to say, I went through a “hyperdrive” phase with said dot owner. Every time he walked into the room, I tried to be scintillating and witty. I declared my love in graceless, irreversible ways more than once. There is nothing less scintillating than a smitten Tawni trying to gracelessly declare her love. I sorta punch people in the face with my love. “Hey, sucka, I love you!” I scream, and I pop them in the nose. They walk away bloodied, dizzy, and wanting very much never to be within a thousand-foot radius of me again. So I read The Rules and decided to dial it back a notch.
Now, when the dot owner wanders over and says, “Hi, Tawni,” (the way I always fantasize his dot will), I feign complete indifference. “Hey,” I say, not bothering to look away from the text message I am typing. He stands there awkwardly for a moment with his hands in his pockets. “So how’s it goin’?” he asks, and I say, “Eh.” And then, he wanders away, baffled, wondering if an alien has taken over the body of the girl who just weeks ago stood on the bar and did a strip tease while screaming, “Have my babies, dot boy!” (Ok, I didn’t do that, but I came close.) I want to cry. I’m forty-fucking-two years old. I should have a better handle on male/female interactions.
Ok. I’m not forty-fucking-two years old. I’m forty-fucking-one years old. But in two fucking months, I will be forty-fucking-two, which may be contributing to my pressing need to make dot boy love me NOW. I want him to see me naked while I’m still mostly hot. Which, for reasons I can’t explain, considering the way I’ve treated my body, I mostly still am. I mean, my boobs are still perky. I have curves in all the right places. But give me a few years, dot boy. Give me a few years and see what happens. If you make me wait until I’m old and saggy to get naked in front of you, I’m going to beat you with my walker. There. I said it.
Actually, I didn’t. My friend Polyxeni said it to the man who’s dot she is similarly engrossed with, and I stole it. Polyxeni and I have made a “hot old lady” pact to never settle for quasi-love again. In the past, both of us have been in shitty relationships with men we didn’t really love, and now, we are setting the bar higher, damn it. “Reach for the sky” high. “That boy’s so beautiful, I would give my spleen to kiss him” high. As a result of our pact, we have both fallen hopelessly in love. Yay! The downside is the men we have fallen hopelessly in love with are taken. Boo! Ultimately, the problem with not settling for quasi-love is it seems like what you end up with is green dot love, and green dot love drives you to do strange things, like threaten to beat the man you love with a walker. If you too are feeling smitten with a green dot, feel free to join our heartbroken, enraged sisterhood. It’s a blast. And bonus: copious quantities of bourbon are involved. But back to how mostly hot I am.
How do you know you’re still mostly hot? you ask, as I knew you would. I know because boys, boys way younger than dot boy, still chase me around like my dogs would if I rolled around in peanut butter for a while. I’m not bragging. It just happens. Maybe it’s the whole “cougar” rage that’s sweeping America. I don’t know. But whatever it is, young men love me way more now than they ever did when I was young. I’m not saying all young men love me. But some do. Oh, yes, they do.
Case in point. A few weeks ago, I was at a music festival in Asheville, North Carolina. I had just had an encounter with an alien and was feeling a little flustered. (Now that I’ve thrown that out there, I realize you can’t just say, “I’d just had an encounter with an alien” without explaining, so I’ll rewind. We’ll get to the young man part of the story in a minute, but first, the alien. ) I was sitting in a bar drinking cheap beer, waiting for a band to take this stage, when this disheveled, unwashed homeless man sat down beside me. One look into his eyes told me he was fucking insane, which intrigued me, so I struck up a conversation. He started making random and very accurate statements about my life, which sucked me in further. I thought maybe he was the homeless man version of Moses’s burning bush. A modern American Greek oracle.
This was all awesome until he asked me if I’d ever had any “clabbered up shit.” I sincerely had no idea how to answer that question, so I finally settled on a hesitant, “I don’t think so.” Inexplicably, my lack of experience with clabbered up shit seemed to enrage him. “You’ve never had clabbered up shit?” he said, his eyes narrowed, his voice dripping with accusation. Then, he started sniffing me. “You stank,” he snorted. This stung a little. You know you really need to work on your hygiene when a homeless guy who clearly hasn’t showered in six months tells you that you stank. I just laughed, but he persisted. “Do you always smell like this?” he asked.
Instead of answering him, I went into sledgehammer mode, which means that I say exactly what I think, which is what I usually do and is a habit I am trying to break, as it got me into all this weirdness with dot boy, but I digress. So I said, “That was a fucking terrible thing to say, dude, and for the record, I know what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to scare me. It’s not working. I’m not scared of you.”
This seemed to upset my homeless friend. He almost started to cry. “Yes, you are,” he said, but he was deflated. He knew I wasn’t.
“No, I’m really not,” I told him. I’m not afraid of much of anything anymore.”
This is where things got a little kooky. (I say this as if things weren’t kooky before this.) Homeless guy started twitch and said, “I can’t talk to you. You’re from Venus, and you’re thousands of years old.”
This interested me. “Really?” I said, not 100% willing to dismiss the idea that I might be from Venus. I asked him which planet he was from, and he started speaking a different language. It included beeping noises and chirps. That’s when I decided to take my leave.
Which brings me back to the moment where I was walking down the street, having just encountered an alien, feeling a little flustered. And possibly a little stinky. This pretty, twenty-something girl came running up to me and told me how beautiful I was and how much she loved my red dress. I was more than ready to receive a compliment, as the words “you stank” were still ringing in my ears, so I thanked her profusely. I may or may not have thrown my arms around her and started to cry. She then asked if I would hang out with her and her friends. Always delighted to make a new friend, especially one of the earthling variety, I said, “Sure.” She took me to by the hand and led me to a table on the sidewalk peopled by twenty-something earthlings. Much to my surprise, she shoved me into this football player-ish guy’s arms and said, “Here, I got her for you.”
If you’ve kept up with my posts on this press, you know how I feel about one night stands. Basically, I’d rather eat slow-roasted dung beetles. It’s kinda part of my not settling for quasi-love thing, but not really. I’ve never liked one night stands. Having sex with people you don’t know is just plain gross. No one wants the herp, and I’m just gonna say it. Most men look weird naked. They have hair in odd places and pot bellies and spindly legs that don’t fit their bodies, and all of that only becomes beautiful if you really, really dig someone. And I knew right up front I was not going to dig football player boy. I did not need to find out what special little features made his penis uniquely weird. Short? Pencilly? Bent to the left? Don’t wanna know. So I said, “You’re not going to get lucky with me, dude. You better look elsewhere.”
He then proceeded to tell me that he didn’t want to get lucky, he just wanted to know me. Halfway through his litany of pickup lines, he paused and said, “Wow, you’re really old, aren’t you? I thought you were my age, but you’re like 30.” I guess he was too intoxicated to be dishonest, so he then proceeded to tell me that my body had “held up,” but he could tell I was 30 close-up because of the wrinkles around my eyes. I was torn between being insulted because he was pointing out my wrinkles and being elated because he thought I was 30. Granted, the lighting was poor, and he seemed like he’d be barfing in a bush before long, but still, I am holding on to this gem.
Our encounter ended with me giving him some useful tips on picking up older women. “Don’t say, ‘Wow, you’re really old, aren’t you?’” was my first bit of advice. I also let him know that pointing out wrinkles was a cougar-hunting faux pas. “In addition,” I continued, “if you’re going to reference her body–and you probably shouldn’t at this early stage in the game–try employing an old standby like ‘beautiful’ to describe it, as opposed to telling her it has ‘held up.’” But my criticism was gentle and constructive, as I could tell he was new at this. Then I extricated myself from him and spent the next three hours looking for my car. Turns out you should make a mental note of your parking place when you go to a giant festival peopled by aliens and twenty-something guys guaranteed to have weird penises. (As a side note, if dot boy has spindly legs or a weird penis, it’s a-ok. And his pot belly, should it exist, would be the perfect place to pillow my pretty red head.)
I said all of this to evidence my assertion that my body has, in fact, held up, and if dot boy wants to see it while it is still more or less holding up, he should probably get on that. If he– the green dot just came on!