As a single woman in New York, I’ve started to pay more attention to numbers. Telephone numbers are obvious. So are the number of times he’s called. The amount of money I’ve blown on shoes. The train I take to work. The rent.
There are numbers you can work on, such as weight, and there are numbers you can’t. Recently, I’ve found myself on dates with men who are a decade my senior. Men who suddenly feel compelled to tell me their life story, to blow hundreds of dollars on an expensive dinner and tasting portions of the entire wine list.
How many times does a man ask you out before you give in? That is my worst number. How many business cards will I drunkenly give out before I meet someone whose call I will actually look forward to receiving? Five. Zero.
After succumbing to a fifth phone call, I allowed one to take me out. He took me to a darling of the New York Times food section and ordered me glass after glass of wine. We swirled, sniffed, and sipped our way through the dinner, and I grinned wildly when he began to put his hand on my leg. Hand on my hand. How do I find thee repulsive? Let me count the ways…
I changed the subject, and we moved on from a discussion of wine to the art driving. I am a speeder, I told him, pressing the limits of my old, used Saturn. I’m a menace, I continued. It’s a good thing I moved to New York.
He said he hadn’t driven in so long that his license was expired.
Prove it, I said, I want evidence. And he put his hand on mine again.
Before I do, there is something I need to tell you, he said. He was very serious. I stopped grinning.
I have to be honest with you, he said.
And he was. He had lied about his age. He was more than a decade older: The man was an entire bar mitzvah my senior.
I let him take me home, and kissed him politely on the cheek before stepping out of the cab. He called many times after that, and I quietly silenced the phone and let it go to voicemail.
That’s the thing about New York. The men might lie, but the numbers never do.