The Friend Zone Chapter 27: The Little Prince

As I left her apartment for the last time, a heavy snow fell and dusted the shoulders of my coat. I opened the gate to leave and looked back; a street light shadow-cast my tousled hair on the brick wall of her building. I thought of her lying in her warm bed, a smile on her face and comfort in her heart. But the cause of her smile wasn’t me; the comfort in her heart was ambiguous. I provided a joy that a Teddy Bear might a child, one in a million, packaged, sold and left on a pillow. I was a place-holder, a seat-filler; I was something to do until someone of substance and culture came along. That was a difficult truth. I thought…I don’t know what I thought. I guess I thought I saw something in her that wasn’t there. I was indignant at my own longing for her. How do I keep choosing so…poorly? I choked back my humiliation as I walked down the alley in the cold, and faded into the snowy night, and from her life like the end of a record…

So, how did it come to this?

Part 1: Mia Culpa

It’s not easy being a sensitive man. I mean, I’m not whining about it. I am who I am, but it makes one very vulnerable to feelings and the pain brought on by rejection. Under the right circumstances, I can fall for a woman quickly, and sometimes be blinded by what I want to see, rather than what’s in front of me, but I really tried to take my time and have some perspective in this most recent…I don’t know what you’d call it, “Romantic Tragedy”? I’m not sorry for being sensitive, because it means I have hope; and no matter how a woman might break my illusions…I refuse to give up hope while trying to find the right person.

Unfortunately, wearing my heart on my sleeve can have its drawbacks. I have emotional integrity in a Ned Stark kind of way. You’re going to know how I feel, but it’s probably going to get me killed by the end of the first season.

I learned a long time ago that you have to take chances in life; be bold. I’ll always ‘try’ because you don’t get anywhere if you don’t, and 9/10 times it pays off. And what I mean by that is that I can tell if someone is receptive to romance, so I’ll send a romantic text or get her flowers. Depending on the situation, I’ll be a bit more forward in my texting, and a bit faster to make a move when we meet because some women aren’t always looking for a slow build. I hear a lot of stories from women that I’ve gone on dates with, about how men could be disappointing because they didn’t make a move. I’m not that guy.

I’m a very sincere and earnest man. The things most women say about me is that I make them feel comfortable and safe. That’s not a game I’m playing, that’s not a trick, it’s just who I am. I’ll never force, coerce, or manipulate someone into being with me, because then it’s not real. And if I’m into someone who doesn’t feel the same, I won’t try to convince her because you can’t convince someone to love you…but I will advocate for myself if I feel someone is struggling. Natasha really made me feel as if she were struggling with her feelings towards me.

This episode was by far, the most adult relationship I’ve had with a woman since I was in my twenties, and the closest I’ve come to finding what I’ve been searching for.

Part 2: Day One

I met Natasha on a dating app, and found that she had an engaging personality. Going by her pictures, she was also beautiful; but you never know with dating app pictures. She told me that she’d read a lot of stories on my blog, and asked me questions about situations I described, as well as questions about my feelings on relationships. Most women I go out with, have only read the last story posted on my blog, so I was flattered that Natasha took the time to read so much. From the questions she asked me, and opinions she shared, I really felt like she’d heard me, and what I was looking for. She told me that my blog made her laugh, but underneath that compliment, I could see that she saw beyond my dick jokes, to the inner struggles I was having in finding a relationship. I felt that she ‘got’ me, and SAW what I was looking for. I wanted to know more about her, so I asked her on a date.

Natasha told me that she didn’t like bars, she didn’t like loud music and she didn’t drink. So, we agreed on a quiet restaurant near her home.

Going into the date, all I knew about Natasha is that she’s Russian, and close to my age. I typically date women in their mid-late 30’s. Not for any type of reason, but that’s just how the cards usually fall.

I read up on dating Russian women. Natasha didn’t give me much to work with as her profile was sparse, so I wasn’t sure how long she’d been in America. Now, I’m sure that everything I read about dating a Russian woman was a stereotype, but some of it meshed with how an American man should comport himself on a date. All of the articles I read agreed on three things: Russian women expect a man to pay, always bring flowers or candy, and Russian women respond to a man who dresses well.

I typically pay, at least for the first date. Doesn’t matter how it went; I just think it’s something a gentleman should do. Flowers are not something I would typically do on a first date, because to me…a first date is just a ‘meeting’, not really a full on ‘date’; and I wore a suit to work that day, so I was looking pretty spiffy.

You know how in the movies, there’s that slow motion moment, when a man sees a woman of significance for the first time? That happened to me that night. I got to the restaurant before Natasha, took a table, and waited for a few moments. I got up to use the restroom and when I came back out…there she was, already sat at the table. It’s hard for me to describe to you what I saw in that moment. She was lovely and the world around me slowed. Magnificent, pitch-dark hair with just a smattering of individual grey strands; it was regal; elegant. She smiled as I approached the table, and her green eyes lit the room. She was beautiful. I would later tell her jokingly, as we lie in bed together, that although she presented cleavage like a boss, I couldn’t avert my gaze from her alluring green eyes. It wasn’t even a contest.

Then she spoke.

Her voice was as elegant as she was. Natasha isn’t great at texting. If I have one criticism of her, it’s that. Her English comes off as a bit broken in text, and she’s not very text-talkative. Before we’d met, this led me to believe that she was going to have a heavy accent, and not be very good at expressing herself in English. I was ashamed at my pre-conceived notion. You can’t judge a book….

Natasha was very Americanized and spoke eloquently, in better English than I. But it wasn’t just about how she spoke; it was about what she said and how she said it. She was intelligent and I was taken aback by, not only how verbose she was, but how her mind worked. Her questions were poignant and direct; her stories were deeply woven like a tapestry, and her thoughts were succinct. I’ve complained before about how hard it can be to date women who have nothing to say, but in this case, I was the quiet one.

As the night proceeded, we talked about life, love, and romance. We spoke for hours. Natasha and I seemed sympatico in every aspect of what we wanted from online dating; we both wanted a partner, someone to live with eventually, share our lives with. We both believed in love and romance. We laughed and talked about sex, not as if it were a taboo subject as most do, but as if it were something to be enjoyed by both partners; we had surface conversations about past relationships and what went wrong in them; but then we talked deeply about our interests and I told her things about me that I’ve never really TOLD someone. I mean sure, I’ve written about a lot of things, but it’s so much more intimate an experience to share with someone in person and A.) I’ve never really felt like I got to that place with a woman, and B.) it’s not really first ‘meeting’ material. But I opened like a flower to Natasha that night. There was something comforting about her presence. This was the best date I’d been on in a long time because at some point…I forgot that it was a date.

Natasha told me about her job as a civil rights attorney in Evanston, near where she lived. She told me of her family life, and that she didn’t drive. She told me of her fondness for classical music, opera, and dance. When she spoke about dancing, and the intimacy she felt when she was in those moments, her descriptive sentiments made me picture her on a dance floor under a starry night, twirling and moving to the beat of some Brazilian Jazz song. She was a very romantic woman, and I was receptive to that.

Natasha talked with a child-like smile; I wish I could show it to you. It was given so freely. Later, as we got to know one another, I’d ask her what she thought her best features were. “My hair and my skin” she told me. No, Natasha…it’s your smile and your eyes, by a long shot.

Anyway, we’d met at the restaurant at 6:30 and where I thought our date would last thirty minutes to an hour, we ended up closing the restaurant at 10:30, and I didn’t want it to end.

It was lightly raining out when Natasha and I left, and I asked her if she’d follow me to my car as I had something in my trunk for her. She countered with “Well, that’s a red flag if I’ve ever heard one.” Well played, Natasha; well played. We laughed as we walked to my car, where I presented her with the flowers. She looked surprised and as she stood there in the rain, holding those limp white carnations with a smile on her face, looking more beautiful than I could have thought possible…she asked me if I’d drive her home, and I was only too willing to oblige her request. Even if she lived close, I was happy to spend a few more moments with her.

Taking her direction, I drove and on the way, I asked her on a second date. She seemed a bit taken aback, and kind of changed the subject; I thought perhaps I’d gone to far, ran towards the rabbit making it scamper away. I dropped her off near her home, she got out of the car, then leaned back in, flashed that beaming smile and said very matter of fact “I would like a second date with you, Michael.”, and suddenly I was sixteen years old again. I felt a kind of confidence and pride in myself that I hadn’t felt in a very long time. It was my turn to beam. I honestly don’t know how it went so wrong, from that first night.

Part 3: The Second Date

A few nights later, Natasha and I went on our second date; this date went in a completely different direction than I thought it would go, so buckle up as I recount it for you. Now, keep in mind that I go out with women expecting nothing. If I expect anything, it’s that they won’t like me. I think this keeps me humble and it’s one of the reasons people can feel comfortable and safe with me.

When we planned our second date, Natasha told me that she had to work until four in the afternoon and she had a dance class at seven, so we could only go out during that three-hour window. Did it sound like a bit of a brush-off? Maybe.

I made a reservation at a seafood restaurant for five-thirty, and Natasha asked me to pick her up early so that we could walk along the beach front at Lake Michigan. It was a beautiful afternoon, one of the dwindling few left as winter crept into the short Chicago fall. We walked and talked and along the high tide barriers, I lifted Natasha like a child down to the next step, three feet or so below. Natasha is very small and light, and she told me that her back was bothering her. I’m a big guy and work out daily, so lifting her down was not an issue for me.

Natasha would later tell me that she was so turned on as I lifted her, that I could have kissed her right there; I tried to kiss her a bit later, but the wind whipped her hair into her face, creating a barrier to her lips. As we talked, Natasha opened up more about her family and her life. Our conversations felt so natural, and Natasha was nothing if not a conversationalist. I really loved that about her and its maybe the thing I miss the most now that we’re no longer in each other’s lives.

At dinner, I learned that Natasha was very awkward around waiters. When our waiter would come to the table, she would stumble her words, and act surprised that she was being asked a question. It was extremely cute, and with each small thing I learned about her, my curiosity deepened. After dinner, she asked if we could go to another spot along the lake front. It was dark now…and Natasha found her way into my arms as the cool night breeze coming off the lake took its’ liberty on us.

While driving her home, I put on a slow music channel, as Natasha told me that she prefers dance and classical music. She asked me if that was something I would normally listen to, and I told her that it is on my presets, but no; I would normally listen to Howard Stern or something a bit more aggressive. But I have very eclectic tastes in music, so this was fine. Natasha told me to put on what I wanted, she didn’t like it when men did something they normally wouldn’t do, just to please her.

I didn’t say it at the time, and this point of view from Natasha would pop up again as we continued…but I’m a bit of a chameleon. I’ve had to adapt my entire life to different situations in order to survive, and what I learned from doing that is that there is always something out there that I didn’t realize I would enjoy. I’ll ‘try’ anything, because doing so pleases me. When Natasha told me of her musical interests, part of me looked forward to learning about those interests. I believe that even if there’s something that I just don’t like at all, for example, the twangy relationship melodrama of Country Music; If I met a woman, who told me eloquently of her love for that kind of music, how it helped her through a life event, how her father would listen to it and so the sound of it comforts her, I can see it through a different prism…as seen through HER eyes, and that could make me enjoy it. It’s not fake, it’s not doing something I don’t want to do…it’s an empathetic perception that leads to growth.

Natasha pointed out the stars in the crisp night sky through the windshield of my car. I told her how beautiful she looked; that the stars had only come out to gaze upon her. It was a clunky, haphazard, throw-away compliment, but it was sincere. Natasha became silent and began crying. “What is it Natasha…did I do something wrong?” I asked her. “No, Michael…you have done everything right. I’m not going to go to my class tonight; will you come home with me?”

So, I did.

Part 4: The Red Wedding

When we got to her apartment, Natasha told me two things:

1.) we could not have sex because she was on her period.

2.) she just wanted me to hold her.

We lay in her bed, fully clothed, and did just that. Natasha doesn’t own a TV, or a radio from what I could see. Her apartment is sparse, and I saw symbolism in it. Natasha’s apartment was much like herself, practical, unburdened with opulence. Natasha’s mind is all about functionality, not form and this was progressively reflected in her living space. But also, there were dishes piled in the sink, clothes spilling out of a hamper; this was emblematic of the parts of her mind that could seem scattered at times. And I get it, my apartment is lavishly decorated and the metaphor that I’m trying to fill the emptiness is not lost on me.

Our conversation continued into the night; for hours we talked about our likes and dislikes, we laughed and as we discussed our sexual interests…we kissed. And folks, I know this is only our second date, but as she told me of her fears and doubts of being in a relationship, I countered that right now, in that instant, that moment was frozen in time for me. While holding her in my arms, nothing outside of that room mattered. The cares of the universe melted away and it was just Natasha and I. Honestly, I haven’t felt ‘romantic’ towards a woman in a long time. ‘Loving’, sure; ‘sexual’, yes. But ‘romantic’? Natasha told me that she wanted romance in her life and I have an abundance of that to offer.

Natasha turned over, and began crying again. I asked her what was wrong and she told me that she had to wonder if she was only with me in that moment because she was afraid of being alone, and perhaps she was making the wrong decision. I’ll be honest, that kind of hurt. From her words and actions, I felt that everything had been moving in a very good direction. How could this be for the wrong reasons? I told her that I would leave if she wanted me to, and she held me close, telling me that she didn’t want that. We held each other tightly, and kissed. I could feel the tears on her cheek against my face.

Natasha pulled back, suddenly shifting gears, smiled and said “Michael…we cannot have sex tonight, ok? I am on my period.” I was fine with that. REALLY, I was. “Not for nothing…but we’re both adults here; I don’t mind if you don’t.” I countered; to which she replied, “This we cannot do…” smiling coyly…”maybe. I am having just a light period.” We continued to kiss, and she began scratching my back hard as we embraced. I asked her to stop. “You do not like this?” she asked. “I like that a lot, but if you keep doing it…we’re going to fuck.” I smiled back. She scratched my back harder, which fueled my desire. I have a thing about my back; sorry, not sorry. My desire fueled hers and as we dry humped, and she felt my erection pressing against her, she pushed me back again and said very seriously and with expediency: “You have to fuck me right now.”

I stood up and hurriedly pulled down my pants and drawers, Natasha ripped her clothes off, crawled to the edge of the bed, stood up on her knees and took off my shirt. We kissed, pressing our naked bodies together and she suddenly pushed me back again, looked me in the eyes, and then looked down at my dick.

Now folks, there I was. Exposed, naked in the light, as Natasha stared at my hard penis. I don’t know if you’ve ever dated an Eastern European woman, but they have a poker face like nobody’s business. I couldn’t tell if she was happy, disappointed, sad, excited or WHAT the fuck was going on, but my worries ended when she pulled me onto the bed, climbed on top of me and asked excitedly with a smile on her face “What do you want? To cum first or to cum later?” (Guys, the answer is ALWAYS “To cum later”.)

I reached over, turned off the light and we got to it. Her room was bathed in slatted bars as the streetlights from the ally outside cast their noir shadows on us. We fucked each other desperately, gripping one another close and kissing each other as steam rose off of our bodies from the heat of the passion in Natasha’s chilly bedroom. While on top of me, Natasha put her hands behind her head and smiled broadly and with abandon, her perfect breasts moving up and down behind the static horizontal bars of light from her window blinds. I’ve seen a lot of different faces that women make when having sex…but I’ve never seen a woman smile like that. It was one of the most beautiful and sexiest things I’ve ever seen; Natasha was all the passion I’d been searching for.

After, we were spent. Out of breath, Natasha and I lay in her bed holding one another; we were quiet for a bit. There seemed to be an uncomfortable silence between us; as if the sex had broken the spell of anticipation that we’d felt earlier and it hung over us like a fog. But then, we locked eyes and smiled at one another. Holding turned to caressing, turned to kissing, turned to another round of pleasure. No less passion was spent, and our desire for one another was paid for in full.

After our second session, the ‘uncomfortable’ spell had been broken. We got back under the sheets and laughed with one another as we explored one anothers body with cold feet and tickling fingertips; then I got up to use the restroom.

I turned on the light, and looked down in shock as my eyes took in what I can only describe as what looked like a very hostile murder scene. There was blood…everywhere. Natasha lay on her side facing away from me, and thick red blood covered her ass and ran all the way up her butt crack to her back. Her sheets were covered with blood splatter and I felt like Dexter reviewing a crime scene; they looked like a Jackson Pollack painting. And then I looked down at myself.

I looked like I’d been dipped in blood up to my waist.

“uh…. Natasha?” I said in shock. “Yes, Michael? Will you bring me a glass of water, please?” she asked, turning her head to look at me. Her eyes got wide as she took in my bloody form, she shot up into a sitting position on the bed, looked down at her-self in surprise, and then back to me. I could see bloody hand prints on her breasts now and we stared at each other for a few heartbeats; I knew I had to break the tension…” If you called the police right now, I’d be so fucked…”

And we both began laughing. Tension broken. I was so relieved that she could laugh about this; a younger woman would have been mortified. This was another benefit of being with a woman closer to my age.

Natasha pointed at my dick and began laughing harder; “Please don’t point and laugh at my dick.” I said; “No, look!” she said, laughing hysterically. I looked down and saw what she was laughing at. I’d worn a condom during sex which I’d taken off after, so my dick stood out as this white flaccid bratwurst against the backdrop of the deep crimson which covered my lower torso. My hands were covered in blood and I looked over to the light switch, which had my bloody fingerprint on it.

“Light flow’? That is an AGGRESSIVE period, Natasha.” and we laughed as we cleaned her bedroom, changed the bedding and then showered together…but while we were in her shower, well…you know.

Part 5: The First End

As I’ve said, Natasha was a very different woman than those I’ve dated over the past two years. She wasn’t going to be satisfied with a ‘regular’ date. I had to think outside of the box. I knew she liked theater and opera, I knew she liked classical music, so I tried to find a date that would pique her interest in those areas. Unfortunately, though I’m keen to learn, I don’t know much about theater and opera. I’ve learned over the years though, to rely on a melding of interests when asking a woman on a date. In this case, I tried to think of where our interests’ crossed paths and came up with ‘piano’. I love piano, Natasha loves classical music, so I looked and found that classical Russian pianist Daniil Trifonov was playing a concert in Chicago soon. Perfect.

I asked Natasha if she’d do me the honor of going with me, and she replied that she was already going with her friends. I was proud of myself for picking an event she was obviously into, but it was back to the drawing board at picking a date.

I went to Natasha’s apartment that Monday night. When I walked in, Natasha embraced me with a smile on her face, and asked what I’d like to do first. Every time I walked into her apartment, Natasha would wrap her arms around my body, under my coat, press her face into my chest and ask that question; and honestly, I miss this about her so much. Do you know how when you’re older, you can remember how warm, special and comforting it was when your mother would hug you as a child. It brings back a feeling of just…contentment. That’s how I feel when I think of walking into Natasha’s apartment: content, and I miss the contentment brought on by her embrace….

And when Natasha asked that of me on that evening, what do you think my answer was? We got undressed and jumped into her bed. Our sex was much better that second night; more passionate; intimate, in sync. As we lay, wrapped in each other’s arms, we enjoyed the comfort and security of one another in post-coital bliss.

That night, Natasha opened up more about her past relationships. She told me the story of her ex-boyfriend…the last man she’d been with. He hurt her deeply, and although I’d like to share that story with you because it’s so incredibly fucked up in ways you wouldn’t expect, I promised Natasha that I would not. To me, much of what follows, is tied to that trauma, and I have so much respect for her strength and resolve in living past it. Suffice to say, that her experience dumbfounded me, because I can’t imagine how anyone could be so callous with the emotions of such a wonderful woman.

I listened and held her for more than an hour as she recounted her tale. She cried and I made no judgements…I just listened as she unburdened herself. When she was done, she turned away from me, and asked me not to fall in love with her. “This is another red flag, Michael. Please don’t fall in love with me!” I held her as she cried. Natasha would often point out ‘red flags’, as a way to convince me not to have feelings for her. But what she didn’t realize is that I saw her ‘red flags’ as brush strokes that added to the beauty of her portrait. People are so much more than their good qualities. I like when a woman is vulnerable enough to share what she considers to be the bad ones because it’s only when we recognize our flaws, that we can learn from them. A woman who can do that is self-aware, and self-awareness is something I find very attractive.  

After her story was over, Natasha told me that I made her feel comfortable. She liked the way I made her laugh, and she felt very safe in my arms; she was able to be herself in a way she hadn’t thought possible in a long time. Like I said, I’m used to dating women younger than me, in their thirties. There was something SO much better about being with someone my own age. I didn’t feel as though I had to impress, do you kinda get what I’m saying? It felt so natural, like I was right where I needed to be. This long search might finally be over; there might finally be a reason to slam the door shut on the Friend Zone because to me…to me this felt very much mutual.

As we continued to talk about relationships, I told Natasha that I’d like for us to go out again. It was at that point, that Natasha made it clear that we, her and I, could not be together. When I asked her why, she told me that we were too different; we didn’t like the same music, I was looking for an apartment in the suburbs, I didn’t graduate college, I hadn’t travelled anywhere so I wasn’t cultured…then she said that she didn’t want to have to ‘culture’ me. That one stung. She told me that she knew I’d do things that she liked to do, but she would never do anything I liked and that wasn’t fair. What? She also said that she’s trying to figure herself out. Look; that’s all very honest to say up front, but when you hold a woman in your arms as she cries, as she unburdens herself of a past bad relationship, it’s not a stretch to think that she’s pushing you away because she’s afraid of being hurt again, especially when she contradicts hurtful words with such intimate actions.

“Your ex was cultured; your ex graduated college, and your ex treated you like a piece of garbage. I’m the man who’s holding you as you cry. I’m the man who’s comforting you. I’m the man who’s here because of who you are, not your social status. And who asked you to ‘culture’ me? I like that we have different tastes, and don’t put me into an apartment I haven’t moved into yet. I’m just asking you to explore the possibilities with me. But, if you don’t want me to be here Natasha, tell me that and I’ll go.” She told me that my anger made her feel ‘stress’, and I apologized. It wasn’t anger though…I felt that I had to advocate for myself. She continued to cry, and told me again that we couldn’t be together, she just didn’t feel the same way I felt.

I touched her softly and said, “How do you know how I feel, Natasha? You’re predicting things that haven’t happened. You’re saying that we’re too different, but it’s those differences that could bring us closer together. Fundamentally, we ARE looking for the same things: security, understanding, love…I feel those things developing between us; who cares about ‘culture’ and ‘music’? Those are things we can figure out later.”

She responded through her tears, “I just don’t feel that there’s a future for ‘us’. We can do ‘this’, but that’s as far as this can go.”

I looked into the deep green pools of her eyes, and said, as seriously as I’ve ever said anything in my life, “Natasha…don’t you see? If we keep doing ‘just’ this, we’re going to fall in love with each other.”

“You’re right.” she smiled. Then her eyes turned from me and a sadness spread across her face. “This is why you should leave, Michael.” – and she sobbed into my chest.

I left her apartment that night, confused, insulted, dejected and very sad. I don’t know why she pushed me away in that moment, but I didn’t want to be with someone who didn’t want to be with me. I deleted all traces of Natasha from my phone so that I wouldn’t be tempted to contact her. I’m a lot of things…but I’m nobodies’ stalker.

Part 6: Susan

The next night, I went out with a friend after work. My friend Sue is a therapist and she can always put things into their proper context. I’m envious of how easily she takes control of her life, and her relationships. But I suppose that when you have the perspective of a therapist and can see the human condition through that lens, you can decipher your own situations more clearly.

Sue and I drank into the evening, laughed and shared our stories of love and loss. I really needed that after the disappointment of the previous night. I told her the entire story of Natasha, including how her bedroom looked like the restaurant at the end of the Crazy 88 fight in “Kill Bill Vol. 1” I didn’t share the story of Natasha’s ex-boyfriend as she explicitly asked me not to share that with anyone, but I did relay that she had been hurt very badly by someone close to her. Sue shared her thoughts on Natasha’s hesitancy and told me that it doesn’t sound like it’s over for her…she has some things to figure out, just give her space. She also told me that I’m a fantastic guy with a ton to offer a woman, and fuck Natasha if she didn’t want to know. That made me feel much better; I really like Sue.

We talked about Sue’s latest boo, a doll maker from Argentina. I was excited for her and shared in her optimism for their future. As we discussed the romantic “contract” the two of them were still negotiating (and I love this idea, more on it later.), my phone buzzed. I did a quick look down and saw that it was Natasha.

Sue told me that my face turned whiter than normal. I wasn’t happy about things coming to an end with Natasha and I, but I was dealing with the fact that it was over between us. I told Sue that it was Natasha and she said “Mmmm, hmmm. Told you so.” I asked her if she’d give me a quick minute to respond, and Sue snatched my phone from my hand. “I’m in the middle of MY story Michael, and this heifer right here is NOT going to ruin MY evening.”

Of course she was right. It was rude of me to have asked, and It was better that I didn’t answer right away in any case. Plus, I didn’t even get to read the message and it might have been more rejection for all I knew. But the anticipation gnawed at me just the same, as Sue continued her story, and we both continued to drink.

Later, I asked Sue to read the message and tell me if it was good or bad. She did, but then she decided to respond to it. She laughed as I begged for my phone back, and asked her desperately NOT to send that drunken message. She gave it back to me…. after hitting send. This is what Natasha said, followed by what Sue responded; I never told Natasha that this was not me, but then she never really asked:

Natasha – “All I can think of is being in your arms right now. I feel really sad to choose cold loneliness instead of warm embrace. What if it does not lead to delayed gratification? Can we talk?

Sue as me – “Stop playing. Either you want a man that you can enjoy life with or you want to sit on the sidelines and talk about what you had that you let get away. I’m an amazing guy that jumped in the blood River and swam like a pro.

My heart sank “SUE! You ‘sassy black girl’d my woman!” She continued laughing. And you know what? It turned out that she said exactly the right thing. We left the bar and I called Natasha from my car. “How are you?” She asked softly. “Honestly, pretty miserable. You?” I responded. “Michael…” short pause, “will you come over and fuck me?”

And folks…you know I did just that.

Part 6: The Little Prince

Sex that night was passion, animalistic. We embraced and kissed each other as soon as her door was open enough to do so. She didn’t even have time to ask what I’d like to do first. Natasha wore a slinky night dress that ended just above the bottom curve of her ass. I pulled it up and voraciously cupped her ass cheeks as we tango’d in each other’s arms through her apartment to her bedroom. No foreplay, no lead up; clothes went flying and I was in her, watching her smile as she pulled me close to kiss her while we fucked. She scratched my back hard while I was in her. I went down on her after, and she spoke in Russian as she guided me to her orgasm “DA! DA! DA!” Speaking for myself, it was a very gratifying sexual experience.

After, we lie in her bed, tangled in one another’s arms, like a Greek statue. Our hair messy, our bodies warm and sticky as the sweat began to dry in the cool air. We could feel each other’s hearts pounding, and winding down as comfort and reality set in from the jungle passion of our sex. I wanted to live in that moment, that in-between place with her staring at me, satisfaction beaming in those moonlit green eyes; a smile plastered on her face and care in her embrace.

“I’m glad you asked me over, Nat.” I said, still slightly out of breath.

“I’m glad too, Michael.” She responded.

We held each other for hours, and I listened to Natasha talk happily, with an after-sex glow. Natasha had this way of telling a story, that always led to a point. I really enjoyed this about her. Where most people would say “This is like that”, using metaphor to show comparison, Natasha would tell a parable, who’s morale would somehow relate to a situation she found herself in. These stories could last a long time, and one would be enraptured waiting for the point she would make at the end. It was truly a fascinating way of drawing one’s attention.

This is one of the things that made Natasha such a unique woman to me. She once told me that all the compliments I make about her, seem to be about the way she looks, as if she was offended that that was all I thought of her. Oh, no Natasha…the way you look is so…it’s like earth. If you take a step back and see Earth from orbit, it’s this beautiful, complex, giant blue and green marble full of eco-systems and complexities…but if you continue stepping back you can see that it’s only one tiny blue speck amongst an even more complex galaxy, which is only one of millions in an ever-expanding universe, and beyond. The way you look is Earth, and every day we saw each other, was like taking another step back.

In any case, Natasha told me the story of “The Little Prince”, by Antoine Saint-Exupery. (Here’s a link if you want to read it; it’s really quite beautiful. See, this is what I mean about learning new things when you have different interests: The Little Prince: Chapter 21 (

What Natasha was telling me, is that I’m the fox in that story. She knew that I would eventually ask to be tamed, but she didn’t want be responsible for me. Then she told me that she was no longer looking for a man on the internet, but that she was content to continue as she had been with me. However, she told me, I should continue to look for a woman. “Do you want me to be with other women, Natasha?” I asked; to which she replied “Of course I don’t WANT you to, but we still cannot be together the way you want, because you are asking me to tame you. You will make another woman very happy, Michael.”

Sometimes Natasha would emotionally condescend to me in this way and it was a bit insulting. And when we’re lying in bed together, holding one another…it really hurt for her to speak as if I wasn’t a contender for her affections.

I mean why was I here tonight? I told her, the last time we saw one another, that if we kept doing this we were going to fall in love, and she not only agreed with that assessment, but she still reached out with a very inviting and intimate message. I’d been honest from the start about what I was looking for, and she told me she was looking for the same. She’d read what Sue wrote, advocating for a relationship. It was not a stretch to jump to the conclusion that she was of the same mind. But now, we were back to this. I really thought that one of the benefits of being with a woman my own age, would be that I wouldn’t have to play these fucking mind games.

There was silence for a time as we held each other in a firm embrace. There was warmth in that embrace; something that belied her words. Eventually, I lightly pushed Natasha away, got up from her bed and started getting dressed. “I should go.” I said with forlorn.

Natasha began crying and pulled at my clothes, “No; please don’t go yet. Stay and hold me, Michael; I’m afraid, ok? What if I’m only with you because I’m lonely?”

“What if you are? Isn’t that how any relationship starts, Natasha? Of course, we can assuage each other’s loneliness, but it’s how we do that that’s endemic to what’s in our hearts. You are a wonder, Natasha, and I want wonder in my heart. You tell me all the ways I make you happy, and I can see that there’s more to this in your eyes.”

“I just need time to figure myself out.” She said as tears rolled down her face.

Look, I could see that the woman was torn, and I get it. I don’t want to be pushy, I don’t want to put ‘stress’ into her life. “Take all the time you need, Nat; but I can’t wait.”

She pulled me close and kissed me deeply. Then whispered in my ear…”don’t go yet, Michael.” Our sex was different this time, but no less passionate; it was a slow burn, like watching a fire smolder down into glowing embers. I’ve never experience sex quite like that; neither of us had. I stayed and held Natasha into the night, as she wanted…again giving in to her desires and ignoring my own. The satisfaction of her naked body against me, the closeness to her developing within me, protecting me from her rejection. So blind…so naive.

Part 8: Nevermore

I left Natasha alone the next week. I wasn’t sure if I’d hear from her again, but if she wanted time to figure herself out, so be it. She texted me early on Thursday, and asked if I’d come over that night. I had plans, but told her I could come over after, at around 930. She had to go to bed early, so she asked if I’d come over on Friday night. I was hesitant to commit, because to be honest…I had a date planned for Friday night.

A few weeks before I’d met Natasha, I’d slept with a woman who told me that that was all she was looking for. We’d gone out to dinner, and after she became very amorous towards me at a bar. We went back to my place and had a great night together. I thought that was all there was to it, but she’d asked to see me again after. However, we couldn’t get our schedules to align…until that Friday. Look, I wasn’t sure where things were going with Natasha, so I did what she told me to do and was exploring other options.

I struggled with the options laid before me all day on Thursday, but as you might have guessed…I broke my date on Friday and being honest with the young lady, telling her that I was going to see someone whom I was interested in building something with, ruined my chances at another. Didn’t matter though, Natasha wanted to see me and I never knew where a night with Natasha might take me. She was a rollercoaster, with ups and downs that I could never predict…who doesn’t want that in a woman?

On Friday, we stayed up late talking and holding one another.

Natasha asked me to come back on Saturday night, and I asked her if I could spend the night when I did. She said that she’d enjoy falling asleep in my arms. Up to that point, I hadn’t actually slept at her place, I’d only ever stayed late into the night and then left. Natasha had never been to my place, and I got the feeling that she never would. That made me sad and hesitant, but it was in the back of my mind where it couldn’t affect my wishful thinking.

When I got to her place on Saturday, I asked Natasha what SHE’d like to do first this time, and she told me that she had some work to do on her computer. I’d brought my bag over, which held some books I was reading, so I sat down to read. Natasha came over, put her arms gently around my neck from behind, looked over my shoulder and asked me about the books in my bag; I told her that I’d recently taken a screenwriting zoom course with the New York Film Academy, and these books were research for a screenplay I was working on.

As we sat there, studying and working separately, yet together, I felt content. I felt…complete being in a room with Natasha. Is that too much? I don’t know; feelings can be so hard to explain. So much relevant abstraction is lost in their interpretation. After Natasha finished, we cooked dinner together; a Russian soup made from left over vegetables in her refrigerator. She brought up the story of “The Little Prince” on her computer, and I read it in its entirety for the first time. I expressed to Natasha that I didn’t see the story as an absolute, as she did. I didn’t think it was saying that the fox would ask to be tamed and therefor the Prince would forever be responsible for it…that was a very literal interpretation. To me, It was a story about developing relationships. “Perhaps”, Natasha said, and then she accidentally spilled a whole container of peppercorns into the cooking veggies, and we laughed together as we picked them out with a spoon for the next half hour; the story of the little prince, and the implications behind it’s true meaning, lost to a moment of frivolity.

Natasha told me more about her family that night, and I’d felt closer to her than I’d felt since we met. We didn’t even eat when her soup was done; we turned off the lights and went right to her bed at around 6PM.

Again, we talked for hours and held each other; There were little things about our time together that I hadn’t experienced with younger women. Things that require patience, and intimacy. Natasha liked it when I’d just run my fingers lightly through her hair as we lay together; she said that it reminded her of her childhood in Russia, when she would fall asleep while her father did the same; it made her feel safe and loved. She’d purr when I’d gently follow the curve of her ass down to her privates with my fingertips as we spooned; she would exhale deeply and softly moan when I’d rub my soft beard on her back, and she liked the feeling of just holding one another while we talked for hours. Natasha fell asleep in my arms that night, as promised. She was angelic as she drifted off, and I felt like the luckiest man in the world. We’d gone to sleep at around 1030, because she had to work early. I woke up at around 1230AM to pee, and thought it best that I leave rather than lay back down and risk waking her up. She looked so peaceful laying there, so beautiful lost in her dreams.

It would not be hyperbolic to say that that was the best night I’ve ever spent with a woman.

Part 9: The Last Day

Natasha asked me to come over that next Tuesday night, and I really wish I hadn’t gone. See, at work that day, I’d taken a booster shot of the covid vax, as well as a flu shot. When I got to Natasha’s place that night, my arm hurt and I had a headache. But it didn’t matter; I was willing to power through.

Things began much like Saturday; Natasha did some work while we talked, then exercised in front of me and asked if I liked watching her body as she went through her yoga routine. I did…but I was not in a sexual place at all because of those shots. After, Natasha asked me if I’d mind waiting while she went on her computer for a minute.

She went online to look at opera tickets for an upcoming show. She told me that she might go with a girlfriend, or she might go by herself if nobody would go with her. I raised my hand “I’d love to go to the opera with you Natasha; let me get us the tickets.” I exclaimed. I’d asked Natasha out on dates, but other than the first two, we spent every night together in bed. She had very particular tastes, which I don’t mind at all being that I’m very open to trying new things. I’d asked her to let me know when there was something SHE’d wanted to do and I’d make the arrangements, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity. “I’d rather go with someone who has an appreciation for the show, or by myself.” I thought back to her comment about me not being ‘cultured’. It was like a southpaw blow to my jaw. I acted like it was no big deal…but do you know…that little, slight, delicate, beautiful Russian woman right there, made your big oaf of a narrator want to cry in that moment. I choked back my feeling of utter inadequacy, so as not to add fuel to her disavowment.

And I know, it’s dumb to let a woman have that kind of power over me. And you’re right, I don’t need to prove myself to anyone; I’ve worked hard and earned my way through life….but in that moment, I just felt inferior; maybe even emasculated. I felt like a fucking bore. I pride myself on being this adaptable, progressive man who can enjoy himself in any situation with the right people, but that pride was shattered in that moment, partly because I have such respect for Natasha’s intelligence, and I just felt like a real piece of shit. No woman had ever made me feel that way. I don’t think she did it on purpose, mind you. I think that Natasha can be…unwieldy with other people’s feelings, as was done to her.

And I let it go.

At first, we lay in bed together, telling each other how much we meant to one another. Then we began talking about pie, and I asked Natasha what her favorite Russian Pie was. She started telling me about Russian pie in that way she tells a story that makes the world melt away…and I stopped her; “Do you know what my favorite Russian pie is?” I asked playfully. Natasha smiled knowingly and said “What is that?” and I kissed her deeply. “That is very romantic, Michael.” and she put her ear to my chest. “I want to hear your heart beat.”, she said. “How does it feel?” I asked. “How does what feel?” she answered my question with a question. “Knowing that it’s beating just for you right now.” It was her turn to kiss me.

Natasha was more open with her feelings toward me that night. She told me how much our time together meant to her. I thought she was coming around. Not ‘coming around’ exactly…but I thought this was the REAL ‘her’; this is what I’d felt was really inside of her when she was pushing me away. I don’t know…like always, maybe I was wrong. I’ll be honest, my head was cloudy at that point, and I don’t remember exactly where the conversation turned, but it went something like this:

Natasha told me her plans for the weekend, and that she would be alone on Thanksgiving next week. She cried at the prospect of being alone on the holiday. Of course, I asked her to spend the day with me. “I’m off all next week; let’s cook together, chop vegetables like we did the other night, go for a walk together. Spend Thanksgiving with me, Natasha.” I said earnestly, and with a smile.

“I need to use the time to be alone with my feelings; to figure myself out.” She said through her tears, again. “I’m sorry you have to be alone, Michael.” I didn’t ask for her pity.

At first, I told her that I understood. If she wanted to spend the holidays alone, then I’d be there for her on the other side if she wanted to reach out. No pressure. I never wanted to pressure Natasha for her time.

But I had to know, “Why do you put yourself through this self-imposed loneliness, Natasha. Nobody is telling you to do this. I’m RIGHT here and I like the person you are.”

“I just don’t feel the same way about you, Michael. I don’t want to chop vegetables with you.” She sobbed into her pillow. Such an innocuous sentiment that: “I don’t want to chop vegetables with you.”…and such a powerful emotional blow.

I think she then used one of my stories against me. “You know how you said that you and Katie were together too long, that it should have ended long before it did? That’s how I feel right now.” Something like that, something that really just humiliated me and in my cloudy head, I was just tired of dealing with these romantic contradictions. I sat up and told her again, that I don’t want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with me; she lay naked on her stomach and continued to cry. I hate so much to see her cry, to see her ‘stressed’ as she calls it. I wish she could have just given in and given ‘us’ a chance, we could have made each other so happy, if she’d just…I don’t know. Maybe I’m just fucking wrong. Maybe I wish I could just shut the fuck up and take this for what it is. But in my mind, doing that is only waiting for MY biggest fear to be realized…the day she tells me that she finally met the RIGHT guy and my services are no longer needed. I guess I just wanted to hear, “I’d like to see if there’s something here Michael.” Not a huge commitment, just SOMETHING…but she couldn’t give that to me.

“Ok…I have to go. We shouldn’t do this anymore.” I got dressed and walked out to the kitchen where my bag was. Natasha followed and hugged me hard as I tried to leave, but she didn’t protest. I was cold; disheartened…I didn’t hug her back. I very much regret that now. I regret everything from that night because it seems so lost, so far away because of how I felt from those shots.

“I’m sorry I can’t love you back, Michael.” That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to hear from a woman, partly because it’s not what I was asking for, partly because I wanted that so fucking bad from her. Eventually, yes; that’s the ultimate goal, but I don’t expect that in such a short period of time. I think in many ways, we both misinterpreted one another’s intentions. I should have recommended a contract like Sue was negotiating with her dollmaker. I walked out just as I said in the beginning of this story. That was the end.

Part 10: Aftermath.

I talked to Natasha once more after that night and she told me that she’s a bit an elitist. Although she’d made comments that would lead one to that conclusion, I didn’t want to beleive that of her. She told me that she doesn’t want to be the first person I see an opera with, or visit a country with (or who ends a sentence with a preposition.) She wants to be with someone who already knows opera, and culture, and dance because she can talk intelligently about those subjects with that person. She also felt as though, if we dated, she would talk down to me because I don’t have the same education as her. She compared any argument I tried to make, to things her ex-boyfriend had said to her. She told me that she thought I would do all the things she liked to do, but only to make her happy and she didn’t want that. She also would never ‘try’ anything I like. Although she didn’t come right out and say it, what she was saying is that I’m not smart enough for her.

I felt like “Forrest Gump” making the argument: “I may be dumb Jenny, but I know what LOVE is.” Good grief.

She’s, of course, entitled to those points of view. The argument I would make in her comparing me to her ex-boyfriend, is that he said those things to manipulate her with lies, I say them out of respect, and determination. I thought we could be happy together, and to me that was worth defending; there’s a huge difference as evidenced by ‘intent’. Also, I would do things she likes, but NOT just to make her happy. I would do them because I like trying new things. I may hate it afterwards, and I’d absolutely tell her that. Doing things together, isn’t just about the ‘thing’; it’s about the person you’re spending time with. I would argue that one can enjoy just about ANY situation, if you enjoy being in the company of the person you’re doing that thing with. It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed being in the company of a woman, as much as I did Natasha.

That said, to me, Natasha’s way of thinking is the antithesis of intelligence. How intelligent someone is, does not denote the compatibility you might have with that person. I would say, especially to someone of an expansive education, look at ANY fucking romance of significance in history; that romance changed people’s lives for the better because of the difference between those people. Let’s also point out that Natasha never gave us a chance. We might have had fascinating discussions after an opera; perhaps I could have brought a fresh perspective or point of view to a conversation, as someone seeing it for the first time. But she dismissed that notion out of hand, and how can one make an intelligent choice without first examining the possible outcomes? But whatever; I’m negotiating with nobody here.

Coming from such and Americanized Russian woman, I find irony in the cruelty of Natasha’s elite aristocratic way of thinking. I’m someone who believes intelligence to be a kind of super power, to be used responsibly. Culture is a personal experience to be shared, not taught. When you use it simply to elevate your own social status by dismissing those you deem less than intelligent, you become pretentious, not cultured. And then, fuck you. But honestly…I think Natasha’s struggling between what’s she’s been taught, her social norms, her fears, and what she feels. I empathize because that can’t be an easy struggle within ones self. It would be easy to dismiss her repudiation as an act of an asshole and live comfortably knowing that I don’t want to be with that type of woman anyway, but I don’t think that of her.

I want to be with a woman who would be happy to go anywhere with me, because she knows we’ll have fun together. I want a woman who’s proud to go to social events with me because she knows I’ve earned my place in life, through much hardship; I’m comfortable in my skin and I don’t put on airs. I want to be with a woman who wants to show off my charm, and then talk shit about the people we just hung out with, after the event is over. I want to be with a woman who will have deep conversations with me, over snacks, as we contemplate the hidden meanings behind the play or opera we just saw. I want a woman who doesn’t want me to change, but is excited to watch me grow; who doesn’t feel she needs to ‘teach’ me, but relishes the excitement in my eyes as we journey together. Most importantly, I want a woman who knows that I’ll love her good qualities as well as her bad, as I would hope she love me.

And whether she meant to or not, Natasha made me feel…less than, sometimes. She always corrected my grammar, and once she asked me if I could handle constructive criticism. Then she told me I’m a bad writer. For a woman of such education, I was surprised that she didn’t know what ‘constructive criticism’ is. Perhaps saying, “Your writing, while making me laugh, could use more developed sentence structure.” would be a more appropriate example of constructive criticism. In any case, in that instance, I reminded her of what I’d told her before, I don’t really give a shit about her or anyone’s opinion regarding my writing. I write for me and I don’t care that I don’t not write to goods. I’ve never claimed to be the smartest person in the room, nor is my value determined by other people’s interpretation of my intelligence; not even hers.

Again, I hold no ill will towards Natasha. I hope she finds whatever it is she’s looking for, within herself or in the dating world. But to me, she isn’t looking for happiness…she’s looking for a mirror; and we don’t always like what we see in a mirror. Natasha is a spectacular woman and I’ve never walked away from an experience feeling as much growth and satisfaction as I do now. I look forward to finding that again with someone who wants the same. At least I know it exists, so I thank Natasha for giving me that at least.

It’s hard to resolve oneself to the fact that secrets, intimacy, understanding, romance and sex, can so easily be cast aside. How can all of these shared emotions…experiences, mean so little to someone? How does one feel, after all of that…they never want to see that person again? It feels sociopathic. For my part, when I think of Natasha, I still get a slight pressure in my sinus…a sadness that could be expressed in tears if I let it; an opportunity lost. It goes away, a little each day. But does Natasha feel anything? Has she forgotten me completely? I guess that’s why we break off all contact, because we don’t want to know the truth, that we never meant anything at all.

This episode has made me change my narrative, as I think is so important to do from time to time in one’s life; and I thank Natasha for giving me the perspective needed to do that. I’ve learned a great deal about myself during our short time together. I learned to expand what I’m looking for in a woman, and I’ve re-learned the value of intimacy. Those nights, with no TV, no radio, no outside influence, just holding, touching, caressing, talking, laughing, learning, fucking…those were the best nights I’ve spent with a woman since I was in my 20’s. They were magic to me and I hate…I fucking HATE that the closest I’ve come to finding the right person, ended after such a short period of time, for such a dumb reason as education over enlightenment. And now that smile…the stars in her eyes, the feel of her skin on mine, her warm breath on my body, the sound of her voice and most of all, her thoughts…are all lost; gone without ever having been realized. A ghost in the doorway of the Friend Zone, soon to be dissipated and replaced by another….and another…and another.

I’m so tired of this shit, man..

For any woman reading this, THIS is the bar. Right up to that condescending, arrogant, non-committal indecision. Romance and intimacy, but with communication and commitment; that’s what I’m looking for. And if you think that education is more important than how a person makes you feel inside…I recommend this article:

The End

Feel free to reach out with questions / comments at:

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follow me on Instagram; if I get 200 followers I can apply for ‘Raya’, the celebrity dating app – imagine a ‘celebrity’ Friend Zone?

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