Coffee’s On Me

cart-2568611_19209am Monday morning, I’m at work when my phone buzzes. It’s a text notification that I’ve just received $5 from The Stoner. I do a double take, then mutter “what the hell?” under my breath. I wait for a message from him, explaining the money but none comes. So I text him, “feeling generous?”

He quickly replies, letting me know that coffee’s on him today. I thank him, but meanwhile, I’m scratching my head.

Several days earlier, he’d asked me for a status check after we’d been “talking for 2 months.” I replied that, as I rarely saw or heard from him, I’d categorize us as “verrrry casual.” Now to be fair, I had been hearing from him about once a week, usually a generic “how are you?”, so I suppose you could say that we’d been talking for 2 months, if you define talking as intermittently exchanging pleasantries via text message. Oh, and that one idiotic night in December when we slept together.

I do want to qualify this misstep (mostly because it’s embarrassing to admit) so here’s a little back story…

Let’s back up to when I got dumped. It had been four weeks since I’d last had sex, and I’d been hopeful that when I met up with The Teacher, there would be some fun grown-up time. Instead, I got a farewell and best wishes speech. And while my well-intentioned rational self initially accepted this disappointment with poise, my libido took the wheel and selflessly offered me up as a strings-free friend with benefits, effective immediately. We made out in the parking lot, and I fully expected to see him later that evening, with a night later in the week serving as an agreed-upon contingency.

After I got home, I spent a little time replaying the scene from the restaurant and repeatedly slapping my palm to my forehead. I saw my own ridiculousness for what it was and sent an apology text to The Teacher, letting him know that I had reconsidered the wisdom of my offer. But somewhere in between desperately throwing myself at a man who had just rejected me and sheepishly sending him a retraction text, my libido (out of sheer sexual frustration, blatantly ignoring our lack of chemistry) led me to make plans with The Stoner. By the time we got together, my libido had retreated to a place of uncharacteristic patience. I had decided that I wasn’t going to allow my sex drive to drive  my decision making — kind of like the old wisdom that says not to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry.

Predictably, our night together wasn’t spectacular, as my heart wasn’t in it. So when he sent the status check message, it wasn’t entirely out of the blue, though I hadn’t even thought of him since that night. I was feeling 50% disinclined to deliver disappointing news and 50% reluctant to completely boot someone from the back burner, so while I hadn’t been encouraging, I had potentially left room for him to hope.

Back to Monday morning: even as I scratched my head, I had a theory. The Stoner knew he was on my back burner, and the coffee money was likely his way of shining a spotlight in his direction, reminding me that he was still there, still interested. And it was a nice gesture that ultimately left me feeling guilty for having kept our plans, knowing how lukewarm I felt about him.

Keeping with the grocery store analogy, in a shopping cart full of otherwise healthy choices, my growling stomach had prompted me to pick up a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, which then taunted me from the shelf each time I opened up the freezer long enough to see it. Now I’m wondering how much time I should allow to pass before tossing the pint.

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