Run with the Dark
June 1, 2003
A lover who will not be led astray
by Jane Underwood
his week I told Hubert that I just wanted to be by myself, with all the shades in my house pulled down. Alone. In the dark. No, I didn't want him to come over on Wednesday. No, I didn't want to see him on Sunday. I just wanted to hit PLAY or REWIND whenever I felt like it, cry whenever I wanted to, and fantasize about having the kind of poignantly perfect romance that I am sure I will never, ever be able to have.
Hubert was stunned. The weather, he enthused, was beautiful. We could have such fun together outdoors. Why would I want to stay home alone in the shadows, watching sappy chick flicks? His bewilderment only served to reinforce the conclusion I have recently arrived atnamely, that Hubert does not have a dark side.
When Hubert answered my Internet personals ad, he described himself as a roamer of the world and specified that he was looking for an energetic, adventurous playmate who said "Wow!" a lotpreferably a tomboy with tousled hair who wore little or no makeup.
"I'm not the adventurous gal you're looking for," I told him when we first spoke on the phone, wondering why I'd even agreed to go beyond an e-mail exchange. "The only adventurous thing about me," I added, "is my imagination. I work at home on a laptop. I practically live on my bed. I rarely venture beyond my own neighborhood. I avoid sports, and I've never understood why people get so excited about sunlight."
Despite all this, Hubert said he wanted to meet me for coffee. I hesitated. "Don't say no!" he declared, his tone at once pleading and bold. I flashed on the photo he had put up with his ad: sparkling, plucky blue eyes, mischievous grin, the squarest jaw I'd ever seen.
"I admit that I think you're cute," I said. I felt flattered that Hubert would bother with an old crone like me. He is eleven years my junior. "But I am not your type, Hubert. Why waste each other's time?"
"Don't be so negative!" he exclaimed. "I like talking to you. You like talking to me, I can tell. So let's just get together and see what happens."
All my best friends have dark sides. We're birds of a feather who flock together precisely in order to share the idiosyncrasies of our tortured souls, existential angsts, boundless confusions and reams of regrets. You can tell how in sync we are simply by looking at our socks: all black.
Hubert's socks are colorful. Blue with little red cartoon characters lined up in rows, or bright sherbet orange. Hubert's shirt on our last date was a gaudy Hawaiian printjambalaya red and blue flowers splashed joyously on white.
"Heeeeey, babe!" Hubert sings out in that Bahamas voice of his with the Scooby-dooby-do undertones. He grabs me for a big kiss and hug.
I don't get the sense that Hubert is harboring any secret torments, or trying to hide his latest bout with the blues. "I thought about you every night this week," he says. "Did you think about me?"
I think to myself, "Yes Hubert, I did. I thought about you and about why I should not be with you because you are too light of a person for me. Every single side of you is light."
Being around people who are this upbeat makes me nervous, impatient and suspicious. I want those closest to me to be able to intuit and appreciate my abundant supply of cynicisms, pessimisms and neuroses.
The March sun dapples my apple-green duvet with quivering hints of spring. Bunnies will soon be having orgies in the crocus-filled woods. People are baring their skin again. Hubert isn't wearing socks at all.
"Do you ever smoke pot?" I ask him.
"I've only smoked it once. I was offered some in India."
"Did you get high?"
"I only had one puff."
"Pot's a wonderful aphrodisiac."
He wants to know why I would need an aphrodisiac. It's warm and the beaches beckon. We could go fuck on the sand! No, we could fuck in the woods, and in the car on the way to the woods! No wait, we could fuck right here, right NOW.
I explain to Hubert that I think pot is a nice enhancement to sensuality, like drinking a glass of wine, or a martini or two or three. I like how it coaxes me all the way back into my body and persuades my yammering brain to shut up for a while.
Hubert doesn't get it. He is naturally high all the time. His body makes its own pot.
My last boyfriend would have gotten it. Every time he called me, he'd begin our conversation with the same words, "Jane, I'm so tired." That was his mantra. He was tired of working at the same old job, tired of his aching body, tired of the Divorce With No End In Sight. He was tired, tired, tired.
He was also a jerk, and that was bad. But he had a dark side, and that was good.
I once asked Hubert outright if he would please share his dark side with me. I said I was interested and wanted to know all about it. I said I would be there for him whenever he felt the need to re-open and poke around in his old woundsany old wounds at all.
"Dark side?" he said, tilting his head like a Mynah bird. "What do you mean by that?"
Hubert whisks me into bowling alleys ripe with the smell of hamburgers, French fries and beer. We hold hands and crash on our butts at the roller rink. He whirls us onto glossy hardwood dance floors, spins me around to mariachi music and declares, time and time again, "I MISSED you, Babe!"
One night Hubert tells me about a hilarious book he's been reading, featuring stories about people all over the world who accidentally killed themselves in the stupidest ways imaginable. The book is supposed to be funny, but I think the stories are too depressing. I want us to fret in tandem about how miserably dumb people can be. I try to entice Hubert over to the dark side, but he is oblivious.
"Ha ha ha! This is the funniest book I've read in a long time, babe!"
I've decided Hubert's lack of a dark side is what I like most about him. It's also what I like least. This paradox makes me anxious and confused about the overall state of my love life. Like linguini that curls around the fork but cannot possibly hang on, my relationship with Hubert is slipping down, down, down the shiny tongs.
It's noon and I sit here again, with the shades drawn, and it becomes clear to me that I will soon induce the end of my relationship with Hubert. Then I'll go back to bed with my overweight cat, where I will watch another Lifetime movie starring Meredith Baxter Birney in one of her many personifications of disturbed warrior women, of women who run with the dark, in order to find the light.
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