Wednesday, December 14, 2005
An I-banker chick broke my heart.
We met at McFadden’s about three months ago. It was 10:30 on a Saturday, and I was bumming around reading, getting more and more irked by the loud electronic music thumping through from my bleeding edge neighbor’s apartment when the phone rang and a college buddy insisted I come out. I submitted.
I got in a cab and made my way to the midtown douche-den, gulping from my flask to ease the pain I knew I was incurring. I arrived and found my friends in a booth in the slightly raised section of the bar. We exchanged hand clasps and thug-hugs and informed one other that we were going to indeed “rock out” that night. Shortly after the pleasantries, I went to get a drink.
It was as I jogged down the mini-staircase towards the bar that I spotted her. She was thin and white and wearing a party-top and Earnest Sewn jeans (the side seal visible even in the dark). Standard as she might have appeared, she wore “the uniform” with a sort of elegance. Maybe it was the whiskey that had been festering in my flask since the previous weekend, but I felt butterflies.
There was a slight space next to her at the bar, so I navigated myself there. I caught a sound-bite of her conversation:
“Yeah so my VP…”
Ugh. I guess I should have expected it, but I couldn’t help but hope that she was some freelance writer/model that photographed Bengali street children in Queens or something. Oh well, she had a decent ass.
I tapped her gently on the shoulder and forced out a:
“Hi, I’m Tim.”
She ignored me. I paused, shocked. Blaming the loud music, I tried again, slightly louder:
“Hi…I’m Tim…what’s your name?”
That time she must have heard me because she inched closer to her friends. Frustrated but determined, I pushed myself up on my tip-toes, leaned over and shouted:
“I WORK FOR TPG…”
She immediately swung around, beaming. She was pink-cheeked and smiling.
“Oh I’m sorry, I couldn’t tell if you were talking to me before…” she backpedaled, probably imagining my nonexistent 1BR in midtown luxury high-rise and the Bergdorf shopping spree I was going to treat her to.
“I’m Melissa. How’s it going?” she presented, offering a hand to shake.
And from there it went. After we sucked down a couple Vodka Tonics, I explained to her I was not actually in finance but a graphic designer and new media artist, at which she cringed openly, confused and disgusted. But she remained engaged, my charm and artistic social currency must have wowed her sufficiently. I learned that Melissa was a 2nd year analyst at Citigroup, had gone to Princeton, studied English and was just “seeing what the Corporate World was like.” She maybe wanted to become a lawyer and help people.
I could sense her insecurity immediately. I asked about banking, she responded with a title but fumbled and became defensive when I probed into what she actually did, revealing her purely tactical understanding of her job. But I didn’t care. It was endearing to see such a lovely little creature so obsessed with the most trivial aspects of something so trivial itself. I counted she said “The Firm” 47 times.
We took down 3 more drinks each, danced to some 80’s music, that song about Josie, and some sort of odd Texas anthem that she and everyone else at the bar sang along and performed some cultish line-dance to. And I took her home.
The goodbye the next morning was even more awkward than the handjob she gave me the night before. We exchanged numbers and emails. I was NOT to email anything even remotely vulgar to her work account, she stressed. And she worked a lot during the week but thought maybe we could hang out the next weekend. I shrugged, still vexed by her prudeness.
That Monday, I got an email from Melissa. She had a really good time and wanted to hang out again. I crafted a semi-sexual response cleverly encoded by inserting symbols instead of letters on key words ($ex, p@nties, etc.). Apparently the SEC has cracked this sophisticated method of cryptography, as she responded claiming she didn’t know who I was, instructing me to stop sending emails to her account.
And so I forgot about her the rest of the week, falling back into my own routine. But then on Thursday, Melissa called me and invited me to dinner (I hadn’t saved her number so I couldn’t screen her call). I stammered at her proposal, awkwardly trying to think of a reasonable excuse. But then she whispered that she could expense the meal because she was working late. Interesting…I accepted.
So I went down to her Greenwich St. office, and she took me to Tribeca Grill. We had dinner followed by heavy petting. She left quietly at around 6 in the morning.
Melissa was working all that weekend, and the following week went by with little contact from her. She called on Friday, again proposing a Citigroup-sponsored dinner.
And so the weeks started to go by. Melissa was so busy that basically all we did was meet up one a week, have dinner at a moderately expensive Tribeca restaurant (had to be within a certain radius), and come back to my place. Physically, we progressed quickly, despite the fact we had only actually seen each other a handful of times. She was shockingly forceful and controlling, seemingly unleashing all her pent up, patronized woman-in-the-corporate world frustration and fakeness. It seemed quite cathartic for her.
If we met up on a weekday, she would bring her work clothes over to my house in a rather spiffy garment bag. Her getting ready would sometimes rouse me in the morning, and I would see her standing over my breakfast counter in just a pink oxford and panties, coffee mug in hand. She would steal a copy of The Journal from one of my neighbors and stand there reading it—rather, browsing through it like one does a magazine. And I’d make a little “crrrrshhh” sound, snapping a mental image of the scene for the archives.
I’d watch intrigued as she laced up her little red Pumas, somehow this rebellion against business casual was deemed acceptable so long as the shoes were promptly replaced with more proper ones upon arrival. As the Pumas rarely saw more than a block or two of walking in a given day, they remained quite clean. She brushed them off fondly before getting up to leave, cherishing her only outlet for personal expression, be it brief.
Our dinner conversation remained painful, at best. She basically recounted stories of two genres: 1) How “crazy” and “sweet” the older bankers were and 2) How slutty and stupid the other girls she worked with were. The tales of outbursts and expletives by higher-ups rolled off her lips with intense desire; I swear she would have fucked any one of them if she could do it secretly. And it seemed some girl in her group was always shirking work by getting guys to help her and still being ahead a tier in the rankings. She scowled and jabbed at her food angrily when recounting these stories. I didn’t even bother feigning interest.
I speculated that she might be a fairly intelligent and creative girl, just suffocated by the culture she was immersed in. On occasion, a nugget or two of wit or insight would spill out of her, almost accidentally. But when it did happen, it was as if she was ashamed of it, making sure to return to stale topics as quickly as possible no matter my efforts.
And so I resigned to the fact that trying to like Melissa’s personality was an exercise in futility, and I instead fell in love with the free meals and sex. We went to Ivy Bistro, Viet Cafe, and she even took me to Nobu one time (she must have put in a decent amount of her own money on that one, but I didn’t question it). And she began dominating me more explicitly, putting on a tie and ordering me to make sure I left things on her chair by the morning. I found it odd initially but grew to like my submissive role.
Anyway, this all went on up until last week when Melissa dumped me. Last Thursday she invited me to dinner as usual, and we ate and discussed her day as usual. But after we got the check, she told me she’d met a more “stable” guy at work. He’d already gotten a job at a hedge fund, she explained gently, as if she had no choice but to go out with him. And I couldn’t believe it, but I was hurt. A knot grew in my stomach. I was going to retch. I began to realize that not only had I spent so much time with this empty, materialistic, unintelligent drone, but she was dumping me! How it burned. I bit my tongue and held back my emotion and nausea.
“Can you still expense the meal?” I asked, short of breath but as confident as a just-dumped man requesting that a woman pay for his meal can be.
“Uhh…sure,” she responded.
And with that, I got up and left. I stayed in bed for two days, repulsed and ashamed of my lameness. I’ve only just now started to get over the trauma, and no amount of free meals will ever make me go out with an I-banker chick again.