A short story…
She was absolutely obsessed with it. Well, not exactly with an it, but a him. She was wrapped, and completely surrounded with the fixation that made this man more than a person--it made him Iconic.
When she first met him at the coffee shop, his simple yet astoundingly powerful presence captured her instantly, causing the muscles in her body to tighten. For the days, weeks, months, then even years following their first encounter, her obsession with the Iconic grew. His presence would unfortunately go on to rule the shape and attitude of her life.
Six months after they met, she secured her first date with Iconic, by asking him out when he didn’t ask her first. In preparation for the date, she took the entire day off work, just to make sure she had enough time to get prepared for the dinner. That day involved four showers and a bath, salon time, shaving, exfoliation, manicure, pedicure, and make up appointment—all planned to make sure she appeared to be the perfect woman to the perfect man of which she had created the grand fantasy behind.
After she sprayed on what she decided was just enough perfume and a little too much tan, she slipped on the new dress she bought for the event. She couldn’t afford it, not even close, but she bought it anyway because she thought it might help her cause, a cause in which she must be victorious.
When seven o’clock finally rolled around on her old Timex, she had been preparing for six solid hours. Her highlights were freshly minted, her five hundred dollar dress was in place, her body was free from any trace of hair, her mani-pedi was unharmed, her perfume was just right; she was ready. She didn’t even notice at first that he was thirty minutes late.
When the clock told her he was now an hour and a half late, she began to fidget. When her phone rang the first time, it was a telemarketer, whom she hastily hung up on so the phone line would not be tied up.
Fifteen minutes later, her Iconic called. He said a meeting at work ran late. He was sorry. Yes, he was, that’s what she believed. Could we reschedule he would ask. Sure she would say. No big deal, no big deal.
The entire next week was spent obsessing about the next planned date, which he promised would be “top priority, baby.” She went to the coffee shop by his office—well out of her way—almost every day hoping for an accidental glimpse of the Iconic. She sat herself at the corner table for hours at a time, making her way through three chick-novels, and a stack of Vogue’s without spotting her target.
After a slightly shorter four-hour preparation time, he rang the doorbell. She appeared, same as she would have before, with the exception of her week old highlights, which worried her endlessly. She felt he was not the kind of man who deserved week old highlights.
The conversation at dinner was purposely aloof on her part, and genuinely aloof on his. She pretended not to care when he looked at a gorgeous model-type pass their table; in fact, it seemed the less he was interested in her, the more it made her want him. She looked at his dark-chocolate eyes, brace-straight teeth, olive complexion, lofty height, sleek brown hair, and indented cheekbones. She wanted to eat him as if he were a confection. She wanted him to love her, to support her, to be all hers; a sign of happiness and success in her bland life was that man.
She hardly noticed that he had asked her a question. She asked him to repeat himself. “What was that?”
“How are you liking your job?” he asked, not looking at her, but at the model-type who had sat down at the next table.
She went into a long, pre-rehearsed speech about her meaningless job, which she hated, but spoke of as if it were the zenith of her life in hopes it would ensnare him--her strong work ethic. He would bite her lure, she would reel him in, and she would have the Iconic in her bucket.
After dinner, he said he would be forced to cut their date short. “Work, you know.” She said that would be fine, she had piles of things to do, and not enough hours in the day, you know. She thought she sounded uninterested, which she thought drew him in closer. He then dropped her off, gave her a kiss on the cheek, and left. She did not sleep at all that night.
When he didn’t call by Friday of the next week, she began to get nervous. When another Friday came and went, she was infatuated. What had she done wrong? Hadn’t she been perfect? Why wasn’t he falling all over her?
Her friends would say things like, I'm sure he’s just busy, and a successful man like that—he must be tied up with work.
Over the next few months, she would run into him at social functions, coffee shops, and bars all over town. Their meetings were always full of awkward conversations, and long silences. He would always have a new model-type on his arm, and his presence would always lure her back in. Every time she would be wearing something not quite right, and her glasses always felt smudged. She would always pull them off and throw them into her bag and squint like a mole for the entire night.
The last time she saw him, he was with friends at a dark bar. After he had several drinks, he found his way over to her twenty minutes shy of last call. He said he missed her. That was enough. She took Iconic home with her, and he spent the night.
The next morning she told him how amazing he was in bed, fireworks, even though she had only slept with five-fingers worth of men, and really didn’t have much to compare him to. Her closest comparison was her fat ex-boyfriend who joined a gym one summer after college and lost weight for about five minutes before it was back to the couch.
He began calling her for late night dates at her house whenever he felt the need, or the loneliness of his own empty bed when there weren’t any model-types to fill it. It went on for about six months—what she would later write in her journal as “the best six months of my life.”
When he stopped calling, and coming over all together, she got worried again. After two months of nothingness, she called his cell, but the number was no longer in service. No longer in service? She started driving by his office again, this time to look for any sign of him; his car, lights on, but she never found a trace. She looked down at the cup holder in her car which cup held his business card and a newspaper tear from when Iconic was named lawyer of the month. As she picked up the clipping, she smoothed out the small black and white picture with her index finger, and wrinkled up her forehead, letting out a big sigh.
She called 411 to look his new number up, but there was no listing that matched. Are you entirely sure, she barked at the lady from information. How had this happened? He was supposed to be hers, rightfully hers. She deserved it after the fishing line of losers she had successfully tangled herself in since high school.
For the next year, she thought of her Iconic every day. She began to sweat with the thought of him spending his time with anyone else. It made her shake her head and make a noise something like that of a vomiting drunk. She hadn’t learned where he grew up, what his favorite food was, she barely even knew his last name, but she needed him. He would make her life complete. He would make great babies, and look pretty at her ten-year reunion. He would look great walking in to the massive colonial home she decided she had to live in with him and two kids—a boy and a girl. He should be the one who buys her a four-carat Tiffany ring she dreamed of. He looks good in a suit; he looks good next to her.
She didn’t see him again for ten years. In that span of time, she met a man at work. He was slightly shorter than her, had reddish hair, pale skin, chubby cheeks, freckles, and blue eyes. She didn’t want to eat him like the Iconic, but he was always there, interested in her, and he always made her feel gorgeous--even though he only owned one suit which didn’t fit well, and always had some odd, untraceable stain on it. He always looked uncomfortable in his own skin, but she stayed with him, and held his clammy hand. He brought her flowers, wrote her love notes, called her every day, and loved her genuinely, with all his heart. The thought of it made her roll her eyes in annoyance.
He proposed with a one-carat ring from Zales—costing him far more than he could afford, kneeled on one bloated knee, and she said yes. She felt it was time to say yes—to anyone.
They had three boys, all with his reddish features. They lived in a small country style cottage. Her husband came home to her every night at five on the dot, kissed her, and usually brought flowers on Fridays. Nine years of marriage drifted by.
One day when they took their kids to the amusement park, the Iconic appeared again. His presence instantly filled her with the same old feelings of desire.
When the Iconic floated closer to her park bench, she had to squint and blink several times. He was holding hands with a girl, probably ten years his junior, and that girl was wearing the ring that should have been hers: four carats, Tiffany.
She looked up at him—he hadn’t changed, with the exception of the sprinkling of grey around his temples. She instantly thought of the weight she hadn’t managed to lose after her pregnancies. Her hand slid down to her stomach to cover it.
Before either of them could say a word, the Iconic’s daughter ran up, and he scooped her up into his arms. His daughter look as unnaturally pretty as her young mother, who had managed to get back into perfect shape after her pregnancy.
After a long, and mildly awkward conversation, they parted ways yet again. She went home that night and opened her old journal to the middle where Iconic’s business card and newspaper clipping was housed. She sat on the floor and stared at it for ten minutes until her husband called her for dinner.
Later, her husband would ask her, So how’d you know that guy at the park anyway? She would grit her teeth and reply, You know, I just can’t recall, darling.