“There may even exist puritanical fanatics of conscience who would rather lie down and die on a sure nothing than an unsure something.” – Nietzsche.
Danny was pretty sure there was no God. He couldn’t prove it, but, the thought of God gave him a headache, so he tried not to think of a Supreme Being, and if the thought did pop into his head, he did his best to reject it and think about more important things, like, why he has single.
Danny was afraid of people, women especially. Talking to a beautiful woman, or, even a woman without her dentures would reduce Danny to a babbling fool.
“I love dogs, that’s why I ate one when I was in Korea,” Danny told Amanda. He was trying to pick her up.
“You ate a dog?” Amanda was repulsed.
“A couple, yeah. In Korea. I was there two years and I had dog soup for both birthdays,” Danny said, thinking he was impressing her with his worldliness.
“Excuse me,” Amanda stepped away from the conversation, leaving Danny to look about the room for anyone he could talk to. All the men looked too serious and all the women looked too elegant. Danny thought his running shoes weren’t good enough for such a well heeled crowd. He wanted to slip out and go home and have a meaningful conversation with his cat.
Ryan, his friend hosting the party, saw Danny getting his coat from the closet.
“You leaving so soon?” Ryan asked.
“I got to get up-”
But his friend cut him off. “You can’t leave yet. You have to meet Cheyrl.”
Before Danny could stop him, Ryan was calling over to a woman in glasses, wearing a thick wool sweater, a pair of blue jeans and green running shoes with pink stripes. Danny thought she looked hot in her sweater.
“Cheyrl, this is Danny. Danny, Cheryl draws cartoons like you. I’ll leave you alone to talk about it.” Ryan bowed and exited their company leaving Danny, open mouthed staring awkwardly at Cheryl.
“I heard you’re pretty good,” Cheryl started, “Ryan says you draw really well. What do you draw?”
“Cartoons,” Danny said barely above a whisper.
“Nothing,” Danny said, as though it pained him.
“Yeah, me too. It’s all a big old nothing, and so last week I posted my cartoon and all it was was a blank box. Just white, that’s it. No drawing, no title, nothing. I got a lot of comments from people thinking there was a problem with the site I draw for, but, as I drew the next day, the problem is not with the nothing it is with the something, know what I mean?”
“Absolutely,” Danny said though he had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. He was too busy thinking about the first thing he was going to say. He figured he’d save his dog soup story for another time. “The first thing I ever drew was a naked woman, but, I was so young, I had never seen a naked woman before, so I had to guess what they looked like.”
Cheryl laughed. “How did it turn out?”
“Well, I was seven, so, it wasn’t exactly to scale. I put airplanes for breasts, like they could fly away, and I couldn’t even imagine what a vagina looked like, so I drew a picture of a smurf.”
Cheryl laughed before asking, “Why are you telling me this?”
“I don’t know.” Danny blushed.
“Is this your way of picking up women? Telling them stories of your innocent youth?”
“I don’t have a way to pick up women. I’m single.”
Just then, Cheryl’s friend, Yardly, swooped into their conversation, taking Cheryl by the arm. “We’re going to Beth’s, so, if you want a ride, we’re leaving now.”
“Oh! Ok, sure, just give me a sec, ok?”
“Sure,” Yardly walked away without looking at Danny. Danny was used to being ignored. What he wasn’t used to was the attention Cheryl was giving him. “I gotta go but give me your number and I’ll call you sometime, ok? Do you have a pen?”
Danny always had a pen, in case spontaneous inspiration should strike he’d be well armed with pen and paper. He tore off a sheet from his mini note pad and handed her his number.
“Great! I’ll call you,” she said, though she never would.
And each time his phone rang after that conversation, Danny’s heart leaped that it could be her. And down it sank into the pits of his loneliness when he’d answer to find anyone else’s voice but hers.
After a year he stopped hoping she would call. He noticed the less he hoped, the less it hurt. And when thoughts of God snuck in behind his temple he remembered that it hurt less picking up the phone without expectation.