Shameless POV: Sleepless in Beijing

There are certain restaurants that you would only go to for a dinner date with someone you don’t care about. Migas is exactly one of those restaurants. It’s quiet, pretentious, and annoyingly chilly all year round. And Lindsay told Mike that’s where she wanted to go tonight.

Lindsay hadn’t really seen Mike since 2007. And to be honest, that wasn’t surprising to either of them. They went to the same high school, but they weren’t close. With the A looks and A+ grades, Lindsay was a member of the class elite, a strong but cold character. Mike, on the other hand, was nobody. He might have had better skin than his other pimple-faced teenage peers, but that was it. Lindsay vaguely remembered talking to him once at a school charity event. After high school, Lindsay went to one of the best colleges in the country, while Mike stayed near their hometown. Their lives, almost always separate, had sped off on different tracks.

Lindsay never saw herself going out with Mike. She was always way out of his league. But when he emailed her out of the blue to say he was coming to Beijing, she found herself unable to press the “Delete” key. She hadn’t gotten laid for 8 months, and somehow the dorky but genuine smile in Mike’s Gmail profile carried her away. Fresh off a three-year relationship, Lindsay was no longer interested in going out and pleasing men for sex. Instead, she wanted a tame boy to manipulate — someone who wouldn’t ask questions.

It took Lindsay an hour to reply to Mike’s email. She carefully examined her choice of words so that she didn’t come across as desperate. She brought up dinner on Friday in Sanlitun at 8:30 because she “happened to have a business meeting in the area” and would love to “unwind over some good wine”. She hit send, and started to wonder if she should stalk Mike on Facebook.

That Friday, Lindsay arrived at the subway stop at 8:15, but she still texted Mike saying that her “meeting” was running late, and she would be there at 8:50 — “hopefully”. She hid in the subway from the howling November winds, and regretted that she hadn’t chosen a thicker pair of stockings.

When she finally made her way to the restaurant, Lindsay was disappointed to see Mike wasn’t already there waiting for her. She sat down in the corner alone and ordered a glass of wine. Mike showed up right after and apologized for being late, as he didn’t have a local SIM card and had gotten lost on the way.

“No worries. It happens a lot when you are new here,” said Lindsay, trying hard not to roll her eyes. She started to regret the whole thing. How could she fuck a cheap guy like Mike who doesn’t even want to pay for a SIM card?

The waiter sent the menu. Lindsay quickly ordered a quinoa salad, a salmon sandwich, and a desert to serve after, while Mike spent five minutes trying to decide which pasta would soften the blow to his bank account.

“The lobster is quite good,” said Lindsay, helpfully.

“Nah, I’ll just get the basil pasta,” replied Mike. “I’m allergic to lobster, actually.”

Nice save, Lindsay thought. Her mood continued to darken. Why the hell would she ever get herself into this? She just wanted a safe one night stand, but wasn’t blatant enough to just get naked with an acquaintance after nine years of separation.

“So how have you been, and what brings you here?” Lindsay felt awkward and wanted to break the ice.

“Oh it’s been crazy,” said Mike.

Very original opening, she thought.

He then told Lindsay about how he had dropped out of college because he figured it wasn’t the life he was looking for, and told of how he began working as a salesman at a car company. He also proudly mentioned his recent backpacking trip to Europe, and how traveling had opened up his mind.

Faking a smile, Lindsay neglected to tell him of how she had lived in the UK for two years.

Following a few cliché travel jokes and China anecdotes, Lindsay and Mike finished dinner. She still didn’t consider Mike a qualified date, but at least he was better than the narrow-minded guys who never leave their hometown. It was almost 11 PM, and all she needed now was a smooth excuse to bring him back home.

“I have some wine at home. Wanna to swing by and chill for a bit?” asked Lindsay.

Not smooth at all, she thought, immediately regretting her delivery. But whatever, it worked.

There was no wine at her apartment. The minute they walked in she grabbed his hand and put it on her lower waist, and before he could say anything she had already covered his lips with hers. She had practiced every move the night before, because this time she would be in control. No cheesy pre-talk. She just wanted to get the job done.

They pulled each other into the bedroom, kissing and touching. Lindsay took out a condom from her drawer and started to remove her clothes. But right before they got into the bed, Mike stopped.

“I can’t get hard.” He said.

Lindsay was shocked. She might have pictured one hundred ways things could go wrong, but she didn’t see this coming.

“It’s never like this, I promise.” Mike said. “I… I’m just nervous. I’ve had a crush on you since high school. And I just didn’t expect that tonight would be like this.”

Lindsay didn’t say a word.

“I’m sorry. Do you want me to leave?” Mike asked, and tried to put his pants back on.

Staring into his eyes, Lindsay pulled him back onto the bed. And then, without saying a word, she started to give him a blowjob.

Later on Lindsay couldn’t remember why she did that. She remembered how her mind just went empty. She didn’t care about whether he had a SIM card, whether he had a college degree, or whether he was willing to pay for a decent meal. She just wanted to get the job done, without realizing that it wasn’t even her job. She had put herself on a path, and she was going to see it through, no matter what it took.

Mike finally got it up, but the sex was very average, as Lindsay’s mood was already gone. They cuddled for about three minutes, but neither of them felt comfortable enough to stay in the position. So they turned their backs to each other.

It was still quite cold in the room, and though they were underneath the comforter, the space between them made it feel even colder. Both made small movements to adjust their bodies, but neither turned around or touched the other.

Mike didn’t fall asleep at all. Lindsay could hear his nose sniffling. She stayed awake the whole night too. She was confused how things ended up like this. What was Mike thinking about? She didn’t know, and she couldn’t be bothered to ask.  She was looking at the ceiling, the curtains, the bookshelf, and the one book that looked like it was going to fall off. She had to resist the desire to get up and put it back in position.

_____

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