Love

He Didn’t Want My Body. He Wanted My Funny.

Photo: Gustavo Fring | Pexels
Couple being silly

My friend Angelo teased me by saying my vibe regarding the opposite sex was, “Hi, I’m Christine, and I’ll be your friend.”

I may not have held out my hand in a handshake, but it was implied. I didn’t want anyone to think I’d mistake their friendliness for a romantic gesture or that I was trying to hit on them.

This friendship assumption was a barrier I put up to protect my tender heart. No one could reject me if I made my expectations clear.

Friends only.

If someone heavily flirted with me or asked me out, I’d still not allow myself to think we were dating or that there was potential for a relationship. Everything was on a friends-only level.

I was oblivious to the mating rituals of the modern male. I always needed more information. Spell it out, and make it as obvious as a neon sign so that no one could misunderstand.

Subtle clues were entirely lost on me.

A few times, I was the assertive one, but only when I had done my research and knew a guy was already into me.

One rule I had for my safety and sanity was to never go for the jocks, body-builders, or obvious pretty boys.

Gorgeous simply wasn’t enough for me. I wanted someone funny, or who could at least appreciate my humor, who was smart, and had enough quirks to make him interesting but not too many to make him addicted to his peculiarities.

Photo: Mizuno K/Pexels

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Team Practice

When I met Casey O’Reilly, I didn’t think we’d be friends, let alone anything else. He was way too hot with an amazing body. And in the nicest way, he was just plain dopey.

We met in an improv class. It wasn’t the first improv class I’d ever taken — at the time, I was a talented and experienced improviser.

I loved improvisation. You could play and adjust the rules, and it was fun, especially when I was on fire, and every joke landed.

The group I took the improv from had a specific style. Their shows were like competitions. It wasn’t long form with a series of scenes, but mostly timed games.

I was a master at improv games.

Players played in teams, wore uniforms, and there was a winning team in the end. Like other sporting events, they had coaches, refs, and players.

This may be the closest I ever came to participating in a team sport.

When we practiced in class, we’d have one of the students be the coach. Casey was our coach so often that everyone called him “Coach O’Reilly.”

In my class, I was the star. I could do no wrong — this would later blow up in my face, but I enjoyed it at the time.

Though Casey had taken several classes at this theater, he was far from being good at improv or even competent and an even longer way from being naturally funny.

Even when you have nearly everything you want, it's easy to focus on the one thing you don’t.

Casey was extremely good-looking with floppy brown hair, a great smile, and a Greek God bone structure. It shouldn’t have mattered that he wasn’t especially hilarious, but it taunted him like a mosquito buzzing in the dark.

No matter how many improv/comedy classes Casey took, he still could stink up a stage.

When you want to improve at a craft or a sport, you learn from those who’ve mastered it already. In Casey’s mind, that meant being intimate with someone with a great sense of humor automatically made you funnier. (There’s no science to back this theory up.)

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Interception

One night, Casey offered to give me a ride in his car after class. My roommate went home to Orange County every weekend, so I had my apartment to myself.

I thought nothing of it when Casey insisted on stopping at the store to buy wine and potato chips. I figured he had plans for later that night, and in fact, he did: Seducing me.

We got to my house, and rather than pulling up to the curb and letting me out, Casey parked and asked if it was OK if he came in for a while. Sure, I said, though I hoped he didn't want to stay long as I felt tired.

Being the best in your improv/comedy class can be exhausting.

Casey comes in and immediately makes himself right at home with the ease that exceptionally beautiful people have. He pours both of us a glass of wine. I’ve never developed a taste for wine, and neither have I developed a taste for buff dudes.

I decline the wine and relax, knowing we’re just a couple of improv friends. He continues hosting in my home, offering me some chips, which I also refuse.

Casey and I sit on the couch and talk about our class and the art of improvisation. I’m making him laugh as usual. I can’t help being funny. It’s my curse to bear.

He continues to drink the wine and munch on the chips but makes no move to leave. I turn on the TV and make sure it’s nothing too funny, dramatic, or interesting.

I want to wrap up this post-class get-together.

He will be late for whoever or whomever he’s doing later.

It’s almost midnight, and I do a few theatrical yawns to politely communicate that our evening is over and it is time for Casey to get out.

“Hey, is it OK if I spend the night? I’ve had too much wine,” Casey says, embarrassed.

I’m in no way feeling threatened or at risk. I’m a good judge of character and have had enough dealings with creeps to know that Casey, while terminally unfunny, isn’t dangerous.

“ Uh, sure, you can stay, ” I say, not wanting to be uncharitable.

This isn’t a hook-up, and I go to get some extra blankets and a pillow when he pulls me close and sweetly kisses me.

Whoa. I didn’t see this plot twist.

There’s some negotiation — if I’m not into it, he’ll sleep on the couch.

“I’ve wanted to be with you for a while,” he says.

Wait, what? Why? This makes no sense at all. I’m sure I’m not his type.

He realizes I’m not getting it and takes me by the hand into my bedroom.

As any good improviser knows, you need to be open to what your partner gives you, and sometimes, the best thing to do is to let yourself go.

Photo: Ron Lach/Pexels

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Score!

My night with Casey ended up being enjoyable — he was much better with foreplay than he was with wordplay.

I now understood why having a hard body was highly prized, and he understood the comedy rule of threes.

The next morning, I’m still in my nightgown as I bid him goodbye in my doorway when my friend Gabe drives up. Gabe's timing couldn’t be better, as I now have a witness. No one would have believed that I spent the night with Casey.

Little do I know that not only did Casey give me a night to remember, but he also left me with a parting gift. Within two hours, I was so sick I spent that day and night in my bathroom, ironically.

I had one of the worst cases of flu that I’ve had and was sick for nearly two weeks. I was so sick that my neighbors left me a note in my mailbox that read, “We are sorry you are sick; please close your windows.” Unfortunately for them and me, my windows were closed.

The next time I saw Casey in my class, he was friendly but not much funnier; so much for being teammates. We never again engaged in any intimacy, and he even indicated he’d like to date my much more beautiful friend. It’s a little humiliating, but at least because of that flu he gave me, I lost 5 pounds and learned what being with someone ripped was really like. He learned that you can’t get comedy chops by passing the ball.

Game over

I might not have been confident in my powers of attraction, but I knew I was funny. When I auditioned to get into the show, I was certain that it was only a formality — I was practically assured a spot.

However, the Comedy Gods were not smiling that day, and I tanked the audition. Even the head guy of the group was confused about what had happened, which made me frozen and unfunny.

I wondered if, like a character from a horror story who steals the youth from young people, Coach Casey had somehow temporarily stolen my funny.

I guess we’ll never know.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Salon, Bustle, Medium, and Woman's Day.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.