I don't mean to imply that I'm busier than anyone else, or that my time is somehow more valuable. I'm just saying that it always feels like I'm strapped for time to get everything done that I need to get done. So, that's the excuse I use for why I'm not in a relationship. Starting and building a relationship takes time and I just don't have any to spare. I even gave up on trying to keep a pet for company after my third goldfish in a row died from neglect. You know you're not cut out to be a pet owner when you have to flush yet another expired fish down the toilet because you forgot to feed it.
So, after leaving work late, again, and hustling to the gym for a quick forty-five-minute workout, I arrived home one evening hot, sweaty and ready for dinner and bed. Because the one thing I always try to do, despite feeling like I never have enough time, is make sure I get enough sleep. I'll skip a meal before I'll cut short on sleep. So, once I got home, I left my phone face down on the living room table so it wouldn't distract me, with the ringer on vibrate, and prepared a quick dinner. With my meal on a plate and fork in hand, I plopped on the couch with my feet up on the table and turned on the TV. They tell you not to watch TV or read when you're eating so you pay attention to the food and really enjoy it. For me, I sometimes find eating to be a chore. I just eat something healthy and easy, and don't think too much about it. I like to finish the meal fairly quickly and roll into bed right after.
Therefore, I was pretty irritated when my doorbell rang. This was my quiet time. I don't want to talk to people once I get home. Nevertheless, I set my dinner aside and trudged to answer the door. Standing in the hallway outside my one-bedroom apartment was a small person with curly golden hair, brilliant blue eyes and gleaming, porcelain-white skin, barefoot and wearing a short white toga with purple trim. This person, while small, did not appear to be a child or a dwarf, just a perfectly proportioned three foot tall individual.
I stared. "May I help you?" I ventured uncertainly.
The little person beamed at me. "No, I am here to help you!" Without invitation, he, or she, it was hard to tell, skipped past me into my apartment.
"Excuse me?!" I exclaimed. I looked quickly out into the hall for cameras. This had to be some sort of reality show or Instagram thing. The hallway was empty. Feeling a little nervous about being alone with this strange creature and embarrassed for being worried about someone barely half my size, I closed the door and followed the fellow into my living room. "Who are you?"
I stared harder. "I beg your pardon?!"
"I'm Cupid!" he repeated with the exact same enthusiasm. "I'm here to get your love life moving. You seem a little lonely."
I took a step back, scanning the intruder for arrows. "I'm not lonely," I quickly replied. "I just live alone."
"You don't have a cat," Cupid pointed out. "I tend to leave cat ladies alone, especially if more than one cat is involved. But you don't have any pets at all."
"I had a fish!" I put in hastily. I could feel my cheeks flushing.
Cupid gave me a long, sad look. "You let it die."
Guilt came crashing in. "I didn't mean to! I was busy and a few days went by and…" I trailed off. Cupid was regarding me with a slight pout, making all my excuses sound pathetic.
Cupid climbed onto my couch, causing the short toga to hike up enough to reveal a flash of smooth, round butt cheeks, but not enough to give away the little creature's sex. Settling into a cross-legged position, Cupid patted the space beside him. "Have a seat. Let's talk about your love interests."
"I don't have any love interests."
Cupid gave me another one of those looks. "That's kind of the problem, isn't it?" He continued to pout at me until I sank down onto the couch. "I've been trying to figure out your preferences. Who do you like more, boys or girls?"
I goggled. "I beg your pardon?!"
"You say that a lot."
I stared with my mouth open.
"How am I to know where to aim your heart if I don't know your preferences?" Cupid continued. "Or do you not care? We could have a lot of fun with that."
"I… I'm… not looking to get involved with anyone right now."
"What are you waiting for?" Cupid regarded me with a wide-eyed, guileless expression. Apparently, this was a legitimate question for which an answer was expected.
"I'm, uh, not waiting for anything. I'm just, well, you know, pretty busy with stuff."
Cupid took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. "You go to work and the gym."
"I volunteer!" I blurted out. "Last month I went to park clean-up day and bagged trash!"
"You've done volunteer work six times in the past nine months and four of those were only half-day." Cupid's lips pushed out in an adorable yet horrifically guilt-inducing pout. "I'm wondering if maybe you just don't like people." The quaver in his voice made it sound like no greater crime could possibly be committed.
I waved my hands. "No, no! That's not it. It's just my work can get really time-consuming, but I don't want to let myself go, so I always try to get to the gym, and sleeping is really important!"
Cupid slowly nodded as I pulled out every excuse I had. He leaned toward me and fixed me with the most profound, concerned stare I have ever seen on the face of anyone, including my own mother when I told her I was moving to a different city. "Love is really important," he said gravely. "Without love, your life will be forever empty and gray. Don't you want your life to be full and bright?" He rested a tiny hand on my arm.
I blinked. He made it sound so appealing. I looked around my apartment. It was gray. The walls were gray. My couch was gray. The countertops were gray. The white cupboards in the kitchen managed to look gray. With Cupid's gleaming white hand resting on my arm, my skin looked gray. I covered my face with my hands. "Oh, god! I don't want to die alone and miserable!"
Cupid patted my arm. "That's why I'm here. The man in the apartment next door has been trying to ask you out for two years."
My hands fell into my lap. "What?" I wracked my brain, trying to call up an image of the man next door. All I could get was a vaguely masculine shape with dark skin and maybe no hair.
"He goes to your gym."
My mouth worked silently. I should have been able to remember the person who lived next door and went to my gym.
Cupid shook his head sadly. "He's really nice. He has a steady job. He's not on the rebound from a failed relationship. He has a betta fish that's lived with him for four years. And he thinks you're gorgeous."
"I'm not gorgeous," I said reflexively. I knew this for a fact. My mother had pointed this out to me more than once, especially after I made the decision to move away.
"But he thinks you are and isn't that all that matters?" Cupid favored me with a stunning smile. "So, tomorrow, when you go to the gym, look around for once. You'll see a man watching you. Say hi."
I flushed. "I never talk to people at the gym. It's creepy."
Cupid rolled his eyes. "Just say hi. He'll say hi back. Then, the next time you see him in the hallway, you'll recognize him from the gym and you can joke about the fact that you live next door to each other and didn't know. And if he asks you out, say yes." Cupid gave me a stern glare.
I nodded meekly. "All right."
"Good!" Cupid bounced off the couch. "I'm glad that's settled. I'm going to be keeping an eye on you, so don't disappoint me."
"I, uh, yeah, ok." I followed Cupid to the door and watched him skip happily down the hall. But before reaching the end of the corridor, he stopped in front of another door and winked at me. He knocked on the door and I hastily backed inside and shut my own door. Apparently, one of my neighbors was also lacking in love.
So, that's how I became involved with the man next door. Turns out, Cupid was completely right about him. He's sweet and funny and amazing and good with tools. And yeah, I don't get as much sleep as I used to, but I'm ok with it. Getting a good lay is restful in its own way.