Cindy was a bruised beauty. She carried her hurt on her sleeve, and almost dared you to add to her sorrow. She used sex to ease her personal sense of worthlessness. She went to bed with several of the men in the kitchen at Godfather’s, but formed no real attachment to any of them. She didn’t seem to consider the possibility that a solid relationship might be available to her if she stopped using her charming face and attractive body only to seduce.
However, she wasn’t always tough and cynical about matters of love. She could even be naive. Once she gave a blow job to a security guard out behind the dumpster. Cindy apparently was overcome by an attraction to a man in uniform carrying a gun, but overestimated the importance of the act. She knew that the guard was married, and worried that she had become a home wrecker. It took her a week or two to realize that he had simply taken advantage of her willingness to give him a freebie.
She enjoyed messing with my head. She liked to intentionally bump into me as I worked, and often rubbed up against me as I washed dishes or made pizzas. She liked to embarrass, and appeared to know that I had been raised to be something of a gentleman. She could make me uncomfortable by implying with an inviting smile or a husky whisper that she was ready and willing to go to bed with me. She acted on the smug assumption that I was too shy and straight laced to respond to her flirtations.
She didn’t suspect that I possessed a secret weapon useful in the battle of the sexes: I had no illusions about my standing in the competition to date and mate. After years of struggling to upgrade my status in the pecking order I realized that I was a beta male. I knew that most women didn’t find me all that attractive, and that when someone far above my level made an obvious move on me there was something seriously wrong. A game was afoot.
(My first moment of self recognition came in high school when a lovely young woman, who had studiously ignored my existence up to that moment, came over to me in home room and chatted me up. As our conversation unfolded it became apparent that she wanted to pick my brains about an upcoming assignment in English. After I told her a few of my ideas she became distant and aloof once more, and I realized that I had been used.)
One day Cindy told me that she and several other members of the crew were getting together after work for a skinny dip in her pool. She asked me to come along and gave me one of her most suggestive looks: arched eyebrows and lips puckered into a pout. I didn’t know what to say to her at that moment, and probably stuttered and blushed, but came up with a plan when I had time to think through my options.
When the shift was nearly over I walked up and asked her in a matter of fact tone where her house was. I offered to bring some beer along to the skinny dip party, and also inquired if I would be invited to stay the night. Her eyes widened with alarm. She thought that I was taking her seriously and that I expected some kind of real action from her. Her face turned red and she muttered something inaudible in response to my questions. When I asked her again Cindy mumbled in an undertone that was even less clear. She answered audibly the third time I asked, but the location and time of the party became increasingly vague as she spoke. She seemed to have forgotten how to get to her home, and the address had mysteriously vanished from memory. She became genuinely distressed when I gave her my phone number and told her to call me when she remembered the arrangements for the party.
Needless to say I never got that call, and there probably was no such party. But from that night forward Cindy started to treat me with a bit more respect and no longer rubbed up against me in a provocative manner. She knew that I had figured her out.
One night she looked genuinely ill, and I asked her how she was feeling. She complained that the manager wouldn’t let her go home even though she was sick and probably had a fever. She sat near my station on a bucket of tomato sauce. She wore a thick, white sweater even though it was 80 degrees in the kitchen, and clutched her arms close to her chest. I washed dishes and talked to her every once in a while, and got the impression that she was a poor soul starved for real comfort. She needed genuine human contact that did not involve the trading of sexual favors, and a loving relationship that wasn’t a game of power and seduction.
I knew that I was not the person from whom she would accept such kindness. I listened to her talk and washed my dishes, and when I was called up to the front line to help out with the supper time rush I left her sitting there.