Editor’s Note: Are you caught up on Dapper Dean? If not, we’ve got you covered! Check out the series, here!
Surprisingly, my mother was open to the Napa road trip. Either my mother reached a new level of desperation to see me married or she was more progressive than I had thought.
Of course, the week of the trip, I began packing. During one of the excursions in my closet, Dean called.
“So do you want to come over for Jacuzzi tonight?”
“Jacuzzi night? What’s that? Sounds like a sporting event,” I said.
“I have a Jacuzzi on the rooftop of my building. It has a beautiful panorama view of Downtown. Bring your swimsuit and come over.”
“I don’t have a swim suit.” As soon as the words left my mouth, I regretted it.
“How do you not have a swimsuit?!” Dean asked.
“Well, I don’t know how to swim, for one. I mean, I have swim shorts for when I do water sports but I wear a tank and sports bra. I can just do that! Or is that too hood?”
“Yeah that’s, hood. Ok, what’s your favorite color? What size are you? And do you like stripes?”
Don’t men know not to ask a woman her age and her size? I thought to myself.
I stuttered before answering, “Well … I don’t know. It depends on what I’m wearing. Swim suit wise, I guess a small top and a medium/large bottom. And stripes on a woman are awful, they makes you look bigger. Never buy a woman striped anything, unless it’s vertical stripes.”
“Are you sure? I don’t think your bottom is medium or large,” Dean inquired.
“I’m Arab and a soccer player! Of course it is! Wait, are you saying I have a flat ass?”
“No no, not flat! Just not medium or large. Should I look in the children’s department?”
“So now you’re saying I have the figure of a child?” I ask.
“This conversation is too complex for my simple mind, just come over for dinner Thursday evening.”
Wait, are you saying I have a flat ass?”
I went back to my closet and instead of finishing selecting the outfits for the trip, I kicked my pile of jeans in a huff and decided to go to the juice bar down the street. I thought it was a good idea to stock up on an enough pressed juice to last me for a three day cleanse.
On the Jacuzzi night under the stars, I drove to Dean’s loft with a set of clothes and my safety swim shorts. I have never been in front of a man in a swimsuit and I was hoping a tank top and a pair of shorts would do. I did make sure to workout in the morning to, you know, give my muscles that extra definition. Because every girl knows, doing a few push ups against the wall gives you that added tone for tank tops arms…
I drove to downtown Los Angeles on a warm beautiful evening. I took the elevator up to Dean’s apartment located in one of several high rises in the Financial District. As I entered his apartment, I noted how organized he was. The place was as spotless as a museum. Dean had grocery bags sprawled out on the kitchen countertop. Then something caught my eye. Dean led me through the kitchen, towards the counter, by placing his hand on the small of my back.
“What’s this?” I asked. Next to the groceries was a small box wrapped in a blue ribbon.
“Dinner! And your present, open it!”
“Dinner? Are we eating plastic?”
“No, silly. It’s only fair I buy and you cook.”
I don’t remember being told this was an episode of Chopped.
I was too distracted by the mysterious box to give the dinner set up more thought. I loosened the ribbon and reached in. As I took out a pretty turquoise bikini top with ruffles, I was surprised to find there was no bottom to be found.
“Thank you so much, the color is beautiful! You didn’t have to! But, where is the bottom half?”
“What? It didn’t just come with it?” Dean rummaged through the box, as if he were a raccoon searching a trash can for food.
“It’s not a buy one, get one free. You have to buy each piece, individually,” I reasoned while holding in my laugher.
Thankfully, I brought my backup swim shorts to save the day. If I was going to be Martha Stewart, I might as well dress the part.
In typical boy fashion, Dean just bought protein and vegetables. His spice rack consisted of salt and pepper. I sent him on a trip to the market down the street, with a list of ingredients needed to jazz up dinner and buy myself more time to try on the bikini top. After he left, I quickly chopped up some vegetables and tossed them into a pot of water to simmer and ran into the bathroom to change. I called Nadia for backup.
“Ok, so Dean bought me a swimsuit-”
“NO way! OMG, send me a pic! How does it fit? Did he put it on you?” Nadia cheerfully asked.
“Ew, no! Listen, I sent him to the store so I can see if this even fits. He didn’t buy the bottom, because he’s a boy and didn’t know he needs to buy both, separately. Anyway, I literally have like 15 minutes. He speed walks.”
“Oh. Bummer. Wait, does that mean you’re in his place, alone?”
I could hear the devil in Nadia’s voice.
“Yeeees. Nadia, now is not the time to play Inspector Gadget.”
“Ohhh yes it is! Look in his bathroom cabinets … and his dresser drawer.”
“Absolutely not!” I protested.
“Why not?! You need to see if there’s another woman in the picture. If there is, and they are intimate, she’d be leaving her stuff over! You know, that’s what girls do. They forget a hair clip or lipstick.”
Nadia did have a valid point.
“First, that goes against all my ethic codes. Second, there’s no way Dean is seeing someone else. When would he even have time? Third, if he went through my stuff at my place, I would have killed him. I would have poisoned his food. I’ve seen one too many forensic files to know how to get away with it, too.”
“Jehan, again with your naivety. He hasn’t committed to you in close to six months now. Of course it’s a possibility if not a fact, he’s seeing someone else,” Nadia says vehemently.
My heart sank at the thought. Maybe Nadia was right.
I shook my head in opposition. “No, Nadia. I trust Dean. He’s a good guy. He wouldn’t play me like that. He is a Muslim Arab man; he doesn’t date like a white boy.”
I struggled to balance the cell phone on my shoulder and hold my swimsuit top in place.
“Ok listen, the top is a little loose because I can’t tie it tight enough, myself.” With an accidental shrug, the phone dropped on the marble floor. I yelled so Nadia could hear me,
“Hold on! I dropped you!”
As I bent down to pick up the phone, I noticed something odd on the bottom shelf of Dean’s vanity. A women’s Secret deodorant starring right back at me.
“OMG Nadia. There’s a bottle of women’s deodorant here!” I gulped back my fears.
“I knew it! That slimy jerk!”
“Wait! We don’t know for sure if it’s another girl. I mean it could be his sister’s! She visits him! Or an extra for a guest! Like me, if I wanted to sleep over. I have extra toiletries for guests.”
A women’s Secret deodorant starring right back at me.
“Um … highly doubt it, Jehan. When you spend the night at your brother’s do you leave a bottle of deodorant? No, you pack it. You don’t leave your stuff at his place. And you have extra toiletries because you’re freakishly hospitable like that. It’s a Midwestern thing, not an LA thing.” Sometimes Nadia was a bit too logical to the point of making sense.
His sister is interning in Los Angeles, it’s totally possible it’s hers, when she spends the night – right?
“Look, Dean will be back any minute, I have to go,” I hung up before Nadia could even breathe a word out.
As soon as I left the bathroom and walked towards the kitchen, I heard the key unlock the door. I sped up my pace and glided on the tile and into the kitchen to grab my tank top.
“Hey hey! Smells great, so far! I wish I could trap this smell in here, forever,” Dean said as he set down a bag of groceries. He leaned in to peck my cheek with a kiss.
Woah. We were in house mode. But I felt like I was in an MTV music video. Except the part I was playing was the naïve girl who soon finds out her love may be cheating on her. If it’s even correct to say “cheating” as we never had an official label. The few seconds I took to just stare past him, caused him to squint his eyes and question my silence, “is everything ok, Jehan?”
“Oh yeah. Ha! Ha! Yeah, the smell should be trapped,” I turned around to start cooking the main course, when the swift movement caused my, not so secured, top to come undone.
Thankfully, Dean was to the back of me and could only tell from my squeal that something was wrong. I held onto the top, from the front and before I could ask him to help, I felt his cold hands on me.
With just a touch, his hands felt like icicles, causing chills to run up my spine.
“Why are you so cold!” I asked.
He began to tie the strap but he didn’t answer me. I turned my head to see why he was mute and his eyes met mine. His eyes looked at me with such intensity, I could feel the passion radiating from his eyes. I bashfully broke eye contact and turned back around. When he finished tying my top, he ran his hands up to my shoulders, then down my arms. I froze. What was happening? How did I put myself in this situation?
He spun me around to face him, with his eyes still shooting darts of heat; he leaned down, now inches away from my face. His eyelids looked like they were heavy with fatigue as they began to close. With every milometer he moved downward, I retreated backwards. When his mouth was just a mere breath away, I put up my hand in between our faces and whispered, “This can’t happen … like this.”
I held onto the top, from the front and before I could ask him to help, I felt his cold hands on me.
Dean’s eyes shot open but he didn’t budge an inch. “Why not?”
The can of deodorant flashed before my eyes.
“Well, for one this is not a romantic setting. I can smell the food is burning,” I gently slithered out of his embrace.
I retreated to the stove and frantically tended to the pots of food burning. I shut everything off, realizing dinner was not going to happen. I asked Dean, “OK, so are you in the mood for pizza or sushi takeout?”
Dean placed his hands on each side of the counter, boxing me in. He brushed the hair off the side of my left shoulder. I could feel his breath on my neck.
I have now officially turned into butter.
I arched my back and in a fleet-footed move, bent down at a 90 degree angle and backtracked out of his embrace, through the gap between the counter and his right leg. As if we were now in a game of cat and mouse. As I tried to maintain calmness, I smelled something acrid in the air. What was burning? “Sorry, I’m not Martha Stewart. Looks like we lost dinner.”
Bewildered by my righteous coyness and inability to cook a man a meal, he ran his hands through his hair and smiled.
Dean kept an eye on me as he walked towards the steel fridge.
“I have an apple from my parent’s garden, want it?” Dean asked.
“Um, I guess so.” Of course I was famished and could have eaten a leg of lamb after three days of nothing but green juices, but I bit my tongue.
“You’re joking, right?”
He tossed me the apple and popped the beer cap. “Let me get my swim shorts” he said.
He disappeared into his room and I stared at the blackened mess I’d created for dinner. I didn’t expect it but when he returned, he grabbed ahold of my hand and said, “Come on, follow me.”
I bit into the apple with thoughts of the Jacuzzi and stars on my mind.
Stay tuned for next week!