i almost dropped the phone in horror. It was Kevin, my uncommunicative
friend, calling at the ungodly hour of 7 a.m. "I thought you'd
be up," he said apologetically. He was calling from the East Coast and
had forgotten the time change.
This sort of lame oversight is so unlike him that I was at once
suspicious. "What's going on?" I asked, yawning. I knew he was somewhere in
Connecticut, at his cousin's wedding. Against the advice of his mother, his
sister and all our mutual friends, he'd brought along Ms. Trouble. "You'll be making a statement," I'd warned him. "A cross-country wedding is a big deal. You haven't been going out for that
"It's not that big of a deal," he protested. "It's not like I'm paying for
"Well, then you're a cad," I said. "See, you can't win. Sucker or cad, you
take your pick. I guess I prefer the latter." We'd gone around a few times
about Shelley since I'd met her for tea once with Kevin and his sister. She
bore a startling resemblance to Sandra Bullock with her little upturned
nose, and she was sporting a black nylon Kate Spade handbag.
"Do you think she studies Allure, or just looks at the pictures?" whispered Kevin's sister
when Shelley was busy giving Kevin little pecks of affection. She was too
smart to alienate the friend and the sister, and was perfectly charming in
a distracted, bored sort of way. It was clear the meeting was something to
be endured, not enjoyed.
"Was someone stood up at the altar?" I asked. I've never heard of this
actually occurring, but it's always the first thing that pops into my head about
"You are so morbid. No, I was calling because I'd like to set you straight
on a few points about your penis size analysis."
I stopped pouring my cereal in the bowl. "Hello? Is there something wrong
with this connection?"
"I was surfing the Net," Kevin said by way of explanation, "and I read
some of your columns, and I thought, well, I have the time and I'm here in
the hotel room, and I thought I'd give you a call."
"Uh, OK," I said cautiously.
"By the way, everything's great here too. Work is going well, thank you.
This is a nice way to catch up." I sat down. "Well, go ahead. I'm all ears."
"First of all, how many men did you talk to? It's not the size that
counts. It's the fit. Everybody knows that. It's how the curve meshes with
the other curve."
"Uh huh," I said. "I'm writing all this down. So, what was that again,
'it's not the size that counts'? OK, thank you. I'll tell my girlfriends.
It'll be good to finally get this issue settled."
Kevin groaned. "See, I knew you'd be this way about it."
"Next topic," I said. "Why are you really calling me?"
"I just have a question," he said, shuffling around. "This is all
"Yes, yes. There's this friend of a friend, right? What happened to this
"He's going out with this woman that everyone hates," Kevin said. "He's
not even sure that he likes her. I mean, as a person, as someone you'd just
meet. She goes hot and cold on him all the time. But he's ... well ..."
"I think 'obsessed' may be the word you're looking for."
"Well, whatever. And he thinks, OK, OK, the better he treats her,
the nicer she'll be to him."
"That's your second mistake."
"He flies her across country. He helps out buying her dress, because
she never has any money. He brings along his laptop and helps her with her
résumé because she hates her job ..."
"Where is she right now?"
"At the pool."
"Your question is, 'Why do nice guys finish last?'"
I heard him shift the phone to the other ear. "Is that really how you see
"In this case, yes."
Kevin exploded. "What possesses women to chase after the dark and dangerous
assholes that treat them like shit? I see this time and time again. I
honestly think Shelley would have a lot more respect for me if I flaked out
on her, if I didn't call her, if I never spent any money on her."
"Kevin," I said, "that's exactly right."
"Yes, I know. But she's got some great points too. She's smart, she reads ..."
"Blah, blah, blah," I said, and stopped listening. This was absolutely the
worst combination of types: Nice Guy and Ms. Trouble. The worst part was,
when a Nice Guy is caught in the jaws of Ms. Trouble, there's nothing to be
done. He has to ride it out. You as friend must watch him get kicked in the
teeth time and time again. You must witness his credit card getting maxed
out while he obsesses about imaginary rivals. You hope that the fever will
pass. And it will pass. It always does. When Ms. Trouble finally gets bored
enough and dumps Mr. Nice Guy for a dark and disturbed Heathcliff.
Kevin was saying something about the fit and the curve again, obviously
sensing that I had tuned out. Then I heard him say brightly, "Oh, hi. Hang
on," he said to me. "It's in my back pocket, hanging on the bathroom door
... Oh, really, none at all? I just went to the ATM ... Oh, well, just go
ahead and take my credit card ... No, really, it's fine ... OK, honey ... "
I groaned loudly. "Call me when you come home, Kevin." I just hoped his
fever would break before his savings account did.