The pimp and the zombie: A love story
by David Lacy
I’m in love.
That may seem a simple declaration, but in all honesty, there was a point in time I really didn’t believe this was even a possibility.
After my divorce I worried every girl I went out on a date with would see the glaring “D” emblazoned on my chest (my personal “scarlet letter”) and out of nowhere receive one of those pre-planned getaway calls where one of her girlfriends rings her phone, prompting my date to furrow her brow in faux anxiety, hang-up abruptly, and declare suddenly that her mom has slipped into a coma and she needs to leave the date immediately.
Pathetically, this is not as much of an exaggerated fear as you might suspect.
Divorces are strange things. We know how common they are. Many of us are the products of them. But we don’t always really notice them until we pronounce the seemingly familiar word out loud, and then its oddity comes into sharp focus. It’s like saying the word “smock” once and then repeating it slowly and frequently; the word becomes increasingly bizarre with each recantation. (SMOCK, SMOCK, SMOCK…) Now, try to imagine that the word “smock” is intimately linked to personal identity as intrinsically as the word divorce is linked to self-identity.
It wasn’t the awkward and out-of-practice process of dating however that led me back to love. I didn’t meet my girlfriend of eight months on a blind date; nor did I work up the courage to ask her out while she was working, meet her on an online dating site, or introduce myself in a round of speed-dating.
Instead, our story is one of circumstance and timing, of a white and nerdy pimp (I’ll explain in a moment) and a girl with an unusual passion for horror flicks and a strong aversion to romantic comedies.
There’s no way we should have made it this far. I almost cried watching “Crazy Stupid Love.” Her eyes flicker with wild excitement when a victim in a film twists and turns during exorcisms.
Barely even acquaintances for several years, we reunited at a Halloween party in Long Beach. Last minute (i.e., the morning of the party), I patched together a pimp outfit (those who know me realize this costume is about as far from my natural disposition as I could get). I ended up winning the costume contest (more, I suspect because the outfit was something so “un-me-like” than because of its originality) and Tawny both congratulated me and laughed at me. Later she would say I looked ridiculous. She’s blunt like that.
But “ADORABLE ridiculous.”
We walked out onto the pier for a few moments and caught up. A pimp with an obnoxious hat and cane sitting next to a beautiful girl.
On our first date we watched both “Paranormal Activity 3” (for her) and “Crazy Stupid Love” (for me). I won’t deny it: “Paranormal” was a smart choice. At suspenseful points in the film she would jump and lean into me. I worked up the nerve to grab her hand. For some reason, she didn’t let go. She told me this week it was just because she didn’t want me to feel bad.
In many ways Tawny and I are as different as night and day. She’s 10 years younger than I am. She’s also a fiery, logic-driven Vietnamese girl whereas I’m a passive, emotion-driven Germanic-English boy. On occasion she’d rather drink beer and play video games while I’d prefer to watch “rom-coms” and sip wine. She likes zombie movies while I like almost anything with Ryan Gosling. Except “The Notebook.” Even that’s too much for me.
Finally, I LOVE to drive and she’s Asi—… uh … scratch that last one.
Still, the differences are part of what balance us and I have learned to love our social and cultural diversity. In the past eight months I have experienced for the first time an array of new foods (her mom is an amazing cook of Vietnamese and other oriental cuisine), new holidays (the Lunar New Year), and even a few new words (thank you Google Translator!)
More importantly, our similarities are greater in number and even more rewarding than the differences. We’re both ambitious and value intelligence. We’re both fiercely loyal to a small handful of friends and family … even when they piss us off.
We both enjoy the subtle moments: Those occasions we rent a one-dollar movie and huddle around her laptop. The times she, her kid sister and I make goofy faces into a webcam for 20 minutes, unable to quell the laughter that really should have ceased 19 minutes prior. Messily shucking off the shells of crawfish and shrimp while wearing bibs and soaking paper towels with seasoned oil. The moments she grabs my hand in the car and smiles contently.
My parents celebrated their 21st anniversary this past week. In re-declaring his love for my mom, my stepdad announced that the two of them had defied all statistical odds in the continuance of their enduring relationship (he too is much older than she, and they too were an unlikely success story).
A year ago I would have never predicted that I would be dating a younger Vietnamese woman who roots for the walking undead.
But now there’s no one else I can envision myself.