DERICK FOUND a girl he liked and started to date her. He had dated many girls and this was no big thing. The only type he didn’t like were church girls. Not just his church but any church at all. There was no problem to him if a girl went to church, he just couldn’t date her. What you would do to her, he thought, would never be too right. That was his one rule. When you have one rule, it’s something you just don’t let go of easily. So he forgot those girls and went ahead and dated this one, a cute but not very extraordinary Korean girl named Sung Hi. She did not go to church and he had met her at a bar on the upper West Side where she told everyone to call her Jen. She thought it made her sound rather American and innocent. She never knew just how many whores were named Jenny.
He never called her that. He didn't love her but he liked her a lot and she was wild that night on the dock down by the East River when she was all over him. She didn’t talk much then and held his hand and it made his heart soft for the first time in longer than he could remember. He thought it was time to be done with the fooling around and grow up and be a man like the ones in the old movies they showed late at night. A good man needs a good woman. Especially one who is wild. She was wild more and more and he went on calling her Sung Hi and he wanted to fall in love with her, or he thought he did, so he started to give up on all of the others.
He gave up on Michelle and the Japanese girl who was also wild and very sweet in bed, and then he gave up on the Southern girl he had had so much fun with named Mia, and then he stopped seeing Jeannette, who was the hardest thing to let go. She was French and foreign and dirty as hell with a cute blond face but he let her go just like all the others.
When Derick was done with them he met up with his new girl at the Met and they kissed on the tall steps outside. Inside she held his hand and led him to the room with the wood friezes and then to the rooms upstairs where the paintings were. She smelled like candy that day when she was close to him. At the top of the stairs, he stopped in the hallway and looked around. The hall was high and hard and the marble walls shined brightly and it all looked very pleasant to him. There were Rodins statues everywhere and some in the cases were just unfinished pieces or models but they looked real good too. They were brown and white and grey and hard and made him want to reach out and touch them.
While he stood there she came up and tugged his hand and woke him up. She pulled him on across and out of the hallway and told him they had to hurry to make the Monets she wanted to see and to tell him all about the Manet she wanted in her apartment someday and the pretty Seurats and the very few Van Goghs she could stand looking at. Pulling him close, she whispered everything in his ear and then when she had kissed him in the room with the Manet, he told himself this was most likely to be it. It probably was, he thought, as they continued on past the Renoirs.
When she was done, they walked on and moved upstairs. He had been on this same staircase before. He had stood there with some girl a long time ago and from a distance they had seen a good friend of his slapped stupid like in front of a crowd by his white girl. The girl had slapped his friend because he wouldn't hold her hand. That is what he was told. It made sense though. That girl had always been a pretty stupid one and white girls always made the biggest fits like they really liked a crowd or something. Derick knew then he would never have such stupid luck and looked around for Sung Hi on the steps. When he couldn't find her he sat on a marble bench. He looked at the wall and thought he would never ever need to date again and definitely would never date a white girl.
"What are you doing?" she said when she found him sitting there.
"I know. But at what my dear?"
"That one there with the garden."
“I like it.”
“I always hated that one."
"Yes. Looks like the man is off thinking and she is just there pouring his tea."
"Maybe he is thinking about the tea?"
"I don't think so."
"Or maybe not."
"I hate it when I don't know what you are thinking."
"Maybe you should paint."
Things were good and fine and it was weeks and then months later when he got a letter from Sung Hi that read everything they had had was over now. She wrote that she couldn't see him any longer and he had been good or tried to be good to her but she knew that one day he would leave her so she was leaving him first. She said that she just couldn’t trust a man who had been to a kickboxing match. He read the line over a few times. She wrote very plainly that she just didn't date men who went to kickboxing matches.
He thought it was a joke and she wrote on that she was wild but not like him and she was sorry because she actually liked all of those things they did in bed but not like this. Maybe it was because he was white he thought. But that didn't make much sense at all and he felt stupid for thinking like that. Then Derick read the letter over again. When he was done he felt like slapping her hard across her not so pretty face. There was no one there to slap. He folded the letter back up, slid the envelop around the letter, put the envelope in the trash and put on his coat.
He went to a bar nearby his place that was simple and unextraordinary and sat at the bar and hoped for a soccer game to begin. There would be no games for several more months. So he drank a neat whiskey and then another and then some Scotch and then a cold beer and promised himself he would only see Rodins from now on at the museum.