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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Excerpt from Kitty Literate: Volume One by Kitty Martin

Kitty Martin is a writer and editor. Her work has been published in newspapers, magazines, and literary journals. She lives in Boston and tends bar. She is one of the founders of Tonekat Productions, which has produced film, music, and literary projects in under one year. Her follow-up to Kitty Literate: Volume One will be an illustrated children's book called Pool Girl, due this summer.

Kitty Literate: Volume One is available for Amazon Kindle. Below is an excerpt from the book.

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THE NARCISSIST

Have you ever dated a narcissist? It's super terrific! Just ask the narcissist. He'll constantly tell you how great he is, how lucky you are to be with him, and by God, how much fun you're having!

He'll also tell you if you have one eyebrow out of place: "Ew! That looks wonky!"; if you've worn the same autumn jacket more than two days in a row, even though it's still autumn and it's a really nice jacket; and will abandon you in the subway at midnight--on your first date--because his train arrives first and he wants to go home to sleep.

A really skilled narcissist will conceal his true self in the beginning, so that you'll be confused as to whether he's remarkably confident or outrageously arrogant. Well, except for that subway abandonment; that was pretty clear. Anyway, the less advanced narcissists lay it all out there from the start. When I was using an internet dating service, I received this profile from a 63-year-old-man: "Single man searching for smart, sensual, stylish woman who is a size 6." At least the hordes of interested size 4s and 8s in their 30s and 40s (the age group he was after) knew they didn't stand a chance.

I don't know what woman would even still be reading past that intro, but for the few low self-esteemers who forged on, they were treated to this: "I may need to change my contact lens prescription, but when I look in the mirror, I see a pretty damned good-looking guy! My mother always said I was her handsome son. Looking for an age-appropriate woman (ha!) who feels the same way about herself."

The guy could have used some editing. Maybe something like, "Narcissist seeks slightly less narcissistic narcissist who must not be as pretty as me."

Then there's the helpful narcissist who will tell you which movie star he most closely resembles. One 40-something man told me, "Everybody tells me I look exactly like Alec Baldwin. My mother even cried once when she was watching one of his movies and his character died, because she couldn’t stop thinking it was me up there on the screen."

...

I dated The Narcissist for exactly four weeks. He'd tell you they were the best four weeks of my life.

I'd tell you they were four weeks of my life.

But we had some fun, he paid for everything, and he was good-looking. I think narcissists have to be good-looking; otherwise it would just be too sad to make fun of all the ridiculous things they say.

I don't know about all narcissists, but The Narcissist was a mass of contradictions. He also knew everything there was to know about everything, and he was the best at everything from cooking to computers to snowboarding. To his credit, his job required him to be at the computer every day. But he only cooked for me twice. The first meal was Eggs Benedict, which was good, but needed some salt. But before I could ask for any, he told me that all people used way too much salt when they cooked, which was why he never used any. I didn't have the energy to explain that people use salt because it's a flavor enhancer. The second meal was tasteless, uninspired, everything-out-of-a-box-or-can paella, which--you guessed it--needed salt.

As far as snowboarding, skateboarding, or any other physical activity at which The Narcissist was supposedly Olympic material, the most I ever saw him do was walk. It was early October when I suggested that we go kayaking on our second date. He said he couldn't, because he was recovering from a torn-rotator cuff, which he'd gotten playing ice hockey. I said, "Wow, that happened last winter and it's still bothering you?" He said, "No, it happened in college." He was 49.

The Narcissist told me in late October that he was thinking of joining a gym, where he could get a complete cardio and strength-training workout in a mere 15 minutes: five minutes of some sort of weight-lifting, which made no sense when he was explaining it, and 10 minutes of running on a treadmill. Though he admitted to not having exercised in two months, he swore he could not only pull off a five-minute mile, he could do two five-minute miles back-to-back.

I'm a runner, albeit, an average one. But I know what's considered a good time. So when I said that a five-minute mile was really fast--like Boston Marathon fast--he just stared at me blankly and said, "Yeah, I know. So?" I was going to suggest that he might need to get back in shape again before he could whip off a few of those five-minute miles. And then there was that rotator-cuff injury he'd been nursing for nearly 30 years. But then I thought better of it. It's very exhausting to try to reason with a narcissist, so pick and choose your battles wisely.

Speaking of health and fitness, The Narcissist told me, "I stopped drinking beer at home. That's how I lost 10 pounds." But the thing was, he did drink beer at home. Every time I went to his house, there were beer cans all over his desk, beer cans overflowing from the trash. He even had six-packs of beer on the top shelf of his closet, which turned out to be a red flag I wish I'd paid more attention to at the time.

The Narcissist was also convinced that none of his cognitive skills had ever or would ever decline in any way. I was bartending during our four-week courtship, and he liked to remind me numerous times what a great waiter he'd been during college. I have no doubt that he was a good waiter: He's handsome, charming, affable, gregarious, and energetic. But food and drink trends and restaurants in general have changed with the times. If you've been out of the industry for any length of time, you're going to be lost, except for The Narcissist.

One night, I asked The Narcissist if he did go back to waiting tables, didn't he think he might be just the slightest bit rusty after more than 25 years? And might he need at least a few shifts, if not a few weeks, to get back into the swing of things? He looked at me as if I were the crazy geriatric and said, "Are you kidding me? I could walk into any restaurant in this country, get a job immediately and totally rock the place!"

Yeah, sure. But like I said, I'd already learned to pick my battles by that point, so I kept quiet. But I would have loved to see him try to keep up with a bunch of people half his age who've been working in hip, fine-dining restaurants every night for the past few years. But no matter, The Narcissist would convince himself that he was doing everything right and they were doing everything wrong.

Not surprisingly, it was in the sexual arena where The Narcissist was most convinced of his immortal prowess. His pesky rotator-cuff problem never seemed to be an issue there. I'd never had sex with a superhero before I met The Narcissist. But behind the shiny cape and sultry mask, he had some technical problems. But just like an expert narcissist, he always had an excuse: "I'm tired; I have a lot on my mind." And this was my favorite: "I think I might have drunk a little too much." Ya think? The man had six-packs of beer competing with designer shirts for closet space.

I think a reliable indicator of good sex with someone is when you can count on one hand the times that it wasn't satisfying. But I can count exactly three times The Narcissist and I had satisfactory sex: not earth-shattering, not mind-blowing, just satisfactory. Though after every encounter, he'd enthusiastically say to me, "I just gave you the best sex of your life!"

How on Earth do you respond to such a statement? And shouldn't I be the judge of that? Though I remember exactly how many times we had satisfying sex, I can't remember with any certainty how many times The Narcissist told me that every woman on the planet between the ages of 25 and 60 wanted to have sex with him. And not just wanted to have sex with him, but were dying to have sex with him.

Hmm. That's a lot of women. Funny, I never saw any lines out his door.

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