Maria: A Test of Character

by Sam Garcia

I met her online, almost three years ago today. She was fascinating. She was everything Iíd ever wanted in a woman -- smart, sexually open, well-educated, funny, and not overly neurotic as way too many women who are attracted to me seem to be. I like to think this is because I'm a deep and gentle man and that I listen well, but sometimes in the dark of night, it occurs to me that maybe each troubled woman sees something in me that reminds her of herself.

But, Maria. Maria was funnier and smarter than I have ever been, and she wanted me to tie her up and spank her, when we weren't going to the symphony or our favorite restaurants or walking in the park. She lived in a town only a short flight away. We talked on the phone almost every night for three months . "Hi Sammy," sheíd whisper to me, and I loved it, even though nobody has called me that since I was five years old. We had phone sex, we had long intimate talks about our childhood and our dreams, we shared laughter at our discovery of each other in such a silly place as AOL. We exchanged pictures by mail -- I look like a regular guy who works too hard, a guy who is tall and wears glasses and probably meant to be someone else when he grew up. She looked like a regular woman, blond, pretty but not too-pretty, with a great smile and a nice curvy body -- maybe not a woman I'd stop and stare at on the street, but a woman who knew how to call me up and make me hard in an instant with her voice, and that was enough for me.

I was ready for reality. I didn't expect her to be perfect, and I knew it would take us time to adjust to our physical relationship. But I knew her from the inside out, and she knew me and loved what she knew. I thought for sure we'd meet and be living together or married within a month after we planned the first real-life rendevous -- a grand hotel, the theater, a late-night carriage ride -- nothing but romance for us. I sat at our planned table at the restaurant and waited for her, the future flashing happily in front of my starry eyes.

A woman stopped by my elbow and said, "Sammy?", but she was not Maria, and all I could think was that Maria had chickened out and would never show and this woman was here to tell me that. "May I sit down?" this strange woman said, and I waited for the bad news. Never for one second did I think that she was actually my beloved Maria -- she did have a beautiful smile, but she was a brunette, and she weighed about three-hundred pounds.

"Iím sorry, Sammy" she said, and I heard it. I heard the voice that had turned me on so deeply for three months, the voice I was in love with, the voice I was prepared to spend the weekend fucking and laughing and dreaming with.

"Maria?" I said dumbly.

"Iím sorry," she repeated. " I sent you that picture of my cousin when we first met because I couldn't bear to lose you, and I didnít think it would go this far."

It hadn't even been her in the picture -- not even an old photo, just a fake one -- there was no hope that this woman would ever look like my imaginary Maria. I felt like the stupidest man on earth.

"Iím sorry too," was all I could stammer, with no idea what I was actually sorry for.

And then the little voice in my head began: It doesnít matter. It's still Maria.

"Youíre beautiful," I said gallantly, finally standing up to lean over and kiss her.

We held hands for a long time while we talked and I worked on adjusting. She was brave. She could have simply not showed, as she told me she had considered, since she had seen no way out. She would completely understand, she told me, if things were different now that I'd seen her.

I saw her. She wore flowing clothes and was sort of pretty, but not someone I could imagine having sex with. She was almost twice my size. You're shallow, Sam. This is a test. Where's your new-age sensitive-guy soul that thinks other men are trivial in their pursuit of Playboy-image babes? I couldn't shut the voice up, even as I listened to hers as she told me her about her problems with body-image and men.

"Itís OK, Maria." What else could I have said? She lied to me, but here she was in front of me apologizing, and watching, to see what kind of man I was. What kind of a man was I?

Just fuck her, Sam. Love her. Close your eyes and think deep thoughts. Have some great sex with a different type of woman. My voice continued to instruct me in the ways of a better man, while my outer-guy kept glancing around the restaurant for the door.

It was horrible. I felt as bad for her as I did for me, as she sat there, this beautiful woman I knew so well on the inside, completely vulnerable to my next move. I had to do the right thing.

"It's OK, Maria, really," I said after dinner. "Let's go to the hotel -- Iíve already checked us in."

I didn't even know if I'd get hard after seeing her naked, and I knew this was my failing, not hers, and this made me feel even worse. We kissed for a long time, fully-clothed on the bed, and it was nice, even though my arms barely reached around her. So I held her face and kissed her, closed my eyes and fell into her sensuality and tried not to think of what was ahead. You can do this. You can do this. This is a test of your character.

I lit the candles I had brought and put on the music. We danced, just as we had planned. I undressed her, slowly. It was an expedition, sort of amazing, and she was bold and not self-conscious about her body for me, as so many women with even the most shapely bodies are. Maria was sex-personified, at least in her heart. She gave me the best blow job I have ever had or will have again. Getting hard turned out not to be the problem, but I couldn't shut the thought out of my mind that I knew I was going to leave and shouldn't be doing this in the first place. I felt sick the whole time, even while we were having passionate sex, and I kept closing my eyes and having flashbacks of every problem I've ever felt trapped in throughout my whole life.

In the end, though, we slept, my hand in her hair, her leg snuggled up against mine, and I thought: well, damn, this will be all right.

But one look at her in the morning, and I wanted to leave. Just disappear while she was still asleep, leaving a pathetic-guy-note about my failings and what a wonderful human being she was. The thought of taking a shower with her was beyond my comprehension. I went out for the newspaper and coffee instead.

I didn't leave. I stayed the entire weekend -- we laughed, we cried, we talked about it some, and I tried to listen to my inner voice and grow up. It never worked -- I made it through the weekend, but I was never so glad to drive away from a hotel in my entire life.

I never saw her again. I'd like to say that we remained great friends, but it's not true -- I was polite, and we're Christmas card acquaintances, nothing more. I feel sick, and guilty, every single time I think of her. She was only different, and I couldn't adjust. I am still alone. She was my dream woman on the inside, but I never got past the surprise of the outside package. Today, I often look at heavy women on the street in a sexual manner, but I never follow through. Maria was a lark, and you tried, I tell myself when I think of her -- you've seen plenty of women come and go, now get over it. But sometimes in the dark of night, I hear the other little voice whisper, she is your greatest loss.

©2001 by Sam Garcia

Sam Garcia is a journalist living in Southern California.

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