The Third Strike

I told you I saw her right? The one with the green hair from Snapchat. She was at the mall eating Wetzel’s Pretzels. Her green hair was like the glowing siren’s of the Starbucks behind her, a beacon in the food court. I kept my head low as I picked at my teriyaki chicken bowl with splintered cottonwood chopsticks. And as I shoved the broccoli aside to prioritize the saucy meat, I thought about the statistical probability of running into her. Man, I deadass started scribbling formulas on my napkin until I realized that it didn’t matter. I told you she’d always flake on me. We didn’t go skating at the beach because a couple of clouds “killed the vibe.” We didn’t eat the dinner I cooked because she got evacuated from her apartment because of a carbon dioxide leak. And we didn’t go to the art store in downtown because she didn’t have the 41 dollars needed to buy markers in every shade of green.

She was tearing apart puffy dough sprinkled with chunky bits of salt. Like a damned rom-com, her husband held his mouth open as she slid the mustard dipped bread through his lips. And of course, she giggled as she wiped yellow off his cheek and seductively sucked it off her finger. It reminded me of when she’d send snaps of her naked body with green hair coiling around her curves and tattoos spreading over skin. It reminded me of an hour after midnight last New Year’s Eve when we kissed in the Uber while the diver awkwardly asked us to get out of the car. But it mostly reminded me of when her green hair slinked over my bare skin and when she slipped the growing part of me between her lips.

I covered my head with the hood of my jacket and pulled the teriyaki bowl close to my mouth. She left her Wetzel’s Pretzels garbage at her table when she walked off with her husband. I was confident that I had avoided her gaze until a week later when she asked if I had been at the mall. I told her that it wasn’t me, but I know that she knew it was.

I thought about the color of dollar bills, vines, and sirens. Despite it all, I’ll always think of her hair. It was invasive, like English ivy. I still find coils of it in my bed, clinging to fibers that can’t be washed enough.


I met her at that party at the math teacher’s house and we compared our horrors of online dating. I told you about her, the one that seemed basic as fuck but was pretty cool. She was blonde, lived in PB, and loved hiking and wine. She was pretty boring until I got past the generic details.

The party was 41 miles away. It was one of those big houses on a multi acre lot in the middle of the desert surrounded by fading green cacti and browning shrubs. Outside, we shivered through our words as we talked about the complexities of education in a generation saturated by meme culture. She explained the statistics behind the algorithms used by dating apps and how they are ultimately flawed to match those that should never meet. And she complained about the guy she shared a flatbread with that she met on Tinder. She wished he’d have the decency to tell her he wasn’t interested instead of just ghosting.

By that time, I think she drank a whole bottle of red, and I had several IPAs. Huddled together, we used critical thinking to strategize improvements for our profiles to impact the success of future dates. I didn’t have service so we analyzed hers. I told her it was basic. We laughed. Then she pulled me on top of her and guided my fingers to the place between her thighs. She moaned in a way that I’d missed. Like it was real, like it was good.

And I’ll tell you, I don’t remember how we decided upon going on a date together. Maybe it was after some more wine, mojitos, and IPAs. Maybe it was the following morning when I woke her to get her number before I snuck out. The date was on Thursday night, BBQ, but no drinks. A week later, when I asked her out again, she politely declined saying she wanted to see where it goes with the flatbread guy.


You know what all the basic girls list on their dating profiles: wine, yoga, hiking, and travelling. It’d be interesting if it wasn’t all the same. While most indicate a love of travel and a valid passport as prerequisites, I hadn’t imagined I’d be crossing the Mexican border for a date. Or that I’d eventually be in an international relationship. Her username was Intelligent Sexy. She was an industrial engineer for a Japanese paper company in Mexico. She was short, brown, and beautiful.

We met at a Starbucks in Chula Vista for our first date. I ordered an iced coffee and she had an extra hot coconut milk green tea latte with no foam or sweetener. Her English sucked, broken as all hell. Later she told me that we wouldn’t have had a second date if I didn’t offer to speak in Spanish. After a couple of dates, I started to meet up with her in Mexico. At first, it was great. We’d eat steak for ten dollars, a movie with palomitas y coca colas for eight, and clubbin to reggaeton with enough Indios to make us stumble down calle sexta for twenty.

Sure, crossing all the time was fucked up. I’d always  get secondary inspection, frequently stuck in the holding room with drug attics, drunks, and la migra. I tried to calculate the probability of constantly being chosen for random inspections. I learned it was because I shared the name of a criminal. Who do you think he was? A narco, coyote, trafficker, or mafioso? Sometimes it’d take me an hour and a half to cross and up to another hour to walk north enough to get the bars needed to request an Uber back.

She’d cross for concerts: Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, and The Wombats. Those were one hundred dollar nights. But she’d stay the night at my place, and we’d eat homemade fried chicken sandwiches and fuck to alternative music from the late nineties: Eagle Eye Cherry, Sum 41, and Green Day.

The end started with an admission that she was “mucho mas grande de treinta y cuatro.” She confessed the third lie from her profile, a lie the length of seven years. And I’ll tell you, here in America, the third strike is a big fucking deal. She’s 41. I didn’t talk to her for a week, but we already got tickets for a show the following month. I got over it, or I thought I did. And even though we were sick, we went to the AJR concert on Hollywood Boulevard, swaying with the crowd to electronic melodies. The next day she called it off, and now I’m unsure when I’ll cross again.

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