Batman and Robin played a show in my town. I know everyone’s nuts about Batman, but I always liked Robin. He’s quiet and nerdy and there’s something attractive about his skinny, short body and his awkward demeanor.
The show was sold out months in advance and featured two average male superheroes and as expected, the crowd was full of men revering men, and women like me, who love men who revere men, regardless of how super they are.
Somehow I ended up standing next to Robin in the crowd while the first band was playing. He wasn’t wearing his mini mask and probably figured no one would recognize him. I could tell he was checking me out. Every time I turned to look at him, he turned to look at me and smiled.
After the first band finished, he walked backstage and I wormed my way to the front of the packed club. He came out with Batman, and the crowd of greasy boys with beer cans cheered and hollered. I watched him scan the crowd looking for me and once we made eye contact, he didn’t look away. He played his bass just for me, a sweet serenade, while riddlers and a few sporadic wonder women thrashed around Batman and his sixteen-piece drum set.
When the show was over, Robin found me milling around the merch table and asked for my phone number and smiled and said he would text me the next morning.
Robin apparently had a day job that he had to get back to in Gotham City after his Batman and Robin Forever Tour. We decided through a brief exchange of texts that he would drive back out to my town on some Friday evening in the near future so we could hang out.
I told everyone. I told my mom. I told my ex’s friends. I told the cashier at Foster’s. I told the mailman. I told them all that I was going on a date with Robin.
Wow, like Batman and Robin?
Yes, I said, like Robin.
I invited him to my apartment and spent the day before he arrived shaving and cleaning. Dusting and lotioning and mopping and tweezing. Then I reclined and drank three beers before he showed up, empty handed and without his costume on. I froze standing in the doorway realizing we were about to have our first actual conversation. I had no idea what to say. I brought him out to the side porch of my second-story apartment with my jade and basil plants and we sat on two cushioned Adirondack chairs. He wasn’t talking either and I panicked in the silence. I didn’t want to bring up the wrong art or the wrong artist and I didn’t want to ask him about the band or what happened between Batman and Catwoman or any of the things I was sure he was sick of discussing. Knots of sweat beaded around my lip and before I knew it, I was rambling about my favorite author and the work I had been translating. He cut me off saying, Hmmm, you’re pretty extroverted. I feel like our chemistry is off.
I was mortified imagining how I would have to explain my botched dream date to everyone. To my neighbors.
I could fix this though. I told Robin I was usually more laid back and it must be from the IPAs I had earlier. He asked, What’s an IPA, and I was confused about how someone could go their entire adult life fighting crime and playing rock shows at clubs across the nation and not know what an IPA was. I told him it would be hoppy.
So it’s like, strong? Because I don’t like weird strong beers.
I let him know that he probably wouldn’t like it but he tried a sip anyway and made a yuck face.
You know, he said, I came all the way from Gotham City and in order for this trip to be a success, I just feel like we should be totally open about what’s going on.
Oh sure, I said and I waited for him to talk. My heart walloped into my chest and I was afraid he would hear it if I spoke. We sat in our chairs, tilted slightly toward each other with our knees nearly touching, neither of us talking, and watched my neighbor through her bedroom window getting ready for bed.
Holy shit, boobies! He squealed
What? I asked, but I certainly heard him.
I just saw her boobs, like all of her boobs.
He was hovering over his chair expecting her to change again or give us a strip tease but she turned her light out and he eventually settled back into his seat.
Wow, does that happen every day?
Are you asking if that woman puts pajamas on every day?
No, I mean, do you get to see her change every day?
I didn’t answer him and instead began to study his face. His top lip rested on his teeth and his week chin clung to his neck. I resigned that this would be a one-night stand at best and jibber jabber certainly wasn’t getting us anywhere, so I put my beer down and closed my eyes and leaned in for a kiss. Robin backed away abruptly.
I’m not really into kissing.
Oh. That’s too bad.
I mean, there are sexier things we can do. He reached over and started lifting up my skirt.
What are you doing?
He sat up straight and frowned.
I don’t want to have sex with someone I don’t know and then never see them again, I said.
Whoa. I didn’t come up here expecting anything. He paused briefly and then added, We don’t have a lot of time though. I mean we live far away from each other and we’re not really going to have many chances to get together.
I know, I said.
If you want to have sex, then we can, and if you don’t then we don’t have to. Whatever we do though, it doesn’t mean we are in a relationship.
I began thinking about the streaming pool of piss on the bathroom floor at the Brick Club where I had checked my hair and made sure I was perfect for him.
I just have to say it, he went on, because one time there was this girl who really liked me and we slept together and she thought we were in a relationship.
I wasn’t expecting anything, I said and then added, I just figured maybe we would make out a little bit. That wasn’t true though. Before he got there, I had been planning our vacations and deciding where we would celebrate Christmas.
I did try to make out with you, he whined.
When you were lifting up my skirt?
Wow, I have never had an interaction be this difficult. You must be a really complicated person.
This is a fucking nightmare, I said out loud.
Well, I don’t want to be anyone’s nightmare. Should I leave?
Later, when we were fucking, he started talking in a baby voice. Is this what you needed? You were mad cause you needed a big dick inside you? And I said, yea, but then he kept saying that he loved fucking me in the ass and that my asshole was so tight but we were having ordinary, missionary vaginal sex. I was confused and unsure if he was fantasizing, or if he didn’t understand anatomy, or what. I tried to zone out and think about my ex’s brother but he kept interrupting me to ask if I liked how he was fucking me in the ass. I couldn’t believe he had been complaining that I was too extroverted earlier.
About halfway through, he asked if he could take the condom off. I said, I don’t think so, as if offering condolences. He seemed annoyed, and for a short while he was silent, staring off slightly to the side of my face with his eyes bulging and his tongue slowly licking the corner of his mouth. He climaxed moaning Holy asshole in my ear and I winced and when it was over, he went on and on about how great it was but I didn’t come and he didn’t seem to care or even notice.
I woke up with foul morning breath and a hangover and looked over at him, totally awake, proud and naked all but for his blindfold with eyeholes that he called a mask. I did my best to politely let him come up with the idea to leave on his own. I said I was pretty sure I was out of coffee, but he took that as a cue to dig around in my kitchen and found some and started boiling water on the stove. He opened the refrigerator and complained about my chive cream cheese.
I don’t eat chives or onions or garlic.
Ok, I said.
We stood there in the thick kitchen for a few moments until he added, I don’t like eggs either.
I shut the stove off and told him I had to go into the office and I didn’t have any time for coffee and he said that was fine and sat down to read the paper at the table. I contemplated punching him in his stupid, nose hoping he would run off, but then I imagined him fighting back and yelling, POW! WHAM! WHACK!
Ugh, he’s still here. He quit his job and Catwoman took his place in the band, but all those men revering men stopped going to their shows. Vampires became more fashionable and the men revering men and the women who love them, all go to graveyard shows with dead jokers in the rhythm section.
We’re not in a relationship, so Robin doesn’t need to pay rent, or come to my mother’s funeral, or love me. He doesn’t clean, but he doesn’t make a mess either. He just sits around slapping on his bass, noodling the incessant three chords from the Batman theme song over and over, thrusting his pelvis up and down while he plays and sometimes calling me over to check it out. He only rarely leaves the apartment to get groceries, mostly from 7-Eleven, but we’re not in a relationship so it’s really none of my business where he shops.
Vanessa Brewster is a writer and experimental musician living in Western Massachusetts. Her prose was recently shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and she is currently finishing her first short story collection. She can be found on Instagram at @old_pam.