g r a v e l
A L I T E R A R Y J O U R N A L
I Only Date Women with Owen Wilson Noses
(Not a Love Story)
I knew the date wasn’t going to work out as soon as I said, “I only date women who have Owen Wilson noses.” I wasn’t going to lie to her, so I wanted her to know that I wouldn’t be asking her out on a second date. “But,” I said, “that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy tonight.” I held up my wine and nodded. The mise-en-scene of the restaurant was romantic and if my date’s nose had been like Owen Wilson’s in both size and shape, the night would’ve been parfait.
“I don’t understand,” my date, who had a so-so nose, said. She looked like she hadn’t slept much in the past week and I liked that. Rhubarb-colored hair—dyed, of course; lips that you could make a poem about; etc., etc. But the nose just wasn’t there. Even her low-cut dress couldn’t do it for me. (I continued to look there throughout our dialogue, however. I can appreciate what’s there even if it’s not all there.) “Why can’t you give it a chance?”
“Can you give rhinoplasty a chance?” I asked. “Because that’s the only way we can go on another date—but like I said, it doesn’t matter. If I’d known what your nose looked like, I wouldn’t have asked you out—online dating, am I right? You should add pictures to your profile—and a couple from the side, too. That’s the best view of the nose. But we’re face-to-face now, so let’s make the best of it. What do you say?”
“Okay, okay” she said, more to herself than to me. “I’m alright with just having fun tonight—but what’s up with the Owen Wilson noses? I don’t understand. I can’t say I understand at all.”
“Here,” I said, putting my hand in my pocket and taking out my wallet. “Look at what I have right here.” I opened my wallet and removed a picture. “It’s not a picture, per se—a collage, it’s more of a collage. I’m not an artist. Do you know that’s French—collage, do you know that? It comes from coller, or ‘to glue.’ And the wine’s French, too—but you know that.” I handed her my ex-girlfriend’s picture onto which I had glued a cut-out of Owen Wilson’s nose that I had taken from an issue of Entertainment Weekly.
“I have a subscription,” I said. “You can have some of my back issues if you want. Owen Wilson’s not in it much, if you’re into him. I’m really just into the noses. And, you know, his movies are okay—the early ones are okay.”
“Who’s this?” my date asked. Her name was Chloe. My small-nosed date’s name was Chloe. She looked at the picture and then up at me and then back at the picture. “That’s a—that’s a nose,” she added. “That’s—that’s not hers, is it?”
“God no,” I said. “It isn’t. If that had been her nose, believe me—we wouldn’t be on this date right now.” I asked her to hold up the picture. “No, her nose wasn’t nearly that size,” I said. “That’s Owen Wilson’s nose superimposed on her face. It’s not like I get off to that picture or anything. It’s just a reference for people—like you—who ask. So voila! There’s a women with an Owen Wilson nose. Okay, like you know, it’s a collage, so it’s not really a woman with an Owen Wilson nose—but that’s what she’d looked like.”
“What were you two?” Chloe asked. She gave me back the picture and I put it in my wallet. “So you dated? Like, how long had you two dated?”
“Two years,” I said. “When I started dating her, I knew that her nose wasn’t anything to write home about, of course—but I thought I’d try, you know? Maybe it would work out. And for two years, it kind of worked out. But it’s over now.” I asked the passing waiter for more wine. “A bottle,” I said. “Just get us a whole bottle.”
“It worked out for two years,” Chloe said. “Are you sure the reasons for the relationship ending was nose-related? It could’ve been something else—two years is a long time.”
“It was because of the nose,” I said. “It was definitely because of the nose—it just couldn’t work. We worked it out for two years—and they weren’t easy. But we worked for two years, but her nose just wasn’t what I wanted in a woman. It’s unfortunate, but it’s true.”
“Look over there,” I said. “At the two-top over there—see? Look at her nose. It’s a real tour de force. Okay, is she going to turn her—yes, yes! Look at her nose, side profile. Beautiful.”
She had a sip of wine and I moved my head toward the Wilson-nosed woman at the two-top. Chloe sighed, had more wine.
“I don’t have the type of nose you want, but we’re on a date,” Chloe said. “And you asked me on the date, so you should pay attention the nose you asked out—and I say this on every date I go on, for the record. It’s like guys always look around at other noses while I’m right here—right in front of them. It’s like, come on, you know?” Chloe let out a small laugh at her joke.
“Alright,” I said. “Sorry. How’s the food?” I hadn’t started eating, but she had. I poked at my mashed potatoes and then spooned up a helping. They weren’t warm. “Yum-o,” I said.
“The woman with the nose that you checked out before—she’s going,” Chloe said later. “I don’t know if you’d like to check her out so you can like—I don’t even know, but yeah, she’s out. Just so you know.” I looked around and the woman had started to walk toward the front of the restaurant so I couldn’t see her face. I thanked Chloe.
“Your nose isn’t that bad,” I said. “It’s—it’s kind of cute, even.” When I talked she turned her head down and to the side, showing her profile. It was alright—like I’d just said, not bad. “There’re a lot of men who like cute noses,” I said. “You just have to locate Mr. Right.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Chloe said. “My nose really doesn’t matter anymore. You don’t like it—I get that. You don’t like my nose because it’s not—it’s not whatever you like in a nose. It’s kind of fucked up—excuse me. But it is.” She removed the napkin from her lap and tossed it onto the table and she had a sip of wine before she rose. She looked at me, sighed. “Are we done here?” she asked. I nodded.
“If you’re going to blog about the date,” I said, “please, please don’t use my name. I can’t have everybody with Internet access knowing about what I like in a woman. It’ll probably turn them off.”
“I don’t have a blog,” Chloe said. “I’m not some sort of asshole who blogs about dates with men who like women with oversized noses. If I were to blog, that’d be an interesting topic. But I won’t.”
We walked out of the restaurant and to our cars. I drove a mid-‘90s Ford Taurus and I wasn’t sure what she drove. “Where’s your car?” I asked.
“My roommate drove me here,” she said. “And she’s coming back now.”
“I can drive you home,” I said. “It’s not a problem. El Tauro can make it—he’s down, but not out.”
“I wouldn’t want to you have to look at my profile for the entire drive,” Chloe said. “My nose isn’t bad—like you were helpful enough to inform me. But I wouldn’t want to subject you to that.”
“Do you want my Entertainment Weeklys?” I asked. “If you give me your number I can contact you about giving them to you.”
“No thanks,” Chloe said. “I have enough subscriptions. I don’t need any more reading materials. Good-bye.” Chloe’s roommate had pulled up in her car and Chloe opened the door and sat down. “I can’t say I really liked Zoolander,” she said before she shut the door. I looked in the window and saw Chloe’s friend for a second before the car pulled away. I removed the wallet from my pocket and pulled out the collage of Owen Wilson’s nose on my ex-girlfriend. I held it up and looked back at the car driving away, in the driver’s seat a woman with the most beautiful nose I had ever seen.
Zachary Kocanda studies creative writing at Bowing Green State University where he works as the managing editor for the literary magazine Prairie Margins and as an intern for Mid-American Review. He has been published in The Blue Route and Black Mirror Magazine.