Posts tagged ‘Advice’
The first time I fell in love, well, I almost don’t count it. I was a freshman in college, and the young man didn’t feel the same way. We didn’t even date. He was my best friend. We were both English majors. We worked together. We socialized with each other and had all the same friends. He was funny and kind and smart. He and his brothers used to throw Egg Balancing Parties during the Fall and Spring Equinox. I used to write him letters that were more like personal essays, like this blog, and he kept them in a notebook that he still has, and he treasured them.
We spent nearly every day together. Sometimes it was every day. When I first met him I asked him if he was gay, and he told me he wasn’t. I don’t know what it was about him that made me ask. He wasn’t stereotypically effeminate. Maybe it was a sixth sense and years of socializing with high school thespians.
By the time that I got around to pressing the issue my friend and I had been as close as two people can be without having sex and being close. I was too young to know that if I had to press the issue with a confession of any sort that I could know in advance what the answer was going to be. If you have to tell a guy how you feel about him in order to find out how he feels about you…here’s a hint…he doesn’t.
But he let me down gently. And he was honest about it. He didn’t give me any agonizing details. He didn’t lie. He just said he wasn’t interested in me in that way and that he wouldn’t ever be interested in me in that way. I took a friendship sabbatical and came back, and after maybe a few verbal jabs that he endured with patience and humility, I returned refreshed and renewed and envigored about the friendship. He told me he was gay a year or two later. I should always trust my first instincts with my gaydar.
Now I guess I could technically get upset that he wasn’t completely honest about the gay thing, but I figure that a young man in his early 20s in Oklahoma in the early 1990s can be cut some slack in the honesty department when it comes to coming out of the closet. He didn’t lie about his feelings towards me; he just wasn’t feeling it, and maybe if he were straight he would have not felt the same way.
The second time I fell in love was a little over a decade later. I had just turned 30. I met a guy at a bar who was nine years older than me and was obviously a bad relationship risk on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start. It was a friendship and a casual sexual thing (which I’m not proud of and not terribly ashamed of, either). It wasn’t meant to evolve into anything else other than what it was. And then one day when we were in bed, he told me that he loved me. He clarified so I would know it wasn’t anything platonic, “I mean, I’m in love with you.”
I think that in my thirties, with nearly all my girlfriends having been married, and me having nothing to show for my life and very little in the way of dating prospects, that I was just desperate to be loved. I had worked it out in my head that love was a commitment, and I would commit to this guy.
Surely, he could see that he was getting better than he deserved in me and would treat me accordingly. I really thought that was what would happen; I thought that if I encouraged him and held high expectations for the relationship, that he would rise to the occasion and everything would be moonlight and roses and picket fences and 2.3 children in the suburbs.
Unfortunately, the second time I fell in love, I fell in love with a sociopath. He wasn’t capable of loving anyone, not even himself. He was incapable of fidelity. He was entirely self-absorbed. He was a pathological liar. He couldn’t hold down a job for any length of time. He had no discernible moral code. He’d been divorced twice and had abandoned two children, and I thought he could change because he told me he wanted to be a better person. I could oversimplify the relationship by saying that The Rat Bastard eventually dumped me because he told me he was gay, but the truth was that I had outlived my usefulness to him. The glass workboot didn’t fit.
I actually met Guy #3 before I met Guy #2. I worked with him, and then I didn’t. For a long time. We met up once during this time, and I stopped by the apartment he shared with his brother for a visit. I don’t even recall how this came about, since we had socialized with each other a few times, but we weren’t close.
About two and a half years ago, about eight years after we first met, I ran into this guy at the cafeteria at my work. I didn’t say hello. For one thing, I didn’t recognize him for sure. I thought maybe it was him, but I wasn’t sure. And then there was my crippling discomfort with the fact that I was now eight years older and several pounds heavier. I knew that I would be measured against the yardstick of my cute and skinny self and found lacking.
I looked up his name on the employee directory, and then I sent him an email. And then I waited. I think it took him a week or longer to respond. Obviously, I hadn’t made a very big or favorable initial impression. But eventually he did respond, and he asked me if I had plans for New Years Eve, and I told him I didn’t. So, we made plans for this pseudo New Years date, sight unseen. Well, I had seen him, but he hadn’t seen me.
It was a double undate, and I could get into the details of that night, but it’s unnecessary. He recognized me right away, and he didn’t register any shock or even any acknowledgement of my altered appearance. He kissed me on the lips on New Years, and then I drove him back to his car. That night I had worn some shoes that killed my feet, and I took them off, and he gave me his shoes to wear instead. That glass slipper motif again.
He seemed interested in pursuing a relationship, but what the hell do I know? Maybe he was just trying to encourage me to get out of the house more and get a life. I put him off with the excuse that we worked together and for that reason it would be unwise to date. Later, I added that I couldn’t pursue a relationship with someone who didn’t believe in God, and I stick by that decision. If someone refuses to acknowledge what’s most important in your life and denies its very existence, they can never fully know you.
Over time he became my best friend, and I think I became his. Again, the details aren’t important. In writing this I am breaking a promise that I made to not write about him anymore, but I think that he’s long since quit reading this blog. Also, I don’t want to write about how it all unraveled or my disappointment or what I perceived as his dishonesty. I don’t want to trash him for his failures or his frailties.
The most hurtful things he did or said I’ve kept to myself. Despite what seems to be my complete candor, there are still some secret scars that I don’t share with the world or with him. It’s like the gift that you do not give. I do not give it because I love him. I want to write about what made me love him in the first place…how he snuck up on me and caught me unaware and made me love him.
He was sweet. He was generous. He was kind. He had a great smile. I never went anywhere with him or did anything with him where he didn’t make me feel profoundly safe and provided for. He thought I was smart and funny and even pretty. He took pictures of me with no makeup on and saved them to his iPhone over my protests (I hate having my photo taken).
We could talk for hours. We went out into the world together and snuggled on the couch and watched television. He was a very talented musician. He had these great hands. And he had a quality about him that was fundamentally decent and boyish and vulnerable. It was like he’d grown up with the soft spot on his skull still intact.
You know how there were some experiments years ago about how family members could recognize each other’s unique odor by making these family members wear t-shirts for a day with no lotion and no deodorant? Then afterwards they passed the t-shirts around and each family member could recognize each other by smell alone. I could recognize him by smell alone.
And so I loved him, and one day I decided to tell him, but just like with Guy #1, if you have to be the one to break the news, then you should already know the answer. And his answer was perfect silence, which was, of course, humiliating.
There was an “incident.” There always is. But none of it matters. I was sick, and I couldn’t be in a relationship and still be in my sickness. You know that song, the one that says you only get what you give? He was sick as well. We couldn’t heal each other. We would both have to recognize a problem and then seek help to get well. And for that reason I can forgive any of the other bullshit and just remember that once I was in love.
Work Boyfriend 1.0 and I were having a phone conversation the other day where he brought up again, as he does every few months or so, the question of whether or not I should date. The answer to this question is always no. Sometimes I think the answer should be yes, but then I am wrong. The answer is no.
The last time someone talked me into accepting a date, the outcome was predictably tragic. I met this guy in a bar called Canary Hut or Canary Roost. I don’t know. Canary Something. I was out with Katina. This is obviously when I was still drinking, but I wasn’t drunk at the time. It was December of 2008, and I hadn’t been on a date in five years, if you count my relationship with The Rat Bastard as dating.
Wisely, after The Rat Bastard, I had made the conscious decision not to ever accept another date again. I am simply not meant to date. It works out for other humans, but it never works out for me. What is the definition of insanity? Repeating the same actions and expecting a different outcome.
The outcome of me dating is always disappointment. Sometimes it’s mild disappointment, and at other times it’s profound disappointment but what all these experiences have in common is disappointment. I was an English major, and I began to sense a theme. At some point, I decided that I didn’t want to be insane anymore.
So, this guy at the Canary Something was supposedly instantly attracted to me. Why I couldn’t say. I had not taken any special care with my appearance, and I was at least one hundred pounds overweight at the time. Now the way he approaches me is original, because he doesn’t.
He sends his sister and her husband over to ask for him, like he’s in junior high and wants to ask me to go with him. The sister and her husband launch an all out campaign to convince me that I want to go out with her brother. They point him out at the bar. He waves.
He’s nothing special, but he’s also not repulsive. Supposedly, he is painfully shy. This isn’t surprising to me. Shy guys love me. I swear to God if there is a shy guy within a twenty-mile radius of me, he will eventually gravitate towards me even if he isn’t actually interested in me in that way. I attract them like magnets. The kind of guys who major in obscure and cerebral things that require them to interact with things or numbers and not humans – IT guys and math majors and engineers and architects – they love me for some inexplicable reason.
Now I finally meet this guy after his entire family has talked him up to me. And that’s no exaggeration. This is the family that parties together. Mom, stepdad, brother, sister, brother-in-law. He’s awkward, and, yep, shy. He also strikes me as not particularly bright. As in, he has the IQ of a root vegetable. Actually, that might be an insult to some of the more intelligent root vegetables, like the rutabaga and the jicama, for instance.
His whole family made a big point out of telling me how brilliant he is. Oh, he’s so smart! It doesn’t seem like it at first, but just wait until you get to know him. Hmmph. I am not so convinced. Mr. Brilliant is several years younger than me, in his late twenties, hasn’t started let alone finished college, and is currently working two or three delivery jobs.
But he’s nice enough. He seems to like me. My girlfriend is encouraging me to do this. I should go out. It’s healthy. I should make an effort. What could it hurt? Free dinner, yada, yada. And I recognize the logic in this argument. How am I going to find someone if I don’t go out? Do I want to spend the rest of my life alone? If nothing else, then it will be good practice.
Monday morning I describe the entire scenario to Work Boyfriend 1.0.
“So, you’re saying that you’re going out with this guy on a mercy date?”
“Well, if you’re going to put it that way, um, yeah, I guess.”
“Oh, my God. Don’t do us any favors.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean? I thought you said that I should date.”
“You should. Someone you really like.”
“But no one I really like has asked me out. They aren’t exactly lining up outside my door. These are my choices: stay home or go out on the mercy date.”
A couple nights go by. Mr. Brilliant calls me. He hasn’t gotten any smarter. It’s late, and I’m already in for the night, and he wants me to meet him somewhere right now. Now I’m not a strict adherent to The Rules, but I’m not running like a puppy dog because this guy has called. I don’t play games. I tell him that I’d like to make plans in advance. I don’t tell him why this is, but the reason has to do with the fact that I’d like to think that a guy actually went to the effort and trouble of planning something in advance. I’d like to think that he cared enough to do that for me.
He says he’d like to meet me somewhere for dinner the next night. Tomorrow night. No place yet. No plans. But I figure this is a compromise because I at least have advance warning. I can make an effort and try to look nice, maybe wear some of that Chanel perfume that I never have a reason to wear. Tomorrow night. He’ll call. Cool.
So, tomorrow night comes. I make an effort and shower and dress nice and get ready to fly out the door to wherever it is that he’s decided that we’re going to meet. But the phone doesn’t ring. Strangely, the phone doesn’t ring all evening.
The phone does ring the next day, after he’s stood me up. It rings several times while I’m at work, and once I actually hang up on him without saying a word. Work Boyfriend 1.0 is appalled.
“You aren’t even going to give this guy a chance?”
“You didn’t even want me to go out with him in the first place, and he stood me up.”
“You should at least listen to what he has to say.”
“Unless he’s in a hospital, I really don’t want to hear anything he has to say. And nope, not even then. They have phones in hospitals. You want to know why I don’t date? This. This right here is why I don’t date. It’s a perfect example.”
First, I’m wrong for having a no dating policy. It’s so isolated and closed off, and I’ll never meet someone that way. Then someone asks me out, and I agree to give him a shot, and I’m a horrible person for agreeing to go on the mercy date. Then he stands me up, and I’m a horrible person for not giving him a second chance. At what point is he the horrible person in this scenario? After he takes me out to an old deserted road and rapes me and leaves me for dead? Or will I still be the horrible person even then?
Mr. Brilliant calls again that night. His excuse is that he had to work. He works three jobs, after all, and one of the jobs asked him to work some overtime.
I tell him that I can appreciate that he has to work three jobs, and that if you have to work you have to work. I still would have appreciated a courtesy call.
His phone was dead or something. He’s sorry. Do I want to go out right now and meet him and his friends for a drink? No, I do not. I tell him he had his chance, and he blew it, and I don’t want to talk to him again. For someone who was supposedly so enamored of me, he doesn’t seem very broken hearted about it.
And THAT is why I don’t date. I suppose my standards are too high. Once, just once I’d like for the guy that I like to ask me out and not have to settle for letting the guy I’m not so crazy about try to convince me otherwise. But I give in on that. Every time. Because if I don’t, then I’ll be alone. Then I compromise on the fact that I’d like to be courted. Then I compromise on the fact that I’d like to be treated with common courtesy and decency. And before I know it, I’m in another relationship with another Rat Bastard all because I’m scared of (Gulp!) being alone.
I won’t do it. I’m tired of doing it. And I’d rather be alone, thank you. If that makes me bitter or “judgemental”, then I guess I’m okay with that.
Some of you are no doubt wondering what happened with the stud from The Morning After (see There’s Got to Be a Morning After). The answer to that question is that he’s still around, just hanging out and remaining anonymous, and I have a certain duty to protect his identity. Otherwise there’d be a line around the block for his services. I’m certain he couldn’t handle all the attention my tiny blog would get him.
Seriously, I broke that cardinal rule of all rules that you aren’t supposed to have sex with your friends. According to “When Harry Met Sally,” it changes everything. According to the prevailing belief structure of the moment, it has a tendency to ruin everything. I am familiar with the concept of Friends with Benefits, having done the concept on a couple different occasions. To be honest, however, my first Friend with Benefits was a friend in name only, someone with whom I did not feel I could converse with on my level and someone for whom I, sadly, had little respect.
The second experience with Friends with Benefits was better from the standpoint of the quality of the conversation and the relationship, but being honest I realize that the level of affection in that relationship was hideously skewed. He was one of those rare animals that should be studied in cages at a zoo: a man who was incapable of having a sexual relationship with a woman without falling in love with her. I guess that makes me a heartless, calculating, opportunistic young woman who was only out for one thing.
For those of you that haven’t maybe talked with me in a while, what happened with The Stud was this. Neither of us wanted to be in a serious relationship. We were very good friends, something we had been worried about preserving both before and after IT happened. So, even though I offered The Stud the supposed Holy Grail of All Relationships – Sex Without Strings – he turned me down flat. I’m not certain whether it was to preserve his feelings or mine. Regardless, it was the right call. Having sex with someone can produce feelings, and it does change things. Maybe not everything. But enough. Now when I look at my friend I see someone with whom I’ve had sex. I see him in that context. What’s done cannot be undone.
Have things been awkward on occasion since then? I think that’s to be expected. Once, an unfortunate turn of phrase he made when I was suffering from pre-menstrual syndrome threatened to make me weepy during a phone conversation. I am very fortunate in that my friend makes the effort to communicate with me and clear the air whenever he thinks it needs to be done. With a few minor hiccups, we’ve been able to maintain the quality of our friendship and move on. Am I sorry IT happened? Would I take it back if I could? No, it was a very beautiful memory. It was, for me, a moving experience. The second time it happened it was the end of a perfect day. Even though I know that we are not compatible as a couple AND (what really pisses me off) there will be no more good nookie, I am not sorry it happened. I cannot tell a lie.
You might wonder what a sex name is. And if you do, then you can join my club, because when the concept was first mentioned to me, I was equally clueless. This is how the subject came up. I have a friend who is a great educator about a variety of subjects. She is the alpha female in the relationship, as, I believe, nearly all my good girlfriends are. I play second fiddle, or Tonto, if you will.
This girlfriend…we’ll call her Katina, because that is her sex name, and the name under which she has given her official permission to be written about in my blog. Katina sends out a weekly email. It’s like her version of a blog. She writes quite well, I might add, and has some legitimate criticisms of my blog; i.e. too long, too wordy, repetitive (did I mention that I’ve had sex recently?), strays from subject. But I digress.
Katina’s weekly email goes out mostly to the people that she considers to be her closest friends. One of these friends had an email address that contained the name Sheila. Now Katina and I know a couple of Sheilas, but neither one of these women were in Katina’s circle of friends, to my knowledge. And Katina doesn’t have any Australian girlfriends. So, I asked her who was the woman with the Sheila email address. She answered, “Oh, that’s [so and so’s] wife.” I know this woman and her husband, and I know that her name is not Sheila. So, I asked, “Why does she have the name Sheila in her email address?”
Katina answered, “Oh, that’s her sex name.”
“Her sex name?” I asked.
“Yes, her sex name. As in what she likes to be called when she’s doing freaky shit.”
“Wow. Really? Like what?”
“The kind of stuff you do to spice up your sex life after you’ve been in a relationship for a while. You know, wigs and handcuffs, stuff like that.”
“You know. Uh, uh, uh. Oh, Sheila.”
I admit to taking some poetic license with this exchange. I didn’t exactly copy and paste our chat dialogue and then email it to myself, but with the snippets of a spoken conversation on the same subject added in, that was the gist of it.
Later, I was speaking about this very topic with another, male friend of mine, over pizza and beer. This friend, a shy male guitar player (see About Love and Music), has given his permission to be henceforth written about in this blog, as Shy Guy. I was talking about how this would be a great subject for my blog. Shy Guy agreed.
Then Shy Guy had a brilliant idea. “You could use this to cover yourself if you ever cried out the wrong name in bed. Like, say you accidentally say the name of your ex-girlfriend during the act. You could cover it by saying, ‘Hey, baby. That’s your sex name!'” Of course, this plan can only work if the person you’re having sex with doesn’t know you very well and doesn’t know the name of previous partners of significance, in which case you probably wouldn’t be having freaky sex yet. Nobody wants their sex name to be the same as their partner’s ex. So, this theory has holes in it. We’re working on it.
Soon after our next to the last breakup I moved in with my last roommate, a woman I will refer to as The Train Wreck. Before we were going to move in together she insisted on meeting me for drinks at Baby A’s because she had something to tell me. By that time, Rat and I hadn’t been broken up for very long, and I think this was our second breakup. We maintained a friendship. Maybe you can guess what Train just had to tell me before I moved in with her, but I did not see this coming. She told me that she wanted me to know that during our last breakup, she and Rat had slept together.
Since we were broken up at the time, he was perfectly free to have sex with whomever he wanted, and since it was a one time thing I wondered why Train didn’t just keep this news to herself. Just why was a purging of her conscience necessary? And the truth is that it wasn’t. This woman wanted to hurt me. And she was successful on that score.
I did get upset. Besides the obvious, I got upset that when we had gotten back together after that breakup, I had questioned him, in the interest of my sexual health, about whether or not he had had sex with someone while we were broken up. He told me he hadn’t, and when I called him from my cell phone at Baby A’s to chew his ass out, he insisted that the only reason that he never mentioned it was because it would have upset me for no reason. Call me cynical, but I think the reason he failed to mention it was because he didn’t want to wear condoms again for the next six months. The truth is that if he had just been upfront with me in the first place I wouldn’t have been that upset. Would I have been a teensy bit jealous? Yeah. That’s normal. But I would have gotten over it.
And even after this fiasco/soap opera scene, Rat and I did get back together one last time. It didn’t last long. Maybe two months. And during that time, he got down on bended knee and asked me to marry him. There was no ring. I didn’t need or want one, but Rat insisted that I would have one. Even right after this happened, in my state of happiness at the prospect of spending the rest of my life with the Rat Bastard I loved, I told The Train Wreck that he would never marry me. I’m psychic like that.
The end came like this. The Rat Bastard was over at Train’s and my place for an evening meal. Afterward we were sitting in the courtyard together, enjoying the autumn weather at sunset. I was sipping on a glass of white wine. He said he had something to tell me. I wondered if it was along the lines of the time that he admitted to having told me some whopper lies when we first got together. Lies like the one about the non-existent older brother who died in Vietnam or the time he spent playing minor league baseball were what I was expecting.
What he had to tell me was that he would still marry me and that he loved me, but that he was pretty sure now that he was gay. Lately, he felt almost exclusively sexually attracted to men. He had to have sex with another man. He had to have the freedom to do that. So, if I would just look the other way, he promised he would never have sex with another woman. Only men.
In truth, this should not have shocked me. Our sex life had been lacking one thing for me recently: frequency. I had bitched about it and bitched about it. I could have done it every day. More often than not, he had an excuse for why he couldn’t. He was tired. The headache cliché for us was when he started getting these whopper headaches whenever he came. That dried us up for awhile, as did the stroke he thought he nearly had once while we were fucking.
If he was exclusively sexually attracted to men, I questioned him, then just how did he manage what must have been the chore of having sex with me? Did he have to close his eyes and pretend I was someone else? He admitted to something along those lines and then when I continued to dig for more information, he said, “Why are you torturing yourself?” It was a good point. I gotta wonder. After all, the issue was his. It wasn’t mine. My only crime in this scenario was being a woman, something that in and of itself makes me desirable to approximately 90% of the male population. But to me there was something particularly hurtful about the idea of him having to imagine someone else in order to perform. To this day, I’ve never had to imagine that I was having sex with anyone other than the person with whom I was actually having sex.
I told him to get out. So, he left. He came back five minutes later because he left his wallet inside the house. Even losing the love of your life becomes a comical moment. On this week’s episode of, “Here’s Lucy,” Lucy breaks up with her gay boyfriend after he asks her to look the other way while he has anonymous public restroom sex with strangers. I didn’t say a word to him. I didn’t scream. I didn’t cry. I never did. I sipped my white wine and read my book. Then I slipped quietly back into the house and went to sleep. A week later he was sleeping with the same ex girlfriend whose garage he had once lived in.