Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why it's too little, too late

When I said in the comments section of this post, "The guy is an unemployed pot smoker; persistence isn't really his 'thing,'" I may have spoken too soon. As it turns out, once the words "it's over" come into play, persistence is very much his thing. Texts, e-mails, some answered, some not. That delicate balance, walking that fine line between ignoring him altogether and not wanting to piss him off too much, since he does know where I live, after all. Funny, though, that a guy unheard from for four days when he thought we were together would become so very communicative once none of it matters anymore. In his texts and his e-mails you can see a clear progression of the stages of grief, starting with denial ("I still have an extra ticket to that concert if you want, no pressure"), and moving through anger ("This is bullshit, you were interested in me the last time I saw you"), bargaining ("I'm done being pushy; I'm chill now, I swear!"), and sadness ("I'm not saying I go around yelling your name like I'm in Rocky or anything, but sometimes it hits me. And I'm like, oh, Rachel's gone...that sucks. There's times like the other night, friends and I were sitting around the dock drinking wine. It was a nice night with the moon out, people were speaking French, and I just wondered why you weren't there.") He seemed to be having trouble with the final stage of acceptance, and so I decided to help him out a bit. He didn't seem to be getting it, after all. All this nostalgic bullshit. And so I told him basically everything I laid out in this post:

a) the list-making, money-counting, tally-keeping
b) the mother fucking pad thai
c) not my type
d) unemployed
e) not even that nice to me
f) accused me (me!) of not being nice to him

And then came the e-mail to end all e-mails. It was the fucking War and Peace of e-mails. Like that Friends episode, you know, where Ross is all, "Eighteen pages, front and back!" For once I am not the Rachel in this situation, is what I'm saying. He out-Racheled me. 

The tone of the e-mail wandered schizophrenically, bouncing from remorse to accusations, denial to contrition, from "I'm not going to ask for a second chance" to "but I would take it if you offered." 

He fucked up, is what he was trying to say to me, but I wasn't listening, he said.

And he wasn't nice to me? I didn't think he was nice when he did x, y, and z? In fact, he almost sent flowers to me at work one time, is how nice of a guy he is. He thought about it, anyway. 

And, apparently I am the one who can't get over the mother fucking pad thai. (ME!) Because he is certainly not the one who brought it up over and over (and over) again.

With that said, he didn't think it had to be this hard. He thought it could be easy, if we tried. It was nice before, and it could be nice again.

And then he hit me with this: "You just get this way about you sometimes, you look so innocent and precious. Tender and soft. It's so fucking beautiful, and I just wanted to see it again."

Sometimes people can say exactly the right thing, but it doesn't make a bit of difference. Sometimes the timing is off. And sometimes it's just too late.         

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Why turkey is overrated, anyway

I've been doing some thinking lately. Sometimes, in every girl's life there comes a moment when she must ask herself, how did I get here?  No, really. How did I get here? 

...And she may ask herself...how do I work this? And she may ask herself...where is that large automobile? Sing it with me now, people, Letting the days go by, water flowing underground, once in a lifetime... Ahem. But I digress. 

The point is, if you find yourself asking the same kinds of questions, then here is a brief litmus test I have created to evaluate the Relative Fuckedupedness of Your Life. (What? It is so a word. It's German.)  It is comprised of only three questions, and they are:

A) Do you find yourself regularly communicating with people you can't see, and may never have actually met? Check. (Hello, my lovelies.)

B) Are you thirty years old and single, with a, let's just say, less than illustrious dating history? Check.

C) Do you spend major holidays alone? And check and mate.

So, if at some point today, as you spend time with your family and loved ones, sharing lovingly prepared food, warm memories, and maybe a glass of something festive, perhaps with a crackling fire in the background...and if during this time you think you might see something outside in the bushes, perhaps a shadowy figure peering longingly through the front window, well, don't worry. I'm sure it's nothing.

Oh, don't worry about me. I'll just be here, counting my blessings. If by blessings you mean tears. And if by tears you mean back-to-back episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. Which I do. Mean. By which I mean, happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Now sing it with me, Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was...    
UPDATE: In lieu of dripping hot tears into my remote control, as tempting as that sounds, I have decided to spend the day serving food to those less fortunate. Which is truly a terrible expression, isn't it? "Those less fortunate." Less fortunate than what? As I think we have determined, fate hasn't exactly smiled on me, either, in many ways, and so I will just say that I will be spending the day with my people. So, ha! Take that, Talking Heads!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why sorry is as sorry does

Or, In Which I Over Analyze Text Messages and Get Rid of the Guy for Good

Four whole days after my meltdown, I was beginning to conclude that I would never hear from him again. That ultimately, he knew what was up, knew there was no coming back from it, and that he would just fade off into obscurity. I was perfectly content with this. The more days that went by without a word, the more sure I was that we were both on the same page. And then on Thursday, I got a text. 

Did ur phone break?

Did my phone break? The last time I saw him he took my money and I left his house in tears. Not only did he not apologize, he didn't even check to see that I made it home okay. Not a word for four whole days, and now his opening move was passive aggression. Awesome.

Did yours? I replied.

Haha, no, he said. What are you doing today?

Oh my god, he just didn't get it, did he? For some reason he thought things were still hunky dory, and we could just go on like normal. I quickly disabused him of this notion.

Look, I'm pretty much over this whole thing, I replied. You're not what I'm looking for. And I'm not what you're looking for either. I hope you find it.

Silence. Then,

Boo, he replied.

That was it. Boo. Boo? So much for resolution, so much for closure. That was it, it looked like, that was all I would get. A little boy pouting. I thought that was the end of it, and then about a half an hour later, he sent another text.

Do you want to hang out tonight?

Do I want to--what? Really? No, actually. I don't. And that's exactly what I told him.

Then, finally, he sent this:

Well, hey. I was sorry about being an asshole the other night. I wasn't myself. Cheers, Rachel.

Hmm. Interesting that it took me saying I never wanted to see him again to elicit something even resembling an apology from him. And what was that, anyway; "I was sorry?" Is he not anymore? What's wrong with a simple "I'm sorry," present tense? And why did it take so long for him to say it? I was also curious as to who he thought he was being, if not himself, but I was long past the point of arguing minutiae. Any response on my part, I knew, would only encourage him. It seemed as good a stopping place as any, and so that's where I left it. It's done.

And so now we return to our regularly scheduled programming, in which I continue to not have to cook for anyone, clean for anyone, or defend my Netflix viewing choices to anyone but myself. I have to say, it feels pretty good. And for the moment, at least, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why I'm alone again (naturally)

So it only took, what, a week for this most recent dating venture to crash and burn? A new record, to be sure, but then again, this is the guy that invited me to meet his mother after date one (I politely declined), and was talking exclusivity by dates two and three (and four and five and oh my GOD please give it a rest). So I suppose it is only fitting that the ending was equally precipitous. You see, while all this time I thought the biggest hurdle to get over was that I wasn't attracted to him physically, it turns out that, appearances aside, once I got past the physical I didn't necessarily like what was inside. Huh. Didn't see that one coming, did you, Internet? To be honest, I didn't either. 

This whole experience has been akin to trying to shove a square peg in a round hole, and of convincing myself that, no, it's not such a big deal, we'll just shave a little off this side here, and nip off a corner there, and look! Only after all that it turns out that it's not a square peg after all, it's a hexagon, and then it's an octagon, and more and more sides and weird angles appearing all the time. Eventually you just have to throw up your hands and say, I give up. It's not worth it to me. Though he may tell me I have beautiful eyes and perfect lips, the rest, oh my god, the rest isn't worth it at all. 

After spending the day together yesterday, ten hours' worth, the night ended with me throwing a handful of cash at him, tears in my eyes, while he just laughed. Oh so amused, was he. Back when he admitted to being a former drug dealer, he modified it by saying he was "actually more of an accountant." And oh, if I had known then how apt that label would be. You see, the guy keeps track of everything. Dinners paid, bar tabs picked up, compliments given and services rendered. Everything goes down on a mental checklist, which he would then remind me of on a near-constant basis. At first it was, "but I shaved for you." Then it was, "but I paid for x, y, and z." "Yes, and I paid for dinner last time," I reminded him. "I tried to pay the time before that too, but you said no." "Yes, but I have still paid for more," he said. And what is there to do but throw up my hands? Oh please let me go back in time and pay for more, sweetie, I'm so sorry. "You realize I don't have a lot of money, babe. You do realize that, don't you?" The pity ploy. And this from the guy who sits on his couch watching sports all day. The guy who says, why get a job when I can live perfectly well on the $200 a week I make betting online? For doing nothing! And so proud he is, of that, of doing nothing. And I'm supposed to say what? Oh honey, I'm so proud of you? No. I say, "I don't have a lot of money either. We're both sort of in the same boat, here." Only we're not. We're both in the ocean, sure, only one of us is paddling like hell for the shore, and the other is drifting along eating bon bons and waiting for the Coast Guard to arrive. They're both valid options, I suppose, and I'm not saying one way is necessarily better than the other. But don't try to convince me that you're somehow more stranded than I am when there's a paddle right in your goddamn boat. Use it.

And then there was the pad thai incident. Oh my god, the goddamned pad thai. That he left, in my fridge. And that I, just home from work the next day, and hungry, and the hour late, made the mistake of eating. Not without a little bit of reservation. After all, he had made such a big deal about taking home the leftovers. But I did text him about it, and his response was along the lines that sure, I could eat it if I provided a replacement for it by the next time he came over. In my ravenous state, I concluded that that seemed a reasonable request, and helped myself. And I didn't even eat all of it! I left some of it for him! But when he came over the day after that, and I hadn't yet managed to provide a suitable replacement for the portion that I did eat, oh, did shit hit the fan. And the best part, and oh, this is priceless, was when he said, "You know sweetie, even if you had eaten my pad thai, that would have been ok." To which I replied, "Oh, actually, now that you mention it..." And oh how quickly his tune did change. At first I thought he must be joking around, because seriously? You're making a big deal about this? No, I mean, seriously? But after the n-teenth time that he brought it up, I had about had it. OH MY GOD, I AM SORRY FOR EATING YOUR PAD THAI! I WISH I NEVER HAD! MEA CULPA! CAN WE STOP TALKING ABOUT IT NOW PLEASE? 

Last night was sort of the last straw. It was late, we were hungry, and we had failed to plan ahead. A quick driving tour of his small, sleepy town revealed that no restaurants were open, and so we found ourselves aimlessly wandering the aisles of a local grocery store. You know when you're so hungry, and yet have no idea what in the world you want to eat? It was sort of like that. No, that would take too long to make, it's late, I still have homework I need to do, etc. Finally I said, ok, how about spaghetti? We can make spaghetti. He said fine. Back at his house we bickered about whose job it was to actually make said spaghetti. He thought I should make it because I'm the one who wanted spaghetti. I thought he should make it because it was his kitchen and I didn't know where anything was. I told him we could both make it, and I would help him. Grumbling ensued. After a whole lot more complaining and a mostly silent meal, he pointed out that he had now cooked me both oatmeal AND spaghetti (ignoring the fact that I had actually been a pretty equal participant in both) while I hadn't yet cooked anything for him. And not only that, but did I remember that he had also paid for x, y, and z? I mean, not that he minded doing any of that, of course, but maybe I could try being a bit nicer to him. Given that at the precise moment of this conversation I was nuzzled up against him with my legs in his lap, my nose in his neck, and his earlobe in my mouth, I asked him what exactly he thought being "nicer" entailed. "Well not eating my pad thai, for starters!" he said, or rather exploded.

Oh. No.

"You know what?" I said, breaking free from our embrace. "Here, why don't I give you ten dollars for your fucking pad thai. Hey, why don't I give you fifty dollars to pay you back for everything else, too. It's worth it if it means I never have to hear about it again." I reached for my wallet, and he didn't stop me. In it were the remains of my commission check from work, for the measly few apartments I rented over the summer. Twenties. Damn. "Here, how about sixty dollars?" I said. I took out three twenties and threw them at him. He picked them up and placed them calmly on the table next to him, grinning all the while. 

"Are you sure you don't want to just pay forty?" he said, pleased as punch. "Here, you want twenty back?"

"I don't know!" I yelled. "You're the one who has it all figured out, apparently. You seem to know exactly how much I owe you; you probably have it all written down somewhere. So I don't know, you tell me!" 

"Well it's probably more than that," he said with a smirk. 

"I'm going now," I said, and headed for the door. "Oh, and look, there's a quarter on the floor, here. You should probably pick it up, since you're so desperate for money."

"You could probably use it more than me, now," he said, still smiling, so amused. Probably thinking I was "ballsy." Probably thinking how he would tell this story to our grandchildren, someday. "So do you still like me?" he asked, before I walked out the door. It seems funny, now, that he said this, but for some reason he seemed to think this was a fight like any other. That I would come back, again, like I always had before.

"I'm working on it," I told him through tightly gritted teeth, because I hadn't processed it yet, and in the heat of the moment hadn't yet come to any conclusions. I even gave him a tight-lipped kiss before I left. But once I got outside, and once I got home, and he didn't text, and he didn't e-mail, and he didn't call to apologize, and once I realized how inordinately relieved I was to be able to go to sleep by myself, in my very own bed that was only mine, well, then I knew. I'm better on my own.

Oh, and also? He was a complete and utter dick about wearing a condom.

The end. 

Monday, November 8, 2010

Why you can call me Delilah

In the battle of deep versus shallow, I do believe we have a winner, folks. This may come as a surprise given the tone of my last post, but at some point over the last week or so he managed to win me over. Internet, he totally won. Which kind of makes us both winners, I think. But let me back up a little.

After my first meeting with him when I realized that the physical reality didn't match up with my mile-high expectations, I told him that if he wanted to see me again, I thought it would be best if we kept it on a friends-only basis. And actually, even that was sort of a throwaway line. I didn't necessarily want or expect to see him again. He was surprised. No, don't be surprised! I thought, cringing. I hated being thrust into the bad guy role. Why couldn't he just be cool? Hazard of the game, I told him through e-mail, the shrug almost audible. C'est la vie. But then I started second-guessing myself. Remembering how much we had in common, how much he made me laugh. Looking at his (admittedly non-representative) pictures. That smile. Those eyes. Were they still there, somewhere? What if I could find them? All it would take was a glimpse, I knew, and I would be done for. I e-mailed him again, told him that I didn't necessarily feel a physical connection with him when we met, but that I couldn't really see him under the glasses, behind the beard. I took a leap, knowing it was a total bitch move to ask someone I had met once to change himself for me, but I told him if he ever felt like ditching the glasses and the beard for a night, I'd really like to see that. It went over like a lead balloon. He pretty much told me to go fuck myself. No, actually, that's exactly what he told me.

"I think I like this guy," my sister said on the phone.

"What? You just finished saying you didn't like him, then I tell you he told me to go fuck myself and suddenly you like him?"

"I think he's growing on me," she mused. 

Longer and longer e-mails ensued, full of explanations, frustrations, and accusations of shallow douche baggery, and counter accusations of false pretenses and circular logic. I'll tell you this--the boy is lucky that he writes pretty. We decided to meet again, one more time, to see. "But I'm not going to fucking do a damn thing to my face," he warned me. For a girl he met once? So that she could re-inspect him and probably reject him all over again? I couldn't say I wasn't sympathetic to his reasoning. We met again last night, outside a coffee shop. And there he was, still only 5'10", with the same beard, same baseball cap, too-long hair, and baggy clothes. But he wasn't wearing his glasses. And suddenly, everything changed. I saw his eyes, those twinkling, mischievous eyes from the pictures, I saw him. And what was that, lurking behind the corners of his shaggy mustache? That slow, secret half-smile. I saw it, I saw it all. 

Within half an hour, I had somehow convinced him that he should adopt kittens. It made sense, after all; he's home all day, and he needs a pet. Plus, it would probably be a lot easier to convince me to come over to his house if there were kittens there, I told him. Ok, he said. But why two? Well, sometimes they're two for one, I said. And two kittens is twice the fun. Ok, he said. Done. And who knew it would be easier to convince the guy to adopt kittens than to shave off his beard? Although that didn't prove to be much more difficult. Apparently, all I had to do was kiss him. That and a brief mention of too much mustache getting in the way was all it took. He sent a picture to my phone today. At first I thought it was a kitten, but upon closer inspection it turned out to be a large, fluffy pile of disembodied beard. The subject read, Hey there, Delilah

"I think he likes me," I texted my sister.

"Well, who wouldn't?" she replied. Hmmm...

"Sometimes I can't tell if you're making fun of me," I told her.

"Am not. Am happy. Hopeful."

Yeah. Me too.          

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Why beauty is only skin deep, and I am shallow

It's hard to explain how I let myself fall so fast for some guy from the Internet I had never even met before, just on the basis of a few e-mails. But when I say that we had so much in common, and his spelling and grammar were impeccable, it was more than that, of course. How to explain? Ok, so, you know how if you were to go on Facebook and just start clicking on pictures of couples, you would find a freakishly high number of people who are dating or married to people who look just like them? No, think about it. It's not a 100% thing, of course, there are plenty of exceptions, but I can't help but notice time and again that people end up with other people who look just like them. My cousin and her husband are both petite, blond-haired and blue-eyed. In middle school my band teacher and his wife looked so much alike that we all used to joke that they could have been brother and sister. Whatever else it may be, and for whatever the reasons, it's a vague recognition of yourself in someone else, even if it's unconscious; it's a small bit of something familiar and safe.

In the absence of anything physical to build upon with this guy, all I had were his words, and even from the first e-mail there was an immediate sense of comfort and ease. There was that hint of recognition of yourself in someone else. With only his words to go by, Internet--I fell for a guy who writes exactly like me.

Take this exchange that happened after I realized I had made a critical and embarrassing error in my depiction of the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid:

Oh my god, I just realized I said "Robert Newman" before. It was going to keep me up all night worrying about it unless I got it off my chest. I feel a little better now. 

For the record, I'm not the kind of guy who's going to judge somebody for not saying exactly the right thing. If I know what you mean, it's all good. I'm personally a little dyslexic. I still remember the time I was in the library and spent way too long looking for The Wrath of Grapes. So I googled Robert Newman. And now I totally think you watch Guiding Light. Which is awesome.

For the record, I'm a General Hospital girl. Also for the record, while a Robert Redford/Paul Newman hybrid would be all kinds of awesome, I'm for Paul Newman, all the way.

[Then, after a conversation on the French poet, Rimbaud, in which he mentioned the poetry inherent in the language:]

So after I wrote you, Robert Newman called me. He tried to explain that describing a poet's words as having a certain poetry was just dumb. He thought I probably meant to say they were especially lyrical or something.

I told him to fuck off.

I said, "Fuck off, Robert Newman. Go worry about your niece who's carrying your father-in-law's love child and leave me alone." He then looked stunned for his close up as dramatic music ended the scene.

I mean, how do you not fall for a guy who would write something like that? Then there was this, after I asked him what his favorite Halloween costume as a kid had been:

My favorite costumes probably date back to elementary school. Teen Wolf, Ewok, Alf. But Alf was horrible to trick or treat in. I went with a friend of mine and I couldn't grab anything with my hands. People would ask to take pictures of me because I was so awesome, but I couldn't grab my own candy out of their bowls. My friend had to do it. Thinking back I can still smell the plastic of the Alf mask, looking through the little holes, watching him grab me a box of raisins (RAISINS!) and put it in my trick-or-treat bag. I was actually really mad that out of a basket of candy bars he got me raisins.

I learned a lot about life that Halloween. People wanting to take your picture isn't worth missing out on a candy bar.

But I got back at him. I convinced him that the best dessert at the school cafeteria was something called 'barf on a stick'. And so one day he had money for ice cream and went up to the cafeteria lady and asked her for barf, on a stick. It was FUCKING. EPIC.

Now, I don't usually laugh out loud at e-mails, but... Sigh. I click back to his pictures on his Myspace profile, and I see a happy guy with twinkling eyes and a big, infectious smile, or sometimes a mysterious grin, only the corners of his mouth turning up, like he's holding onto a secret, and it's the best kind. He was younger then, sure, but one of the pictures only dates back a couple years. That was him a couple years ago; I can deal with that. But I don't know where that guy is anymore. I looked, but I didn't see him. I looked for his eyes but they were hidden behind thick glasses, too long hair, a baseball hat. His smile was covered by a scraggly, unkempt beard, and the rest of him hidden behind baggy clothes and extra weight. Is he still there, under all that? How do I find him? 

I can't tell him this and I can't ask him to change, and I know I have absolutely no say in the matter, but it really is such a damn shame.