Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Why if older means wiser I'll soon be a sage

My sister's here visiting, and I am officially no longer a twenty-something blogger. It's the day after my birthday and I am living in central New York state and it is snowing. The world is a topsy-turvy place.

We celebrated last night, trivia-style, the regular crowd at the regular bar, plus my sister and my former roommate/now friend (I'll call her Y) as new additions to the team. Almost immediately upon entering I saw James, who let me know that he had run into Andrew and heard that we weren't seeing each other anymore, but not to worry about it because actually, the guy kind of did me a favor, you know? (Do you think I am sick to death yet of hearing about what a favor this guy did me? Do you think I was already sick of it the first time I heard it? Do you think I was ready to throw up when Andrew himself said it to me during our final let's-get-some-closure telephone call? All I am saying is the next time I hear that word it better be preceded by a "Hey, would you mind...?" or I will quite literally scream.) In any case I didn't have to put up with him long because he left only a few minutes after the game started. "You're leaving now because you have to go out of town on Thursday?" I repeated dumbly. "Umm, ok?"

But let's back up. Almost immediately after running into James, who incidentally did not buy me a drink, I ran into the bearded commitment-phobe himself. We said hello, and incidentally he did buy me a drink. (See, now that is a favor I can get behind.) We didn't chat for long, though, and soon the game began.

"What should our team name be?" I wondered aloud, back at the table.

"Oh, we already decided on one," my teammates said.

"No," I said, inspiration striking. "I need this one guys, please. I...I don't know what is yet but I almost have it..."

"Ok," they shrugged, because no one was going to say no to the birthday girl. Ok, so I had this. This was mine. Something something commitment-phobe, I thought. Something something commitment-phobe. But by the end of the round the heading on our answer sheet was still blank, and the answers had to be turned in.

"It's ok guys," I said. "I'll take it up; I'll think of something on the way. It'll come to me." And then, standing in front of the trivia guy's booth, it did. I scribbled furiously. "I don't know if you can read this," I said, handing the paper to him, "but it says I can't decide on a team name because I'm a commitment-phobe." He nodded. I beamed. We could come in dead last now, for all I cared. Victory was already mine.

Now I just had to wait for the scores to be announced after the first round. "I have to go to the bathroom!" I announced giddily to my team when the time came. I needed a good vantage point for this. I made sure I was "waiting in line" for the (empty) bathroom when the scores were read. Andrew's back was to me, though, and when our name was read, his head dipped down slightly, but I couldn't tell if he was just taking a drink. Coming back from the bathroom, though, I looked up to find him standing directly in my path.

"I think I heard your team name," he said, looking me straight in the eyes, a half smile playing on his lips.

"Oh yeah?" I said coyly, my hand on his arm. "Because I..." And suddenly the hand on his arm was pushing past him, propelling my body forward as I blew right on by with a laugh and a Mona Lisa smile.
In a weird way, it was sort of one of the best moments of my life.

So, in the end we didn't win, of course, but that was ok. I already had my birthday present. Afterward, Andrew found me again, and chatted a bit with me and my sister and Y. "Oh, I ran into your roommate a couple days ago," he mentioned. Yeah? I said. "Yeah. Don't trust that guy," he said ominously. Y and I looked at each other and raised our eyebrows.

"Umm, why?" I asked.

"Just...don't," he said, shaking his head.

"No, really," I said. "What did he say?"

"Nothing, I don't want to say. Just don't trust him."

"Umm, no, what did he say? The guy literally lives right next to me. You have to tell me."

"No," he said.

"Well fuck you then," I said, but before the words had finished leaving my mouth he had already turned on his heel and walked away.

"God," I said.

"So sensitive," Y said, eying his retreating form, her upper lip curling slightly in disgust. God I love that girl.

I'd like to be able to say that when we finally left he wasn't engaged in a cozy tete-a-tete with some girl at an otherwise empty table, closing down the bar just like we used to do, but that wouldn't be true. And not just any girl, but the volunteer coordinator at the theater where I volunteer. The girl that I myself introduced him to at this very bar a few weeks back. The girl that when I introduced him made me think, Is she flirting with him right in front of me? And is he flirting back? Right in front of me?

Well fuck you then, I repeated to myself. It was still a victory, but it was bittersweet.
Back at home, I poured myself a nightcap and my sister and I partook of her delicious cupcakes and shot grainy, low-quality videos.

Don't you think happy birthday ache sounds sort of like a Morrissey song?

And for anyone who doesn't have a sister, this next video pretty much sums it up. Not so much the drunken part as the hysterical giggling. Hysterical giggling is pretty much what sisters are all about.

"Wasn't it awesome," she said later, as we rehashed the night, "when Y yelled at James and then he left?"

"Wait, what?" I said. "I didn't hear that. What happened?"

"I don't know, he was saying something about how Andrew did you a favor, and she yelled at him, and I guess he felt uncomfortable because a few minutes later he left."

"Really? She did that?"

Best birthday present ever. God I love that girl.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Why casual relationships can only lead to casualties

I thought things were on an upswing, I really did. I swallowed my stupid pride and made nice and we went out on Saturday and had a really good time. Dinner, a play, his house, then a bar and a band and a drink. Doritos were had, but we went out again after, so staying the night wasn't an issue. And yes, he dropped me off at home at the end of the night, but it was late and I had to work the next morning, and it was fine. I was fine. Then last night, dinner and an Indian music and dance performance. Back to my house for some down time and a Netflixed episode of Ally McBeal, which in retrospect may not have been a wise choice. (Ally, could you not be a bit less whiny and clingy and utterly terrifying to males everywhere?) And then, out of the blue, he was saying that he couldn't even believe he was bringing this up, but, well, he'd been having conversations with friends lately, and it had him all uptight because, well, what are the unspoken rules of relationships, anyway?

Um? I said.

Because these friends, he said, they were making all kinds of assumptions about him and us and his obligations towards me and it was making him feel very chokey and tense because, to be honest, he's feeling very commitment-phobic lately.

If this had been Ally McBeal, you would have heard a low hiss as I slowly deflated and shrank into nothing. Maybe a shot of me with a chest full of arrows, pierced through the heart by a bow and arrow-wielding CGI-enhanced dancing baby. But it wasn't, and so instead I just said, "Oh." Then, "Are you commitment-phobic in general, or just...now?"

"No, I haven't always been commitment-phobic, I think I'm just reaching a point in my life where I am."

So just this time, then, I thought. Just with me.

"What's the opposite of phobic?" he asked.

"Philic," I said, because that was what I could do. I couldn't for the life of me come up with an appropriate response that would encompass the depth of what I was feeling, but Latin suffixes I could do. Hydrophilic. Francophile.

"Is that what you are?" he asked. There didn't seem to be a word to describe someone who is neither phobic nor philic but who is happy taking the middle of the road, because everyone knows that any time there is something to love there is also necessarily something to fear. But I didn't know the suffix for this, and so I said nothing.

"I'm sorry," he said, "I guess that's a dumb question." I still said nothing. "You're very quiet," he said.

"I... I just... I don't know," I said. "I don't know."

"I'm sorry," he said again. "This is obviously not what you were expecting to hear."

"No," I said, my voice sounding unnaturally shrill, "actually, it is. It is."

But I couldn't give voice to any of the thoughts that were running through my mind, namely, Why are you telling me this? Why now? What do you want from me? What do you want?

"Well, maybe you need some time to think," he said, (No, I don't, I thought). "Then we can talk about things and figure out if we want to keep seeing each other on a more casual basis."

"More casual," I repeated dumbly. "More casual?"

"Now you're just repeating what I'm saying," he said, obviously missing the point.

We see each other about twice a week. I have never pressured him for more. On days I don't see him I don't call, and I hardly ever text. We don't e-mail and we aren't friends on Facebook. We have never discussed a future further in advance than next week. He's mentioned my upcoming birthday and I brush it off, saying, "Let's not talk about that." I've made it clear he is under no boyfriend-type birthday-celebrating obligations whatsoever. We have sex and we go home to our own beds. One time I slipped up and asked him to spend the night; one time. And now this? More casual, he says?

As if reading my mind, he said, "It's not anything you've done; I think we've been having a really good time just hanging out. I have fun with you, and I'm obviously really attracted to you. It's just, like I said, these conversations with my friends. They say there are certain expectations involved, and when I feel like there are expectations, I start to feel really...trapped." He waited expectantly, but I couldn't say what I knew to be true. That this was the last time I would be seeing him. Oh, sure, between yoga and trivia nights and the smallness of Mythaca we would surely run into each other again (and again and again), but this night, this was it. The last time we would lay on my bed with our legs intertwined, which we were, we still were, even through all this. Our torsos had by now separated in self-defense, our hearts protecting themselves via the safety of the chasm growing between us, but for now, by habit, our legs still clung together. A slow cleaving of ourselves.

"Well..." he said in response to my non-response. "This is what I'm guessing you're thinking, and stop me if I'm wrong here. You're thinking you probably don't want me hanging out here for much longer..." (I almost smiled. It was the one thing he had gotten right all night.) "...and you probably want some time to think things over." (Nope.) "So it's good if I go, then?" I nodded. He put his shoes on.

The sound of a front door closing can be the saddest sound in the world.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why if one won't do--go for two!

Well, his ears must have been burning after my shout-out on yesterday's post, because guess which doritos-withholding former date from the Internet initiated a google chat with me yesterday, out of the blue? Why, yes, it was Mr. Hot-then-Cold Jimmy James himself. (Not to be confused with my once friend, the formerly Married Guy James, now known as James the Tool). I hadn't talked to him since our split back in January, but now, suddenly, he wants to know what I'm up to.

He was oh-so-casual, letting me know that he has since moved to Mythaca, and expressing the desire to maybe bump into each other "out" sometime. And suddenly I'm left thinking how ironic it all is, that I'm having almost exactly the same problem with Andrew now that I had with Jimmy James: they are (or were) both afraid of getting too close, too fast, only they express it in different ways. One wanted to share my bed but not his body, and the other one wants my body but not my bed. And the problem-solver in me is thinking, Hmmm, there's got to be a solution in here somewhere...

I mean, think about it--two half boyfriends pretty much equal one whole one, right? All I have to do is schedule it right, and I can have my doritos and eat them too! "Hey baby, whatcha doin'? Oh nothing, I was just hanging out with a friend. Wanna come over for a cuddle and a quick eight-hour snooze?" And voilĂ --everyone's happy. It's almost too perfect, right?

I jest, of course. (Or do I?) I mean, I would never stoop to such a thing. (Or would I?) No, no, definitely not. Although the thought alone has me rubbing my hands in glee and cackling like a cartoon villain. In any case, it's always good to have a back-up plan.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why a sleepover's no fun when it's a party of one

Ok, let's recap. He's bearded, kissable, and highly snuggleable. He seems nice enough, and we have fun when we're together. He came over, and I thought last night might be "the night." No, not that night, but the night when we might spend the night, the whole night, together. But, go figure that after the last guy I dated would spend the night but not have sex with me, in a stroke of poetic justice, the universe has seen fit to send me a guy who will have sex with me but never, ever spend the night. In fact, I've never seen someone go so quickly deer-in-the-headlights over the mere suggestion of it. His eyes wide and nervous, "Ha ha," he responded, and went to put his clothes on. You would have thought I'd suggested we might go and look at rings together, sometime. "I'm not being evasive," he said, when pressed (which is, of course, the number one top evasive response of all time). "I'm not sure that I would be able to sleep here," he said. "And besides, what time do you have to get up in the morning?"

"I don't know," I mumbled, and turned over on my side. It didn't matter what I said. It didn't matter if I didn't have to be at work until 12:30. His shoes were already on. He gave me a perfunctory kiss, but I lay still, unmoving. I heard the front door close.

It didn't take long, but the glow is definitely over. And so I ask, shaking my fist at the vast and empty sky, Can nothing ever go right for me, just once???

And I ask you, too, Internet, and tell me honestly: is it possible that I am, perhaps, just the weest bit too sensitive? No, I know, it's ridiculous...but...maybe? Please tell me I am not overreacting here. (Or am I?)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Why sometimes I wish I was on Twitter

At my apartment complex gig yesterday, this note nearly made me spit my cafe Americano all over the computer screen:

Adam called about blue balls (no need to call back).

The funny part is, I knew exactly what he was talking about:

Yes, I am almost thirty years old. What?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why did the turkeys cross the road?

I dunno. To prove that they weren't chicken?

You know, it's times like these that I think about my fellow blogging friends across the globe--Jane in Austin, Deidre in Australia, Juliet and Crystal in Paris, Georgia in L.A.--and I think, wow, our lives are so very different.

But then again, there is this. There is most definitely this.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Why do good friendships go bad?

So, it will probably surprise exactly none of you to learn that my friend the Married Guy is no longer my friend the Married Guy, but my friend the Legally Separated Guy (which really doesn't flow off the tongue, but is a much more accurate representation of his current status.) As far as the permanence of the matter, his wife has picked up and moved to an entirely different coast, and they have split their assets right down the middle, so it looks like this just might be the real deal. And, in yet another turn of events that will probably shock exactly no one, it turns out that Separated Guy is just as much of a tool as Married Guy ever was.

We made plans to get together for a drink last Wednesday night, as it had been a while since we had seen each other. I noticed that it also conveniently was the day of his wife's departure. I figured he might be need of a friend and an ear, and so of course I agreed to meet him. He seemed in good spirits, hopeful, optimistic, implying that he thought she would probably come back eventually, though he also seemed fine with the idea that she might not. He still loved her of course; he would always love her. But she needed to do her own thing, now, out on the left coast, and he needed to do his, here. And he got to keep the dogs, so, win-win.

Then, "Just to get this out in the open," he said, (No, don't, I thought), "I want to let you know that just because my wife is gone, I'm not going to, like, try to get you into bed or anything." File that under things that really didn't need to be said, I thought.

"Umm, ok," I said.

"I just wanted to address the elephant in the room," he said. Leave it to you to shoot a mouse with an elephant gun, I thought, when it probably would have scurried away on its own.

"I really wasn't thinking about that at all," I said. As if I would sleep with you, I thought. As if I was just waiting for your wife to leave you. As if I haven't had months to see what kind of guy you are and as if I don't breathe a sigh of relief every day for having dodged that bullet.

With that out of the way we went back to discussing lighter matters, but soon, though, he was putting his hand to his mouth, yawning. I went to the restroom leaving half a beer on the table. When I came back the glass was empty, and his coat was on. "Did you just drink my beer?" I said. "Really? Are you trying to rush me out or something?"

"I'm so tired," he said. "I had to get up early to drive my wife to the airport this morning."

"We've only been here an hour," I said. "It's only 9:15."

"I really didn't sleep much last night," he said. "We were up all night, she kept clinging to me and telling me she didn't want to go."

"Ok," I said. "Ok. So go get some sleep." And so we each went home.

On Friday he had a bunch of people over to his house. There was a campfire, hot dogs, marshmallows. First it was fun. Then his boy gang showed up, loud, late, with handles of liquor instead of six-packs of beer. All single, the kind of guys who hang out at bars every night in search of easy prey. They were laughing, sharing stories, talking about James chatting up the ladies on Wednesday night, then again on Thursday night.

Wait--Wednesday night?

"Yeah, you were telling that girl that your wife left, and you were making it sound like it was weeks ago, and I was like, weeks ago? It was like thirteen hours ago!"

Then the party moved from his backyard to a bar downtown, and I was suddenly in the worst kind of mood. I said goodbye to the group at large, to whom I had previously been invisible, anyway, but James was involved in a conversation, and didn't even see me go.

I nursed my anger, debating what I would say to him if I saw him, or if I would say anything at all. I decided I would let the circumstances decide. Yesterday he sent out a mass text about trivia night, asking us to get there early to get a table, as he would be a little bit late. No one knew it was a mass text until we all arrived early, and realized we'd been had. He finally showed up an hour and a half after he'd said he would be there, the game nearly over, and looking like hell. Bags under his eyes, haggard, like he'd been going out every night of the week, which he probably had. Late arrival notwithstanding, he then spent most of the time not with our team, but at the bar chatting up a couple former students of his. Sweet young twenty-somethings gazing up at him in shy awe--a professor! A handsome, young professor, at that, talking to them! When he did come by, I avoided all eye contact and went for the cold shoulder treatment, not that he noticed, and gazed with studied devotion at Andrew, who'd come over to say hello, sitting next to me.

The ultimate irony in all this: that his marriage, and all the restrictions that it imposed, had likely been the one thing that had made our friendship possible. His wife was the one thing keeping him tethered down to the earth, but now she is gone and he is floating free, and he is a mess, and he is everything he was before, only more, now. And while I can put up with a lot in a friend--flaky, undependable, selfish, you name it--the one thing I can't tolerate is a liar. How can I?

So do I accuse him, call him out with wrathful anger? Or do I just let it, let him, fade away? If I stopped calling I somehow doubt that he, with his new found
blitzkrieg social scene, would even notice.

I hate losing friends. It's been happening too much, lately. It's like all of a sudden no one can live up to anyone's friendship standards without fucking everything all up. So what do we do? We are all so human, after all. So what in the world do we do?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Why it's just not Easter without chocolate bugs

My mom and I may not always see eye to eye, but I will say something for her--the woman packs a mean Easter basket.

Even if the "basket" in question is a cardboard Priority Mail box that was delivered by the U.S. Postal Service and not a six foot tall anthropomorphized rabbit.

Oh, sure, there were some rocky Easter basket times in the past, with my sister and I both rising up in revolt during the great jellybean kerfuffle of '99, but with 29 years of practice now, I have to say I do believe my mom may be approaching Easter basket perfection.

It's varied, balanced, and covers most of the basic food groups: carrots and truffles--which are, as everyone knows, a vegetable; you have your rabbit and your insects (a delicacy in some countries!) for lean protein; and Peeps for a quick burst of energy. (Or, if they don't get eaten, which they inevitably never will, they make delightful sight-seeing companions!)

I have a (very) rare day off today, and I plan to spend it in the time-honored single girl tradition of an a.m. yoga class and switching out my winter and spring clothes. I may even vacuum out my car. Woot!

Happy Sunday, everyone. May your Easter grass be plentiful, and may your Peeps be fruitful and multiply.