In case I needed one more glaring example of why He Is Not Different, I Am Not Special, and People Don't Change, Not Really, here it is: we are right back where we were before. You know, in case that inevitable outcome wasn't already obvious to everyone reading. (Please hold your I-told-you-so's until the end of the presentation.) What surprised me wasn't so much that it happened, but the speed at which it happened. It went straight from morning-after glow to, oh yeah, this again, practically overnight.
He texts me when he's bored, and only then. At work, he sent me a barrage of messages the other day, indicating his desire to be anywhere else, and suggesting I "kidnap" him. I knew he wasn't serious, and so I replied in kind, jokingly. But when he persisted, I thought, well, maybe... "Could you really do that?" I asked him. "Sure," he replied. "I'll just say I'm going on a site visit." "You're forgetting I don't know where you work," I replied. "You know where I work," he said; "I work at Cronell." "Ok, I'll just walk around Cronell calling your name until I find you," I replied, jokingly. "LOL," he replied with no further detail, and so I knew, again, he wasn't serious. But yet, he kept on persisting, kept texting, gently reeling me in on his line, until I thought again, well maybe... and said to him this time, "Do you want to go for a walk around Beebe Lake with me at 4:00?" But no sooner had I said it, than, "Wish I could," he replied, "but I still have too much work to do here." It seemed to me with that much work to do he would have less time for bullshit texts, but before I could reply he asked, "What are you doing for dinner?" But I knew better this time. It was evasive enough that it could be misconstrued as an invitation, though I knew it probably was not. "Dunno," I replied, and off he went on a textual monologue, musing aloud on the contents of his fridge and what he might possibly have for dinner. I set my phone aside and ignored him. But then, when I didn't respond, "Do you want to go to dinner?" he asked. "I'm thinking Just a Taste." This, finally, seemed to be a direct invitation, and so I replied in kind--directly. "Yes," I said. Then, "What time?" I asked, thinking this to be a fair enough question. But yet again, when approached with a direct question, he hedged. "Um," he replied. And that was it. Um. Twenty minutes later, he modified his response: "I don't know, I have to do laundry... I work too much..." I had reached the end of my rope. I could no longer write his behavior off as merely bumbling or indecisive; it had started to feel overtly aggressive. Again I ignored him. An hour later I was starting to get hungry, and with the possibility of dinner plans being vague at best, I began rummaging through my refrigerator. Again, my phone beeped. "Whatcha doing?" he asked. I sighed, and picked up the phone to call him directly, this time.
"I'm still at work," he complained.
"Mmm hmm," I replied.
"What are you doing?"
"Just getting ready to eat something," I said.
"What are you eating?"
"I don't know yet," I said, annoyed.
"Oh, well, what time do you want to go?" he said.
"Oh," I said, confused. "I didn't know if we were doing that."
"Do you want to go to Viva?"
Ah, the old bait-and-switch. To go from tapas to tacos seemed a bit unfair, in my book, and so, "Actually, I've been eating a lot of burritos lately," I replied.
"Ok, so, Just a Taste, then? Meet me there in 15 minutes?"
"Well I could have met you there in 15 minutes if I'd had more warning," I replied as pleasantly as possible.
"Alright, well just meet me there at 7:00, then," he replied. And so I did, but man, all that, just to go to dinner.
"Oh man, this guy is on thin ice," I texted my friend Eric. Because apparently I can't get enough of the texting. "Going to dinner now, but I'll tell you about it later." "Uh oh..." he responded. Which is why I burst out laughing when I walked into the restaurant several minutes later, and the first face I saw was Eric's, there eating dinner with his Spanish class. I mean, what are the odds? "You get to see him!" I whispered excitedly as we said hello and I pointed discreetly towards the bar.
Joining Luke, now, I pointed out Eric to him, and they shared a brief, if grudging, hello. After a tasty though fairly subdued dinner, we left the restaurant, and Luke walked me to my car. "You wanna come over?" he asked unenthusiastically. "I have to do laundry, but you could hang out with Kevin for a while."
I laughed. "That's a really tempting and heartfelt invitation," I said, "but I think I'm gonna pass."
"Oh, come on..." he said. "Please?"
"No, you know...you've seemed a bit weird all day today, and you have stuff to do, so I think I'm just going to go home."
"What do you mean?" he asked. "Why have I seemed weird?"
"Oh come on," I said. "Really? You really don't know?"
"No," he said. "What did I do?"
"I mean...do I really have to explain all this to you? How do you not know?"
"Well I don't often analyze my own behavior," he said. "So, what? Tell me."
"Well, where do I start?" I said. "I mean, the whole thing about kidnapping you, and then when I offered you turned me down. And then the dinner thing...and you replied with um. I mean, I know you told me you're indecisive, but honestly, if that's the case, if it's actually this bad, then I don't know how you function on a daily basis. I don't know how you have a job," I said, throwing up my arms in genuine bafflement. Here he started laughing, and kept going for a really long time.
"Oh come on," he said, as I crossed my arms and waited for him to finish. "That was funny. Don't you think that was funny?"
"Well I've been thinking about it for a while, so I guess I've had longer to get over it," I said. "But at least you find it amusing."
"Well, I'm sorry," he said. "I didn't know. So you're really not coming over?"
"No, I'm going to go home."
"So I'm a puppy, and you're punishing me for my bad behavior, huh?" I stayed silent. "Alright. Come over tomorrow, then? I'll make dinner."
"Ok," I agreed.
Back at home I called Eric over for a de-briefing. "Ok," he said, "but you're not going to like what I have to say." I braced myself for it, and he began.
"First of all," he said, "you can do better than that guy. Way better. You know you're not a bad looking girl, and this guy... Anyway, besides that, the guy was...well, it's not good. His body language was awful. And then later, I saw you guys from across the street, when you guys were talking and he was leaning against your car? I mean, he couldn't have been leaning further away from you."
"Well," I said, "maybe he was just tired. Sometimes leaning is just leaning, right?"
"No, no," he said. "Sometimes it is, but he was leaning waaaaaaay back, like this," and here he affected an extremely uncomfortable-looking though fairly representative posture, and I realized it was true. And where had I been during all this? I suddenly realized--right up in there, attentive, eager, leaning into him. "And then at dinner," he continued. "It was just so obvious. He wasn't there because of you. He was there...just to be there." And suddenly I realized that that was true, too. Eric had just put into words the feeling that only a little while earlier I had felt but been unable to articulate. The evening eerily reminiscent of a dinner at the very same restaurant two months earlier. That same feeling that he was bored, that I had to entertain him, put on a show. The feeling that if I didn't carry the conversation we would have just been sitting there. Eating. And so I grew more and more animated as the evening went on in an attempt to elicit a reaction of any kind from him, trying to please him. But despite my best attempts, the only time he smiled all night was when he got a text message from his buddy regarding their 4th of July weekend plans, as he checked his texts at the table. Eric was right, I knew. And he kept hitting way too close to home. "And the thing is?" he said. "The guy's a shlub. And he knows he's a shlub," he continued, starting to sound angry now. "And instead of trying harder, like he should have, he just sat there, being shlubby." I sighed. "What is it you like about this guy, anyway?" he asked.
"There are things..." I murmured dejectedly.
"I saw his face," Eric said. "I saw his eyes, and he's hiding something. The guy's an asshole, and Rach, it takes one to know one. And I know."
"Ok," I said. "Okay. But...well, so what's the harm, really? As long as I know, and I'm not expecting anything from him, and it's only for a month, then what's the big deal?"
"Well," he said carefully, "I guess the harm is in how it affects your self-esteem, and what it means you'll put up with from guys in the future. But other than that, I guess there's no harm in it."
God, I hate it when people are right.
[Comments are open, but proceed with caution, please. No helpful advice or armchair analysis necessary. I think we have already established that I am a hopeless case, so no need to rub it in.]