#15 Drink and Deflect

PART TWO

I’ll give anyone at least one date.

In fact, I’m not sure I’ve EVER turned down a first date. Maybe strongly discouraged people from asking me out, but once it’s out there, usually I’ll take the offer up.

The thing with Rick is, I’m not used to the people I make out with taking me on dates. Even the repeat offenders, make out buddies, Ethan the Fireman (we’ll get into that, don’t worry), we would rarely go on DATES. Even if we hung out together, the boy would never pay. And because I used to think dating like a boy was a good idea, I’d let this slide by. Because I was that cool girl who didn’t force labels.

Anyway, I decided that in order to give this date the best shot, I’d not be my naturally ambivalent self about it. I picked a cute outfit, I curled my hair, I plastered my make up on all nice. Rick picked me up on Tuesday in the middle of a blizzard. Excellent, Midwest, thank you for FINALLY getting your winter act together.

Because of said blizzard, Rick was a little late in picking me up. This might not have been so bad if my roomie wasn’t having her own dinner date in our apartment and I was trying to find the right balance between not be a recluse creeper and giving them their privacy. When Rick finally arrived, we spent a few minutes kissing in the car before he pulled away and said, “We’d better go, or we’ll end up staying here in your parking lot all night.”

No one has ever buckled a seat belt faster. Girl’s gotta eat.

He held my hand, which was nice. He ordered margaritas, which was excellent. I was hoping that the lack of sparks between us was MY fault, my reluctance to open up, and not an actual reflection of the relationship. I was hoping that what I had interpreted as clinginess before was simply a nice guy who was being genuinely interested.

Margarita. Always a good choice.

Except… There were a few moments that stuck out as winners in an otherwise pretty blas√© conversation.

The Too Forward Thinking Moment–

We were talking about places we had traveled to, and Rick’s only European conquest was the only Western European country I hadn’t been to, Germany. I, of course, went on and on and on about how I’d love to go.

Rick: Well, maybe if you play your cards right, I’ll take you.

Me: Hahaha—WTF? Is that something you really say to someone on a FIRST date?

The Too Clingy Moment–

Rick: So, since you’re not working, there’s no reason why you can’t text me all day long.

Me: I hate texting.

I DO dislike texting, for many reasons which we talked about so he wouldn’t feel like I was shutting him down, and the one reason we didn’t talk about. Namely, just because I’m not WORKING doesn’t mean I can just fritter my day away texting. I’m not that accessible. I have stuff to do. I have a blog to write, dammit!

The too Intimate Moment–

My birthday was that weekend, which I mentioned to him as I was turning 25 and it had been been kinda dominating my thoughts.

Rick: Oh man, now I have to do something nice for your birthday!

Me: No you don’t.

Rick: Of course I do!

If he wanted to do something extra for me in an attempt to woo me, I get it. But there’s zero obligation for a guy I’m on my first date with to do anything special for my birthday. I hadn’t even invited him to my party yet.

Rick. Not as mysterious as Bob.

After dinner we went back to his apartment to watch a movie. I picked Iron Man because he had it on Blu-Ray and he had an HD-TV and I’ve never actually seen such high res in action, but also because I had seen the movie before and knew I wouldn’t be missing anything while we made out. Which was what happened.

And then he pulled back and said, “At the party you told me you wanted to kiss me from the first time you met me.”

I froze. “No I didn’t.”

“You most definitely did.”

“No way.”

“Yes way.”

And I started to laugh. “I did, I did.”

This is what was really going through my head–OH SHIT.

It’s true. I did want to kiss him from the minute I met him. But this is why. It’s complicated and probably more than just a bit shady.

Rick used to be good friends with Ben. The Ex. The Engaged Ex. I never met him when he was friends with Ben, but I knew about him. And when I was in my angry revenge mode post breakup, Rick was one of the guys that I thought would be a perfect revenge date. And even though it’s been years since I’ve had that thought or felt those feelings, this instinct to want to kiss Rick remained. So what I really meant when I told him that was that I had wanted to kiss him for YEARS. And THEN I met him.

But that’s not something you tell someone. Especially when you’re in their bed and they’re saying, “Don’t be embarrassed, I had basically the same thought too.”

Um, I don’t think you did, Rick.

Maybe this should have been a sign to me. Maybe I should have realized that I’m not meant to date this guy. Maybe the lack of emotional connection should have tipped me off. But I think if you haven’t been bored, creeped out, or emotionally scarred in a first date, if the guy asks you on a second date, even if you haven’t felt the fireworks yet, it’s completely acceptable. First dates are awkward, and everyone deserves a second chance.

Except, I almost felt bad about going out with him again. I felt like I’m leading him on. But I also really wanted to give this time to develop. I wanted something to work–with a NICE guy. If only he realized that his strong statements (like, “What do you like about me?”) are actually pushing me in the other direction.

I went with him to his friend’s birthday part. And this is exactly how our night went down [don’t worry, I’m just cutting out the boring bits. Which I think is ALSO a sign]–I showed up at Rick’s apartment as soon as he got back from work, SuperSmash Brothers, make out make out make out, quick dinner, party, back to Rick’s where I completely ruined him at Mario Kart even while drunk, make out make out make out, break up.

Only, as I pointed out to him, we weren’t really breaking up because we never really dated dated.

Here’s the thing, the most astonishing thing of all, and how Rick went from a level three (out of five) clinger to a really respectable guy. We were all snuggled up together, and he says, out of completely nowhere–

“I don’t think I’m what you want.”

And it was so completely honest and out of the blue, that I didn’t really know what to say. Besides, “What?” I think I said “What?”

Ad naseum discussion about what that really means aside and whether or not we were far enough into knowing each for it to be accurate, never ever has a guy who’s been getting what he wants out of me thought enough about what I want to even discuss it.

Once Rick realized that he and I wanted different things in our relationships and our lives, he had two options. He either could have continued to take me out on dates, pay for dinner, then manipulated my emotions to get what he wanted out of me. Or he could just man up and break it off clean. I don’t know why he did it. Maybe he was protecting me. Maybe he was protecting himself. Maybe he was scared of what Matt would do to him if I got hurt. But regardless, it was the right decision, the decent choice, and the most hopeful outcome.

Because, Rick, you restored a little bit of my faith in guys, that some of them actually want real relationships and that some of them see me more than just a pretty girl to spend the next few hours with. So for that, and the giant margaritas at Casa de Fiesta, I thank you.

#10 Get Hung Up on the Unavailable

A little more about myself–

I graduated with a degree in Screen Arts and Cultures, our five dollar name for a film degree, with a subconcentration in screenwriting. This means that I am qualified to tell stories, which I’m finding out is not in major demand in the job market. I work freelance on films that pass through the area while hammering away on my screenplays.

For the past month I’ve been working on a screenplay about a girl in small town midwest who takes drastic measures to resolve leftover feelings for an exboyfriend when he shows back up in town to marry his new girlfriend.

It turns out, and this is the only good thing about this post, that I have the gift of prophecy. Whatever I write comes true.

Last night I found out my exboyfriend is engaged.

I haven’t talked to the boy in over a year and we haven’t actually dated in four years, but we have a complicated history. Like how in August 2009 he said maybe he was interested in dating me again–before he decided he wasn’t. That’s when I stopped talking to him. And while I am not Facebook friends with him still, best friend Anne is. And every once in a while I have Anne check up on him because I still think about him a lot and I’m kinda nosy. Also, I had this feeling he was going to get engaged to his current girlfriend, and I wanted to find out through stalking, not through the grapevine.

So Anne and I were hanging out, and I said, “Hey, check and see if Ben is engaged yet.”

And lo and behold–

Now, I'm not saying this is getting any weirder, but Ben's chosen doppelganger for this blog ALSO got engaged in November. Alright, I'll say it--this is getting weirder.

Now, when I get in stressful situations, I tend to laugh. I’m a nervous laugher. It’s pretty inappropriate. But that’s just the way I am. So my first reaction was amused incredulity. It actually happened. Lots of “Wows, I can’t believe this.” A few tears, but nothing compared to the floods I’ve shed over this guy before. Lots of railing against the illogicalness of the proposal. I called my sister, who’s not a nervous laugher, but who instead deflects the situation until she can figure out how to respond, which is why she talked about how aggravated she was that butter was not on sale for about three minutes after I told her about Ben. I was patient, though, never once saying, “Hey, I’m sorry you’re going to be a dollar poorer, but can we get back to how the man I thought I was going to marry is now engaged to someone else–who’s also named Judy? Can we please?”

Anne and I were on our way to watch Monty Python with our two best platonic guy friends, but I insisted we stop for alcohol, because that seemed like an appropriate thing to do. I walked into the liquor store and announced I wanted margaritas because my exboyfriend had just gotten engaged. Also some lotto tickets. Liquor store boy was helpful, sympathetic, and kinda cute.

But even margaritas, Monty Python, and scratch lotto couldn’t stop the swell of more serious emotions, and soon I found myself sobbing on the bathroom floor. Because I thought I was preparing myself for this, I thought I was ready, I thought I knew it was going to happen, but then when I really realized that the boy I have thought about every day for the past ten years had gone to a jewelry store, picked out a diamond ring, got down on one knee, and asked some other woman to spend the rest of her life with him, I was overwhelmed. And I realized that all my secret hopes of him becoming the man that I hoped for, a man who’d realize his mistake of pushing me away and who would show up at my door, ready to love me like I loved him, all those secret dreams where impossible. And to continue to hope for them would be ridiculous. But the problem was that I’d been doing it for so long, I didn’t know how to stop.

Hello, gorgeous.

Today is better. The love of my friends helps fight the fears and lies I believe about a lonely loveless future. It still overwhelms my thoughts, but the paralyzing pain is gone, replaced by a sort of dull heaviness that I know will leave in time. And it startles me to realize, that in a time where I can’t seem to catch a break, when I get cripplingly sick without health insurance, when my car decides it’s tired of braking and needs a two day vacation at the mechanic’s, when I’m still working for free in a cut throat industry, when I’m far away from family and sometimes neglected by friends, when I’m alone, chronically alone, always single and without any possibilities or even much faith in mankind, when all this is against me, hope really does spring eternal.

I hope for health insurance, for a new car–or at least a newer one that I don’t doubt on long road trips–, for a real paying job in an industry I love, for success, for peace and contentment if I don’t have success, for a husband and a family and a beautiful story of my own. And there’s a voice that whispers to me, the farther you feel like you fall, the more beautiful the view when you climb again. The greatest stories of redemption begin with a soul so desperate and depressed. Hope drives me forward, unstoppable, even when hope is all I have, and I fear that it’s false–I hope that it’s not.

I hope that Ben and his new Judy are truly happy. I wouldn’t want him to marry if it was anything but the greatest love he’s ever known. And I won’t lie and say that I’m not sad or hurt or struggling through a very difficult time with everything a hot mess in my life.¬† I believe that life is hard, that things don’t “get better” just because they’re difficult now or because I deserve it. But there is something completely illogical and divine about the hope I have for my future, and I cling to it with wonder. The sun still shines even at night, and love still exists even when the only one I’ve loved chooses to love someone else.

Also, this is my new favorite song–