It’s been a while since I’ve taken the time to collect my thoughts and release them on the internet. I suppose I was hoping to make sense of things, to wrap them up and tie them with a pretty, shiny bow. The fact is, sometimes things just don’t make sense and they have no purpose. Sometimes they just are. Sometimes the details are in the devil and he shouldn’t be paid that much attention to. As has often been accused of me, I “think too much….” It’s been this constant thinking that has led me to a sort of mental paralysis. So today, Boxing Day, while others were out trying to get 50% off on that thing they never knew they needed until they saw it, I’ve decided to put the good and the bad and the ugly thoughts I’ve had into a box and put it on the curb with the garbage.
Six months ago, I stupidly ignored my gut instincts about someone. Intellectually and instinctively, I knew that this guy was like that last beer after a night out with the girls – completely unnecessary and likely to be the tipping point whereby you find yourself draped over the cold, sweaty bowl of your toilet, adamantly proclaiming, ‘I’ll never drink again!’ Don’t judge – if you haven’t yet ‘been there’, it’s only a matter of time….
I’ll call him Vlad: a) because he’s from Romania and I can’t resist using this cultural stereotype/legend, and b) because our first night ‘together’ really did feel like an impalement of sorts.
I met him on one of those unnatural places – okstupid. Freudian analysis aside, there was something about him that reminded me of my father – the shape of the eyebrows and sad eyes. Turns out those things, and the fact they both grew up under the hammer of communism, were all they had in common. His profile wasn’t particularly witty, wasn’t boastful; it was sweet and vulnerable and seemed honest. So I took a chance and contacted him.
Things started off a little rocky. His defensive, humourless responses to my attempts at engaging in light dialogue actually compelled me to tell him that he was being a complete jerk and that if he actually wanted to meet women, he’d have to change his attitude. With that, I wished him well and goodbye. If only I had blocked him – but hindsight is always 20/20, isn’t it?
It wasn’t long before I received a somewhat apologetic message about how he was feeling depressed about his 8-year relationship ending the year before, his language difficulties, being new to Canada, etc…. Having wasted most of my 30s on a toxic relationship, and having known what it feels like to be the stranger in a new town, I wasn’t unsympathetic to his woes. And therein lay his hook – my empathy.
After a couple of weeks of relaying messages on the site, he suggested we chat on facebook. So, I set up a fake facebook account so he wouldn’t know my real name – safety first kids! Despite his claims about his language difficulties, he had a fairly good grasp of English and English humour. We sort of hit it off and we decided to meet one Friday evening for drinks. He wasn’t exactly as I had expected (they never are!), but then I’m sure they all think the very same thing about me. But he was shy and charming and seemed smart. We talked quite a bit and then, since his father was a veterinarian back home, he met the dogs and cat.
And then we got to know one another in the ‘biblical sense,’ as they say. I’m not sure if it was because the sex was terrible or because of his cologne, but I quite literally felt sick the next day. I had grown to like him, I guess, but, after my 9 year relationship (full of, quite frankly the worst sex ever) decomposed, I promised myself that I would never accept a terrible sex life ever again. No mas! I get that the first time with someone is awkward, but there has to be something there. So I told Vlad about the sex… and about the cologne. He vowed to never wear that shit again and that things would be better in bed if I gave him another chance – it had just been so long for him. At first I was adamant that this was not going to happen. But then he came over the following weekend, and, after some awkward instructions, he redeemed himself.
Things were moving along quite well after that. As it always seems to do, though, the other shoe fell off. First it started with the hidden insults: “you must have been so pretty… when you were younger….” “I bet you had a nice body… when you were thinner” “You have a very pretty face, so it doesn’t matter what your body looks like…” From suggesting that I wear more feminine clothes to how I could easily remove a small mole that I have on my abdomen, nothing seemed to escape his scrutiny. Shit like that. When I’d call him on those things, he would pull the ‘linguistic difficulties’ card and spin it so that it would come off as a compliment.
And then came the lies. Lies, lies, and then more lies. On the one hand, he would talk about running away to Ecuador (did not buy that for a second); on the other, he was still on the dating sites. How did I find this out? I’m glad you asked. One day, he said, “… you know, if you want to see other people, that’s okay with me….” That set off a very loud alarm bell. So I employed a common police tactic that I saw on Investigation Discovery (when I still had cable): entrapment. A sting. If it’s ethical enough for the cops, it’s good enough for yours truly. When I was a student, I took the Strong Inventory Test – a test to determine what kind of career you should go into. My top two? Librarian and Police Officer. People underestimate my intuition and my ability to remember the shit they say. My brain catalogues things, and when something sounds ‘off’, it gathers the clues and puts all the pieces together. Eventually.
So I created a fake profile, as one does. I knew he liked girls who wear glasses, so I googled, ‘girls with glasses,’ and edited the photo of a pretty enough brunette so that only half of her face was on the site. I christened her, Mia. It was amazing how many guys visited Mia’s profile, considering she only had half a face and next to no personal information. With the worm on my hook, I tossed the line in the water, and wouldn’t you know it? He bit. He used the same lines he used on me and pretended to be single. When he agreed to meet the next week for drinks after work, I let him in on the secret. Especially since he was messaging me on facebook while he was messaging “Mia” on the dating site. He was confused at first. In the movies, they often portray these kinds of moments like they are triumphs, tiny victories over the prickdom of menkind. In reality, the sword you swing hits deeper in your own chest than in your traitor’s.
That was the beginning of the end. He came to me that evening, showed remorse, tears fell – and not only mine. What transpired over the next month was more of the same. I tried to go ‘dog mode’, as Querido suggested – turns out I’m simply not cut out for casual affairs. But, apparently, I am cut out for bullshit… because that’s what I seem to let men get away with. When I complained to Querido, he wisely pointed out something like: ‘You act like a sailor but then you complain when the sea is stormy.’ Stop acting like you’re okay with shit and then complaining when things aren’t going the way you really want them to. He’s right. Wise motherfucker, Querido.
And then, two weeks ago, I took the dogs out for a walk one evening and an inexplicable feeling of calm came over me. There was no discussion in my head, simply acceptance and forgiveness. No more kicking myself for being stupid (again!), no more wishing things could have been different, no more wondering why I wasn’t good/pretty/young/thin enough. I did what I did and believed what I believed because I wanted what everyone on this planet wants – to be loved. I’m just a flawed, middle-aged woman who has none of the answers, but tons of questions. As with every guy I’ve ever cried over, the tears shed weren’t because I missed him – I missed who I wished he could have been, what I could have meant, the fantasy of having been truly loved. What does that even feel like?
The last time I saw Vlad, we exchanged gifts for Christmas. He had already told me what he got me – Jack London’s White Fang and other stories – so he didn’t bother to wrap it up. *roll eyes* After he handed it to me, he casually noted that I might get upset when I get to the part where they beat the dogs to break them. This interaction was a clear representation of how this ‘relationship’ with him was orchestrated all along – a yo-yoing between winning my affections (yay, a book about dogs!) and hurting me (the dogs get beaten). Anyone who knows me, knows my softness for animals in general, and dogs in particular. Deliberately getting me this book, knowing what he did, was either not very well thought out, or deliberately masochistic.
My gift to him? A graphic novel version of Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose (which was, very appropriately, teamed with the tale of The Devoted Friend). Essentially, it’s about a young man who enjoys the company of a nightingale for the music/distraction she provides. But he falls for a materialistic bitch, and because the nightingale loves him, she sacrifices herself by piercing her heart on one of the white rose bush thorns so that she can give him a hard-to-come-by red rose for the cunt. It’s a beautifully sad tale – Wilde had a profound way of interpreting the pain that echoes in the heart of many a soul, transcending time. Granted, I didn’t love Vlad. But still. The moral of his tale reaches those who have been at both ends of the sadness. For who hasn’t taken love for granted, who hasn’t chased beauty over substance? And who hasn’t been taken for granted, who hasn’t been tossed aside? The moral is eternal.
And so, today, I put these thoughts and memories in a virtual box and send them off for good. Life has too much nonsense and stupidity to ignore. That’s what I plan on dedicating myself to documenting from now on. Absolute nonsense. As for Vlad, and the likes of him, he can’t rent space in my head anymore. In the chipper words of Skeeter Davis, “… got along without you, before I met ya, gonna get along without ya now…”