Monday, September 12, 2011

Back In The Saddle(bags) Again

There are a few things I really like about attending weddings: The look on the bride and groom's faces as they look at each other, the dancing at the reception afterwards, and the ruthless "time of famine and drought"-style drinking involved when the two best words in the English language get together-- Open. Bar. And then there are a few things I really hate about attending weddings: The fact I am ALWAYS over-dressed for the occasion; the feeling of desperation that settles in the air every time all the single women are rounded up onto the dance floor to make that leap for the bouquet; the fact that more and more, I'm attending the weddings of people that I've either grown up with and/or my age. First, it was my childhood best friend. Then, it was the older son of a friend of the family whom I've known since I was...I don't know...BORN. They're both a year or two older than I am, and now nuptially blissed-out, and here I am, still single, and while the motorcycle club I belong to may have a healthy number of prospects, when it comes to ones for my hypothetical wedding bed, there are NONE. Zip. Zero. Ziltch. Nada.

However, I like this show of priorities.

My last relationship involved living together, cleaning together, cooking and drinking together, exercising together (and if you know how much I hate to be seen sweating, you know how much that says about my commitment), and beginning to casually talk about weddings-- what locations we liked. What good theme colors would be. Who the bridesmaids and groomsmen would consist of. It was obviously serious when me, Miss Commitment Issues, started considering floral arrangements and the merits of hand-made wedding favors made by myself and my army of loyal (and handy!) bridesmaids. I could see myself spending the rest of my foreseeable 50-to-70 years with him, and somehow having us both miraculously die of old age and NOT of spousal homicide. It was a special union. He asked me one day if I'd still love him when he had a beer gut and had gone gray and to seed. I told him that I probably wouldn't even notice and still find him sexy, because I'd look like my mother. We laughed. We loved. And we parted.

So it was particularly bitter-sweet this past weekend, as I found myself down in Connecticut, open bar at the ready, single, condoms perennially-prepared in my cute little white clutch, and no single groomsmen to be had. People started asking after my ex. I started drinking more heavily, and eventually excused myself down the hill to the pond, so I could sit and willingly be eaten alive by the mosquitoes rather than have to utter the painful words, "Well, no one special..." one more time.

...And then, I heard the roar of a four-stroke engine.

Riding up the driveway came a refurbished custom Yamaha motorcycle, paint job pristine, chrome gleaming. It's rider was tall, dark, wearing plaid, and seemingly single. I wanted him. I wanted his bike. I was either in love, or very, very emotionally vulnerable and slightly sloshed.

So I did what every girl does when confronted with a really smokin' hot guy-- I watched him. Yes, I just sat there, and looked at him for the better part of an hour. He was pretty. It was easy. But really, I told myself, it wasn't quite enough. On the ride down to CT, I'd picked up the newest issue of Cosmopolitan, and for shits, giggles, and boredom, flipped to the last page and taken the "How Much Game Do You Have?" quiz. I got two points for professing that if I were out at a bar and saw a cute guy, I wouldn't just move into his line of sight and telepathically plead with him to come over and talk to me-- I would walk over and say hey. And you just don't lie to Cosmo. Was I really so sad and single and pathetic that I couldn't even brush the dust on my flirt off and go over and make a go of it? So I slung back my drink, adjusted my cute little summer dress, cursed being single and back in The Game, and grabbed my purse and lady-balls and walked down to where he stood next to his bike.

Now, if there is one very important life lesson I learned three years ago from having to un-Velcro Motorcycle Man of my college years from the thoughts of making me his girlfriend, it is that you DO NOT touch even a man's kickstand without asking his permission first. And thanks to the Northern Deathriders, I've acquired quite a comprehensive knowledge about motorcycles in the last few months. So I sauntered down to him, lightly touched his upper arm to get his attention (and for the hell of being able to touch him), and said, "Excuse me, but what model Yamaha is this?"

He turned around. He smiled. He told me. I told him about my friend's Yamaha. He asked if I was into bikes. I laughed and told him about my old lady status. "I'm more of a 'fetch beer, remind them to flip the burgers, and admire the bikes,' kinda girl," I told him. "Are you one of those girls who will polish her boyfriend's bike?" his friend asked me, leaning in. "No. But I'll tell him when it needs to be done."

Their eyes lit up in a way that told me that the only wedding bells that day had not just been earlier at the church. For the next 20 minutes, we talked bikes, business, and New York City, where he lived. It was like God had delivered me my perfect made-to-order man. The only thing missing to make it more obvious would have been a silver platter, hand-engraved. But after years in the dating trenches, I knew when to cut things off before the stink of desperation cut in and I went from being The Cute Girl Who Knows Her Shit to being The Crazy Girl Who Won't Go Away. Proud of myself for having the guts to approach him, and still buzzing from the intoxicating mix of wine, cute guy, and bike exhaust, I thanked him for talking bikes, shook his hand, and excused myself. I may have been out of the game for awhile, but this cat still knows when to play hard-to-get.

Later that night, he came back and found me before he left. I was sitting at a table, taking a break from the dance floor, when I saw him approaching me from the corner of my eye. I pretended not to notice him until he was right next to me, leaning over my chair. He offered his hand again, saying he was leaving, but thanking me for coming over and talking to him earlier. I took it, shook it, and told him the pleasure was mine, and that anytime he wanted to talk bikes, I was game. We didn't exchange numbers. I didn't know his last name. But I knew that I felt good about myself, and that this old-hand Single Girl still had some life-- and some game-- in her yet. And who needs an engagement ring or kids when you can flirt with all the hot young bikers with good manners in the world? Exactly.

22. College-educated. Self-employed entrepreneur. Confident. Sarcastic. Single. Fabulous.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Giving Up The Ghosts

Last night, I had a dream about the first boy I ever really liked and had a mad, raging, multi-year-long crush on. It was an interesting dream, because in it, he was just as blase and indecisive as he had been in real life. Finally, driven to the end of my proverbial rope by despair and out of my wits with frustration, I wrote him a letter, outlining the fact that as long as he couldn't choose to keep a monogamous relationship either between me and him or him and my friend, I was done-- I wanted nothing to do with him. I upheld my promise pretty well-- until we survived a life-or-death situation together, caved under the pressure, had sex again, and then I got to confront my friend while helping her move from her apartment about the fact he was playing us both.

It was an emotionally-charged, fascinating dream-- possibly made more interesting by the appearance of the ex at the tail-end of it, as well as the fact that I knew that my first crush was actually the symbolical representation of my last relationship. I woke up, utterly fed up, and started thinking about the lengths that women will go through to try to keep a relationship.

I have never been a fan of the ultimatums, unlike much women. I firmly believe that if you're going to make a "if...than" statement, you should be willing to stand by it under pain of death, dismemberment, or break-up, and, as my dream obviously revealed, I've never really been great at doing that. If a woman gives a man an ultimatum-- "It's done forever and ever until the end of time when the Universe is sucked into a black hole if you ever sleep with another woman"-- and then doesn't actually have the balls to stand by what she said in earnest, it teaches both of them that A.) A woman can say things that she absolutely doesn't mean, and B.) That he can get away with it. I consider both outcomes horrible things. And I'm always quick on the draw to call a bluff. So, instead, I stick to the "Do it once, shame on you; do it twice, shame on me, I'm leaving," mentality. It works, for the most part. In real life, not only was I able to walk away from my first crush when he perpetrated events much like the ones in my dream last night, but I also repeated my feat of fortitude and strength again when the ex repeated similar events, later in my life.

And yet, I find myself still dreaming of them both. What does this say about me; about them?

Despite the fact that we grew up together and still are in casual touch, I hadn't thought about my first crush in months before last night, so I happen to think he was just a handy vehicle for my dream-self to craft the morality lesson of last night's sleep around. As for the ex...well, that's a more slippery slope, but I can explain where the specter of him came from, too. Before I went to sleep last night, I was watching a movie when the dishy main actor suddenly smiled, and in a blinding flash of realization, I realized why I was drawn to him-- he very much resembled the ex, especially when he smiled. I started flipping back through my Rolodex of Previous Relationships, trying to put famous faces to my exes who resembled them. I made the same obvious match of Aaron Eckhart to someone as I had when I'd been seeing him, but, other than him, the only other one of my ex-lovers who I could pin similar faces on was the ex, and as I kept coming up with names of people who I thought looked like him-- the guy from the movie; Emile Hirsch; Adem Ljajic-- I started wondering why, to me, he was one of my most recognized faces. It wasn't the fact that he was my longest running on-again, off-again thing; it wasn't the fact that I truly loved him-- I truly love my most recent ex, but I was fucked if I could come up with a doppelganger for him, so there goes that theory. I will admit to the fact that in his heyday, the ex was certainly one of the most striking and handsome men I have ever seen, let alone been with, so maybe that was it. We human beings can be incredibly shallow, after all.

The ex was beautiful, and he and I shared a lot of emotional history-- and hysteria-- together. But does that, and the fact that I can still catch glimpses of him in other people mean that I in any way desire him back? Oh, helllllllll noooooooo.  Let's face it, I'm a little bit of a masochist, and a little pain never really hurt anyone, but I would have to be declared clinically insane to ever go back to him. THAT much pain and turmoil he put me through just isn't worth it; no matter how attractive he was, no matter what we had in common; no matter the fact that we shared friends, professions, and a common life. I remember how miserable I could be when I was with him, and in general, I tend to believe that there is one thing human beings should never actively seek out to be, and that thing is miserable. Learning that lesson through him-- and, in some ways, the baby starter steps to it with my first crush-- was possibly one of the defining moments of my life thus far, and it has always served as a valuable lesson every time another relationship starts to turn the same way. I am more important to myself than a man will ever be, no matter how much I happen to love him. And if he makes me miserable, well-- then someone has to go, and it's sure as hell not going to be me. One of the most important things you can ever learn is how and when to go about giving up the ghost of relationships failed, past, and never to be repeated again.