I hate going to bed angry, and I am most definitely going to bed angry, worn down-and-out, and emotionally tired and drained tonight. I feel like the human equivalent of laundry—doused, cold, beaten around, and hung out to dry by my arms and legs. And, maybe in this case, heart.
Today, around 11 AM, I made the executive decision that I was going to Montpelier today. I was going on a day Perfect was working so we could drop in and I could finally, FINALLY see him, and I was going to take Alli so she could finally go into the rock shop she wanted to see, and I was going to go today when I didn’t have to worry about things like Mother Nature or timing or dragging other people along and making schedules copasetic, and I was going to the Pots because the weather was absolutely gross and hot and humid, and I was going now while I knew I still had gas and money and time to do so.
I was so done with waiting. I woke up impatient and restless, and goddammit, I was doing something about it. I was finally fed-up enough that I wasn’t scared of “invading Perfect’s territory” or feeling weird about dropping by. For almost as long as I’ve known him, we’ve had an inside joke that I always kid about while we text and he’s at work. If he complains that it’s been a slow day at the copy shop, I’ll ask him, “what? No one needs 500 copies of the complete works of Shakespeare?” Alli happens to own the complete works of Shakespeare. The plan was to lug the book into the copy shop, plop it down on the counter, say, “Hey, we need 50 copies of this…by tonight,” and then grin, lean across the counter, put my hands on his shoulders and say in a tone of wonderment, “So you do exist! How’s life?” All in all, I was only asking to take up maybe five minutes of his day. If he wanted to go swimming with us when he got out of work, it would be his call. I just wanted to see his face.
It seemed perfect. But almost nothing ever lives up to that expectation.
Alli and I tooled around (Ok, so maybe more appropriately, we skulked around, walking fast down the sidewalk opposite of the copy shop when we had to pass it. “What are you doing?” Alli asked me as I peered into a hobby shop’s window as if I had infinite interest in baseball cards and Beanie Babies. “Avoiding eye-contact with the copy shop?” I was.) stopping into shops and getting coffee before she finally smacked me over the head and told me to get on with it. “What’s he going to do?” she asked me.
“Charge out of the store and yell at us to leave Montpelier?” I offered.
She snorted in derision. “What, charge out of the store and shout, “YOU! I BANISH YOU FROM MY TOWN!”?”
We cracked up, and walked up the front steps to the copy shop. “You go first,” I told her. “I don’t want to be the first through the door.”
Stepping through the threshold, her face got a similar panicked look to what I’m sure mine looked like, and she pushed me in front of her. I scanned the store. A guy with sandy blonde hair was walking into the back. A pretty brunette manned (womanned?) the register.
‘Fuck my life,’ was my first thought. ‘He works with his type.’
“Can I help you?” Shop Girl asked us nicely.
“Yeah,” I said, feeling slightly foolish but using my own retail-friendly voice, an octave higher than my regular speaking voice, more girly and friendly and winsome. “Is Perfect working today?”
Looking like she was asked this question fairly regularly, she glanced into the back. “Sorry, but I think he just left,” she told me.
“Oh, ok. Thanks,” I told her before my silent partner and I beat a hasty retreat. On the sidewalk in front of the store, I dialed his number, waiting for the rings to count down to his answering machine with his startlingly low voice, making a face at Alli when he didn’t pick up.
“Hey, Perfect—you must have known we were coming, because Alli and I just stopped in to the copy shop with the complete works of Shakespeare for you. We’re in town because it’s gross out and North Beach was apparently a zoo, so we’re gonna go swimming at the Pots in about an hour. If you get this, call or text and maybe we can meet up, stranger.”
Two minutes later, sitting on the State House steps, my phone rang with a text from him. “Haha, I actually went to the store down the way and am back! Lol, but I gtg home to help my dad do money stuff online cuz he can’t do it himself! Lol.”
Manslation: “I’m back at work, but leaving soon to go help my dad figure out my financial aid, so don’t bother stopping back in.”
After decoding the Perfect-ese, I texted him back. “Ok, well, Alli and I are eating and drinking and kicking around town for at least another hour before we head to the Pots, but if you get your stuff done with your dad, head down and try to meet up with us, killer!”
Girlversion: “Are you fucking kidding me? You don’t have five minutes? But, ok, that’s a valid reason to go home. And at least you explained you weren’t hiding in the back of the store, cowering in a broom closet. And I appreciate the “haha’s” and “Lol’s.” But really. I want to see you.”
Perfect’s answer? “Ok.”
Manslation: “Don’t count on it.”
By now, I was defeatist and Alli was simmering mad. “Seriously. We’re 30 seconds away from his work. He really can’t stop by and say “hi” on his way out of town? I’m sure his dad wouldn’t care if he was 5 minutes later. You haven’t seen him in a month, and he is 30 SECONDS AWAY. Are you going to call him on this? You better be calling him on this. I'm done making excuses for him. I'm done being on his side. I'm done being nice to him.”
She was right. I knew she was right. So I followed-up with another text, gently insistent. “Or, you could stop on the State House lawn on your way out seeing as we’re 30 seconds away. Also, is John around?”
This is where I went wrong. This is where I should have learned from the same mistake I went through with Legs in the phone conversation after our cease-fire coffee date this past May. You never, EVER tack on another non-related note to the end of what you really want answered from a man, because, scientifically proven, they will answer the last and less important and pointed question and ignore the first. Ladies, learn from my mistakes—ONE QUESTION OR STATEMENT AT A TIME IF YOU WANT AN ANSWER OR IT TO BE ADDRESSED.
Sure enough, Perfect texted me back with a “Nope, road trip with his dad!”
Manslation: “I am ignoring your insisting and pretending that you never asked me that other thing which We Will Not Speak Of.”
Girlversion: “You’re being avoided. This is complete bullshit.”
I wear my anger well. Like designer clothing that took me a lot of time and money to get. And when I’m wearing it, I want to show it off. I have a red head’s temper in a blonde’s body, and I can carry a grudge like no body’s business. As this was the first time I’ve ever been mad at Perfect, really angry with him, I was beside myself. Yes, I have been pissed-off at him before, but now—now, I was ANGRY. Smoke-coming-out-of-nostrils, bodily-harm-inflicting MAD.
At this point, I knew better than to even text him anything back, because the Turrets-worthy deluge of derogatory swears coming out of my mouth were more than likely to come out of my finger-tips, too. Perfect was a “douchebag.” Perfect was a “fucktard.” Perfect was an “asshole.” Perfect was a “dickwad.” Perfect was, the most mild of them, a “jerk.” Alli kicked in her two cents with an “asshat.” We debated the merits of throwing drinks versus swinging heavy purses at his crotch versus throwing the complete works of Shakespeare at him versus hitting him with the Civvy. This continued all the way to the Pots. If he was driving home and we caught up to him as we were both going to basically the same place, was I allowed to tap his bumper? How quickly could we get out friend Kristen of the tire-slashing fame to get to Montpelier? If he was biking home, could we drive in front of him and then open the car door on him? As I stood on a boulder in the middle of the river at the Pots, I looked at Alli with a scarily contemplative face. “Where can I get a rifle really quickly?”
“You’re not planning on killing him, are you?” she asked, alarmed, and then finished her question with the statement that was the real cause for her alarm. “You can’t leave me stranded here to run from the law. I can’t drive standard!”
“I just want to threaten him with it. But I just remembered that he hunts and probably has more than one rifle in his house. Which could turn this into a Texas stand-off. Which isn’t quite what I’m looking for.”
All I wanted was vindication; not someone to get law-inducingly hurt.
Once the girl-crazies were over, we settled down into more lucid and logical thinking that didn’t involves de-balling or dismemberment. “Ok, so I’ve been nice up until now,” I said to Alli. “Now, I need to ask him why there would be any reason he’s avoiding me.”
“Right,” Alli said, nodding affirmatively. This month’s Cosmopolitan touted “Is there any reason why” to be the new Rosetta Stone for communicating with men. It’s a passively-aggressive phrase and addresses that there’s an issue while asking men to explain it in a way that they can’t help but give in to. If a guy just says “no,” then he looks like he is, in fact, avoiding you and avoiding talking about it with you. Which then leaves it open for you to say something like, “well, I feel like you have been, and…” If he says “yes,” then he’s also generally going to follow that up with the reason why. It’s seemingly the question that men can’t resist answering. I love it.
Alli and I decide that “Fuck You” is the theme of today’s adventure. We blast Buckcherry’s “Crazy Bitch,” because we might as well wear the song if it fits. (Fun fact: Perfect had never heard that song until I played it for him when he came over to chill for hours the day after my birthday. He got a shit-eating little-boy grin on his face at the lyrics “get the video; fuck you so good” that I could for-see a future request if we had stayed together. And then he played me Ashanti’s “Only You.” Go listen to it right now, if you never have. Seriously. This is why he frustrates me. I play him “Crazy Bitch” and he plays me a romantic song about wanting to be close to someone who you’ve never felt like this before about someone.) The pictures of the day all include middle fingers blazing. We instate Naked Tuesday on the middle of Handcock Brook Road (yes, Handcock Brook Road,) in an act of defiance. We decide to go fire-engine-red bras blazing and drive shirtless into Montpelier. We sit in the car at Dairy Crème, out of the now-steady drizzle, and stew. I go home and spend over an hour talking with Emily about what happened, what could possibly be going on, and how to fix it. Or, end it.
Still, though, I’m seething. Ok, so in my thinking, there are two possibilities to explain his behavior. One, and the one I feel as though most people, including my mother, are in agreement with, is that it’s O-V-E-R and his not seeing me is the way he’s trying to get this through and that He’s Just Not That Into Me. I do realize from a perfectly logical point of view, this could be very true. I always prepare myself for the worst. In my mind, he’s already off grinding on and fucking every pretty young brunette he can get his massive hands on and laughing with John about what a crazy bitch I am.
Option Number Two is the one that the closet, desperately hidden-away romantic in me is wondering about: that he’s still not over me and doesn’t want to exacerbate his feelings by seeing me. A month ago, this was the case. I understand the thinking, because when I see him, the undeniable attraction makes me want to dry-hump his leg at best, strip down and lie prone on the ground at worst. This would also explain the problem I have with Scenario One—when a guy wants you out of their life (and believe me as I know from Legs’s experience), they’re very good at totally alienating you. If Perfect was done, gone, moved on, over with it and didn’t want anything to do with me, he wouldn’t be texting me still. He wouldn’t be talking to me. He wouldn’t be talking with me for HOURS. He wouldn’t be flirty. He would be genuine with his “I’m sorry”s and “haha”s. He would be MIA—unreachable by phone, computer, friends, and satellite. Witness Protection might as well have swallowed him up. That’s how guys do things. None of this half-in, half-out bullshit.
So why no face-to-face? If there were to be one of us avoiding the other, by all rules of logic, it should be me. He was the one who ended it. I was the dumpee. I should be the one avoiding all contact and stiff-arming him like I do with the rest of my exes. From his side, either he’s much more deviously smart than I gave him credit for, or he honestly just has great excuses at perfectly inopportune times, but he has a perfectly good excuse for not seeing me every time t comes up—I’m not exactly going to say, “No! You can’t go to your camp with your family!” or “No! You cannot help your father with your financial aid!” So we’re at this odd sort of stand-off: he either can’t or won’t or refuses to see my for whatever reason—timing, busy-ness, latent feelings—and I’m hemming and hawing about getting down to business, buckling down, and actually talking to him like I have to. But still, in the over-all scheme of things—5 minutes today—was that really too much to ask for?
I am so mad I didn’t listen to his song, my lullaby. I am so mad I didn’t want to see his face on my computer. I am so mad I didn’t want to sleep in the bed we slept in together. I pop my iPod earbuds in, drink a Smirnoff, then another one, and chase them down with a flat beer, but at this point, I don’t care. I feel nothing. I feel nothing other than exhaustion and slight nausea and the headache starting from the noise outside, but I don’t think drunkenly screaming “Fuckkk youuuu!” out the window at the jackhammers on the rotary at 2 AM would solve anything. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, and quickly turn. I look like someone who knows better wearing pain and regret and accusation plain as day in my eyes, on my face, in the way my shoulders slump and the corners of my lips curl gently down, let down but not expecting anything better. They were the smart ones. As I wash my hands at the bathroom sink, I know that my reflection in the mirror looks like someone I don’t want to be, so I look away. I fall into bed, throw my hands over my eyes, and just be in my hollow nothing-ness. Sometimes, it’s just easier to look away.