Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Roaring Twenties - The Fellas

I could write a book about dating in my twenties. And I probably will. (Sorry fellas.) Suffice it to say: I had fun.

Dating in your twenties is an intense, high-impact sport that requires awareness, diligence, and a healthy amount of stupidity. Why? Because if you had any decent wherewithal whatsoever, you wouldn't be doing it. Which defeats the purpose.

There is a steep learning curve with dating. Alas, I clung to the stupidity for probably a few too many years than I should have. If only He's Just Not That Into You had come out in my early twenties...I could have watched it and promptly ignored it, but at least one day when the bells went off and I finally realized "OH! This is completely ridiculous!" I would have had a catch phrase to sum up the entire situation(s).

Allow me to divulge a bit...

Oh, he was everything the college boyfriend is supposed to be. We had the nicknames, the little notes, the favorite places on campus...he even made me a mixed CD. Everything was sickly sweet...until I discovered how many other girls he'd made mixed CD's for with the exact same playlist. It ended, crushingly, and I displayed about fourteen months of complete and utter batshit crazy gurrrl drama in many unglamorous attempts to win him back. I'm still not sure why. Those people who are still friends with me after that period are my tried-and-true friends-fo'-life. 

It was perfect...until every single little thing he did started to annoy me. He breathed wrong. He walked wrong. He tilted his head when he laughed at a joke wrong. He put the milk back on the wrong side of the top shelf of the refrigerator. I, on the other hand, was perfect. Except for that whole being a heinous bitch part, but that was only because everything he did was SO. ANNOYING. And probably on purpose.

At first, he was a good time. The life of the party. And then he was the life of the after-party. And the after-after-party. He didn't get out of bed before 3pm (on a good day), and he never went to bed before 4am (on a good day). That short-lived union fizzled out when I caught him relieving himself in public. On a busy city street. At 7:30pm. On a Sunday. 

Not one of my friends liked him, but they tried. He was good-looking, well-mannered, and a total jerk. He also had very few friends (red flag), an obsession with dissecting his relationship with his ex (red flag), and a compulsion to use fifty-cent vocabulary words at inappropriate times (hurricane warning). Like in his break-up email to me. It contained the words "in aggregate." That became quite the family joke.  In aggregate, you are a complete and total jerkface, and also you are very boring.

And there were more. Oh yes, many more. There was Captain Hook, The Guy Who Never Talked, The Guy Who Was Too Eager, The Guy Who I Could Never Figure Out If We Were Actually Dating Or Just Friends (oh wait, there were two of those...), The Guy I Lived With For Four Years, The Guy in a Band, The German, The Hockey Player (oh wait, there were three of those....) to name a few. And then there were the legions of First Date Only guys. 

Ahhh, the First Date Only guys...the short stories as opposed to novels. And possibly more interesting, because what they lacked in depth and longevity, they more than made up for in amusement. Like the deaf guy who was a total bigot and tried to preach to me the evils of homosexuality over appetizers and beers. Or the guy who was an engineer of some kind and said that he didn't understand how writing could be so hard: "It's just a piece of paper and a pen!" 

I think the richest and most rewarding relationships I had in my twenties were with my friends. Learning what friendship means, how to respect it, how to view compromises as worthy and learning when to let go when someone turns out to be not the lifelong friend you had thought they'd be...these were valuable lessons. And who else could I turn to when The Raging Alcoholic was pissing in the street, or The Jerkface was expressing disdain at the fact that I am prone to spilling and breaking things? They were the ultimate sources of comfort and, in years later, they are the ones who find so much humor in these situations with me. Because, in the end, anything you escape from even marginally unscathed has to become funny. At least for me it does. Otherwise, what was the point?

I shall not bring the Gentleman into this post, although to be fair, I was 28 when we first started dating. His story is for a different time. I will say only this: had I known that he was what would be waiting after all of these others, I might have been more forgiving. More willing to let go. More content with not settling. But I couldn't have known that, and I had lessons to learn and patterns to break before he came along.

In summation, I'd like to point out that to all of these fine fellas, I firmly believe that I was "the one that got away." I am, of course, the Mary Poppins of exes ("perfect in every way") and things didn't work out largely because they were just so utterly unworthy of me. Clearly, nothing I did could have possibly brought out the worst sides of these people, and obviously every one of them to this day regrets how things turned out. But, c'est la vie, friends. You shall have to live with the knowledge that I was obviously that best you'll ever have.


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