Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Ex Googling

It’s Tuesday night and I’m bored. I don’t have cable, because TV hits my system like crack cocaine and once I start watching it I can’t stop. If I had a TV I wouldn’t read. I would never return e-mails and I certainly wouldn’t spend idle hours every night surfing the net. Unfortunately, boredom and idle hours surfing the net signals certain danger.

I google an ex. Nothing interesting pops up. So, I google another.

Something new pops up. In my periodic spot check of googling and cyberstalking ex boyfriends, nothing has ever popped up for Wes before. Wes was a few years back. I called him ‘shower boy’ because of his propensity to take showers immediately after copulation. Each time using a fresh bar of Dove soap. Cleaning me off of his skin in the shower he would spend almost a half hour in the bathroom and usually I would be asleep by the time he came back to join me in the bed, a trail of shower steam bellowing out from the bathroom door behind him. But if I wasn’t asleep, I could watch him pull the covers up neatly around his chin, tuck the sheet around his body like a mummy and lay his head on the pillow, careful not to mess his hair or touch me in the process. For obvious reasons, we didn’t work out.

But like most ex boyfriends, over the past few years I had thought about him. Occasionally thinking I had been too hasty. We had so much fun together. We went out all the time. He was really hot. Maybe I judged him too harshly. And like bending back the corner of a page in a good book, I marked Wes as a spot I might want to come back to in the future.

And now here I am looking at his bio on the web page of his MBA program. I am ready to read that he had ended up in an insane asylum for the OCD impaired. Surely after the devastating loss of the only one real deep character in his life, Wes had dropped out of school and gone into the seminary to seek meaning in his life. I mean this is a feelingless ex that I imagined was never going to find true happiness or experience emotions without me. But sure enough, he is still alive. He has not committed suicide after losing me in his life. The photo doesn’t reveal a priest collar. And from what I am reading he is doing disturbingly well.

Shit, now I can’t stop thinking about Wes. I pick up the phone, find his name in my cell directory, stare for a very long time considering the consequences, and I call him.

“Is that you I saw jogging shirtless down 17th street the other day? Or was it some other hot young stud in great shape?”

“Schmo, how you been? I haven’t heard from you in forever. 17th street? Are you in DC?”

Not being one for chit chat with men, I keep my answers short. I am feeling him out for weak spots. Am I imagining it, or did his voice crack a little when he said my name.

“I finally got my apartment decorated. You should come by and check it out before I take off for the summer. I set it up exactly like you told me to. Looks good.”

“You’re leaving for the summer? Where are you going?” Here it comes. He’s been incarcerated for public drunkenness. Perhaps he was found crying in his beer over the loss of my affections. Some poor man bumped into him at the bar and Wes, who spends an uncomfortable amount of time preening in the mirror at the local gym, turned around and popped the guy in the face with a very well toned bicep.

“I’m going to Europe to study abroad.”

Who the fuck was this guy and where was my ex Wes? My Wes was xenophobic, and thought men wearing jeans that fit were gay. My Wes didn’t want to go out of his neighborhood to eat, for fear some homeless guy would scratch the Beemer. My Wes thought movies with subtitles were too much work, voted Republican and felt all waiters should learn English. What the hell was he doing going to Europe to study?

“I’ll come by tomorrow on my lunch break.”

And I do.

We sit on couches at Tryst and order lunch. I’m wearing a business suit, which is a stark contrast to when I first met Wes as a waitress at 18th Street Lounge. Wes is wearing a pair of men’s Seven Jeans and a faded tee, which is a stark contrast to the suit, tie and white pressed shirt combo I would see him in when he shook the bed to kick me out so he could lock up and go to work in the morning. He didn’t like to leave girls alone in his apartment. Apparently he was afraid I might break into his Dove bar soap collection or use some of his man products lined up next to the sink like little toy soldiers on display.

He has the Tuna. Which is also weird because tuna fish has mayonnaise and my Wes eats egg whites and one slice of wheat bread and then touches his six pack all night to feel for muscle loss.

I order salad. And after the lady walks away, I realize how awkward it will be to eat a salad whilst sitting on a couch, one nude fishnet leg tucked under my chocolate brown skirt, talking to my ex boyfriend that I haven’t seen in over a year.

We talk about family and we talk about work. And then he asks me about my love life.

“So are you seeing anyone?”

I swallow a lettuce leaf and wipe the olive oil off my right cheek.

“Are you?”
I use my CIA interrogation tactics to turn the question back on him.

“Yeah. You know me.”

Well, apparently I don’t anymore. So I feel compelled to ask.

“What does that mean?”

“Well, I dated someone seriously, after you, for like a year. She was a little debutante chick. Had all kinds of daddy’s money.”

It stings a little bit. Wes and I were plagued by his inability to commit. I tried desperately to engage him in conversations about feelings, but he was steadfast about keeping all of our interaction surface deep. Ten months of talking about the weather, politics and other people. Even in the bedroom, I couldn’t get Wes past the superficial.

I mean, don't get me wrong. I’m the Queen of superficial relationships outside of the bedroom. I can keep it light and breezy and easy. As long as I can get my attention fix through intense and passionate screwing that communicates without words, “I like you. Lots.” But Wes didn’t even give me the tongue when we kissed. In fact, we hardly kissed. He just flipped me over and did his thing. So I rarely knew what kept him calling and coming back.

Based on this, I was constantly trying to break things off with Wes. I would explain that I needed a little more from him. He would feign confusion and tell me I was blocking the TV set. I would throw up my hands. "I'm done,
you are just not that into me." But then he would call the next day and ask me to dinner or a concert or a show and I would go. Because I thought this was his way of showing me what he couldn’t say. I thought that deep down he must have real emotions for me, and he just can’t say them. But those emotions never surfaced, were never spoken and well, I guess I have to accept that they may have never actually existed. And now I discover that after me he was able to commit to someone. Someone that was not me.

“So what happened?”

I didn’t really want to hear the answer. I had always told Wes that someday he would find someone special and someone that moved him.

“Well, it started well. We were having fun. Hanging out. But then she got all heavy. I think she was crazy or something. She started talking about marriage when he had only been dating a few months. It was so weird.”

Oh thank God. It is my Wes. The color is beginning to return to my cheeks.

“She started getting all jealous and bitter. She said I wasn’t serious enough for her. Can you believe that?”

And he looks at me, because he knows that I can.

“But she had a lot of money. She was going to buy a house from my Dad. Really pissed him off when we broke up and the deal fell through.”

And my Wes is back. But just to make sure, I have to ask.

“Did you love her?”

He rolls his eyes and scoffs.

“Jesus Schmo. You cut to the chase. No. But I told her I did the day before we finally broke up.”

I wince.

“Don’t look at me like that. I had to say something. My Dad was going to lose a huge commission. ”

Bingo. It’s my Wes.

“Oh Wes. I don’t think she is crazy. Sometimes girls get jealous when they aren’t sure about your feelings for them. When you don’t put out a lot of signs or tell someone how you feel, they are forced to read every little action. And often people react with a lot of anger when they are frustrated. It’s frustrating to not know how someone feels about you. And I don’t think there is anything wrong with a woman believing that if you are still with her after a few months then there is potential for something bigger. You know?”

We both know I’m talking about me.

“Yeah, well, she’s 22. She has plenty of time to find someone new to latch on to. And there are plenty more 22 years olds out there dying to get Big Daddy Wes to take them to a Zagats rated restaurant. I’ve got another 22 year old up to bat right now.”

“Yeah, Wes, well you're 35. And how long are you going to keep dating 22 year olds? At some point you are going to have to have a grown up relationship. I mean, don’t you eventually want to have something deeper?”

“You sound like my sister.”

And suddenly I remember the pain of dating this man. The pain of never feeling good enough. The feeling that if I was just prettier, younger, firmer, then maybe he would look at me and say something nice. The belief that there was something wrong with me that made him unable to show me the affection and attention I deserved. I recall how much it hurt to be with someone who didn’t make me feel sexy or beautiful or wanted. I think of that 22 year old girl and I want to save her from the bad sex, shallow conversation and constant rejection.

“What time is it? I think I might need to start heading back to work.”

I grab for my Blackberry to look at the time and he grabs for my arm.

“Well wait. You want to come up and look at my place?”

He raises an eyebrow.

“Nah. I can't. I’m running a little late. Maybe next time."

But there won’t be a next time.

I’ve read this part. I already know what happens. There is no need to go back and read it again.

Especially not when there are so many good books out there I've yet to read.

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posted by Pop Culture Casualty @ 5/24/2006 11:59:00 PM |


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