One last stop, he says. And they drive to Westside Lanes.
I grew up bowling. I don’t want to bowl. It was raining.
We’re not going to bowl, the circus carpet dark with gum
beneath them, and he parts the curtains on the best
photo booth in town. He feeds it the three dollars, Get
in. They somehow share the short ridged stool. In here
we have to tell each other one true thing. You first. Click.
This is the best way I could think to have my arm around you.
Click. Click. Click.
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Bette Davis toasts Anne Baxter in All About Eve (Joseph Mankiewicz, 1950)
I am supposed to be writing a paper right now, but I just spent about thirty minutes looking at photos of ex-anythings on FBook (those with whom I’m still FBook friends—and there AREN’T VERY MANY!—which is troubling but also a blessing, perhaps, because this could have been much more self-destructive) and so many of them are in relationships! So now I’m thinking about boys/men. And, as per usual, I am dealing with it by writing! Lucky us. So, in alphabetical order.
A was in and out of my life (and bed!). Put another way, out of my frying pan and into a talleR, hotteR, daRkeR fRying pan. And then much drama ensued, where the level of drama greatly surpassed that which the situation deserved. But all that has passed. They seem content for now. I wish them the best—gay marriage, even. I want to make a drunken toast at the wedding. Should their situation not work out, good luck in his future endeavors.
B is for Back In My Life (of course he is), though the extent and the length to which he is is still up in the air. Thoughts from others range: “Maybe he has changed!” “I don’t want to hear about this again.” “Men don’t change, but when this backfires, I’m here 4U, boo.” These rules are still in operation, especially 7. Approaching with caution, kind of—when real feelings arise (I can feel they are about to sprout and break through the surface soon) we will need to sit down and have a conversation in order that I don’t go crazy and can assess more directly how I want to proceed. (Yes, many I’s in that sentence, which is the approach I have to take in this situation, but really should take in all situations). I have not cried or said anything terribly mean to him whenever we hit the town, so I’m ahead of where I was this time last year. No yelling on streets or slipping out of bars when the other is in the bathroom or crying in alleyways. J (see below) calls it the “honeymoon period.” I reminded J that he and I are also in our “honeymoon period.” Recent events have led B to realize how amazingly, bitterly envious I can be—he keeps his other tricks generally concealed from me, which helps.
D alerted me that he’ll be back in town for about a week this July. Every three weeks or so one person will text the other and we will have about two days of sending very honest and very sweet messages back and forth to each other and then silence for a few more weeks. I don’t really have a problem with this arrangement, as I keep thinking that maybe this is how I operate best: short bursts of strong, passionate energy and then some alone time. This time, upon telling me about his return this summer, he wrote something along the lines of, “When I’m back, make sure not to have a BF so that I can kiss you.” For a number of reasons, it was probably that sentence that has sparked this most recent bout of anxiety about my chronic singledom.
J is for Just Friends. But fast friends. Two weeks of lots of hanging out, a relationship born by his incorporation into the tetrafecta of support necessitated by the “A Crisis of April 2013.” Much texting about failed relationships, just-nearing relationships, and those that we would like to begin. Homegirls. But, like any and all men I get close to in any respect, he has since left, gone to LA for the summer. Departed. I will make do. I checked out prices for tickets there today. Just to see.
K and I have been in contact on and off since he left in February. Conversations range from the innocuous to the deeply romantic to the emotionally fraught, which pretty much describes the way we got on in person for about two months—dramatics and extremes. He wants me to visit him this summer, though my wallet cannot afford an intercontinental flight. He recently entered into an open relationship with some Asian twink, about which I inquired and was fed some story about how it’s all an elaborate sham. I am still deeply skeptical. Or maybe envious. I can’t really tell anymore. There is something frustrating about him that I dislike, that worries me, but to which I keep returning, which worries me more. Same song, different verse. Thankfully, I can sometimes recognize patterns in my behavior, the way I behave around and strongly invest in men. Less thankfully, I can do little to control myself. But in the past week I’ve wondered about just packing up and leaving for the summer and playing the next school year by ear. Be like E, who left for a vacation, quit the program, moved to Alaska and was never heard from again. I would like to pull a disappearing act, to re-root completely.
Tyler Coates is engaged, as well. I’m beside myself.
I don’t really feel a slutty summer coming on.
* capitalization mine.
As we were sitting, grabbing coffee, he asked me, “Aren’t you afraid of just falling madly in love with him again?”
“The truth of the matter,” I said, warming my hands on my mug, staring directly at him, “is that now I’m so much more dead inside than I was then. I just don’t really worry about that being a possibility anymore.”
"The irony of the situation," he added, "is that he did that to you."