Archive for February, 2013

A Very Ron Christmas

Ron is a real person.  And these are my real memories of them.  My sister is no longer with us, but these moments continue on in infamy.  I’ll be posting one Ron story every Monday (or Ronday) so we can all shake our heads together.

My sister’s current flame thought he was really something. My sister who was so broke, couldn’t afford to buy any gifts, had written each of us letters which was sweet. Her boyfriend – whom we didn’t really even know yet – showed up with presents for all of us from HIM (he made sure we realized it wasn’t a joint gift) These were CVS type gifts – can of peanuts for my dad and husband, etc.

My gift from sleazoid? A can of body spray that he told me “smelled so good in the store he had to spray it all overhimself and just made him want to get naked and rub up against everyone he met.” He then encouraged me strongly several times to “spray it all over myself cause he wanted to smell it on me – he bet it would make me smell soooo good.”

This while my husband was sitting on one side of me and my dad was sitting on the other. All three of us just looked at him in utter awe of his moxy. My sister just sat there oblivious (Og rest her soul – she was always a tad clueless), my stepmom was holding my dad’s arm back and trying not to either gag or burst out laughing.

Needless to say, I didn’t spray it on me and I “accidentally” left it at my parents house when we left. My stepmom teased me unmercifully before agreeing to just throw it away.

The Friend Zone

I don’t want to date anymore.” He said.  “I’ve decided I just want to build a community of friends and work from there. Y’know, find a friend in Pineville, one in Uptown, one in University. . .”

A girl in every port?” I asked.

Naw, why you gotta be like that?  I just mean that I don’t see the point of dating.  If you find a girl you like, and she’s cool, and you meet her friends, and they’re cool, and then you date and decide to break up . . . you lose all that.  And I’m just not willing to give any friendships up.”

I understand where he’s coming from. One of the hardest things about ending a relationship is the unavoidable strain it can put on those friendships and associations you made through your partner.  The division of material things is never as difficult for me as the division of your heart.

That being said, I think if you shy away from dating because of a fear of loss, you’ll never give yourself the opportunity to gain something either. 

But I get it.  Last week, I took a chance and finally asked someone out that I’ve had a crush on for months. There were all sorts of reasons why I originally held off:  I was too recently broken up and still in recovery mode, I wasn’t sure if he was actually single, I’m the girl and I was hoping he would ask me out instead, etc. 

One of the easiest justifications I told myself was this:  “Well, I met him because he came to events I organized.  If I ask him out, and he’s not interested, then he might feel funny about coming to events, and I don’t want to put anyone in that position.  And I would never want anyone to think that I’m using my group as my personal dating pool.”

Sounds great, doesn’t it?  Very noble of me and all that.  Reality?  Bwawk, bwawk – big fat chicken.  It was so much easier to just keep them in The Friend Zone and pine away semi-silently like a Victorian novel.

Three Days.  It took three days before he replied back.  And during those three days, I kept wondering if it would have been better to stay in The Friend Zone rather than risk it all. His response was positive and we are going to grab a drink when our busy schedules permit.

But even if he hadn’t answered back, I’m glad that I didn’t zone out.  Because you are never going to win the lottery if you don’t occasionally take a chance. No matter what the outcome, the only loser is the one who doesn’t try.

Introducing Ron . . .

Several years ago, I started sharing these “Ron” stories with my friends on an online message board.  Rather than losing them in the the outerspace of the interwebz, I offer them here, for your enjoyment.  There are about a dozen or so – and I’m going to post them each Monday (now dubbed Ronday) since we could all use a little something Ronulan to start us off each week.

The first time I met Ron was at a holiday party I was hosting at my house. My sister and Ron showed up 2 hours late – because they were shopping for toilet paper.

yes you read that right.

I was the older sister (by 2 years and 363 days but who’s counting?) and so therefore you would assume a certain desire to make a good impression.

What I got was my sister and Ron doing the human hand-holding contortion: His arm around her shoulder, her hand holding that hand. His other hand in her lap, her hand on his lap. Their ankles intertwined. It was a kitchen chair version of Twister.

In fact, they would only break hands to feed each other food from their plates and then lick around the edges of their mouths to get the excess crumbs off.

It was lovely, I tell ya.

So, as the party is breaking up and my sister (y’know – the one Ron has been pawing for the past hour) is in the bathroom, and my friend Tina’s husband is off getting their coats, Ron starts chatting up Tina:

You know, I manage a restaurant downtown. You should really stop by some time for lunch – y’know, if you are off shopping by yourself. Just c’mon by my place and have lunch on me – you’ll love it. If you time it right, I should be able to join you – it’ll be great!”

Tina is a little naive sometimes, so she isn’t sure how to take that. She just smiles and thanks him for the offer. Ron takes that as a good sign.

Yeah, y’know, I practically run the place, and I invest in shares of the business, so I’m an owner too. You should really stop by. Really.”

At this point, I’ve heard it too – and turn to look at Ron. He’s looking very self-assured and I’m sure he thinks he’s suave.

My sister returns at that point and I say, “Wow, hun, Ron was just inviting us downtown for lunch sometime – wasn’t that nice of him?”

My sister said, “Not me – I can’t stand eating at Burger King. No offense, sweetheart.”

Happy Trails Day

It was 9 years ago today that I packed my Toyota Corolla and headed west to Colorado.  I stopped by my mom’s to tell her goodbye, then got in my car and just started driving. 

My reason for leaving on February 13th was calculated:  I didn’t want to spend another Valentine’s Day with someone who didn’t know how to love me, or couldn’t commit to me not just in front of witnesses, but on a day-to-day basis.

I drove 3 days to start this new life.  It’s kind of ironic that I went from living in a brand new home with a queen-sized bed and a steady job and my friends and family around me, but lived in misery because of my marriage.  3 days later, I slept on a poorly-inflated air mattress in a cold 2-room basement sublet with no job and no local friends/family and yet I had never been so giddy.   I was finally free.

Tomorrow will be the first time in 5 years that I won’t have a Valentine or special someone to call my own.  I’d be lying if I wasn’t sometimes sad about it.  Not the loss of the person himself – because why be with someone who doesn’t want you as his forever girl? But just the concept, the emptiness of that space in my heart.

However, in reality? It’s okay.  Just like 9 years ago, I recognize the start of a new life.  In the past 4 months I’ve been able to better appreciate the great friendships, good job, and happy world I can create for myself.  I’ve got things I’m passionate about, things that make me happy, and a way to give back to others.

Finally, I’m a better person than I ever was.  I’m strong enough to love the right way.  And I’m ready to blaze a new trail.

“Two roads diverged in a yellowed and I?  I took the one less travelled by and that has made all the difference . . .” (Robert Frost)

The Whoosh Factor

Sometimes, I’m just not that perceptive.

 “I tried to hit on you last year when we saw each other at the convention,” someone recently told me.

I tried to think back and couldn’t think of a single thing he said to indicate to me that he was interested.  Nothing sprang to mind.  It’s not the first time that’s happened.

I was washing my car one summer’s day at the local car wash.

Don’t I know you?” a man said.

I looked at him – wondering what he was trying to sell him.  “I don’t think so,” I answered.

No, really,” he insisted.  “Your name is Joey, right?”

I looked at him again.  Nothing rang a bell.

You go to UMass Boston, right? I saw you studying in a classroom one day and came in and talked to you.  You were wearing this cute outfit – pink skirt, white blouse – hair all curly. I know that was you.”

Memory bells rang.  I nodded.  That had to have been 6-10 months before.  And now I was dressed in a ratty t-shirt and shorts with my hair in a ponytail.  I couldn’t have looked more different, and yet he recognized me and remembered my name.

He smiled, “I was trying to ask you out that day.”

Whoosh.  That day we talked, I was single.  I had no idea he was doing anything except being friendly – killing time between classes.  Of course, by the time he told me, I was already 4 months in to a relationship with my future ex-husband.  I never saw the guy again.

Even now, as a wiser woman of the world, it’s Whoosh Central around here. Maybe it’s not really my fault.  I think as a whole, we single people are so afraid of rejection that we never just come out and say what we want to until we have tested the waters 27 times.  

For me, sometimes, in addition to the fear of rejection, it’s because I don’t want to hurt someone else or make them uncomfortable.   So I compliment them, and then compliment other people around them.  I try not to be too overt in my attentions. I’m friendly and flirty all the time. This way, it’s not that I’m necessarily hitting on someone – I’m just that way with everyone.

I have a question to ask you, “a friend asked me one time.  “Before you started dating [last boyfriend], if I had asked you out, would you have said yes?”

Whoosh. I tell him yes.  What seemed obvious to me was evidently subtle to him. Too scared of being pushy, my attentions didn’t even register on his Richter scale until it was too late for him to react.

For all my talk and bravado in public and online, I’m scared to death that if I tell someone that I like them, they will run screaming in to the night. It’s one thing if it’s someone on an online dating site.  So very different if it’s someone I met in the real world.  And there’s the rub.

How can I fuss at potential suitors, when I’m just as bad as they are? Why should I be afraid to reach out to someone I know and say, “Hey – I think you are as cute as heck.  Want to grab a drink sometime?”

Whoosh. I’m sitting here now, feeling like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me.   It was time to stop being afraid. Now the wait begins.

Need A Hug?

I had a coffee date last week with someone who has just started the divorce process, including finally realizing the ex had already moved on without him. As we chatted about life after marriage, I was reminded of my own post-marriage realizations.

 I chose to move 1,600 miles away from my ex-husband during the divorce process – something that I highly encourage to those that have the option. It eliminates the temptation to do foolish things in moments of weakness. Barring either one of you being a diaper-wearing crazed astronaut – you aren’t likely to take a 24 hour road trip just to torture yourself. 

When I arrived in Denver, I was so focused on finding a job and keeping a roof over my head, I barely had a moment to wonder what else was going on.  It was no wonder that I failed to notice a huge gap in my life.

My hug meter was low.

Many people never have to think about their hug meters. Throughout their week they encounter individuals that they can hug freely, who greet them arms open wide.  This isn’t always so for those that experience major life changes. In my case, relocating to a totally new city meant that my social circle had been reduced to co-workers I had just met and men I was dating.  Hugging the first could lead to an HR issue, hugging the second could lead to mixed signals and unwanted advances. Friendly hugs are a valuable commodity among many single adults.  A huge help for me was when I started babysitting a coworker’s son.  He was a huge hugger and filled up my meter fairly quickly.  Not everyone has that option though, and if you go to playgrounds to randomly hug kids you can get in trouble.

Nonsexual physical affection can be even rarer.  I remember once sitting on a couch with a man I was dating.  While we talked, I was absentmindedly running my fingers through his hair, running my finger over the ridge of his ear, tracing his jaw with my index finger.  I was chatting along, not even realizing what I was doing, when suddenly tears rolled down from his eyes. 

I can’t remember the last time someone just wanted to sit and touch me,” he said, “without there being some kind of other intent involved.”

That moment just struck me to the core.

First, because I knew what that felt like.  Secondly, it was so easy to fix. Nowadays I make a more concentrated effort to give out friendly hugs and hand squeezes and just general affection.  It’s not always natural at first, but you never know what impact that simple gesture can make.   It could be the difference between someone’s hug meter going from empty to full.