Archive for December, 2013

The Unwrapped Present

Dodger and I had been dating about a month – we started the day after Thanksgiving. We had moved quickly – the adrenalin rush of a new crush that felt like champagne bubbles in your brain.

I had met his parents, even slept each weekend in his parents’ guest room (he was slightly old-fashioned, but they lived next door – so no major travel issues). He texted and called several times – wanting to be part of everything in my world.

Dodger had a small son, and was strapped for cash, so I had pulled in some favors and raided the prize closet at the radio station where I worked and was able to get some great gifts for him to give including a Phat poster that cost over $100 and some video games. His son was coming for 2 weeks to visit, so I knew our time together would be limited.

My mother went back to New England for Christmas, but I had to work, so I was going to be alone for Christmas. Dodge promised to come down after church on Sunday and would stay with me through Christmas Eve Monday.

I took my time and made a special dinner – and had it ready for the normal time he would arrive. I wrapped up some extra presents I had bought for Dodger – hand-picked out because money was tight, and I had shopped carefully to stretch my funds.

He arrived 3 hours late with no apologies, and I did my best to re-heat the now cold and soggy meal. He crashed in the middle of my queen-sized bed leaving me balancing precariously on the edge – over it in fact, as the rolled edge of the mattress made an angry red indent up the side of my body.

I woke up early and made eggs and pancakes and sausages, which he sniffed suspiciously. His eyes only lit up when I brought out the presents. I gave him first the gifts for his son. He looked at each one greedily, but seemed disappointed when they stopped coming. Then I gave him the 3 gifts I could get for him. One was a DVD he had said he wanted, and said “I’ll wait and watch this with my son!” – the next 2 he asked if he could return for something else for his son. I told him where I got them (he was annoyed I had not kept the receipts) and then he got dressed and got ready to leave.

I was surprised. “I thought we were going to spend the day together? Your son isn’t coming until tonight and you arrived so late yesterday . . .”

He made no apologies. “Sorry, babe – it’s Christmas Eve and I’ve got so much to do, I just can’t stay.”

Then he was gone and I was alone. It was only after he left and I was cleaning up the dishes that I realized he hadn’t even gotten me a card or said thank you. The evening was quiet – I drank a little wine, watched a little TV, killed some monsters online. I went to bed alone and awoke to a quiet house.

Fortunately, my job that year involved meeting the radio and TV crews as we handed a needy family a check for $1,000 dollars. It kind of put everything in perspective. As I drove home, I thought back on what I had and didn’t have; what I did and didn’t need. I sat down and re-read the list I had made of what I wanted in a relationship. It was like knowing who is naughty or nice. My decision was easy.

Two days later he called me. “Hey Babe . . .” he began.

I stopped him, and thanked him for the present he gave me. He was very confused. “I want to thank you – I was a little blinded at first, but I’ve realized you are just not what I need.”

“Are you. . . “He stuttered. “Are you breaking up with me?”

I thanked him again, and assured him that I was. He was dumbfounded.

I’ll call you in a few days after you have thought this over,” he informed me.

Sliced bread, meet Dodger.

He did call, a few days before New Year’s. I assured him I was starting the New Year as a free agent, and after he made sure I knew what I was doing a few times, he hung up.

I later found out that he had a date the next day, and that they did the same whirlwind courtship. In fact, he was a serial dater. I think he was an adrenalin junkie, in it for the rush, but not the long haul.

It would be nice to say that soon after breaking up with Dodger, I met the man of my dreams. I didn’t. I did eventually meet someone that brought out some of the best in me, and lead me to the path where I am today. Had I not broken up with Dodger, I would have missed some amazing steps in my journey. Sometimes reality is a great present – and no one even had to wrap it.

“So you guys dated, huh?”

I nod.

“Wow, I can’t picture you guys together.”

It’s a statement I’ve heard a few times. The Geek world tends to run in small circles, so it’s not uncommon to run in to ex-boyfriends or dating partners. My goal is always that if we liked each other enough to start dating, we can like each other enough to be friends or at least friendly acquaintances when we stop dating. I don’t need to be their best friend; I just don’t want to be their sworn enemy because we weren’t ultimately a good fit.

It’s easy to pick out the things that didn’t work when talking about past loves. It’s easy to make the other person the enemy or the fool. But the truth is, there was something good and attractive that started the whole thing off in the first place.

The way he smiled at me when I was feeling alone. The way he made me feel beautiful when I really needed to be attractive to someone. The emails he sent that gave me something to look forward to, that inspired me to be witty and whimsical when I replied. The help he gave me when I just wanted someone else to take over for a while.

Even though he may have been the wrong one, each one did enough of the right stuff to get my attention. Sometimes that’s enough to give things a try. Hopefully, I was someone who gave as good as I got – that made the world a little brighter for a while.

I admit it. I like happy endings. I want people to see me and smile; I want to see someone from my past dating life and feel like I can walk up and give them a hug. I want us to be able to be real with each other and encourage each other as we look for new things.

Thomas Edison is quoted as saying, “If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward….”

I strive (even if I don’t always succeed) to view past relationships that way. Each wrong relationship shows me what does and doesn’t work for me; what I can and cannot contribute. And each wrong relationship was made up of two people, both who crave and deserve love.

So yeah, maybe to the outside world, our union doesn’t make sense. But for us, for a short time, it did. And I’m grateful for the good things each one gave us.

A Ronulan Tale: Cowboy Slim

Ron is a real person who dated my sister. A Ronulan is someone who possesses Ron-like qualities. A Ronduh is someone who is dumb enough to put up with them. Here’s today’s story – Happy Ronday!

It had been a long several days. My old car had died and my replacement car had started acting up with some of the same symptoms. After days of frantic phone calls, mixed messages, and a few tears, I was done. D-O-N-E. Done.

But finally my new car had been repaired and picked up, and my boyfriend and I had decided to grab dinner at the Cracker Barrel next door before heading to our homes to crash. We loved Cracker Barrel but this was not a normal night. Tonight was “Rising Star” night (evidently) – as none of our normal waitresses were on site and the folks who were there were all wearing aprons without names on them, or only 1 or 2 stars. (The more stars, the better the waitstaff, or at least the longer they had been there. New staff have “Rising Star” sewn on their aprons while they wait for their personalized aprons to arrive). One 3 star waitress was frantically overseeing the crew.

Our waiter for the evening was Cowboy Slim. He was a grizzly, lean older fellow with bowed legs like he had been riding too long in the saddle. He had a cock-eyed grin when he greeted us as if he wasn’t quite sure he understood our cityslicker English, but he was sure going to try. He took our drink order (2 waters) and then ambled off. We noticed him pushing in some chairs and straightening some tables on his way and then twenty minutes passed.

The frazzled 3-star waitress noticed us and came by in exasperation and said, “Has nobody waited on you YET?”

We let her know that someone took our order for 2 waters but that nobody had been by in quite some time. She shook her head and said, “I will get you help – I’m so, so sorry.”

Less than 2 minutes later a beautiful metrosexual black man approached our table. He was tall, lean, with a starch crispness to both his outfit and his demeanor. As he elegantly placed each water glass in front of us, he stated, “I don’t know who your waiter was before, but I am here now and I will take care of you.”

With a flourish he took out his order pad and pencil, and I just felt this wave of relief wash over me. Now things would be better.

And that’s when I spotted our Cowboy Slim sidewinding back up the aisle towards us and wrassling our beautiful waiter out of our way. “These are my folks,” he said, “I’se gots ‘em.”

Our waiter glided away with a shrug and I wanted to shout after him to come back – but it was too late. He was gone.

We placed our orders with Cowboy Slim, and when he asked us if we wanted cornbread or biscuits, I hesitated. I have celiac’s disease, so the biscuits are a no-no. But my boyfriend likes the biscuits, so usually we ask that they put my biscuits with his. Slowly, I explained to Slim that I wanted the biscuits, but on a separate plate so my boyfriend could eat them. I stressed that the biscuits can’t go on my plate, that if they touched my food it would be cross-contaminated and I wouldn’t be able to eat it.

Slim nodded his head and with a hitch in his walk headed purposefully towards the kitchen. When he finally returned, he held his tray aloft like it won first prize at the county fair. He set my plate first in front of me, and then my boyfriend’s in front of him.

Finally, he held aloft an enormous platter.

“Now, little lady,” he began. “I listened carefully to whatcha said about them biscuits not touching cuz you were allergic. So I think you will like what I have done.”

And with that he placed the platter on our table – with one biscuit in each of the 4 corners of the platter.

I looked at him out of the corner of my eye, hoping he was joking. But he was serious and plum tickled with how clever he was.

I didn’t have the heart to explain to him that pull-apart biscuits didn’t magically become non-allergic because you pulled them apart from each other. And quite frankly, it was all I could to do not to burst out laughing or crying. So I just avoided eye contact, thanked him, and waited until he left before looking at my boyfriend. And then we both started suppressing our laughter so hard, the tears ran down our face.

There are just no other words.