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.