IE Grapevine Updates

True Story: Everybody’s gotta learn sometime

I’m at a Halloween party babysitting Dean, who’s jilted and drunk.

He’s been belligerent all evening so I leave him to his own devices because he needs to put on his big girl panties, meet some new people, and quit crying over Joy. He’s not going to do any of that, but I can stop letting him affect my mood.

My friend Shelly is in the living room playing a ukulele she found while some other attendees smoke from a large hookah. She and I have jammed before so we do a few songs, her on uke and myself on vocals. I’m not a very good singer but I enjoy doing it and Shelly’s skillful playing more than makes up for what my crooning lacks.

When we’re done we are rewarded with something we’ve never had: applause. My ego thoroughly boosted I take a seat by the beer pong table, when Natalie saunters into the room and plops herself down on my lap. Natalie who I’ve been friends with for eight years.

Natalie who broke my heart and ditched me around graduation. Natalie who has gone out of her way to avoid me the past two years. There have been other girls in that period of time and it was a bit of surprise that she even showed up tonight. I’m not exactly psyched to see her, mainly because…there’s some lingering feelings. The music is pounding and people are shouting and laughing and I’ve got this voice in my head telling me “This is it. This your last chance.”

And suddenly things get very clear. I didn’t get my shot with her and I’m done wondering what could have been. I spent so much time waiting for things to go my way rather than making things go my way. Would she have responded favorably if I had made my intentions clear? Only one way to find out. I motion for her to lean down, which she does. I kiss her. Not swiftly, but certainly without any real warning.

At first she’s pissed and asks me “Why?!” with this ugly tone in her voice that will likely haunt me for years to come. I scoffed at her query. Not to be dismissive, but because as far as I’m concerned the answer is obvious and if she can’t see it then I think she needs her glasses checked. The feelings never went away because years ago, when we had our thing, she just ignored me for weeks until I got the message.

At the time she said she was trying to let me down easy. Easy would have been running me over with her car. Back in the present, I had finality and that was good enough for me. And then she kissed me. I didn’t really plan for that, or even expect it as a possible outcome. But we just did that for the rest of the party. At the end of the night, I drove her back to Joy’s house where her car was parked. We didn’t talk since Dean was accompanying us and he was doing his “When we get back together” speech.

I assumed that nothing would become of our little French fest, but we went out with Joy and Dean a few days later and decided to give it a real shot. And for a few weeks it was great. It was what I had always hoped it would be. But Natalie is Natalie, and I was so elated that I forgot that simple fact.

If you’re currently stuck in the Friendzone, your humble narrator strongly urges you to really SEE the person you want for who they are. When we like someone we tend to overlook their faults. The kind of friend someone is can be a really good indicator what kind of boyfriend or girlfriend they will be. And since she’ll never read this (and I’ve told her before anyway), Natalie’s kind of a lousy friend. She’s flaky and immature. Splendid. She’s sedentary and withdrawn. Marvelous. And she has never really had to work for anything.

I say this fully aware of how thoroughly girly it’s gonna sound, but I assumed all that would change because she thought I was worth it. She was 21 years old and I was her first boyfriend. All the signs kind of pointed to that, right? Call me old fashioned but I think you should endeavor to make your significant other feel significant.

Eight years pining, waiting for the girl I wanted to realize I was the guy she was looking for and all I felt was…disposable. Dispensable, inessential, superfluous. I believe it was the great Annie Potts who once said “I’ve quit better jobs than this!”. What a way to feel about your relationship.

My circumstances were looking like Joy’s more and more every day. But Dean had school and the family business occupying a fair amount of his time. Nat was unemployed and taking a single academic class. The only thing really preventing me from seeing her was the couch that was, in her mind, superglued to her ass.

Months were falling off the calendar and I was seeing her maybe twice a week. We didn’t talk about anything as she limits herself to chit-chat and blather. She would just show up, we’d have sex for a few hours, and then she’d leave. That went on for a while and likely would have continued if I hadn’t put a stop to it. It would have been simpler to just break up, but I gutted it out foolishly thinking that if I gave her a little time she would stop acting so indifferent.

And that’s how we made it to six months, which would have a personal milestone for both of us if it hadn’t been an endurance trial. That day I was out of town helping my father move, and I hadn’t seen her in a little over a week, but I wanted to take her out to dinner or maybe a movie. Anything. Just to see her. I drove all the way from Riverside, a trip I had made back and forth twice in as many days in my old station wagon. Before I left I asked her if she wanted to catch a late showing of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. She asked if I could ask her again when I was closer to town.

I told her that the way I drive and how light traffic would be (it was after 9) I would likely be there in a half hour. She said that she was watching the telly and didn’t feel like leaving the couch. And suddenly, things got very clear again. I realized the change I was waiting for would not be externally motivated, it would have to come from within herself. I also realized that if I was ever in love with Natalie, I was not any longer.

I could see I didn’t need this anymore, and that she was far too lazy to break up with me. The next day, I caught the earliest showing of Spider-Man, and I invited Natalie along. She showed up a half hour late and didn’t kiss me or even hug me hello. She would later tell me that Joy had texted her and told her if she didn’t do something soon, she was going to lose me.

Natalie responded by doing nothing. After the movie we went for a walk in the plaza at the mall. I asked her if she was tired of all this yet like I was. Just making each other miserable all the time. She shrugged and said “I guess”. She didn’t cry, and she didn’t ask for another chance, and she didn’t try to make promises she would never be able to keep. We’ve hooked up a few times since splitsville, which baffles Dean.

He and Joy had sex once after they broke up and he’s still reeling. That was eight months ago. I explained that it was the final farewell as far as Joy was concerned and he believed they were getting back together, and that Natalie and I were both aware it meant nothing.

He still doesn’t get it, but he’s still wondering why Joy broke up with him in the first place. The point is this. Don’t ever harbor delusions about yourself or your relationship; to have delusions about one is to have delusions about both. And a relationship is not meant to be spent waiting for the other shoe to drop. Take it from me. Even though you might not believe it, you’re worth both shoes.

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