I have a friend about whom an inside joke is often passed around about. It deals with the fact that while we know and remember well when her relationship with her ex-boyfriend ended (and believe me, I know and remember that night well. I was pulled out of having sex with Legs when his room phone rang and he answered it with a mystified look on his face and handed it over to me, saying “Um, it’s for you,”), and we know that she knows that it ended—there was enough crying and grieving for this fact to be very obvious—but since then, she’s stayed so close and friendly with her ex that it causes us to roll our eyes and say poignantly as she trots down to his room night after night, “She got the memo, but she’s forgotten she ever read it.”
What I’ve decided to try is not that. Oh no. I got the memo that Perfect and I had a conversation about what we were doing and where it was going, and we both agreed that jumping ship now was logical seeing as he’s going away to college for the first time in the fall—dear reader, have I ever mentioned he’s six months younger than I? Well, he is, and deferred a year to boot, which would make him a lowly freshmen and me a lordly (ladyly?) junior—and doesn’t want to start a relationship that he doesn’t know could survive the move, 3 and a half hour drive, and emotional tension of not knowing where your significant other is, who they’re with, or what they’re doing at all times. (I get the feeling he could care less about things like that for the most part. I, unfortunately, live, breathe and survive for these not-so-small details. After being cheated on once (thank you, Inappropriately-Aged Boyfriend of six months), I’m very partial to knowing these things, and along with my penchant for jealousy and the fact that Perfect attracts female friends to himself like a walking, talking tower of muscular honey to their lusting, loving, besotted bees, this all seems logical for our non-continuation.)
Logical, I am not. Unfortunately, he is so practical and linear in his thinking that you could probably align your new Ikea bookshelf’s levelness with his thought-process.
What I propose instead is holding this relationship or whatever we have (had?) going hostage. Yes, that’s right—I’m not just going to take this laying down. I’ve heard the phrase, “it takes two people to be in a relationship, but only one to end it,” before, and for the most part, I agree. Our decision was more or less mutual—him more mutual, me less. He was the one that laid down the “I don’t want to start a relationship right now” line. I was the one who tried to compromise by waving the “can we back down to just having sex?” flag. Thankfully, he called my bluff and raised me an “I don’t think we can just do that. I’m past that point in my life.” I settled with his “let’s continue to keep in touch and visit and stay friends.” What I was thinking was, “what do you suppose the land-speed record for getting you back into my bed will be?”
I figure if anyone can hold a relationship hostage, it would be me. I am a master negotiator since childhood (being an only child and spoiled rotten will do that for you). I am used to getting what I set out for and not used to taking “no” as an acceptable answer and see no reason to start now, especially as this is something I genuinely care about. Who should be afraid of a little relationship pain? I am a big girl (actually, I’m rather petite, but you get the point). He is a big boy (literally). I’ve been through the worst—being completely and absolutely deserted by the man I loved after he took what he wanted from me and graduated, moving to Maine and days filled with waiting tables and smoking weed. Perfect was cheated on by the first girl he seriously dated, and left by the first girl he loved for another guy. We’re both no strangers to heartbreak. Which makes me wonder why two strong people should be afraid of something like distance and possible work to get what they both want.
So, I got that memo about the whole “no-more-sex” thing. I also received the one about staying close. And I definitely read, underlined, and took notes on the one where we both agreed on the same things: our mutual “clicking”, enjoying spending time together, and being together. Here’s where I’m ready to negotiate with Mr. Perfect: I will refrain from initiating sexting. I will refrain from wildly ripping the clothing off of his body when I see him, like I have the strongest urge to partly because he’s down-right delicious and partly to prove that the sex we had was not the best I can give, by far (this is the fact of our treaty that probably irks me the most, no lie. He has an idea about how I go about sex that is completely different from the normal, sober and absolutely fabulous way it really is). I will allow a few more days or hours to pass between our texts and messages than I have previously. I will appear to back down, a bit.
I am not going to be persuaded into this peace-treaty so easily. I am not going to back down and lay down. My middle name shall no longer be “Doormat”—I will not say “welcome” to all stipulations. I’m going to fight for this. Part of this comes from the fact that although I’ll admit this was the easiest break-up ever, possibly because it wasn’t “I’m just not that into you” but “I’m into you but I don’t know if we can do this without getting more hurt in the long run,” as well as partly being because after going through what Legs put me through anything short of being shot at point-blank range by a lover wouldn’t sway or shock me. Another large part is because of the fact that after more-or-less surviving the horrible relationships and break-ups of my past, I do not blossom to new relationship candidates horribly quickly. Sure, ok, my legs may spring apart like a well-oiled nutcracker, but my secrets and fears and desires and thoughts are slower in coming. (Much slower.) Because of this unfortunate fact and the short time-span Perfect and I spent “together-ish,” he is not aware of the fact that I’m quite possibly the world’s hardest worker inside of a relationship I think is worth it. Or even passably worth it, if the relationships of the past are anything to judge by. I’ve done distance like between his house and my apartment before—although then it was my house and the Inappropriately-Aged Boyfriend’s apartment and a half-hour away, not 45 minutes away. I can be that girlfriend that makes other guys sigh and consider trading in theirs for. I travelled to frisbee tournaments and doled out Icy-Hot, Gatorade, and kisses. I stay equal if not more active in the sex-drive groove of things. I road-trip to visit with the best of them because I actually enjoy driving. I accepted custody of dogs on weekends with all the gravity of a divorced mother. I buy condoms and usually go Dutch on dinner. I love and appreciate football and action movies. I played Boyfriend-Catch-And-Fetch-Express to those of which didn’t have cars. I hid weed on my body and in my personal possessions so that it could be sold and distributed more easily. I cook for Guy’s Night—and I cook in the first place. I bake like a fiend. I snuck favorite treats into cars and lockers and gym bags. I swallow, for Christ’s sake. But does Perfect know any of this? No. So guess what? Perfect is going to learn some of this, whether he thinks he is or not.
It’s genius and more than a little sneaky. If done right, Perfect will never even notice that while we had that “what are we doing, where is it going, and how is this going to work out” conversation that ended in a “let’s be friends for now” clause, he’s actually still in exactly the same thing he was in previously. Sure, the invitations to visit won’t be based on my naked body and The Party Shower in my apartment, but there will be invitations to things like clubbing and sailing and beach days and nights, clothing optional for the skinny-dipping man. (I can also think of no better things to tempt a self-professed “love to grind” dancing man back into temptation and my bed than going somewhere dark and hot and sweating it out pressed together on the dance floor. And you better believe I’ve got moves.) And ok, so I won’t be participating in blatant sexting anymore, but I’ve got a vocabulary a mile wide that contains many words with innuendo-filled meanings that a young guy can’t help but notice and think about.
Can you hear my evil chuckle, reader? I live for this sort of thing.
Perfect himself is showing some promise as far as being a happy hostage is concerned. Playing the Perfect Gentleman as always, he called Cait the day after he and I had our conversation to ask her how I was because he didn’t want to contact me before I contacted him first, not wanting to risk upsetting me or pushing in on my reflection time. (Cait, for her part, as much as I love her to pieces, did not really aide in my plans when she told him I was “fine, a strong girl, and going to find something new and exciting.” Not quite the message I would have wanted him to get as I’m not quite “fine” and certainly not looking for something “new and exciting” yet.)
(Attention for an important Side Note: It should be noted that despite the well-meaning but misplaced comment above, Cait is an invaluable source for information on all things Perfect. Being the one who set us up and has been one of his closest friends for the past few years, her knowledge is where I go to for insight into his behavior. The skinny-dipping text message incident that drove me bonkers? “Well, it doesn’t seem like him to say something like that to make you jealous, and he always goes skinny-dipping, so I don’t think it’s a big deal.”
As for the whole distance-relationship thing not working? Cait gave a decisive snort. “He probably talked to Baby Mix about it. He’s the only person Mr. Perfect really talks to about his feelings. Baby Mix probably told him it wouldn’t work and to dump all home baggage before leaving. He probably said, “Look at what happened to me and Cait.”” If you can’t tell, that was one hell of a long-distance break-down and break-up.
And possibly most telling, this gem: “You two clicked. That can’t be denied or taken away. He wouldn’t have slept with you and visited and texted and kept so in touch if he was just leading you on to dump you. That’s not Perfect. But if he’s having feelings that he doesn’t think will work out in the college scheme and get him and you more hurt later, yeah, he’s going to try to do the best by both of you, even if it isn’t what either of you really want right now.” And that I won’t deny—he’s done right by me. I’m the one who’s a sucker for the trying things that probably won’t work. Closet masochist, anyone? Or not so closet…)
These above “feeling” related insights and the instance of the caring enough to check in even if he can’t do it first-hand are the reasons why I’m not ready to give up on this thing yet, even if Perfect thinks he’s helping me and himself out. If he’s got the right feelings now, and I’ve got the right feelings now and we’re in the same place, why not? So, yes, maybe it may not work out. And yes, maybe we will get a little banged up and emotionally dented and hurt in the long run. But you know what? I’m willing to try, and try hard. As a dear friend of mine once said, “We’re big fans of trying real hard.” Another one of my closest friends, Emily, herself the veteran of a two-and-a-half-year relationship still going strong that was a year of distance between Pennsylvania and Vermont, has given me the thumbs up in trying the distance thing. “If you let a relationship happen, and it’s good, who says it can’t make it the distance in college if you’re willing to try?” she says. Perfect’s worth the trying, from the little I’ve learned and felt and seen in our month. And I like to think that if the boy has any sort of feelings like that for me, I’m not one to correct his assumptions and set him straight. He can get on with him and his feelings and his bad self and actually do the leg- and time work to discover if I really am worth it or not. Just trying is a beautiful thing. I’ve learned some of my best lessons in life just trying. I highly suggest it, not just to him, but also to you, too.
Today, when I texted him—the most seemingly cliché text ever: “Hey. How are you?”, four three-letter words that tried for nonchalance while still feeling heavy—for the first time since we talked that fateful night, he responded later within seconds of getting coverage, per usual. (God love Verizon for letting you know the instant when other members have received a text. It’s almost better and certainly less creepy than a personal GPS unit imbedded in your lover. Again with the “knowing where and when” thing and its importance to me.)
“Good, you?” he responded. (Actually, in his text, there was no comma between the two words, but it hurts my writer’s and writing tutor’s eyes to even imagine leaving it that way, let alone typing it. We’ll forgive him, though—he’s dyslexic and not a huge fan for writing or good at it by any means. One imperfection I actually find endearing when it’s not his only choice of punctuation—the exclamation point—unwittingly on his end screaming at me from my cell phone’s screen.)
Due to the late hour—11 PM—and his habit of going to bed at the unreasonable hour of somewhere between 10 and 11 PM that being an early-morning hours night-owl I just can’t fathom, I responded as lightly at first as possible before hitting the real point. “I can’t believe you’re still up, hahaha. I’m ok.”
“Good! Yeah, we were out late.” (I like the assurance of good-feeling to my well-being, and I’m taking the “we” to mean him and his best friend and other half, whom because of his appearance made my roommate remark that he looked like the young offspring of Orlando Bloom and Johnny Depp shall henceforth be referred to as “Baby Mix”, whom he is apparently staying with for the weekend. Any further guesstimations on the “we” make my head hurt and stomach clench uncomfortably. Also, they’re very unfounded, where as Baby Mix is well founded as he’s Cait’s dreaded ex and she likes to have Perfect keep her informed as to where Baby Mix is and what’s going on to remain as far away from him as possible. Ah, the tangled webs we college students weave with our high-school romances and continuing friendships.)
Realizing I had nothing more to really say to Perfect, short of “I think we’re making a massive mistake and don’t you know I’m willing to work at this?”, I opted for a Little White Lie. “I’m actually getting ready for bed—I’m trying to get to bed sooner and wake up earlier. And by ‘earlier’ I mean around 9:30. Can I text you back tomorrow? I’m turning in.”
“Sure, that’s fine. Night!” (Again, no comma in actually text, but you better believe it’s legit because of that exclamation mark.)
“I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” I promised. “Goodnight.”
Overall, a nice start to the “we’re going to keep things normal starting with communication” part of our deal and my plan. Basically, I’m mostly disregarding what we agreed on and angling for a relationship to happen anyway (out-of-the-blue to him until the day he wakes up and goes, “Wait…I think…”), and will try to make it work when he goes to college. I’ll keep you posted on how the rest of this hostage situation goes, of course. Until then, good luck with your own “trying” endeavors.