Saturday, March 15, 2008

the way it goes


Maybe you know someone like this. A guy you dated a long time ago, though now you're hard-pressed to remember exactly what it is that you saw in him. A guy who, when he's not listing all the ways that his mother always favored his younger sister, is saying how terrible it is that he never married or had kids and how the only thing he really wants is to find the right person and settle down. And you listen and don't say much, even though you know he's only fooling himself, since he's rented a second-floor apartment for the last 20 years because he can't even commit to a mortgage.

Sometimes you wonder if all psychiatrists are this screwed up or whether you've just encountered a skewed sample and sometimes you can see exactly why his mother loved his sister more, but usually you let him talk as much as he wants whenever he calls. And that's mostly because, out of all the people you know, he's practically the only one who seemed genuinely sorry that the twins died, despite the fact that you know he's a fairly observant Jew and, in his heart of hearts, believes that it's not appropriate to mourn a child who didn't live for at least 30 days. And then he starts calling more and more and asking if you can get together for dinner and you find yourself not wanting to answer the phone and trying to decide if he's hitting on you or whether you're just imagining the whole thing.

When you finally meet for drinks, he talks about some girl from California, who he broke up with years and years ago and describes how he heard from someone that you don't know that she's getting married again. And he asks if he can have a taste of your drink and you can't think of a way to say no without sounding rude, so you let him, even though it makes you feel slightly queasy and you suddenly find you can't take another sip. And the next morning you call him and leave a message where you say that you think it's best if you don't talk to each other anymore, because it's too painful. And it is painful. Just not in the way he thinks it is.

27 comments:

painted maypole said...

it's hard to see someone you once loved in a different light

Lori said...

You and I are riding similar currents today...

(I hope you have more people in your life who care about the existence of the twins.)

LAS said...

I liked this post. And the photo - very cool!

Awake said...

I recognize that pain - the yuck feeling. Good for you for making the call.

slouching mom said...

heh -- now he'll have fodder for the rest of his life.

Tash said...

I guess my discussion with this person happened a long, long time ago, when my "problems" were humorously superficial. We don't talk anymore, either. I sometimes wonder about him, but mostly I'm just thankful I'm not the person dealing with him.

kalakly said...

It's hard to watch someone you once cared for circle the drain and know, at the same time, you can't be the one to save them.

What a bummer Niobe.

Kymberli said...

Mine has the unlikely name of Italy. He once was weighed against Frank on the other side of the scale, and while I knew exactly why I chose Frank, I could never pin down exactly what it was about Italy that made me just *know* he wasn't the right one. Last year on one of the rare occasions that he called he skirted around how I might be the only person he would ever cheat on his wife with, and in that moment I had my answer.

I hope today is a better one for you.

thirtysomething said...

How uncomfortable. I think I would have done the same thing you did.

Lori said...

This left me feeling a little queasy. I hate feeling uncomfortable in that sort of way.

Good for you. But what did he say?

niobe said...

Lori: I didn't want to have an actual discussion with him, so I waited until Saturday morning to call because I knew he'd be at services. I doubt I'll ever hear from him again.

Magpie said...

I can only imagine.

There are old boyfriends in my past who I idly wonder about from time to time. The idea of seeing them, one in particular, completely queasy-making.

niobe said...

slouching mom: Exactly. I'm imagining that he's probably writing about it on his blog at this very moment.

ms. G said...

You write such interesting things, Niobe, in such interesting ways.

I've never really had any kind of relationship with an ex. Ever. What does this say about my maturity level?

Angeline said...

I KNOW THAT FEELING! I just had something similar last week. Its just so uncomfortable! Yucks.

The worse part is that feeling sticks on to you for days.*Sigh*

charmedgirl said...

i've always been grateful to be just cold enough to let people go when their time comes. something just clicks in me, that queasiness maybe, and i know i'll never see or speak to them ever again. the fact that i know this about myself actually helps; i'm not usually afraid of meeting people or being spontaneous because...well, you know.

Elizabeth said...

It sounds like you are better off without him in your life, although the pull of an old attachment with a soupcon of real empathy can be quite compelling.

Aurelia said...

Weird with the old friend....as for the attitude about the observant Jew, he could very well have meant it.

My OB, who regularly takes car of women who have lost babies well before 30 days, is an orthodox Jew. As religious as they get.

And when I told him your story, he was so appalled at your Rabbi, he wanted to be sick. He offered to get you a ruling from a rabbinical council that your children are worthy of mourning and naming and that you will see them in the afterlife.

He truly believes that you will, and there is no one more observant than him. I told him I would ask you, but I've been unable to figure out how to offer this to you.

I hope you take him up on it, because I believe it will give you peace in your own soul. Your choice, honey. I can't do this without your permission.

Gwen said...

Therapy is like AA, I think: it only works if you work it.

And I find myself cringing when my high school boyfriend, who is probably gay, contacts me every time his current relationship falls apart. Somehow, all these years later, I'm still his go-to? Yikes!

I loved your last two lines. Priceless!

Julia said...

What is it about people who you go out for drinks with lately? I hope there are normal ones too, and you only tell us about the "um..." ones.

Ahuva Batya said...

It's the sign of a woman who knows herself, but is compassionate, that you made the call.

Becky said...

It's far better to know what you cannot handle than to try and make nice about it all.

I give you mad props for standing up for yourself. I've been in similar situations before, and they're always so tricky.

thrice said...

Awwh Gawd, another Jewish man let down by another woman. You just know he doesn't get it, as the slouching mom said.

beagle said...

We all have past love regrets I think.

They show us we've grown, but they also remind us where we once were.

Pamela Jeanne said...

"believes that it's not appropriate to mourn a child who didn't live for at least 30 days"

Really? Okay that's two religions that negate my life experiences -- the first is Catholic (I'm now persona non grata) and apparently Jewish.

As for why you once dated him, I ask myself the same questions of an old flame...

You can count on us to be genuinely sorry about the twins...

Furrow said...

See, but you're so unique (and strong) for having the guts to break it off, even if it was to an answering machine. I know I'd be call screening for the rest of my life.

Which Box said...

you really do fascinate me. I so want to know more.

I'm surprised you called him to cut things off. I see so many hints of you - what's the word - taking it. That's not it, exactly. Putting up with a higher level of BS than other people say they would. Though of course, in the moment, we all tend to put up with it, dont' we? Few people really do say exactly what they think, in the moment.