Friday, July 19, 2013

Entry #70 - And Then All Your Exes Get Engaged

Dear Diary,

I have been home visiting my family for the last 10 days, a very large percentage of which has been spent partially clothed and somewhat intoxicated on the swing in my parents backyard. It was like the school year ended, accumulated exhaustion set in, and I could not bring myself to do anything. I drank only tea and gin & tonics (sometimes both at the same time), read teen fiction, napped, and moved slowly and in small increments, much like a human sloth. It has been glorious to say the least. 

Proof: Drunk. Also, asleep. My sister Amy Edwards would like to claim photography credit on this masterpiece. 
After my ten days of shameful laziness, I have decided it is time to finally time to belatedly blog about one of life's most blessed and glorious events: the engagements of your exes.Grab yourself a Pimm's Cup and get comfortable, this is a lengthy one.

United Kingdom 2001

After high school I lived for a year in England with my Aunty Ruth, Uncle Martin, and cousin Beth.  At the time, Beth was 16 and was currently in a phase of watching "The Wedding Planner" on repeat; yes, the one with Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey that received a generous 17% on Rotten Tomatoes. My cousin Beth is pretty awesome,so when I was not working at Marks & Spencer (or working toward gaining 30lbs - truth), I would often end up joining her in the sitting room to drink tea, eat Hula Hoops, and watch "The Wedding Planner" for the umpteenth time. I can't say for certain just how many times I watched that movie, but I can say that more than a decade later I could probably act out that whole movie as a one woman show; albeit a poorly acted one, very likely featuring my cat Gus as Matthew McConaughey, but I digress.  The important thing about my numerous viewings of this movie is the staying-power within my psyche of the "Poor Man's Wendy"...
If you have seen this movie 156 times (approximately) like I have then you know exactly what I am talking about. If you have never seen it (fair enough), have only seen it once (also fair), or perhaps have only caught a glimpse of it on TV(read: came across it while flipping channels during a commercial break then watched the whole thing. AGAIN), here is the gist of it:

After a mortifying run in with her ex-fiance, Keith, and his pregnant wife, Wendy, Mary (Lopez) gets very intoxicated ("NANCY PONG? 2C?"(if you just laughed then that was knowing laughter, and you are so busted)) and confides in Steve (McConaughey) how she feels that she just wasn't enough, that she was just a stand-in...a poor man's Wendy.

Knife.     To.     The.       Heart.

Of course Matthew McConaughey's character is quick to point out that perhaps Wendy is, in fact, a poor man's Mary, but it was too late - the seed had been planted. Even at age 18 the idea of being a place holder for someone more worthy resonated deeply within me, and horrified me.
It gets me every time, like that scene in "Love, Actually" when Emma Thompson opens her gift only to realize her husband has given a gold necklace to someone else. Stabby stab stab stabums. I've looked at love from both sides now, too, Emma Thompson.

And so it has remained for the last 12 years that the concept of the "Poor Man's Wendy" is ever present; sometimes lingering subconsciously, sometimes actively conscious in the way that only obsessive neuroses can be.

At age 30 I can say that I have been in love twice. As you may have inferred form the title of this blog, neither time turned out well.

These two men have only two things in common:
-They dated me. 
-They both got engaged to be married to... Beige Curtains...Poor Man's Hannahs...perfectly nice women who are not me in the year of our lord two thousand twelve. 

Victoria 2012

It shames me to admit that I even know that they are both getting married, but I suppose that social media and overlap of acquaintances make it hard for anyone to avoid these landmines anymore. Now, I wiffle-waffled (technical term) for a long time about whether or not to share these stories on the interwebs. It is rare that I speak specifically about the men I have loved, and when I have it's mostly been in passing; perhaps a jab cheap shot sentence or two in a larger story, I tend to err toward broad sweeping statements of "all men" or "exes" and save specific stories for the men I have dated casually or simply been rejected by. This is in part due to vulnerability issues on my part and in part due to my vague legal understanding of libel and defamation of character.In the end I decided that it was worth sharing, in part because hearing that an ex is engaged is a pretty universal experience, in part because not talking about has felt like lying by omission, and in part because after admitting my struggle to my friend Sarah, she sent me this:

Old School Love

Being in love for the first time is like drinking alcohol for the first time; you're not as cautious as you should be due to the unfortunate fact that both broken hearts and hangovers need to be personally experienced in order to be truly understood, respected, and feared. It is also interesting to note that the aftermath of both include lying on the bathroom floor, wishing you were dead, and swearing you will never, ever do that again. 

Looking back, I can't even say for certain how long I "dated" this man for, which feels rather absurd and is embarrassing to admit. It also seems ridiculous that I considered for a moment simply asking him via the old Facebook messenger before realizing that a) he would have absolutely no idea, b) he would wonder why I was asking, and c) that would be really f*cked up. If pressed in a court of law, under oath, I would say that we were together "somewhat sporadically between 03 & 06". I am fairy certain I would not be perjuring myself with this statement. Coincidentally this would also be the answer I would give to the questions "have you ever dabbled in yoga?" and "did you ever watch Smallville?". Clearly it was a time of growth all around. 

So, the nature of this relationship was long-distance vacillating between official, semi-official, and unofficial. There was an abundance of MSN Messenger...which is now, appropriately, defunct; a bygone technology of an erstwhile love. God, did I love him - I loved him the way a fat kid loves cake; unhealthy, unrequited, and prone to lust filled gorging. How is the picture I'm painting of this situation so far? Abstract? Perfect. 

It ended the way only a long-distance non-relationship relationship can end, which is without pomp, circumstance, or closure. The when and how are foggy, which speaks both to my advancing age and to the brokenness of my 22 year old heart; I think he emailed me, but don't quote me on that. It was hard to get over because I had loved him ("pink puffy glittery heart" loved him, in the words of my sister), and he had...liked me. Boy did me. To be fair I think he quite liked me, perhaps more than he initially thought he would. I think he had a certain respect for me and found me to be entertaining, but he never loved me. Ah, unrequited young love - tis a spinster badge of honour. The trickiest part was that my brain was hard-wired to miss him and to wonder what he was doing, and that habit was hard to break - it took longer than I care to admit to myself or the internet. 
Years later at a house party, a friend of his said to me both drunkenly and casually "I was surprised that relationship went on for as long as it did, he only dated you to get over Angela, he really loved her". Stab stabby...stab. Stab. The dormant dragon known as the "Poor Man's Wendy", or in this case, "Poor Man's Angela", reared it's scaly head, took a deep breath, burned the smug and oblivious expression right off his face, then went straight for the crown jewels. Meanwhile in reality, I think I just nodded my head thoughtfully, took a big hit of my white wine spritzer,  and said:

"Is that so?" 

Impervious to the horror he had unleashed with his prior statement, he went on to further explain some mystical man logic which involved preemptively breaking up with the person you love before you have to leave, and replacing that person with someone who is easier to leave behind. If I understood his drunk ramblings correctly (debatable) I had been a pawn in a chess game of emotional avoidance? There may have been a metaphor about cleansing ones palette, it's hard to say as I was otherwise occupied, you know, trying not to vomit. Was what this guy said true? Was I some kind of pawn selected for the ease with which you can forget about me? I have no idea if any of what he said was true, but if I had to guess I'd say that it was a pretty vague facsimile of what the truth probably was and is. However, similar to my previous life experience with the idea of being a Poor Man's Anyone, the very suggestion was like a swift kick to the solar plexus.    

Yeah. So there's that. Aren't you glad I shared? You're welcome. Onto the part where he marries someone else. 

Because our relationship just kind of fizzled out, and did not implode or explode, I am still friendly with this ex. We wish each other a happy birthday, we text once in a blue moon, we're cool. We are even Facebook friends, which is how I found out he got engaged last year. Scrolling, scrolling, laughing at something funny George Takei posted, drinking tea, scrolling, BLAM! There is was - ENGAGED - with a nice big picture and everything. I would best describe my response as a paper-cut to the heart; it caught me off guard, stung for 5 seconds, then I was fine. 

Not so fine that I clicked "like" or sent him a Hallmark card or anything...but still fine. 

This was last spring, then winter rolled around and I was...

Out of Ducks Left to Give

(being pleasantly surprised by your own indifference)


So perhaps that is what is comes down to. Maybe it's not about them being Poor Man's Hannahs or me being a Poor Man's Whatever Her Name Is. Maybe it's about subjectivity, about beauty being in the eye of the beholder, about casting pearls before swine, about one man's trash being another man's treasure. Or in this case, two men's another man's treasure. At least God willing it will be. 

Preposterous Family Photos - 2013

In accordance with the prophecy, and in alignment with a sacred family tradition, my sister's visit signaled the need for a new set of preposterous family portraits. This year we went for vintage meets intoxicated, Mad Men meets 007. I rolled out the Spinster Couture just for the occasion. 

I will end with a picture of me and my four year old niece, Eva, getting our prancercize on at a full gallop. She loved it.

1 comment:

  1. What, no comments? How could no one have commented on this: "I was surprised that relationship went on for as long as it did, he only dated you to get over Angela, he really loved her"???

    Probably just too shocked to type. I cannot imagine being drunk enough to say that. Well, more like, if I were, I'd be so drunk that I wouldn't be able to speak. No, not even: I cannot imagine being drunk enough to say that.

    That's something people only say in the movies. Fake pretend people who say things no one in real life has the nerve to say. Wow...that was a special experience, wasn't it. I mean, ok, if the guy, the friend of your ex, had sadistic tendencies, it would be different, not quite so special. But it sounds like he was just a guy...just a guy who, yeah, was pretty drunk, but still. Wow... And then he went on to explain the mechanics of this maneuver, as though the first bit wasn't explanatory enough.

    Oh my goodness.