Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A View Of A Small World, After All

The strip featured in this post is worth checking out. Click on the picture to get more information on "Real Life Adventures."



"So, what are you thinking?"

This was the question of the night - a question that should've been filled with promise and hope. Instead it was the question that came right after the moment the inquisitor had just dropped a minor bombshell.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me give you the back story, then drop the bomb.

Ages ago (at least 15 years), I met a guy when I worked at a local arts center. There was some interest, and we began dating for a while. Turns out, he had a girlfriend and I was the girl on the side. After falling for the old, "I'm going to leave her routine," I came to my senses and broke it off. During the time we dated I met some of his friends - they all hung out at an arcade across the street from the job. If my life depended on it, I couldn't tell you their names or what they looked like.

Time marched on. I ended up marrying, divorcing, reconnecting briefly with the old flame shortly after my divorce for a quick fling, breaking up (I just wanted fun and bailed when I got bored), then reconnecting with him again years later. We ended up living together for almost five years. While he was technically faithful, you can't teach an old dog new tricks and I'd had enough of not enough. We broke up for good.

The other night, I stopped at a local electronics store to pick up a DVD or two on a whim. While I was there, I asked a guy for his advice on choosing between two movies. A conversation developed, there was a bit of attraction, and we ended up exchanging numbers.

Last night, I got a call from Mr. DVD. We talked for a couple of hours about everything and nothing. Along the way, he mentioned that at one time he worked at - you guessed it - the same local arts center I'd worked for. He'd come on board a couple of years after I'd left. We talked about some of the people we knew there.

"Say, did you know this guy, he worked in the auditorium, named...?"

Of course, it was the ex. I told him I did, and that we'd dated for a while.

"I remember you, now. When I saw you in the store, your smile and your face seemed very familiar. You two were kicking it when he was seeing that other girl. What was her name?"

Fuck. It was all coming back to me, and not in a good way. I told him her name, and filled him in on what I knew about the rest of the story between them.

Turns out, they ended up getting engaged and breaking up a short time later because (you guessed it) she cheated on him with another man. Ex could dish it out, but he couldn't take it.

She chose to stay with the other man and not him. When I pointed out the irony of the situation, Ex disappeared.

Mr. DVD filled me in on the rest of the story. She told him to cut it out, and her new boyfriend threatened to "take care of him" if he didn't. Ex got depressed, withdrew for a while, then started going out with anything in a skirt for a bit. Around the time he got over it and decided it was time to do something different was around the same time they lost touch - about eight years ago. He didn't know much about what happened to him after that.

I knew, however, but I didn't say. This was about the time we started seeing each other again.

"I remember you," Mr. DVD continued. He described the day we met in detail - where we were (in the arcade), the time of day, right down to what I was wearing and where I was standing ("...right next to the 'Millipede' machine in the back on the right, near the cashier's counter. You don't remember that?")

I told him I didn't. The only thing I remember about the arcade was that it was always dark in there, and that it had been years since I'd been in there. The arcade is gone now - has been for about seven years. I don't remember the "Millipede" game, or meeting him.

"You probably don't remember me because I've put on some weight since then. Plus, I was in a serious car accident a couple of years ago. You know, it messed up my short-term memory, but that just made my long term memory stronger. Wow. So you dated him. Small world, isn't it?"

Fucking tiny, I thought, but I just chuckled and agreed. Then it got quiet.

"So, what are you thinking?"

I was thinking that I'd just made a step backwards instead of forward. Ex's friends were all alike - big kids (a description that Mr. DVD used about himself quite a bit in our conversation) with addictions to porn and Xbox, a ton of issues, and difficulties being faithful. All of them were happy to coast along with life and not try to move up. The ones at the arcade would probably still be at the arcade had it not closed and been torn down. My gut instinct was screaming at me:

"GET OFF THE PHONE WITH HIM! CHANGE YOUR NUMBER! RUN! DON'T GO DOWN THIS ROAD! REMEMBER WHAT HIS FRIENDS WERE LIKE? THEY ARE ALL THE SAME! DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME!"

Instead, I told him that I was just going down memory lane for a second. That I was flipping through a magazine, changing the channel on the TV and talking to him all at the same time. I didn't tell him that every gut instinct was telling me this conversation was a stop on the road to nowhere.

We talked for about another 45 minutes or so after that. After we hung up, I drifted off to sleep. I dreamt about the arts center, the ex, and all those years ago all night.

This morning, I called my sister (my official voice of reason) for advice. She thought it a good idea to give Mr. DVD a shot. Her reasoning was that everyone changes, and that just because they were friends doesn't mean that they're the same person. She suggested I give him a chance on his own merits, not on things that happened in the past.

"Then again," she added, "I've always been the optimistic one. Anyway, what's the worst that could happen?"

I don't know what to think. I could give Mr. DVD a chance. I could, as a friend of mine likes to say, put him in my "fun box," and just play around for a bit. Or I could follow my gut and walk away.

More to come later, but not before this question:

What would you do in this situation?

4 Comments:

Blogger Lex Fori said...

If the attraction is there - I think you need to audition Mr. DVD.

I once met a boy, fell head over heels at 14, knocked up at 17. We ended up apart under complicated circumstances. I thought he was awful. I thought his friends were awful.

4 years later, I got a call. He wanted to meet his kid. I told him to get bent.

4 years after that, I got an email. He wanted to meet his kid. I told him to stay in touch.

2 years later, everything is different, he met his kid. Since then, we found eachother again. We live together, are falling over ourselves in love and would be married if I weren't stil in the middle of divorcing a gay man. That's the nutshell. It's way more complicated.

My point is: life is crazy, things change, people change.

I mean, even you evolved, you were hanging out at the arcade dating taken guys all that time ago too...

But take my advice with a grain of salt. After all, I married a gay man - what the hell do I know.

6:27 PM  
Blogger TEM said...

I guess my biggest fear is that I've had a lousy track record when it comes to picking men.

I knew most of what Ex was about at the beginning, and didn't walk away quickly when I found out the rest of his story. My ex-husband was even worse - mentally unstable, completely disliked by my entire family (even the cat), emotionally abusive, and manipulative. I didn't leave him (and probably would not have left) until I happened upon his stash of kiddie porn on our computer. Another boyfriend seemed fine until he revealed a tendency to be condescending towards me (lots of references to how I was "only a secretary" and how I hadn't completed college while he had an advanced degree), and was quite comfortable with the fact that he was impotent - so comfortable that sometimes he even joked about it.

So I purposely kept myself off the market until I got my own shit together and decided what I wanted for my life and out of the next man with whom I became involved. I took a chance, struck up a conversation with someone who seemed interesting, and surprise!

I felt like I was back at square one after our conversation.

Still, I suppose you and my sis are right. What's in the past is in the past. I'll see where this goes and take things very slowly this time.

Wish I had some profound advice for you as you go through your divorce. All I've got, though, is to just hang in there. It's good to see Boyfriend is being patient and willing to stick in there for the long haul. Here's hoping that your happily ever after arrives sooner rather than later.

Thanks for the vote of confidence. Keep reading, because there will be updates.

Cross your fingers....

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Sadie said...

I think it depends on your intension with this DVD man. If you are just out shoppin, looking for some time to kill, then yeah, stop by, check him out.
If you are in it to win it, he may not be the best choice. Gut insticts are always the best. You always know, even when you don't.

But, you could kick yourself in the ass 2 months from now cause you didn't give it a go.

10:44 PM  
Blogger TEM said...

Turns out this may be much ado about nothing. Mr. DVD has been MIA since our conversation on Tuesday. My decision may have been made for me.

Back to the start position in dating game, I suppose.

Thanks for the advice.

1:30 PM  

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