I got thinking about old girlfriends today.
As my bachelor days are winding down, I found myself flashing back on those that got me here. Those that made me act like a fool. Those that made me pull out more hair than I could afford. You know, those that had me convinced that they were "the one". In other words, those that showed me what a sucker I can be. To be fair, they were/are really nice people (for the most part), and all had attractive/admirable qualities. I mean, if they were completely horrible people, why would I bother, right? Certainly, I share a large portion of the blame. I mean, I went willingly into all of these, so in the end, who's more at fault? That's right, the equine.
The Boss: I knew going in that messing around with someone you work with was a bad idea. Messing around with someone you work with who had a limited sense of humor was even worse. Even though I didn't work directly under her, she was still pretty bossy. A nice person, but bossy (I was told early on that if I snored, I would be immediately kicked to the couch. I laughed. She didn't. I stopped laughing.). I've discovered I have no tolerance for bossy. She hated "The Simpsons", loved Celine Dion, and had cats. The writing, as they say, was on the wall.
The Actress: I gotta say, that one left a mark. We met in a class and hit it off right away. I, of course, was smitten immediately. Unfortunately, to her, I was firmly in the "friend" category. Undeterred, I soldiered on, eventually wearing her down. Mistake. She was never fully invested, and eventually dumped me by letter via the US Post Office. A letter. Keep in mind, we lived in the same city. In the year 2000. It's not like I was fighting off the Nazi's or stuck in a tigercage in Southeast Asia. If that were the scenario, I could understand it. I would even appreciate the fact that she sat down to drop me a line - it would certainly take my mind of the being-covered-in-leeches part of captivity. Yet, it was the current century. Email. Phones. Take your pick. I realized if you were to place a pricetag on our relationship, to her it equaled about $.32. Over time, we became somewhat friendly again, which is good, but still...ouch.
Gap Girl: She worked for The Gap Corporation. We met through an on-line dating site. She told a friend of mine that she wanted a boyfriend, and simply went online and ordered one. Much to my surprise, I was apparently nothing more than just a carry-out order of dim sum, only with slightly more MSG. She also had no problem going to restaurants that would cost me a month's rent. After two weeks of dating, she started throwing around the idea of me moving in. That caused me to pause. Pause. Not run, fleeing into the night, like it would a normal person. Simply pause. Sue me, I'm a slow learner. On the plus side, I did walk away with a couple of nice shirts.
The Young One: I really should have known better. I realize age is all relative, but when you're 35 and dating a 24-year old, that's a whole lot of relative. She was one of these "Come here, now go away" types. To be fair, on reflection, I was definitely looking for something a little more serious than she was. I get that - I was simply shopping in the wrong place - I was looking to buy carrots at Old Navy. I understand that now. However, actually saying "I want to date other people and not be tied down" would have been helpful. She couldn't understand why I was none too happy after she told me she spent the previous Saturday making out with a stranger at a bar. Ah, youth.
The Bitter One: She hardly qualifies as a girlfriend, as we had no physical contact at all, but we did go out a few times. We met on the previously mentioned internet dating site, and discovered that we had mutual friends. On our first "date", she told a 3-hour story of how she had constantly been screwed over by guys, and pretty much hated most, if not all, men. A perfect candidate for a dating site. Still, we went out a few more times. I know. I can't help it - I have a weakness for redheads.
The Quiet One: She was a one-shot only. I had just ended a pretty serious long-term relationship, and frankly, had no business dating yet. Still, a trust-worthy friend hooked us up. I went to the bar to meet her, and the first person I see? The ex. There are literally thousands of bars in the city of Chicago, and we choose to meet at the one the ex happens to be at. I knew right then that the night was going to be a wash. Still, I tried my best. She was a very nice girl, but completely quiet and unresponsive. I was throwing her all my A-material, and nothing was landing. I eventually gave her a ride home, and she talked about how great of a time she had, and smiply wouldn't get out of the car. I knew there was no way in hell I was going to kiss her, and out of desperation, blurted out, "This was great, we should do it again." Fail. The next day I told my friend about the whole evening and how tough it was. "Yeah, " she said. "I was afraid of that. She doesn't have much of a sense of humor." Major fail.
The Mental Patient: To be fair, I really have no idea if she ever spent time under some medical person's supervision. This was another one that going in I knew was a pretty bad idea. She was in public relations and her apartment smelled like cat urine, but damned if I ever saw a cat. We had seen each other a few times over a three week period, and I knew it was time to break it off. I was in the process of moving when she called. "I'll help you - I'm good at moving," she said. "No, that's fine," I said. "My folks are coming in, and I have a few friends helping, but thanks though". She wouldn't take no for an answer. I finally relented. To her credit, she knew how to carry a couch. The next day she called - "What are you doing?". I told her I had just finished breakfast with my parents and was just kind of getting the day started. Small talk, small talk, small talk, and suddenly, "OH, I forgot to tell you, I might have cancer again." Oh, that's....wait, what?? Two things ran through my mind: 1). After only three weeks, I am in no position to be cancer support guy; and 2). Who forgets to tell you they have cancer? I knew I had to get out, so I invited her over to the new place so I could break it off (Having received the previous Letter o' Doom, I thought doing it in person was the more humane and gentlemanly way to do it). She showed up with a bunch of home decorating things - pillows, candles, and whatnot. Stuff that I never bought, nor ever thought of buying for myself. When I started the whole "it's not you, it's me" routine and asked her about the cancer, she stared at me as if she had no idea what I was talking about. It was then that I thought, "Oh, you really have no idea what I'm talking about". An evil part of me thought she might be faking cancer. Who does that? Mental patients. Finally, I dropped the breakup bomb and she stormed out. Two days later, I got a letter in the mail from her. It was an itemized list of things she bought during our three week courtship, and she would like to be reimbursed posthaste, thank you very much. My initial response was "Suck it, you're not getting a dime out of me". Then I realized for the low, low price of $76.32, I could get this person out of my life. I learned that sometimes you have to take one for the team.
I am grateful for all of these semi/full-blown trainwrecks. They make me appreciate what I have with the Future Mrs. Wonderhorse even more. FMW never dated much - got married right out of college, then divorced, then I showed up. She'll sometimes ask me what it was like, the dating world. I tell her it's a fucking minefield - and you're wearing mine-attracting shoes. All you can hope is you just lose a toe in the process and not an entire appendage. I definitely traded up and have never felt more secure and safe than when I'm with the Future.
Although, I still break out into a sweat when I see a mailman.