Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fancy Meeting You! Why, I'm So Thrilled I Could Gouge My Eyes Out! (Part The First)

Late last week, I had a really frightening experience. I was walking along Michigan Avenue on my break (I usually take a half-hour walk if I have time), and was stopped at Ohio Street, waiting for a red light. Amidst a sea of people (it's the "Mag Mile," don'tcha know--bargain hunters from The Gap and Lord and Taylor abound), I felt a tap on my shoulder. I switched off my Bee Gees CD (shut up!), turned to peer through my foggy shades at the tapper and stared up into the face of "Dagwood," my ex-boyfriend from eight years ago. And had one of those post-traumatic flashbacks that accident survivors sometimes get...


Chapter One: Desperation So Thick, You Can Cut It With A Knife (And It Doesn't Taste Like Frosting)

We met in December of 1998, when I had just lost my first "city" job right after signing a lease on a studio apartment. So my self-esteem was in overdrive, as you can imagine. Yep, I was ridin' high on love's true bluish light, all right...

One night in mid-December, I went to a bar event at Touche (corner of Clark and Devon) and was introduced to Dagwood by a friend (a flaky friend, in retrospect, but I'm sure he meant well). We chatted briefly, and he seemed like a nice enough guy, and when he asked for my phone number, I thought, "eh, what the hell."

Fast forward to a few weeks later, I was working my temp job at Big Electronics Company (in the suburbs--I hate the suburbs--did I mention that?). My boss was hardly ever in (he was about to lose his job because of an expense account abuse, but I wouldn't learn that until I began working in the legal department several months later), so I was sort of "shared" among all the sales execs. I felt like an immigrant in a strange country, in a new neighborhood where I didn't know anyone. At night, I would go walking and explore my new neighborhood, Rogers Park. My first evening, I went for a walk down Howard Street (yeah, I was new--did I mention that?) In the meantime, I also sent my resume in to different agencies in the city in hopes of finding something downtown (I HATE the suburbs--did I mention that?).

Chapter Two: A Stranger Without Candy

And one night, in the midst of my Festival of Self-Esteem, Dagwood called and asked me out for New Years Eve. We chatted for a little while about music and he told me he used to be in a band in his previous city, and he'd love to sing with me some time. I also discovered that he was just divorced the last year, with two small daughters (BIG red flag--rebound relationships are not good! Especially cross-orientation ones--but I was too dumb to know that then).

On New Years Eve, we went to a nice little Pakistani restaurant in Boystown, then came back up to Rogers Park and hung out at Charmers for a while (I'd finally found new friends!! And I'd been tipped off to this place by several friends who'd used to live in the nabe). Then we went back to my place, where I lit some candles and put on my Marianne Faithfull "Rich Kid Blues" CD that I'd just bought that week at Crow's Nest (downtown at DePaul Center). And, oh, he just happened to bring his guitar along. So we ended up singing songs for about two hours while I thought, "Are we going to bed or NOT!!?" We finally did, and it was very perfunctory--almost an anti-climax. No passion at all, and there was something very condescending about him...but I figured, "it's just me...I'm not used to this 'dating' thing."

Not one to learn my lesson, I kept on dating Dagwood and he eventually divided his time between staying with me and staying at his mom's apartment in the Loop where he'd been living since the divorce (and alcohol rehab--did I mention that? Yes, my choices are famously sublime). In the meantime, we started singing together at coffeehouses, which was fun in some ways (I met lots of cool folks), and in some ways made me feel like "second banana." It was HIS guitar, while I just played an egg shaker, and HE sang lead while I harmonized (BEAUTIFULLY, I might add--all that choral training wasn't for naught--just almost naught). He was also a very flashy personality who loved to be the center of attention, and would gladly let me sit neglected while he glad-handed everyone who sucked his ass. He did very good voice impressions, and had a very folksy sense of humor, which I soon discovered repeated itself like a broken record--he told the same jokes over and over and over...and once you've heard those fuckers ONCE, you've heard 'em.

Chapter Three: Some Guys are Truly Too Blond to Learn Their Lessons

He also had a "spoiled baby" complex. He grew up in a fairly affluent family, and was somewhat materially obsessed. He also complained about how his mother ran his life (yet he lived with her...I explained how that wasn't going to change until HE did). I soon began to realize that I was being manipulated...every time he did something to hurt me, he would stop short of apologizing, instead blaming it on his host of psychological vulnerabilities. (He had a therapist downtown who helped him validate his "poor me" outlook and gave him just the rose-colored mirror he craved.) I began to express my impatience at being used. And he started to drink again.



Anonymous Ed said...

Insight into what makes you the person you are. We've all been hurt in the past and it is good to get it out. The cliche' live and learn doesn't reveal how painful that can be. I'm sorry you met that cad. Maybe you can help others from making the same mistake. Can't wait to read the rest of the story.

9:38 PM  
Blogger Stephen Rader said...

I can't wait to read the rest as well. You are too wonderful to play "second banana" to anyone.

Especially if that means you play the egg shaker while he plays lead guitar.

Any many who turns you into Tracy on THE PARTRIDGE FAMILY should be dumped asap!

Words to live by.

12:11 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Oh, it gets much more fun, folks...sometimes, ya have to save the best for last! And never fear, Ed, into every life a little douchebag must fall...all part of the process.

I like the Partridge Family felt more like "Blue Velvet" at the time, but I'll take yours! :-)

7:57 AM  
Blogger Stephen Rader said...

Blue Velvet. You naughty, naughty boy. MMmmm.... :)

2:30 PM  

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