Sunday, June 17, 2007

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

Chapter Four: I'll Bet Loretta Lynn Never Put Up With THIS

And there were hygiene issues. It only caused occasional problems, mind you, but Daggie didn't shower every day (something I cannot fathom, because I obsessively shower, sometimes as often as 4 times a day when it's very hot outside--which is why my skin looks like a leather alligator bag, and my hair has as much body as the silk on those corn dollies I used to see in the Peoria craft shops of my childhood). There were times when the smell was just a real turn-off, frankly.

We always had an "open relationship," mainly because--well, because he just wanted to have fun with other guys (and girls--yes, he was still "bi") and frankly, I wanted to keep my options open and not hitch my star to a rusty wagon. Also, frankly, it was nice to have the apartment to myself sometimes without listening to his self-deluded yapping.

About three months into the relationship, I started finding empty liquor bottles on the counter when I'd get home from work. Now, THIS pissed me off--he lectured me about house-cleaning all the time, and couldn't be bothered to throw his fucking bottles away?! He also left a peanut butter jar open with the knife still in it!

One night, he didn't come home and didn't leave a note. After I'd called his mom and several friends to see if they'd seen him, I was on the phone to our friend Barb (the only sane one of the bunch), when Dagwood stumbled in. Drunk as a lord. I said to Barb, "Guess who just sloshed in..." Barb said "Let me talk to him." I handed the phone to Dagwood, who resisted at first, and only took it when I assured him it wasn't his mother. I then watched as he started to whine and cry like a 10-year-old having a tantrum as Barb berated him (I could hear her through the phone). After he hung up, he suddenly turned into a different person. It was like a horror film. I think he sensed that the jig was up and playing the Misguided Little Boy would no longer avail him.

So it was apparently time to try a different tack--bullying. He began screaming at me--and I mean SCREAMING. Right in my face...spittle flying, purple-faced, the whole deal. I was so shocked by his rapid change that I couldn't respond. I just let him blow his top and watched him unravel, and kept thinking of those "battered spouse" movies I saw on TV during the 70s (now, what were we supposed to do again? Duck and cover? No, that was for tornadoes...) He slurred on and on incoherently about the unfairness of life, how his wife kept him from his kids (I was beginning to understand why), how he didn't know who he was (neither did I at this point), everyone was against him, and did I understand what that was like? I bit my tongue just before telling him that this was one person who wouldn't be up against him tonight...

His spam key finally having run down, he pulled the covers back on the air mattress that we shared (still no pull-out bed yet), and climbed in. We did not share the air mattress that night. Completely shaken and utterly disgusted, I slept on the couch (I did finally have one of those). I spent half the night in the dark, looking at his supine, passed-out form, debating the feasibility of bashing him over the head with a frying pan and arranging his body at the bottom of the stairs in a staged accident.

The next morning, when he was sobered up, I told him that if he ever talked to me like that again, his shit was going out the window, and so was he. He vowed he never would. I think deep down I knew it was over even then, but didn't have the emotional energy to listen to the big Beatrice Straight speech I knew would follow. And in some ways, I still held out hope that the relationship could be salvaged. He was on his best behaviour for the next two weeks: making dinner, rearranging the furniture to create more space, and warming my heart in general.

I should have known it was just gas.

Chapter Five: Who's That Not Knocking On My Door? Or Calling?

On Easter Sunday, I went out to chorus rehearsal (no, they did NOT care that it was Easter--fags are like that), and came home to find a note from him that he was at a meeting and would be home later (I figured that since it was AA, it wasn't unusual that they'd have meetings on Easter, since they usually met at churches, and there was a hotline he'd call sometimes to see where meetings were being held). So I waited up. And waited. And waited. Around 4:00 in the morning, I finally decided to try and sleep. I was terrified--what if something had happened to him? What if he got hit by a bus or train? (And worse, the nagging question in the back of my mind: would that be bad or good...?)

The next morning, still groggy and shaky from no sleep and lots of worry, I went to work. About mid-day, I called his place of employment. He'd called in sick. I called his mom's apartment. She hadn't heard from him either. Now I was really frightened. These were the only places he could be (and he wasn't at my place, obviously). Around noon, I tried calling his mom's again. He answered. He said he was sorry for worrying me, but he'd spent the night at a motel, because he'd gotten drunk and didn't want anyone knowing. I said it was no big deal. (I later found out from my upstairs neighbor and still-friend Dell that Dagwood had spent the night with HIM--Dell had no idea that we were dating since Dagwood told him we weren't. That's right: Dagwood let me worry and wonder about him the WHOLE FUCKING NIGHT, thinking he was out there in an alley somewhere, and the whole time, he was RIGHT UPSTAIRS. That's what made me the most angry when I found out--I didn't care where he dipped his wick, frankly. I just didn't like being lied to.)

Chapter Six: The Smackdown

The next day, Dagwood called me at work. He heaved a long, "Mama's-Boy-Drama-Queen" sigh, and I realized that instead of Beatrice Straight, I was about to get Pia Zadora. "I've come to the conclusion that what we have can't really be called a relationship," he said. (Apparently, we were skipping Pia Zadora and going straight for Donna Mills.) He went on to tell me that he sensed I was emotionally distant (gee, ya think?), and that he deserved more passion in his life (I agreed--and I thought he WAS getting it--just elsewhere). Also, he gave everything and I gave nothing, blah, blah, blah. (I forebore from pointing out that I allowed him to stay with me rent-free whenever he wanted.) And in probably a recital given to him by his quack psychiatrist, he said that I was "frigid"--yes, "frigid"--and if I didn't find a way to open up, I'd end up alone for the rest of my life. The absolute brass balls of him!

I was so angry and frustrated that I actually started to cry--right there at my desk! It was very silent, and didn't last long, but it's the first time that ever happened (and so far, the last). If I hadn't been at work, I might have mentioned that maybe I'd be more "passionate" if he didn't smell like canned peas and sour milk. But why descend to his level? (Oh, who am I kidding? Because it would have felt damned good, that's why!)

I went home and saw his things that were still there, reminding me of his absence. I realized that it would not do, and called his mother's apartment and very calmly asked him to set a date to come pick it all up--at MY convenience. (He eventually did--over a month later.)

The next week was a typically rainy, damp spring week in Chicago, which perfectly reflected my mood. Even though I'd done my best (under the circumstances), I felt like a failure. Was he right? Was I frigid? I listened to lots of Nina Simone and drank a lot of beer that week.

Then on Saturday, the sun came out. Like the weather, my mood cleared, and I saw things more lucidly. And I realized that I'd just lost 190 pounds of ugly fat.

And I smiled. Big.

EPILOGUE

Eventually, things simmered down, and Dagwood and I stayed in contact. We eventually got to the point where we could be somewhat friendly (now that there were boundaries) and even sang together a few more times over the next two years. But somehow, he always managed to irritate the shit out of me after a certain point, and I realized that the relationship was best viewed from a distance. A long one. So when he dropped out of sight, I was very relieved, because I could get on with my life with no interference.

So seeing him on the street the other day, after five years (and after hearing he'd moved out West to live with a woman and have more kids), and hearing from his own lips that he's back in Chicago, was quite a stunner. And not a very pleasant one. I just hope that my face didn't betray my emotions.

While he told me about his life of late, I realized that he is exactly the same as he always was. He's still singing and asked if I'd sing with him sometime. I told him I'm really too busy with The Joans and all. Secretly, I'm gloating inside that my current musical projects sound better than any I ever did with him and that we're doing original stuff, while he's learning a bunch of Buffett covers and pandering to the same North Shore/downtown high-rise drunks he used to kiss up to when we were together. (Does that make me a bad person? Probably. Tough shit.)

And I realized then that I'd come out on the better end of the deal...cool friends, a fun new band, better musical network and no need to put on a good-doggie-please-love-me act (because frankly, "I'm pushing 40--if you don't like me, fuck you" is my new mantra).

(Oh, and did I mention he's gotten fat?) :-)

11 Comments:

Anonymous Ed said...

Great story, Aaron. Well told and interesting. I wonder if you could get your Motto on a T-Shirt? Maybe send one to Dagwood. I'm glad he found you doing so well without him. Living well is the best revenge. I wasted many years on a guy who couldn't decide whether to live in the gay world or the straight world I was so surprised and hurt when he moved a female in his apartment and told me he could never see me again. A few months ago I saw him again and he said he was all alone and wanted me to come over again. I do love him but I can't go through that again, I just can't. I'm trying to move on and that would be a big step backwards. Still, it is tempting. Lord give me strength.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Do NOT go back, Ed. He'll only do it again. (I realize it's hard, though...Dagwood did it several times and it hurt every time, and I didn't even LOVE him anymore! I just didn't like the "gesture"...)

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

That is why I'm afraid Dirk may make the same mistakes. Since I've been burned I fear for those I care about. I'm afraid this Coffee guy might be bad news. 1. After Dirk told him he hates coffee the guy still wanted to meet at Starbucks. 2. If the guy lives near Dirk where has he been hiding? Dirk has had the personal ad for a long time now. 3. The guy is making Dirk beg for a second date. Sounds like a control thing. I don't think he is ready but everybody says I'm wrong. He is not over G even though he treated him like shit. Another one like that will kill him. I know it is none of my business but I hate to see him make a mistake. Still it is better to love and lose than never to love at all. Don't you sometimes wish your heart was made of stone? (God I am so gay and I love Cher)

8:24 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

"better to love and lose than never to love at all"

I'd have to say that's not true...frankly, I'd rather have not had this experience. It really fucked me up and left me unable to have a relationship. And THAT was only after THREE MONTHS. But like I said, it was a post-traumatic trigger of some kind that keeps repeating itself.

I think we should all just support Dirk and let him do what he has to do. Maybe it's OK to date. It's OK if this guy's not "the one." There are others. Remember, some people have to go on lots of dates to find the one that "fits." (I can't imagine that there's not a great guy out there for him--who wouldn't want him?!)

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Ed said...

That is my point. There are lots of great guys out there for him. So why does he keep choosing losers? He's a super guy. If I was younger and smarter and had the funds to by him shiny things I'd be camped at his doorstep. He doesn't seem to want a guy who is a good fit he seems to pick guys who give him fits. That's why I think he is not ready, he is too vulnerable right now. Maybe the right guy would be gentle with him but most of the creeps on the personal ads just want to use him. I guess we all have to make our own mistakes and learn the hard way.

10:18 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

When ending a relationship most of us go with the, "It's not you, it's me," speech in a final effort to be civil. Of course, in our heads we are thinking, "It's you, you asshole."

Only a complete idiot like Dagwood would actually give the, "It's not me, it's you" speech. I mean, Jesus, it was so obviously him.

Like your blog. The "Network" reference was great.

9:23 AM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Thanks, Sarah! Actually, it wasn't so much "Network" Beatrice Straight as "The Promise" Beatrice Straight (you know, that bad movie where the girl gets her face smashed in in a car wreck and the mean old mom pays to have it fixed in exchange for never seeing her socially prominent son again? That one. :-))

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

How many awesome monologues did that actress get? Sigh...
Happy Birthday! Sad to hear about the Virgin Store (how is Richard Branson going to pay for that veggie oil powered train?) especially since my SO was in town last week and didn't take advantage of the sales. Happy bargain hunting!

PS
If he's at Reefer Madness, say hi to BC (or Brian as I call him)for me. Tell him I miss him and his blog.

12:04 PM  
Blogger Stephen Rader said...

Incredibly story. You deserve far better than Dagwood, most definitely!

As for Dirk, I've only been reading his blog a short time and don't know him at all, but I know one thing - - if he is choosing the wrong men for the wrong reasons, then it's something he has to do and he has to decide when that's not giving him what he needs. And by living through it, hopefully it will bring him to a place where he will understand what he wants and that he deserves the best.

My last relationship almost killed me (in fact, some parts of me were killed by it), but it caused me to dig deeper in therapy and to really know what I wanted from a man. And it all came down to one word: honesty.

My therapist at first thought that was too small to be my one and only "deal breaker," but for me, it answers everything.

Tell me if you want to sleep around. Tell me if you don't. Tell me if you're happy or sad or want to be alone or love rice pudding or hate my shirt or whatever - - just tell me! Whatever "it" is, I can deal with it if I know.

You'd think that honesty would be so easy and in reality, it seems to the hardest thing any of us - - including me - - can bring into a relationship.

I'm so tired of trying to be what "he" wants. This is who I am. This is it. I think Harvey Fierstein said, "Love me, love my love handles." I want someone to love me for ALL that I am and I want to love someone for ALL that they are. They should be exactly who they are with me and vice versa.

Oy... can you tell I've thought at LOT about this? Can you also tell that I'm single? :)

1:13 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

It's OK, Stephen...you'll get snapped up by a deserving guy really soon!

And I'll pass your message on, Sarah...BC wasn't there tonight, but he e-mailed me earlier today. And he did the wigs for the show, and they were terrific! :-)

1:25 AM  
Blogger David said...

Aaron, there's nothing wrong with being an emotional ice cube. It's served me very well. Now excuse me, I have to go jab a fork into my hand so I can feel something today.

3:36 PM  

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