Thursday, May 12, 2005


In Which Jealousy Wins...

Back from a really long visit with the in-laws, which was nice. But at some point the topic of Her Lovely Self's old boyfriends came up, which is always amusing to hear because, well, hey, I won.

But driving home I remembered something from my early days in Chicago with Her Lovely Self. Something I did that I'm not proud of, and that will probably cause many of you to rethink your opinion of me and this blog. But I can't keep it to myself any longer.

And it's not like I can very well tell Her Lovely Self, now can I?

First, let me preface this by saying I'm not the jealous type.

Well, let me amend that. I AM the jealous type, but over the years I've learned to govern my jealousy. When Robin, my first high-school crush, went off to the Homecoming dance with the class football star instead of me, I spent what seemed like years dining on my own guts about it.

I'm not sure when it happened, but I do remember having an epiphany of sorts when I came to realize that jealousy was nothing more than wanting to be in the other guy's shoes. But that implied that you wanted to BE the other guy. Which, when it finally dawned on me, was a horrifying thought. Yes, Robin's Homecoming date was the deer-footed football star, with his feathered blond hair and nice ass and teeth bright enough to be seen from space. But he also had the personality of a deck chair, considered fart jokes to be the very apex of humor, and couldn't carry an intelligent conversation without the aid of a forklift.

This was the beginning of the realization that I could sidestep jealousy by focusing on my own strengths, on doing the things I was good at, that I was meant to do. On running my own race and not trying to run someone else's. It was a good strategy insofar as it:

1. Distracted me from having to think about Robin and her new beau and

2. Put me in the orbit of girls who liked the same things I did and were more apt to see me doing the things I was good at.

Thus, over time, jealousy as regards relationships became a pretty minor thing for me.

Right up until I fell in love with Her Lovely Self.

Elsewhere, I've noted my certainty that my future wife was out of my league, that even if I had tickets to watch her league play, the ushers (all tight-assed and with feathered blond hair) would probably kick me out of the stadium.

But what put me in her orbit was that we were in the same line of work. We were both editors for trade magazines. Although a fine business writer and editor in her own right, HLS never considered herself to be the kind of person who could write a good story for a consumer magazine. Consequently, when she learned that I was actively freelancing for some local and national magazines, she was intrigued and always asking about my efforts, sometimes even tagging along with me while I did stories. I was pretty focused on the work at the time, and so don't remember the details, but apparently it impressed her. She liked palling around with me, especially because I would share information with her and answers her many questions.

And HLS had A LOT of questions, which is a great gift in a journalist. The only problem was that she apologized for asking them. I eventually learned this was because she tended to date the kind of guys who would laugh at her for asking about obscure sports rules or make her feel ignorant for not immediately catching the reference whenever a movie line or song lyric was uttered. For my part, I loved answering her questions, because it made me feel smart and important. What I hated was the fact that she still insisted on dating the guys who made her feel stupid.

At this point, it's worth noting that HLS and I were not dating. We were the proverbial "just friends" and I was still in the process of figuring out how to reveal my true feelings. Around the time I came along, HLS had about three guys vying for her attention.

Number 1 was a Tim Allen lookalike who she met on a bus to Wrigley Field. The guy just sat next to her and started hitting on her. But he was nice about it, so that made it okay (?!?) He was pretty much her sports date and he was the guy who would make her feel stupid for asking any questions related to game play. Also he would tend to vanish off the face of the earth for days, and call her up to cancel dates at the last minute. But then he'd redeem himself by showing up at her house in the middle of the night, begging forgiveness. For some reason, she had the biggest crush on him and her affection for him was inversely proportional to how well he treated her. The worse he treated her, the more she liked him.

Number 2 was Rick, a guy she met on a flight to Los Angeles. Their connecting flight was cancelled so they spent their layover bonding. Rick traveled a lot, which made him dashing in some way that was a total fucking mystery to me. Whenever he was in town, he'd call Her Lovely Self up and she would blow off whatever friend she might have made plans with (guess who?) and go see him.

And then there was Number 3.

His name was Joe. Because my life is nothing if not ironic, the guy naturally had perfect feathered blond hair, perfect teeth, a fricking dimple for chrissakes, and the lean muscular body of a triathlete. Your basic nightmare, in other words.

HLS and her roommate lived in an apartment building in Chicago that was pretty much party central for their neighborhood. Every Friday or Saturday night, the whole building was lit up like a cruise ship and from a distance it always appeared to be pulsing slightly from the throbbing music that emitted from the very cracks in the bricks.

When HLS invited me to her next party, I was thrilled, until she felt compelled to reveal that Joe was coming. As her date.

"What does that mean, 'as your date'?" I asked. Joe came to every party she'd ever had, and from what I'd heard from HLS's roommate, every time he showed up, he'd get roaring drunk and hang off Her Lovely Self like an enormous, stringy booger. With hands.

"Well, he called me up and asked if he could be my date to the party, which I thought was sweet," she said. I of course thought this was the stupidest, most transparent, stupidest, manipulative, and stupidest thing I’d ever heard.

"I see," I said, although "I seethe" would have been a more appropriate statement. "Why are you telling me this?" It sounded more adversarial than I meant it to. But I was curious. After all, we weren't dating. She owed me nothing in the way of an explanation. But evidently she felt she did.

"I don’t know," she said quickly. "I just wanted you to know what was going on. I mean, we've been spending a lot of time together and I didn't want you to be mad if I spent most of my time at the party with Joe. You're not mad are you?"

I shrugged. I knew the score here. Her Lovely Self was not interested in getting into a serious, exclusive relationship. She had been in two back-to-back multi-year relationships before moving to Chicago, both of which had completely soured her on the idea of serious commitment. She just wanted to go out and have fun. Nothing slutty. Nothing serious. This made it problematic for me to figure out how to tell her I was attracted to her like a refrigerator to a magnet. I knew how she felt about a serious relationship at this point. I knew the rules going in, but I also figured every rule has an exception and why couldn't I be the exception in this case?

Well, in any event, I wasn't going to be spilling my guts at the party.

Which I did go to, not because I was particularly interested in watching Joe paw the woman I was pretty sure I'd fallen in love with. It was because the idea of NOT going--and instead being left to imagine what might happen when the booze started flowing and hands started roving--was too great for me to bear.

It was because, in short, I was jealous.

When I arrived, the party was in full swing. I immediately bumped into a couple of fellow journalists and we started talking shop. But even as we talked, my eyes were roving the crowded apartment. I finally found them out on the back porch, surrounded by a knot of people. Her Lovely Self looked absolutely, stunningly hot in a skirt and black tank-top. Unfortunately, she was also wearing Joe.

HLS stands around 5-foot-2, whereas Joe was a little over 6 feet. He was leaning on her, his sweaty arm looped around her neck so that his hand was stationed directly on her right breast. She was trying to talk to someone and he was interrupting her like a petulant 5-year-old, leaning down to breathe a few beer-laced words into her hair. She'd smile and try to more or less prop him back up, but a few seconds later, he'd be hunkered down on her shoulder again, a giant howler monkey with perfect hair and a dimple.

I edged to the nearby keg to refill my glass and now could hear what he thought he was whispering. Every few seconds, it was something different, yet each statement somehow managed to be more piggish than the last.

"Hey a bunch of us are going to Rush Street later. Wanna be my date to the bars?"

"Heh heh. I can feel your boobie. I got my hand on your boobie. Heh heh."

"C'mon, honey, you're so hot. You're so beautiful. Let's go to your room and bump uglies."

Something in me snapped. I couldn't listen to this anymore. I couldn't continue to watch this drunken lout, with his moist hand defiling her perfect breast, his beery words fouling her precious ears. I downed my own drink in one foamy gulp, then turned and made a beeline straight for the mashing bastard...


Welcome back, you were missed!

And can I just say that I hope you pushed him right off the balcony!

I can speak from experience when I say the we women don't always make the best choices when it comes to men. Look at it this way, she had to date all those losers so that she could realize just how great you really were when the time came!

Good stuff - looking forward to the conclusion where you become her knight in shining armor and rescue her from the octopus.
I hope the first line in your next post reads "As I made a bee line for fuck face I picked up the fire place poker and slashed at him as Conan would weilding his monstrous blade."

This story is kind of like watching the new Star Wars movies. You know what happens in the end, but you get to see how it happens.
Re this story, you're not "Magazine Man." You're "The Man."
Welcome back, and great cliff hanger. Like Johnny C. said - I already know the ending, but the sign of a great writer is my being anxious to read the rest anyway!

You're back! Yay!

I love your stories and was in serious withdrawal while you were gone!!

Can't wait to hear how this one ends!

If I find out you kicked my brother's ass, I'll never read your blog again.
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oh my oh my! is all I can say... somehow I found your blog Magazine Man and went from the front page story, to this magnificent story in which I found the same kind of tears in my eyes laughter that only a good early M*A*S*H Alan Alda episode could evoke.Except better because everything here was true (?)(!) ...thank you and curse you! Now I will have to spend hours reading everything else! great stuff.
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