Tuesday, April 28, 2009


In Which We Wonder Pointlessly About A Near-Miss...

So I had some time before a story interview today. It wasn't quite enough time to work on my other writing or really do anything constructive, but it was plenty of time to indulge in some pointless rumination. Specifically, I found myself thinking of the dream Her Lovely Self had a few days ago. You know: the dream about marrying her ex-boyfriend. I didn't tell you this, but the ex-boyfriend in my bride's dream scenario was not just any old ex-boyfriend, but the one I will call Popeye, for no particular reason, except that this guy and the eponymous spinach-eater were both sailors, and both terribly unattractive, each with a cartoonishly screwed up face and a chin like a baby's ass. I suppose I could be misremembering some of the details. I only met the guy the one time, and really, once was enough.

You'll have to forgive my animosity, considering he only popped up in dream form, but you have to understand: Popeye was a real near-thing deal. He and Her Lovely Self met in college, harbored secret affections for one another for years, but only got over themselves and started dating towards the very end of their last year of school. At one point, Her Lovely Self told her parents, "That's the man I'm going to marry." (Something that, incidentally, she never said about me. Me. The man she actually did marry.) To me, that's a worst-case scenario.

Thankfully, Her Lovely Self did little more than voice this idea, and then only to her parents (and later, alas, to me. Many times.). Popeye went off to fulfill his financial-aid obligations to the Navy and Her Lovely Self proceeded to Chicago where, as you may recall, Fate had already expertly guided me.

But after putting me in the path of Her Lovely Self, Fate took a powder and left me to fend for myself, which sucked. First, I had to endure being just pals with my future wife, which is ordinarily a process I enjoy. But Her Lovely Self, in case I have never otherwise left you with this impression, was Different. I wasn't friends with her very long at all before I realized that I had been struck--but good--by the Thunderbolt. So it was sheer agony to have to listen to her moan about all the awful guys she was dating, of which there was quite a dismaying lot. This was during the phase of my life when I was known as Every Woman's Second Choice on a Friday Night. Certainly I was hers.

But I was patient, which actually is not a natural state of existence for me, at all, ever. Nevertheless, there's no other way to put it: I was patient. I waited these guys out. Instead of coming off all jealous and crazy, I just let them pay out enough rope to hang themselves, let them reveal themselves for the cads, churls, and mashers that they turned out to be.

I didn't wait forever, of course. Some boyfriends proved to have unfortunate adhesive qualities--not unlike wet sand, say, or a globule of snot--when it came to getting up against the woman I loved. Thus I was compelled to act. In particular, I'm thinking of Joe, the boozing frat boy who couldn't keep his hands off Her Lovely Self during a party. While I watched. No man should have to stand by and be subjected to that kind of thing, so I have long since forgiven myself for following Joe to his car, ambushing him, and locking him in his trunk (details here). Really, it was protective custody. If he had remained at the party any longer, I would have been forced to light a match in his face, igniting the alcohol in his breath, burning him from the inside out.

Trouble is, Chicago's a big place with too many guys and not nearly enough trunks, and so, when I decided that patience had gotten me as far as it was going to, I declared my feelings, which, in yet another example of my impeccable timing, I did while Her Lovely Self was waiting for her current boyfriend to come pick her up, which rather diminished the effect I was going for, and forced me to resort to overkill (details here). Don't ever let anyone tell you that overkill is a bad thing when it comes to wooing a woman, boys. Overkill works.

You know, so long as you don't already have a reputation as a stalker.

I know I've written before about the lengths I went to, well to win Her Lovely Self (which, ladies, let me just say here and now that I meant that in the kindest non-objectified I-know-she's-not-a-Kewpie-doll-at-the-carnival way), but I never really told you about Popeye. Recalling what happened with him sometimes makes me a little ill, because in the early days of my romantic involvement with HLS, Popeye was a great threat. If things had gone just a little differently, if I'd been wrong about how I chose to deal with him, he'd be writing about his wedding anniversary and stuff instead of me (although I like to think you wouldn't be nearly so entertained. Popeye was a terrible writer. I know this because one night at her apartment, after Her Lovely Self fell asleep on the couch, I had a good look around her room and found all his letters to her).

The big problem, see, was that Popeye and Oliv--I mean, Her Lovely Self dated just briefly at the end of their senior year of college and never really got a chance to explore that relationship as fully as they might have had they started going out a little earlier. In short, they went off carrying a bit of a torch for one another. Which is why Her Lovely Self would bring him up, just pop him into conversation whenever things looked they might just be getting serious. Popeye had become the Ideal Absent Boyfriend. I'd already had some experience with girls with IABs, and I really, really, really did not want anymore. The woman who holds a torch for an IAB is a woman who has a door propped open in her heart, and as long as that door is open, no one else really has a chance at getting all the way in. Well, at least I didn't have a chance, if my history is anything to go by. Your romantic mileage may vary.

And while we're on the subject, I have to say that I didn't think being an IAB was any great thing. In my recent past, I had been an IAB, which was disastrous in my case, since the woman with whom I was conducting this long-distance relationship had ultimately decided she liked the idea of me more than my actual physical presence, something I did not discover until I had driven 22 hours and a couple thousand miles to see her. But I digress.

I gave Popeye a lot of thought, more thought than I had ever devoted to any man, then or since. I finally concluded that, since I had a sort of home advantage--I was in town; he was off somewhere in Europe finishing up his tour of duty--I just needed to continue to run my own race and do my level best to avoid Popeye as a subject of conversation.

That worked well enough for a while. My relationship with Her Lovely Self seemed to grow stronger. She stopped mentioning Popeye altogether. She began openly to refer to me as her boyfriend. Indeed, by that summer, we decided to take the big step of going away on vacation together—10 days, a long time for your first vacation as a couple. Her Lovely Self had never been to New England, and I guess I talked about it a lot—it was home, after all—and she was keen to see it.

Unfortunately, right about the time we were finalizing our plans, Fate came back into town and decided to play a little trick on me. It came in the form of a wedding invitation. Friends from college, now living in Connecticut, were getting married and I was invited to the wedding, which would fall within the very 10 days that I was already planning to be there. Alas, my friends were young and poor and many invitees were given solo invites. No "and Guest" on the invitation. I presented this unfortunate turn of events to Her Lovely Self. I hated the idea of leaving her somewhere for a few hours while I went off to a wedding without her (in case you were wondering, I offered to pay whatever the per-head fee was that the wedding caterer had determined so that HLS's presence wouldn't pose a financial burden, but was rejected out of hand as it was a small reception space and there actually wasn't any more room for additional guests).

But before that could even become an issue, Her Lovely Self informed me that she was perfectly happy--relieved even--not to have to go to a wedding where she didn't know anyone except me.

"Also," she added, almost as an aside. An aside as big and looming as a skyscraper, "I looked on a map of Connecticut, and the wedding is one town over from where [Popeye] is living now."

"Oh?" I asked, all Joe Cool. "I thought he was off the coast of Europe or something." Clearly I had not found all the letters.

"No, he's back in the country. He called me the other day. I mentioned I was coming east and told him about this wedding, and so he invited me to spend the day with him while you're at the wedding with your friends. Isn't that great?"

"Mmm," I said, noncommittally.

"Well, you don't mind do you? I mean, you're not going to get upset if I spend some time with him, are you?" she asked, pointing her loaded question right at my head.

"Hmm," I answered.

"Well, okay, then," she said. "I'll call him and make my plans."

Sweet Jesus, what the hell do I do now? I thought...

Aw rats, that dreaded ....
Guess I will just have to come back. Too good a story to abandon, even when I know the ending. It is the getting there you make so darn interesting.
Oh, Crap. I know this has a happy ending, but still... ugh.

By the way, comparing your woman to Olive Oyl, even if you lop off half of the name, never does you any domestic favors. Just a tip from a friend :-)
the dreaded ex-boyfriend...i turned down a similar request before, except that we were married. not that anything would have happened, but i know it would have killed my husband with worry. oh my...
Oh, sure, leave us hanging. Now I don't even want to click the embedded links till I know how this one comes out.

Very enjoyable story . . .
What a great story. You must love her very much. Can't wait to read the ending. Thanks
I know the business end of those loaded questions all too well MM, there's nothing quite like playing Russian roulette with the woman you love.
Whoa! Now that is a big "..."
holy cow... and I thought I was patient when playing the friend card with my husband-to-be, listening to his moaning about her high-maintenance ways, her dad issues, her neediness, etc. I only lasted doing that for a few months before giving up (wisely, he figured out that I was the one before I moved on completely). and my guy NEVER asked to spend a day with her once we started dating. you were a saint--or very, very determined to get that gal you yet love.
Man, you really should write serial stories -try the soap operas or some such faction like that cause you really do know how to throw out that hook and reel people in and still not give the ending! Yeah, I know the ending but now I will be waiting and none to patiently either I might add, for you to toss in the next chapter! By now, you know you have me hooked on ALL your stories, don't you?
Somehow, knowing the eventual outcome makes this cliffhanger easier to take than usual.

Maybe someday you'll really shock us, and finish a story within one post.

Nah, that's jost crazy talk....
wow. that took FOREVER to read, 'cause i kept clicking back and rereading ancient mm history - which was just as awesome the second time. :-)

*sigh* the cliffhanger has returned, blast it. please don't torture me/us for too terribly long!
Yup, once again the MM w/his .... Love it :)
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