Yesterday, a series of text messages bitch-slapped me:
Me: “Hey, I was upset you flaked with no explanation last week. I may not be a friend per se, but do me the courtesy of letting me know when things fall through.”
BP: “Yo Alex, d truth is I wanted 2 hook up, but I’ve been c-ing someone & felt guilty as it got closer & didn’t know what 2 say. Sorry, honestly.”
Me: “Well, I wish you would have said something sooner. Right now, I feel very foolish.”
BP: “Y? It’s my fault, I just didn’t know what 2 say 2 u. I really wanted 2 fuk but felt guilty.”
Me: “Something else I’ve also known is that I wasn’t the only person in your life. I’m only sorry I made you feel guilty of cheating on someone else.”
BP: “No, its not that, but I haven’t been seeing anyone but her for awhile so it was akward & I’m a terrible lyer so I’d get caught. Lol. Make sense?”
Me: “Where I feel foolish is that I told you the terrible liar how I felt. I wish I hadn’t told you. I thought you were different. In any case, there’s no more to settle here. I’d just like to forget. Keep your relationship.”
BP: “Jesus Alex, what the hell. We wer casual & then this other thing just happened. C’mon don’t b mad, we r cool no?”
Me: “Look, casual or not, learning your preferences don’t lie with me isn’t easy. I’m not a robot immune from feelings, either.”
BP: “I said I’m sorry.”
Me: “I know you’ve said so. Look, I liked you. It’s for me to now go evaluate what happened. Enjoy your relationship.”
Though the words are as organized as a court transcript and contain grammatical errors running rampant in an adolescent Myspace profile, yesterday’s ambush carried impacts I couldn't avoid. Shock, humiliation, and disappointment accompanied each explicit realization and lingered for several hours, especially in seeing my company passed over for another’s. I understand I've been lied to, that the explicit efforts I made to create a solid friendship failed. Most of all, I'm disgusted at seeing the cliché, tired, and bullshit-laden scenario I sought to circumvent with friendship come to pass.
Me: “Thanks, BP.”
Of course, BP isn’t his real name. The acronym is one I've made up to resemble the pair of initials that comprises his actual one, an attempt to keep it private. Part of me thinks he doesn't deserve the protection, that there should be a part of the Internet where he’s an identified asshole instead of a veiled one. But, the name change remains. Though I am highly entertained by the prospect of kicking BP with spiked cleats, I’m not tacky enough to violate his privacy.
Besides, Don’t Date Him Girl already exists.
While other mischievous, karmically dubious ideas of retribution dance in my head, the transcript cuts in and presents a sober mystery. I try to understand how BP came to define me as casual; yesterday is the first time he has ever explicitly assigned it to us. Though it was an accurate choice when we met, we came to call each other friends in the five months that passed.
BP: “I really admire ur perspective. Not many have it.”
Me: “Thanks, man.”
Perhaps the key to the puzzle lies in recognizing that our applications of the term were and remain different. Maybe I qualified as a friend because the word “lover” is too elegant. Or, I simply failed to understand some people don't know how to let go of casual definitions, even with an open nod of friendship.
Regardless of speculation, I called BP my friend because I believed him to be one.
Me: "BP, you blow.”
Shocked as I am, I know that the transcript doesn’t reflect everything that ever happened between us. Omissions never documented by our text message exchanges are deeds I committed in good faith and quieter conversations, moments that seem to be missing from BP’s memory. No reader of the transcript would readily guess that our relationship includes a time I listened to him describe being homeless for several months in a Nissan Altima, or think he ever praised my insights by paying sharp attention to them. Nor could anyone ever guess that BP once thought I was cool for remembering his birthday with a burned CD and a card scribbled full of optimistic, completely worded sentiments.
BP: “Fuk, sorry, I forgot.”
With the reflective and graceful times present in our friendship, I personally don’t understand how the crass nature of our conversation transcript came to pass. But, since BP addresses me with dialogue typically spoken by the bleached and underage littering reality shows in our final exchange, I’m sure he has never seen that I came to like him based on those quieter times.
BP: “Sorry, honestly.”
I have no doubt sincerity lies at the heart of BP’s apology, just as I’m certain he has never borne any ill will towards me. However, what I’ve come to understand is that he doesn’t explicitly carry good intentions for me, or my friendship. I consider explaining that these were missing ingredients I cared about practicing with us, for he may come to understand why I feel as I do. But I no longer believe a quiet conversation can make a difference, and I no longer speak to him.
Even though the text message transcript is one of the tackiest and most absurd relationship anecdotes I can tell, I will refer to it for quite some time. Thankfully, most of the shock has passed, and I now see it as an explicit reminder of the things I don’t want in any of my relationships. Dishonesty. Flakiness. Spelling errors.
Me: “The End.”
An expert in coloring outside the lines while reading between them, Alex B has a head for business, bod for sin, and weakness for ice cream during all seasons. Apart from watching Bravo marathons and enjoying haute bites here and there, she writes about TV, pop culture, and coloring outside even more lines. She sneaks Tweets via @lexistential.
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2.23.07 @ 10:58a
Relationships, like grammar, punctuation and spelling, require effort. And while I'm sure it sounds elitist to some, I believe that if you can't put forth the effort for something as basic as fundamental language skills, it's much less likely that you're going to bother with higher concepts like intimacy and empathy.
At the heart of any interpersonal relationship is the necessity for clear communication. You can give your partner just that... or you can give them "C’mon don’t b mad, we r cool no."
I won't even start in on the insanity of managing your relationships via cellphone, Blackberry or e-mail.
2.23.07 @ 11:31a
Heh. This one won Distinctively Tacky Dishonorable Mention. I'm still floored.
The funny thing is, I had hoped to sort this in person and threw quite a few signals there, but unfortunately, the most accessible part of BP was his cell phone. (Yay, me.)
2.23.07 @ 12:11p
Insult to injury, seriously.
Can we forgive the rift in communication that prompted you to think your relationship was one thing, and him to think it was something else-- something more basic and carnal, devoid of the mutual trust and understanding that is the hallmark of a healthy friendship? Answer: I'd have a hard time with it at first, but in time I'd understand the argument.
Can we forgive the lack of respect shown by BP in failing to keep his engagements and failing to call at any reasonable time to let Alex know he'd be a no show? Answer: I wouldn't understand the argument. But in time I'd forgive anyway.
Can we forgive the manner, method and timing by which BP chose to explain his inability to keep this particular engagement? Answer: It's not even worth thinking about.
As a guy with a platoon of platonic female friends, I constantly find myself serving as "counselor" to amazing ladyfriends about the guys they date or interact with. More and more, the stories I hear floor me. Amaze me. Prompt a jaw-dropping, eyes widening, appalled response from me which can be succinctly described as "No way-- there are guys out there who do that??? Who are genuinely *THAT* clueless???"
I'd say there is often something to be learned from such anecdotes. Some misstep committed by some other bloke somewhere which, if shared with me, will spare me the embarrassment of perhaps committing the same faux pas down the road and overall, make me a better boyfriend... friend... man. This is not one of those times. A lot of the things apparently lacking in BP come as second nature to most guys with more than half a gram of brains in their heads-- myself included. And (again) it amazes me that there are guys out there with their heads rammed so far up their colons.
I take comfort in this fact though: BP makes ME look like a prince by comparison.
2.23.07 @ 12:55p
Hi there Spencer! Wow, you wrote an essay.
With your "rift" issue, I'd say a "he thinks/she thinks" gap in perception is always inevitable in how we digest, interpret, and ultimately gauge things to be. That said, I could understand earning bimbo classification if that was all I ever put out. Heck, in some past interactions, it was all I ever put out. But in this instance, it wasn't. Can I forgive this? Answer: In time, I probably won't be in nuke mode over it. But I will always remember being placed there.
In terms of lack of respect, there are active and passive ways with which we conduct ourselves. BP could have actually told me there was someone else and he couldn't keep the date, but resorted to the passive way "where he'd be caught." The active way isn't easy to do, but at least it indicates a responsible effort being made. Answer: In time, I'll forget he had no balls.
With crappy manner, tacky method, and terrible timing? Answer: In time... ah, fuck it, I'll remember this article stands to remind me.
It's nice to know there are guys out there who do give a flying fuck about being more than self-involved, basic, and carnal animals. Whether BP goes on to learn that is something I probably won't know, because that's for him to learn to practice, and not for me to teach.
And, next to you, there is no comparison. Unless you count shiny apples & moldy oranges.
2.23.07 @ 4:37p
You know, I'm going to say something... or things. But before I say anything, I'd like to precede it with a bit of a disclaimer: Not all guys are like this, I'm sure.
1) Some guys, like our friend BP, do things with and to women just to see how much they can get away with. I've seen this in my dealings with them, and my friends' dealings with them. And the sad thing is, they get away with quite a bit. But once you catch on to this "x-factor" fantasy of theirs, they run like the wind.
2) Some guys, like our friend BP, have a delayed reaction of guilt. The feelings of guilt should've kicked in long before he had to break a date/engagement to acknowledge it.
The bottom line is, guys who behave this way, can easily be discarded in my book into a pile of "guys". That's all they are, guys. What you, Alex, and I are looking for are MEN, and being a man is something a lot of guys don't know how to do.
2.23.07 @ 6:22p
Hiya Reem! I know some guys don't qualify for Paperweight Target Practice. However, some- like my wonderful BP- unerringly do.
You make a good point on how some guys leg it as fast as they can when us dolls catch on to shady vibes. I find it astonishing- with all the manly bravado, they run away. All we can do is award 'em with Chicken Points and move on, because there's not much else we can do with that kind of cowardice. Chasing them down for unsatisfactory answers only creates further crappy circumstances. When a guy hides, he can stay hidden.
As far as guilt and delayed reactions go, this head-on collision would have been avoided with some straightforward behavior. But, quite a few- especially so-called, self-defined "players"- don't do it because risking the loss of free milk from the cow is at hand. I do know that BP is somewhat remorseful, but guilt or no guilt, he could have chosen differently.
All in all, I have no regrets- I'm actually happy I had my time with BP. I had some fun, and I learned a few things to look out for. I don't expect every man I meet to be perfect. But, at a minimum, he's gotta be capable of being a good friend.
2.24.07 @ 12:07a
Alex, women do this sort of thing, too.
Here's my tale of woe. Ages ago, long before I met my wife, my then-girlfriend and I double-dated with mutual friends on her birthday. It was nothing fancy, just an informal gathering at the bowling alley to roll a few frames - a casual fun time in pre-Starbucks days. Partway into the second game, she started disappearing, running off to chat up other people - all guys. She'd show up long enough to take her turn, then off she went.
I didn't say anything about it - it was my first experience with such a blatant disregard for me and our friends, so I was too floored to say anything. We weren't dating exclusively, but I still thought it was pretty rude to throw her other dating possibilities in my face, while we were on a date.
I never called her back - I was too angry and embarrassed, and I hadn't a clue what I would say. Oddly enough, though, she came by my house a couple weeks later acting all innocent, asking if I was mad at her about something. Un-frikkin'-real. Imagine what it took for me to quietly explain why I was upset without completely losing my cool.
It's equal opportunity out there, and as noted before, it's calculated to see how much you'll put up with.
2.24.07 @ 3:26p
From the tales of woe my boys and lesbian girlfriends have told, I've winced at how horrible women can be. Much as we're reputed to be a kinder, gentler gender, women can be just as good at racking Asshole points in the dating stakes. Rude, tacky behavior is definitely not gender-specific.
While not every woman is perfect, I can say that the chicks who front like they're innocent- passive-aggressive ones that play up helplessness and being a victim- are among the ones that give us a bad rep. I can't stand 'em. Had I been anywhere near your feckless date that evening, she would have been wide-eyed from a few openly confrontational remarks, ones that got me in a *bit* of trouble in my etiquette classes of long ago :-D
2.28.07 @ 3:39a
It's cliche, but the heart is a lonely hunter, and yet sociopathic ex's are now a text-message away.
If women are more brutal, it's because they put more heart into it than the average male. And the more you are looking for a bond, the worse you feel when it doesn't pan out.
Infatuation is easy. Sex, well hell, even rats do it. Real passion and kind friendship? Few and far between...
2.28.07 @ 4:33a
While I agree that women can be brutal for the reason you mention, I actually think men are the same way. A lovelorn, scorned, and hurt man is just as capable of becoming pretty angry for heartfelt reasons. Hurt wallops both of our genders pretty well.
My impression of where the difference lies is how we handle the wallop. Women seem to have greater ease in admitting they were looking for a good bond, or that they actually held feelings. Guys seem to be more reluctant to openly say or admit as much in both cases. Where a woman will take care to organize a messy emotional closet (even when they know it'll suck), guys kind of go, "I'm not going there. Too complicated."
These days, I'm all too aware infatuation is easy- it's fickle, flaky, and generally unreliable. If I see there's a good chance of being real friends, then setting up friendship becomes my priority. But heh, as we can see, it didn't *quite* work out that way.
Speaking of text-message relationship management, a friend in Helsinki told me that Finnish Prime Minister Vanhanen broke up with his girlfriend via text message. The ex scored a book deal, and the PM is in a media firestorm.
Heh. Who'dve thought.