Thursday, November 14, 2013

Nurse the Hate: Hate Paris

A good friend of mine was recently divorced.  This was a shock to him as he was with this woman for a decade, and by all outward appearances things were going swimmingly.  One day she came home and said, “This isn’t working” and it was over.  It takes two to tango, and this dance was over.  She took her stuff and moved out.  As it turned out, her stuff was the good stuff, and he was left in a depressing small house trying to figure out what went wrong.  It’s a tough situation when you want to make soup and realize you don’t have that soup pan anymore. 

The difficulty in these situations is attempting to figure out what went wrong, who was to blame, and what could have been done differently.  Unfortunately he will never really know what went wrong as almost no one has the courage to say “I realized I didn’t love you and being in the same room with you felt like a prison”.  Or maybe it was something as simple as “I realized I knew what every predictable second would be with you, and I wanted a story I didn’t know the end of yet”.  No matter what, being the one dumped can’t be easy and he will always wonder in the back of his mind if he is fatally flawed and ultimately unlovable.

He has attempted to move on and has discovered that almost every woman he comes in contact with is totally fucked up.  I suppose this shouldn’t be a total shock, as a man in his forties is left with what is left on the shelf.  Additionally I think a strong argument can be made that almost every single person on the planet is pretty fucked up.  Take inventory of your friends.  I will guarantee that even some of your closest and dear friends are damaged beyond redemption, and would drive you crazy if you spent more than an hour with any of them.  Living with them?  You’d leap off a building.  It’s not easy.  As Willie Nelson kinda said, “90% of the population ends up with the wrong person.  That’s what keeps the jukebox spinning.”

My friend meets a woman in a bar.  She's nice and they have an easy companionship.  He keeps the relationship on slow advance.  They see each other once a week.  The holidays are approaching, and he has unused vacation time.  He has a real desire to visit Paris properly.  He was there once for two days by himself and was eager to return.  He asks her if she wants to travel to Paris with him in December.  She eagerly agrees and they make plans, with the hedge of a cancelable ticket. They do their thing, getting together once a weekend having fun together.  Then, without warning, he gets a text message.  “This isn’t working.”  As of our conversation he had not heard from her in ten days.  No return calls.  No explanation. 

The question remains, what about Paris?  They are both vested in the trip as they split the costs.  She had not logged online to cancel.  He has not either.  It’s like a game of virtual chicken, neither of them yielding the bargain trip.  So how will this play out?   Will she arrive at the airport and go on the trip, assuming he will not show for the flight?  Will she score a 50% discounted Paris trip due to my friend’s fear of an awkward scene at the airport?  And what the fuck was that deal with a text message breakup?

In the pyramid of human communication, the text is the lowest form.  OK, maybe if she had sent him a piece of direct mail it might have been worse.  I am envisioning a colored envelope stuffer like a Dollar Stretcher where she has a photo of him with the text “Mary is no longer seeing This Guy”.  That would be more insensitive.  Skywriting would be bad too.  As would leaflets dropped by a cargo plane.  But a casual text sent without explanation sent to a guy that you were planning to go to Paris with a week ago is pretty poor etiquette.  She couldn’t have broken off a call?  C’mon now…

Now if I am in his shoes, I go on that trip no matter what.  If she shows up at the airport and unblinkingly checks into the same hotel room, he shouldn’t budge.  If she goes out at night and returns to the room with a French guy that performs 38 minutes of cunnilingus on her 2 feet away in a micro Euro hotel room, I recommend that he calmly reads a book in the bed next to hers as if it isn’t happening.  Maybe he puts in ear buds for some discretion, but under no circumstances should he turn the bedside light off and place his novel down.  They want room service?  Put a club sandwich on the order and talk about soccer, Jerry Lewis movies, and America's role in WW2 when the food comes.  It’s really the ultimate game of social chicken.  If he has to, he should walk into the ridiculously small and poorly engineered shower and lather up while she’s in it.  Text message?  Text message?  Take a close look at me lathering up my scrotum Mon Cherie!

I don’t know how this thing is going to play out.  I know that he is now more crippled by self doubt than ever.  The last two women you have been intimate with have decided that “it isn’t working” without warning?  Hey, it’s not good.  As we sat at the bar over a beer I listened to his story like a good friend.  We talked about his next moves.  We talked about what might have gone wrong.  We talked about Paris.  Finally, the conversation turned quiet.  We had one of those comfortable silences that make good friends.  He turned to me with a pause.  He hesitated.  “What is the deal?  Is it something I’m doing?”

I took a long pull from my beer.  I looked him straight in the eye.  “Yeah.  It’s probably you.  But you’ll always have Paris.”       


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