Tag Archives: men

Delusions of Insignificance

Delusions of Insignificance

The Boyfriend Candidate is really cute but he so exhausts me.  We got into a rift.  In truth he got into the rift by himself while I painted my toenails.

As I’ve mentioned before, my guy is a problem solver.  I don’t mean with the admirable skill of analytically attacking a challenge.  I mean he cannot function without a problem.  And when there isn’t a problem, he can always make one up.

The problem he was making up was not original:  job dissatisfaction.  this is one of those unsolvable problems that keeps him invigorated and me drained.  On cue, he asks for my advice.  I always say the same thing:  fix it, live with it, or get out.  If you can’t change the company from within, then you must accept one of two things; learn to live with it by appreciating a less than perfect situation OR look for another job.  I mean just look around because often times by looking you realize what you have ain’t so bad.  But wait, my advice might actually solve his problem leaving him problem-less, so it’s ignored.

He went off on me for being dismissive.  I rolled my eyes; I’m so bored with this.  He likes being the underdog, the disenfranchised.  Having the odds against him helps create focus.  So, in fact, he is exactly where he needs to be in order to excel.  I told him that too.  I’ impressed with his creativity an his ability to manipulate a situation to his advantage (jeez, I even managed a compliment).  But I wasn’t getting sucked into some made up drama that he had no real intention of relinquishing.  I continued painting my nails and tuned him out.

He looked completely rejected — probably because he was.  Only a sick woman would indulge his delusion of insignificance.  I’m not that woman.

And he was disappointed.  That’s kinda sad.

The price of peace

The price of peace

Target, the parking lot.  Me and my troops.

“OK,” I say generously, evenly, not betraying my entire lack of confidence in what I’m about to say.  “We are going inside Target.  We are going to do this fast.  I have a headache.  We are late.  You have been awful for the last hour and it ends now or no movie, no pizza, no fun.  We will leave.  Understand?”

Three heads bob in affirmation from the backseat.

“OK, hit it.”

We are out of the car and walking with purpose.  First stop:  Alleve.  I really do have a headache.  While I am calculating cost per pill for the economy size, they start in.  Sam has decided to push over all the pill boxes.  Calvin decided to discipline him.  I grab the largest box imaginable and escape to the pizze aisle.  Cost to keep Calvin from corporally punishing Sam:  $15.75.

Here things got weird.  All three boys want a different four cheese pizza.  Like the difference is nuanced and discernible to a boy who picks his nose.  A small skirmish breaks out and Calvin says if we don’t get his pizza he’s not going to eat – ever.  Jack says he must have rising crust because the other is flat like cardboard.  Sam says he must have the thin smear of tomato sauce between the cheese topping and the crust just like in the picture or he’ll throw up.  I can’t take it.  All three pizzas go in.  Cost to avert vomit:  $18.00.

Off to dvds in spite of my threats.  This is only because we are going to the Boyfriend Candidate’s house and if the kids don’t have something kid-like to do they will act like themselves and I can’t have that.  All the moveis stink and we already have every other G/PG film out there.  We end up with two B level movies.  Why? Because they are fighting about it, playing two against one games.  “We want the owl movie, and two against one.  We win.”  The older boys taunting the baby.  I got both movies.  Cost to avoid years of therapy for Sam: $45.

At this point, I want out.  I need to get these belligerent, ill-behaved, disrespectful, spiteful angels over to the BC’s house where he’s likely to take one look at all of the chaos and reconsider his relationship with me.  The evening has taken a turn for the crazy and it hasn’t started yet.

Going into Target I thought we’d do a quick driveby.  $30 and done.  Nope.  Keeping the peace cost right under $100.  A babysitter would have been a helluva lot cheaper.  And I might have maintained my sanity.

My happily ever after is right around the corner

My happily ever after is right around the corner

In 2009 my husband of 16 years, boyfriend for the six years before that, told me he was done.  He wanted a divorce.  He actually said he wanted a divorce for the last ten years but put up with it all because, well he didn’t like confrontation.  He thought we’d been such good “roommates” for the last few years that he would simply move into the guest room and we would continue that arrangement for, oh, say another five years.  By then he would be ready to leave. 

A lot more was said, but I was in such shock that I don’t remember a lot of it.  As you might imagine, while he was being a good roommate, I was being a good wife.  I put up with a lot, supported him and protected him while we were waist deep in his crap. I believed I was making an investment and the payoff was just around the corner.  At some point we would be happy again; we would look back and laugh at these hard times.

So my investment went bust.  Well, I couldn’t wait for him to be ready to move out, who wants a bad investment lingering around sapping resources?  So a few weeks after he dropped his bomb, I found myself tossing his things into his car and watching him drive away.   You see, that afternoon he left with the kids for lunch and the park.  He came back at 8pm.  It seems he had a glass of wine with lunch, never made it to the park, and drank straight through to dinner.  Then he drove home.  With the kids.  I was angry and rather than suppress as usual, I called him on being irresponsible. He became enraged at my lack of gratitude for taking the kids out for the afternoon. 

There was a time when I would stand there and take it, back before we were roommates.  I never would have confronted him.  I would have apologized for appearing ungrateful and told him he misunderstood.  But you know, that November, I’d had enough.  So when he told me I was ungrateful I took a deep breath and defended myself.  That’s when he threatened to leave.  And I started to laugh.  Like divorcing me wasn’t enough, wait, there’s more!  He might actually leave!  It was ludicrous.  He was ludicrous. 

I remember it was scary and exhilarating.  This man who I couldn’t imagine spending my life without… in a matter of days I suddenly couldn’t imagine spending another second anywhere around him.

Well, because he doesn’t like confrontation, and he doesn’t like to be wrong, and he doesn’t like paying his debts, we still aren’t divorced.  My attorney told me last week we have a mandatory settlement hearing first week in February. We must agree to the dissolution that day or the judge will end it under his own terms.  So I’ve been reflecting a lot these last few days.

I’ll finally be divorced first week in February.  For the right things, I am very grateful.

I love you; you disgust me

I love you; you disgust me

I consider my Boyfriend Candidate one of the funniest guys I know.  And intelligent.  It’s a hard combo to find.  There are some notable exceptions, but most of the time I find the funny guys are hiding their stupid behind their funny.

Nevertheless, my guy crosses the line a lot into vulgar and disgusting.  Lately I’ve noticed it crossing over into really gross and embarrassing.  I went to his house last night.  He bumped into a neighbor who had been sailing that afternoon.  Basically, my guy said, “How was it?  You got any women with you on that boat?  Serving you drinks or anything else?”  I audibly groaned.  I don’t know that guy.  That was just awkward.  Later, I said something about a hair’s breadth away from something.  He then chimed in with a story about units of measurements in aerospace engineering.  He heard these presumably competent engineers, say something was as narrow as a gnat’s eyebrow or a c**t hair.  He thought that was hysterical.  I had no need for that to be in my brain.  And I’m sorry I just put it in yours. I was disgusted.  Am I a guy in a locker room?  Do men in locker rooms really even talk like that?  I suspect not.  Somewhere in there I told him that humor like that only served to reduce my opinion of him.

This hints at a larger issue.  He should feel free to say whatever, to disclose and dream.  I want him to share his unspoken ambitions and dark sexual fantasies.  But I don’t want him to cross that line into grossing me out or being perversely, publicly rude.  And where is that line?  I can’t say I just know it’s there.  So we talked about it.  He thought it was an interesting dilemma.  He definitely didn’t want me to be disgusted by him so he would try to self sensor a little more.

Two hours later.  We’re at a bar chatting it up with the cute young bartender who is going to cosmetology school and is a hair stylist.  She said there was a lot of money in simple blow outs and in Brazilian blow outs.  I bristled.  I knew it was coming.  She said “blow out” and she said “Brazilian”.  Double whammy, it was too much for my guy.  “Hey, I didn’t think there was any hair in a Brazilian!” and a couple minutes later “And how is that Brazilian blow job different from the regular kind?!”  Our girl looked like she was going to throw up.  I put my head down on the bar.  No one was laughing.  “Hey, what’d I say? I thought it was funny.”

He’s working on it.  We’ve got a ways to go.

Incidental family

Incidental family

When my landlord decided to lease the guestroom in my house, Gaefan became an incidental member of our family.  When he moved into our lives, I was one year into the divorce process, one year into a job hunt, I was way behind on rent and I was shouldering $80k of credit card debt my ex created by secretly supporting his failing business with my credit cards. Since he used my cards, I was also dodging the phone calls from Citibank.

My parents were retired and lived inTexas.  Still do.  My father had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  I was working six part-time jobs and still not able to pay the bills.  I had also started dating a guy fairly regularly.  He was employed, good looking, crude and probably an alcoholic.  Some of my best stories have to do with the Boyfriend Candidate.  He was and is quite something.

So basically, I was busy and panicked.  I had relationships going and coming.  I was trying to keep the lives of my three boys normal, at a level of privilege they had gotten used to, but was impossible to maintain.  The days of immediate gratification and spontaneous generosity were over.  I came up with an empowering action list.  I love lists.

Option 1. Get a job.  I had been a stay-at-home, home-schooling mom to my slightly autistic son.  That would have to end.  He started brick and mortar and I started pounding the pavement.  I submitted my resume to over 500 companies in the 8 months I was out of work.  I had temp jobs that floated me.  I transcribed.  I participated in surveys, and I dated for dinner.  Best of all I started web and blog writing.

Option 2. Get remarried, quickly, to man who would make all our problems go away.  It could happen.  I figured I’d fall in love again one day.  If that day could be today, that would be really convenient.

Option 3. Prepare to move back to Texas.  If 1 and 2 didn’t work out, singularly or in combination, that would be all that was left.  Me and my three would be moving into a three bedroom with my elderly retired parents, one of whom was suffering from dementia.  These are not the warm fuzzy grandparents that I hear other children have.  My mother takes no prisoners and my dad is a mystery.  So finding a job or finding the love of my life was really critical.

So into my very ordered, yet unpredictable life comes Gaefan.  He was all hippie auras and holistic transcendence.  He was so far out there he looped all the way around, back to self-righteous and had no idea.

When I met Gaefan, it was late at night.  I opened the door to a much older man, shaved head, energetic.  I didn’t get any kind of a vibe off him so he seemed safe.  Not a child molester, not a gay pedophile, not hot for me.  No flags.

He was British and had the accent.  Clearly delightful.  I gave him the tour.  We have a yard; he had a dog.  I told him then my children were allergic to dogs so his would need to have limited range.  He seemed ok with that.

And he was in.

We need to talk

We need to talk

My Boyfriend Candidate texted me this morning, “We need to talk.”  At which point I asked myself, why didn’t he call if he actually watned to speak?  But not one to get hung up on details, only distracted by them, I texted back “cool”.  THen four hours went by.

I don’t know about you, but when my guy says he needs to talk, I go into red alert.  Guys don’t want to talk at all ever, if he needs to talk now, that’s some big shit, right?  So, I literally sat there staring at the phone waiting for it to vibrate.  Finally, I couldn’t take it any more, I was starting to stress eat the last of the eggnog yogurt covered almonds, and I texted him that I needed to know the next move.  He then says he’s under radio silence: he’s taking a yoga class.

Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up.

We finally get together.  The confrontation required negotiating and careful manipulation, the details of which I won’t bore you with.  He basically says that he feels that he can’t talk to me about my life.  That whenever he has a suggestion or advice, I’m not open to it.  OK.  First of all, giving me advice is quite the opposite of having a discussion about my life.  For men, they want to problem solve.  For women, we want to be heard.  I know at this early stage of our relationship that the BC doesn’t get that yet.  When I start to talk about my life, I just want to be empathized with.  I know what needs to be done.  I’ll do it.  I just need to talk.  Do not solve my problems for me. . . unless I ask.  All women work this way.  In any case, no, I don’t want to hear whatever from you about my life.  You don’t know me well enough and it makes you look arrogant instead of simply galant.

Also, he is a control freak.  My way of controlling the control freak is to shut him down.  He starts to opine about what time is best for me to check the mail or best ways to teach table etiquette to my sons and I change the subject abruptly.

The fact is, we are too old for this.  He is a mature man of a certain age who knows with certainty what is right.  I’m a certain woman of a certain younger age who feels the same. We often times don’t agree.  I’d rather not even talk about it so, guilty as charged, sir you win.  You are right, you may not talk about my life.

I’m glad he’s confident, self-assured and reticent.  And for better or worse, he found a woman who is the same way.

Shower me

Shower me

My Boyfriend Candidate went nuts this year and gave me a bunch of gifts.  Not individually extravagant, but as a whole, it was an investment of time and consideration.  I gave him a set of wine glasses – which he really didn’t need.  It was nice, minimally thoughtful, and looked kinda puny next to his pile of generosity.

I have such a problem with this.  Being new to dating protocols – after 20+ years of being with my now ex-husband –  is the gift giving suppose to be equal?  That’s unrealistic considering our difference in income and the fact that everything I have rightfully goes to my children.  Still, I’m uncomfortable.  I want to show him materially that I care – it’s just not practical or even possible.

It doesn’t bother him at all.  As a matter of fact, when I mentioned it, he was put out.  He said it was his opportunity to be a little extravagant and spontaneous, and if I was going to tie his hands with a budget aimed at achieving equality that would take all the fun out of the holidays.

I believe too that this gift-giving addresses a sort of fundamental difference between the sexes.  I suspect men want to contribute to their women in ways that show character traits and promote their desirability while increasing their market value.  The gifts from my BC showed me that 1) he has a sense of humor, 2) he notices my decor/nesting and can purchase an item to match, 3) he notice my stress and wants me to relax, and 4) that he can pick tasteful fashion jewelry which complements my style.  These gifts all say “I notice you.”  I suspect there was no budget in play.  Or at least he wanted it to look that way.  I learned a lot about how he feels about me and how he wants me to perceive him.  Considering his inability to have a discussion about his feelings and intentions, he accomplished that very thing he avoids through the gift giving.

Or maybe he was at Target and just picked up a bunch of stuff.

 

Next time I go naked

Next time I go naked

I went to the Boyfriend Candidate’s house the other night.  I think the relationship is getting stale, and I’m concerned.

I walk in his door, granted the three kids are in tow.  Also I must say, he was sick and I was having neck pain.  We are old indeed.

I call out, “Hello?” And the three kids start calling out his name.  We go to the living room.  Empty.  The playroom.  Nothing.  On to the kitchen.  Here we find him.  He is reading the Economist, glasses at the end of his nose.  He delivers this heart-felt welcome.  “Oh hi.  I didn’t hear you come in.”

I have problems with this and if the kids hadn’t been bouncing around the kitchen, I would have called him out.  Not hear us?  We are a herd; that’s not possible.  There was a time when he would have been sitting on the front porch looking for me, waiting for me with some anticipation.

He didn’t even stand up.  It was disappointing and hurtful in the way you would expect, but I immediately went to the bigger picture.  Do I want to come home to a guy who doesn’t stand up and embrace me?  My marriage degraded over the course of 20 years into that kind of nonchalance and mutual apathy.  What does it say that that the BC and I have already hit that mark?

Then again, I know I should give him a break.  He’s sick.  I’m edgy.  The children can have a numbing effect.

Next time I may have to walk in naked and check his response.  Then I’ll know if I’m really in trouble.

The anti-girlfriend

The anti-girlfriend

So I announced to the Boyfriend Candidate that I would never be his girlfriend.  When I start thinking like “girlfriend” I start thinking like a twenty-something and putting all those expectations on him that just don’t matter to a forty-something.  He was oddly disappointed.

He said he liked to think of me as his girlfriend and didn’t understand the issue with semantics.  But whatever.  I should do what I need to do if it means we can still hang out together.

And ever since then, he’s been acting like a boyfriend on steroids.  I’ve never had such a great boyfriend at a time when I especially am not looking for one.  Right now, he is in the other room nursing my sick 12 year old, tolerating my 9 year old’s need to watch South Park and politely telling the 6 year old not to pick his nose.  It’s an interaction that any mother could relate to, but not a mere mortal of no blood relation.

The BC actually left work early last week to check on my sick son.  I was at work myself and couldn’t leave so he checked it out.  He brought my son a sandwich and stayed with him until I got home.  My ex-husband during our seventeen years of marriage never did anything like that.

I’m confused.  If this is “boyfriend” then maybe I should be his “girlfriend”.  If this is “man trying to convince me that boyfriend is not such a bad idea therefore I should be his girlfriend then after he proves his point he goes back to being average guy”, then he can never be my boyfriend.

It’s all so confusing.

Forget it; he still won’t be my boyfriend.

Hello, goodbye, repeat as desired

Hello, goodbye, repeat as desired

The Boyfriend Candidate and I broke up not too long ago.   Again.  We do this about every three weeks, and we’ve each totally lost credibility with each other on the break up front.  This time I was picking on him — pretty much all day — most likely as a result of general frustrations with the relationship.  I was indirect, provocative and uncommunicative.  So we got in a fight.  He called me an ugly name.  And then defended it when I graciously gave him a chance to retract.  I was done.

So a week goes by and in that week I’ve been really asking myself hard questions about why I’m dating in the first place.  Are my frustrations with the relationship because it doesn’t serve a purpose relevant to my life any more?  I think I’m on to something.

I’m 46.  I have three small children who deserve my time and energy.  Now that I’m working, which means I can provide everything I and my children need, I’m not looking for a man to save me/us, to be the responsible party or to fund us, if you will.  I’m in bed weeknights at 8pm because I’m up at 4:45am.  When exactly am I suppose to nurture an adult relationship anyway?  So seriously why am I dating at all?

Sex is an obvious answer.  Adult companionship generally.  To be adored in that way a man adores you has particular attractiveness to me.  And you know I got all those things from the Boyfriend Candidate.  What I didn’t get that was frustrating me was “traditional marriage material.”  He isn’t that Prince Charming.  He’s a salty old curmudgeon, truth be told.  I don’t want to be with him every day.  I don’t want to live with him.  I can’t imagine the nightmare of merging lives.  But you know, I don’t think I really need that.  If he gives me the adoration, even part time, might that be enough?  I think anything more is an old dating paradigm from my early twenties that has expired.

I can reinvent the adult relationship now.  So I’m taking some time to figure out what that will look like at this point in my life.  Naturally I spoke with the Boyfriend Candidate and, as usual, we’re back together.  This time I am relieving him of those traditional expectations which aren’t relevant (or possible) any longer.  Maybe I can be more tolerant.

Honestly, he never thought we split up which slightly irks me.  I did make a dramatic exit.