LET’S HEAR IT FOR THE BOYS!
When it comes to romance, and close relationships I am not what you would call an expert. I had one serious boyfriend in high school, and one joke of a relationship at 22 with a man I am pretty sure is gay.
My first boyfriend Blake was, at the time, the love of my life. It was puppy love, fueled by hormones and naiveté. Blake was an all- state soccer player with beautiful green eyes, thick curly brown hair and 6 pack abs. He could always make me laugh, and he always listened to me. He was the kind of guy who thought my neurotic freak-outs were not scary or weird, instead he thought they were endearing.
Because we were so wrapped up in each other, we weren’t the most social kid’s the year we dated. I know we went to one football game, and one “real” date to Applebee’s. Other than that our relationship consisted of us sitting on a couch at each other’s house watching TV, talking, laughing, cuddling and enjoying each other’s company. I still miss the warmth of his strong arms, wound tightly around my body. When I focus, I can still see the glimmer of his eyes when he looked at me. I can hear the words “I love you” rolling off his tongue and washing over my body like the tides. Although I no longer crave his kiss, or long for his lips, my heart and soul still desire to experience a love like that again.
We were similar to the diner patron who orders, 6 pieces of bacon, eggs, sausage and tops is all off with a diet coke- a total contradiction. I was the loud, bubbly theatre girl with lots of school spirit! Everyone knew of me because of my colorful personality and involvement in after school activities. Blake was the jock and constantly had girls throwing themselves at him. When we first told people we were dating no one believed it. However, much to my approval we were the talk to the town. Teachers knew it, students talked about it- we were the cutsey opposites-attract couple of the year.
I was blissfully happy and completely blindsided when he cheated on me with some freshman bitch. (This, in retrospect was really gross, since he was 18 and she was 15.) I was heartbroken. How could he have done this to me? Aren’t I pretty enough? What does she have that I don’t? Does he love her like he loved me? Sure we never had sex, because at the time, (and up until I was 22,) I believed in waiting until marriage. I felt this way not because of any religious convictions or a strict upbringing. I was too insecure with my body to allow myself to be that vulnerable with another human being.
My junior year in high school was a turbulent year, filled with ups and downs. Blake helped me though a really dark time in my life. I was grappling an eating disorder and dealing with a dysfunctional family. My mother was a verbally abusive alcoholic, who would take her anger and drunkenness out on me. I was blamed for causing riffs in my parents’ marriage, called names, and sometimes swiped and clawed at.At the time I was 17, and didn’t know how to deal with all of the stress. I began throwing up, in an attempt to make myself feel better. Although I never got deep into my eating disorder at the time, I felt it was necessary to start seeing a psychologist to help me cope with what was going.
Blake always listened to what I had to say, and never complained when I called him at 2am, crying and scared because of the horror that just took place between me and my mother. He had the compassion and maturity to understand my issues with eating. He empathized with me and understood I had trouble eating in front of him. 5 years later and this is still something I struggle with. I can’t eat in front of people and the anxiety that follows is exacerbated by eating in front of men. It causes me mini panic attacks and spins into an anxiety-filled frenzy.
It was with him that I learned I could trust people; he was my shelter when all the walls around me seemed to be crumbling down. He made me feel wanted, beautiful, intelligent and funny. He loved my body, my soft skin, and my toned legs. Blake believed that I could do anything I put my mind to. He brought out the best in me.
After he cheated on me we immediately broke up, and I was crushed. The sounds of my cries mourning a catastrophic loss filled my childhood bedroom. I would scribble in my diary, trying to make sense of it all. I cycled through periods of intense anger- filled hatred to outright misery but predominantly I was filled with a longing to rekindle our broken relationship and have my best friend back.
A really tough battle post break up was we were still dance partners in the school musical. The choreography required him to hold my hips, stare into my eyes, and pretend to love me again. I remember being close enough that I could smell his breath, and feel his body breathing against mine. He ended up getting really vicious, throwing things at me backstage and spreading rumors about how he “couldn’t believe I stayed with her that long. She is so annoying.” I moved out of our shared locker; the calling card to failed high school relationships.
The biggest hurt and betrayal happened on the night of my junior year talent show. I was doing a duet from rent called take me or leave me, with my friend Andi. I was nervous because our small auditorium was filled with the body heat of 350 students. I peeked out at the audience behind the curtain, and saw Blake sitting in the front row. Fan-fucking tastic! The song began and Andi and I pranced about the stage, singing our hearts out, singing perfectly in harmony
“Take me for what I am, who I was meant to be. And you if give a damn, take me baby or leave meeee.”
The last lines of the song flowed out of us seamlessly, for these were roles we were meant to play. As the audience began to clap in approval, (a moment that should have been relished) it was quickly ruined. Blake chucked a poster board on stage, and it landed at our feet. The sign trumpeted “Way to go Andi! You rock!!” The heart at the bottom of the poster was reason enough to want to grab a bottle of bleach a drink it. I was absolutely humiliated. I ran off stage, catapulting me into a tear –filled meltdown. How could he do that to me?? In front of everyone! Students, teachers, parents! For fucks sakes would it have killed him to include my name on the poster too? They aren’t even that good of friends! Why God, why?
I was a woman scorned; the mournful sighs that escaped my body that night on the ride home were inexplicable. Completely speechless and devoid of any comforting words, Andi silently drove me home. My sobs filled the car and drowned out the music leaking out of the radio. She explained that she felt embarrassed that he made such a scene, and helpless because I was such a mess. The mumbled words of hatred and disdain came pouring out of my mouth like lava. What a fucking asshole! Who does he think he is, embarrassing me like that? Why would he deliberately do something so snide and HATEFUL? I feel like I am gonna barf! How can I ever go back to school and face him let alone everyone else who witnessed that?!
To say the least we ended up keeping our distance for the rest of year. Senior retreat rolled around, a getaway for the senior class up in the woods. Retreat was used as a time of reflection, prayer and serenity. Since our first week of school as freshmen, we all looked forward to the ritual of confessional. The confessional was a time where wounds could be healed, and hearts could be mend. The tradition involved having the whole senior class (all 380 of us) pack into a room. We would then pour our heart and souls out for all to hear. We huddled on the floor. crammed into a small room listening to heart wrenching stories of survival and broken relationships.
The rules were anyone could stand and apologize for any wrongdoing or bad blood over the last four years. The floor was yours to hash out any unnecessary drama and apologize to those you hurt. I remember a girl in the nerd herd stood and apologized to her fellow pencil pusher for letting a guy (who was also, a huge nerd) get in the way of their friendship. (The fact that they even fought about that guy still makes me giggle.) But on a more serious note, it made me realize that no matter what clique you were in, everyone was just a human, finding their way through life.
My one goal for retreat was to have Blake stand and apologize for hurting me.. I knew that was a lot to expect from him, and a part of me believed it would never happen. After about an hour of sincere apologies and emotional break downs, Blake stood up. I remember my heart literally stopped beating. I felt all the blood rush to my head, my cheeks flush and my mouth was now a desert, making it hard to swallow. It was all very phantasmagorical; the world moved in slow motion, the air was stale around me. Colors were brighter, and a pin drop could be heard. I grabbed onto Andi’s hand for support and squeezed with all my might. Holy shit! Holy shit! Is he really gonna do it? Holy shit!
Like a skyscraper rising from the ground, he rose and declared to all 400 people “Allie, I’m really sorry for what happened to us. It shouldn’t have ended like that and I’m really sorry.” Silence filled the room. Completely paralyzed with emotion, his words echoed in my head. My heart began to beat again, and my frozen mind began to defrost. The lump in my throat subsided, as tears slipped from my eyes, rolling down my flushed cheeks. Like Ariel from the little mermaid thrust from the sea to sand, I stood on wobbly legs. Unfamiliar with the ground below me, my knees trembled beneath me. As I stood towering over everyone, my quivering voice publicly accepted his apology. I remember my voice cracking like a pubescent boy, as I started to cry uncontrollably. I honestly don’t remember what I said; something along the lines of I was sorry too. I surmise I don’t remember because it was too much to comprehend at the time.
Although now that the emotional haze has lifted, I begin to wonder, why couldn’t he have apologized to me in private? Why did he have to make a huge show about it? I am extremely grateful that he apologized, because it really was a life changing moment for me. However I still question his motives. Did he do it to assuage his guilt for hurting me? Perhaps it was an act of saving face, after all his reputation was slightly tarnished after word got out that he cheated on me. Whatever his reason, I am glad he did it, but part of me wished he would have said something to me in private. I remember after confessional dismissed I found him and thanked him. I then asked him for a hug. As we embraced all the bad energy and negativity was washed away.
Perhaps because I haven’t had a serious boyfriend since Blake, a part of me still misses him. I know I am “over him,” (whatever that means) but some of me still clings to the hope that we will reconnect. Whether it is in a romantic way or not, I haven’t figured that out yet. All I know is, he was my closest and best friend. He was like a diary that talked back to me, I could share all my hopes and fears with him and he would bring me a sense of relief; a relief that only music and writing seems to bring me these days.
I don’t talk to Blake anymore, I only hear from him on April 25- my birthday. We exchange facebook messages wishing each other a happy birthday, exchanging casual niceties two days out of the year. Although we broke up 5 years ago, I still have his phone number memorized. I have forgotten his laugh, his eyes are erased from my memory and I can no longer hear his voice. I still miss the connection that we had. The feeling of love and being loved is something I still yearn for at my 22 years of age. I miss the joy of dizzy happiness that love brings and hope and pray that someday, I will find a love like his.
5 years later at 22 I had my second boyfriend, Jack. Physically he was the complete opposite of Blake. Blake was a soccer player, wild sandy brown hair hung in his eyes and he boasted devastatingly hansom masculine features. Jack in the other hand possessed no athletic ability, had nasty coarse hair, and was a tall, lanky, scrawny fellow. His face was veiled behind puss-filled acne. Sexy, right?
However, we had some things in common. Jack was artsy; he was a fellow musical theatre major, enjoyed wine and watching movies. With Jack, we could sit around and talk for hours about our dream roles in plays and musicals, and discuss the finer points of Idina Menzel’s voice and how talented and beautiful Audra McDonald is.
Now, to cut to the chase, the biggest flaw about Jack is…Well, I’m quite sure Jack is and was gay. Why, you ask? There we a lot of red flags I chose to ignore during our courtship.
Red flag numero uno: I chose to ignore the fact that when I first saw him I automatically assumed he was gay. Now, this is out of character for me, because I do not believe in the heteronormativity. Basically this means that I believe gender and sexuality is a social construction and can’t easily be defined. I don’t believe in assuming everyone is straight. Therefore you can’t just look at someone and assume they are gay. I personally identify as being bi-sexual, (a fact that I feverishly denied for some 20 years) so I never assume someone is straight or gay. To me, you are what you tell me you are- I make no assumptions. However, he was an exception. When I first saw him clad in a tight pink button down oxford in JULY, and blush-worthy tight jeans, I naturally assumed he was gay. He told me he was straight so I just accepted that fact at face value.
Red flag number two: I chose to ignore the fact that he made out with another guy at a musical cast party. Now to his credit we were all blitzed at this party. Flying high on shots of cake flavored vodka that tasted like birthday parties and booze, vodka lemonades and rum chata. We played various drinking games that involved making out with each other. In a sense we were playing a drinking version of spin the bottle. I ended up kissing the wife and husband of a married couple and some guys and girls.
Red flag number three: He was a musical theatre major whom I met in a musical. Ya know, where ya wear makeup and prance about on stage. Kiiinda Gay.
And number four, the smoking gun; before we dated he told me how he “used to steal women’s underwear from kohl’s and wear then because I felt pretty.”
Yup. I sure know how to pick ‘em. Although we dated for a whopping two months, somehow I tricked myself perusing, and continuing a relationship. It’s crazy how much I fooled myself into believing he was attractive. The power of the mind led me to diminish his flaws in a vain attempt to continue in a relationship. When I first met him I thought he was unattractive; he had too small of a head, terrible acne, awful afro hair, and was too skinny.
Nothing went right in our relationship, we fought constantly in public and I had problems with intimacy. I could never initiate kissing him, and would legit have mini panic attacks when I said goodbye to him at the door, in anticipation that we would embrace. In my defense at this point in time, I ballooned up to a whopping 200+ pounds. I felt extremely insecure and ugly. For some reason I have an issue with kissing and allowing someone to touch me. I suppose it dates back to me having always having low self-esteem. My mother put me on diets in the third grade, and rewarded me with sugar free gummy bears whenever I lost a few pounds. Anyway, my intimacy problems are nothing new, they drove a wedge between my relationship with Blake, and it ruined things between Jack and I.
Jack was a smart guy though; I really gotta give the kid credit. That boy played me like a violin in the philharmonic. He found a way to get under my skin, and allowed me to trick myself into liking him. Jack, being the winner that he is didn’t have a car, so I had to drive my ass halfway across America just to hang out with him (okay, it was only a half hour but still!) I probably spent over $1000 in all the gas and money I spent on him and he never gave me a dime. Sometimes I would pick him up, then drive all the way back to my apartment where he would stay the night, and then drive his keister all the way back in the morning. Did I ever get any money from him? Or even a “Thanks Allie for spending all of your hard earned money on picking my broke- as-a joke- ass up! You rock!” No.
One night stands out in particular that should have been a que for me to break up with him. Once upon time Jack and I went out for drinks, it was his friends 21st birthday and we went to a bar on called Cannes. It was packed, the music was bumpin’ and booties were shaking. To celebrate his friend’s birthday, Jack decided to buy shots for him and his friend Chris. Armed with two shots each,(a very generous purchase for a guy that always whined about not having any money) slammed their Jack Daniels. In turn I stood there like a loser watching them take shots. Wow, thanks for offering to buy me a drink, asshole. Even though I can’t take shots of hard alcohol it would have been nice to be offered a shot. What a prick!
After a few minutes Chris, the birthday boy ended up buying ME a shot of Jack Daniels, which I reluctantly took. My past track record with shots of straight alcohol was painted with shameful disdain. In true Allie Day fashion, within seconds of the whiskey getting down my throat, up up up it came! As vomit started to poke through the fingers that were covering my mouth, I sprinted through the packed bar to the bathroom, manically pushing people out of my away. Classy, I know. I distinctly remember one of the bouncers making some snide remark like “bombs away” or something. (Note to self, do not ever take shots again. Ever.)
After I got my shit together, I dizzily traipsed out of the bathroom, thoroughly embarrassed. I stepped outside to let the brisk summer air touch my face as I gathered myself. In true Wisconsin fashion, I wasn’t going to let barfing stop me from drinking. I stood impatiently at the bar waiting for the bartender so I could order myself a drink, since I figured Jack was to impolite to buy me something. Surprisingly Jack asks “Can I buy you something to drink?” yeah, five minutes ago asshole. Me being a nice person, I refrained from saying that, and instead I said “oh no no, I can get it.”
For some reason I tend to lay down like a dog and rarely stick up for myself Whether it is the guy who is forcefully (and sloppily) kissing me, or the crazy lady in line at the store who is talking my ear off , I never reveal my true feelings. I will allow the man to push himself on me, and allow the lady’s prattling to continue I as stand there smiling because I don’t want to be rude or hurt their feelings. After my declination of his offer he goes, “Are you sure? The offer won’t be on the table for long.” I acquiesced and said sure, I asked him to get me a Jack and coke. I waited expectantly for my drink, but as 5 minutes lagged on, with no drink in hand, Jack walked to the bar to buy another round of shots. My drink, however, was nowhere to be found. Finally I stomped up to the bar and $8 later, I ordered myself the damn drink.
The night got even worse. Chris ended up getting bombed. Unable to walk, Jack and I wrapped our arms around him, leading him down the street to walk the 9 blocks back to Jacks apartment. We stopped for pizza, thinking it might sober Chris up. After we finished our pizza, we continued to carry Chris out. I remember there being a long line at the pizza shop since bar close was a few minutes earlier. Chris was belligerent, on a tirade about how long the line was. We finally got our pizza and he began slamming his fists on the table, suddenly very upset for no apparent reason. I was humiliated to be sitting at the table with him. I was getting looks from everyone because Chris started yelling, he was acting like a petulant child, pissed that his parents didn’t buy him candy at the store.
We finally got Chris home and laid him down. I suggested we lay him in his side so he didn’t choke on his vomit. Jack and I crawled into bed and began to get frisky with each other. We started kissing and right before things started to get hot and raunchy, we heard the wreching of a drunk 21 year old. Jack got out of bed to see what all the commotion was. Perturbed, I laid in bed, anxiously awaiting his arrival so we could start where we left off. Jack came back into the room and informed me that Chris threw up all over his couch. God damn it! There goes the sex we were gonna have. I begrudgingly trudged out of bed to help Chris. He was still asleep/ blacked out. So I laid him on his side again, on the floor this time. I put a bucket by his head and told him where it was. There was vomit all over his shirt, and sweat dribbled from his pores. This was one drunk kid.
Like Mary to Jesus, I wiped Chris’s head with a napkin, tending to his wounds. I wiped the vomit from his shirt, mouth and carpet, and stroked his forehead. Jack was in the bathroom scrubbing his puke-stained fabric cushions. As self-declared germaphobe, I dashed to my car to grab the Clorox disinfecting wipes from my trunk. (Ya never know when disaster will hit!) I heatedly began disinfecting the whole apartment, spraying my perfume to cut through the acrid odor that penetrated our noses. The putrid odor of Chris’s bile and chunks of pizza filled the small apartment. After about an half hour of scrubbing down the cushions we fell into bed.
Ya see, I don’t know where I find these people! Not only did the night end terribly, ( I can still smell his vomit) our relationship ended on a rather dramatic note. After another night of drinking we got in a huge fight while he was at my apartment. He wanted to go, but it was 2am and I was in no state to be driving. For some reason I ended up seducing him and we had sex. It was angry, passion-filled and surreal. This was a big deal simply because I was the one who initiated the sex. As I mentioned earlier I have serious intimacy issues, and for some reason I felt that seducing him would solve our problems and pave over our fight.
Somehow he convinced to have sex without a condom for like, 5 seconds. His reasoning being “I wasn’t to show you what it feels like without a condom.” I recall pushing him off of me and I retorted, shrieking
“I am not ready to have a baby! Do you realize how much this would affect my life. You get to just walk away and I would be the one stuck with a kid!” My heart beats faster every time I remember the feigned compassion that oozed from his lips when he stated “Allie, I’m not going to leave you.”
In the morning I remember looking at him while he slept and feeling so distant from him. At the time, he felt like a foreign visitor in my bed, someone I felt detached and removed from. I stepped outside and enjoyed a glass of water on my balcony, anticipating the coming storm. I knew we would break up in the coming moments and wondered who was going to do it first. Detached and unfeeling he finally appeared on my balcony. He then broke up with me stating “I don’t think this is working anymore.” I didn’t question it and morosely agreed with his assessment of the situation. Then, the unthinkable happened. I drove his ass home. 30 min across town, and I brought his ass home. The bastard. It hit me on the way home that we had sex without a condom, in a panic I went to buy the $50 morning after pill. To this day is stil irks me that I had to pay for that pill by myself. Money was tight for me already, and I had to go buy a pill to handle a situation that should have never risen. I’m sure he was relived when I texted him the next that “ just so you know I got the morning after pill so don’t worry about me having a baby.” All I can say is he was a fucker– convincing me to have unprotected sex, promising that he will never leave me and then, 5 hours later breaking up me. What.An.Asshole.
On the positive side of things I can wholeheartedly say that dating Jack taught me a lot about myself. Not everything was awful, we had some nice moments. The biggest effect he had on me was the desire to go back to college. I have dropped out of college three times. The last time I dropped out, in 2012 I decided college just wasn’t for me. I was sick of studying, tired of not being challenged and just bored. I remember I didn’t study for my sociology exam and I still ended up getting the highest grade in the class. I figured, hey, I’m going to join the army and then maybe I will go back to school. Jack, in his senior year of college was on his way to graduating and going on to bigger and better things.
In our short relationship we daydreamed about our future. Lazily discussing our parenting styles, and disagreeing about domesticity, we conjured up our future life. It was when we had these talks that I realized, if and when we get married (yeah, how’s that workin’ out for ya Allie?) I would be the housewife with no college degree. Statistics tell us that college grads earn up to $20,000 more a year! In this less-than-fairy-tale ending my husband would be the bread winner. I could already smell the fresh-baked sugar cookies browning in the oven, feel the apron tied tightly around my thick waist as I busily hurried around the house picking up toy trucks and barbie dolls in the wake of the tornado left behind by my kids. Despite the fact that I NEVER want children, this scenario scared me. I don’t want to feel inadequate or like a failure because I got lazy and didn’t want to finish school. I am left with a piece Jack every Monday, Thursday and Friday when I got to school in pursuit of a communication degree.
Jack also made me aware of how negative my life was. He opened my eyes to the life I had been living for the past 22 years. I filled my days with negativity, and trudged along, allowing life to happen to me. I was lost, a directionless path going nowhere fast. I was in nowheresville, population one. It was during our short courtship that I had the starling epiphany: I was waiting to die. At this time in my life I was a heavy smoker, over weight and had a startling, reckless disregard to what happened to me. I welcomed death on a daily basis. I might get in a car crash today- no use in worrying about it because there is nothing I can do about it. If I keep smoking I will just cut years off of my life. If I died today I wouldn’t really care, I guess I have done enough with my life. It’s this outlook on life I had that was off-putting to Jack. He called me out on my morbid, morose outlook on life, which seemed to be present in our conversations. I remember a brisk summer night when were at dinner (of course, I wasn’t gonna eat in front of him, so I just sat there.) I was talking about how we all need to live life to the fullest because we are never promised tomorrow. I always believed I was being positive with this philosophy, but I realized that I wasn’t taking my own advice. Instead of carpe-dieming it up, I truly didn’t care if I died tomorrow, and actually welcomed the possibility. I shared that realization with him, stating I didn’t care what happened to me.
He then got very serious and said “how can I care about you if you don’t care about yourself? What would do you if someone was telling you what you are telling me now.”
I furrowed my brow, thinking hard about the hypothetical situation. I retorted “Well, if someone was that unhappy with life and complaining like that I would say …I suppose I would say if life is that bad then off yourself.” I don’t remember the exact look on his face but I know it conveyed displeasure and disbelief. I’m sure he wondered how someone could be so cynical.
After that night when I had my “all-I-want-to-do-is-die” epiphany I realized how utterly depressing that was! Who does that? Who just welcomes death and invites it into their lives. It was as if death was a special guest at my own little tea party of hell, constantly taunting me and remaining an ever present presence. I decided on that scorching summer day that I was going to change. I didn’t want to be this melancholy blotch in the world who hated her existence. Instead I would strive to be a happy, well-balanced, carpe diem kinda gal.