May 25, 2006
Singles - Want, Not Want
Remember the guy I wanted to want me?
He wants me.
Get this: The other day I got a phone call from him. Remember him? I hardly do, understandably so, because it's been about three months since we had a date. A good date, as far as dates go. I mean, the restaurant was nice, the food was good, the conversation flowed, and we liked each other, as people if not potential mates, but that's saying a lot, as many of my blind dates end with the feeling that after one minute more I'd be arrested for murder.
We traded a couple of e-mails after the date and said we'd be in touch, said it that halfhearted way that meant we were never going to see each other again. End of story.
Except it wasn't. Relationships in my life never seem to end. Guys are always calling me back, weeks, months, years later. My life is like an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie: He'll be back. After a breakup I try to remember this, that there are never any goodbyes, just au revoirs. Trickle Trickle Drip Drip.
"Hi, Amy. Sorry I've been out of touch," he says in his message, as if we were ever in touch on a regular basis; as if a week had gone by, and not a season; as if I should remember who he even is; as if I'd been sitting by the phone waiting for his call.
I called him back. I probably shouldn't have but I was curious. To what did I owe the honors? Did he want to set me up with someone? Did he have a job for me?
"Sorry I've been out of touch, but I was having a little existential crisis," he said.
"Is it over yet?" asked. Guys in and out of my life are always having existential crises. I wish they would just have a real one. Actual crises are so much more finite.
"Anyway, I was thinking about calling you. I was thinking it would be nice to talk to Amy Klein," he said. I stayed silent. It's weird enough when people talk about themselves in the third person, but it's even stranger when someone talks to you about yourself in the third person.
"I thought we could get to know each other," he said. I stayed silent at first because I couldn't believe a person was asking me out three months later, and then it quickly hit me that he must have gotten dumped or something -- something -- because these calls don't come out of the blue. I had nothing to lose at this point, so I just asked him straight out.
"So what's been going on in your dating life that precipitated this call?"
"Funny you should ask that," he said, and went on to tell me how he'd been dating a woman and they really clicked, but she was 42 and wanted to get married and have kids, and he just wasn't on that fast-track program -- I wanted to know which program he was on, the pretend-I'm-interested-in-a-relationship-but-I-need years-of-therapy-program? The jerk-people-around-till-I'm-ready-program? In any case, they broke up and became friends.
"And so I thought of you. I thought, 'Hey I like to get to know women slowly, I can do this with Amy Klein,'" he said, as if reminding himself of my name. "I mean, and I'm just thinking out loud here, sometimes I freak out on a blind date when there's no instant click, and I wasn't necessarily smitten with you, but I'd like to get to know you."
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Rewind tape, counselor. Of course, in playback it's easy to see what a complete narcissist this guy is, not asking me one question about where I was in life, if I'd gotten married, had kids, gotten divorced, etc. In the moment, though, I was half flattered. I mean, on the date I hadn't been sure how I had felt about him, but still, I wanted him to like me. And he liked me. He did, right?
But suddenly it hit me: He doesn't like me enough. Now, no one's saying a person should be in love with me after one date -- two, maybe -- but three months, one existential crisis and another girlfriend? That's a bit much, even with someone as flexible as me.
"Don't you think I should be with someone who's smitten with me?" I asked. I really had nothing to lose. "I mean, doesn't Amy Klein deserve that?"
He paused, maybe for the first time. Maybe this phone call wasn't such a good idea, maybe there was another person on the other end of the line, maybe that's what he was thinking. No, he wasn't. He was still thinking about himself.
"I'm not saying I was smitten with you. I was just saying I wasn't necessarily smitten with you," he said, reinforcing the insult even as he tried to mitigate it. Perhaps the fact that he wanted to share his precious time with me should be compliment enough.
There comes a point in your dating life where you have to try and stop proving to people what idiots they are. That point, for better or worse, has just arrived in my life.
I said I'd call him back. I will -- in three months. After my existential crisis is over.