Getting Personal

I’ve had a few requests here to get a bit more personal. You know, to provide details of dating and sex and all that juicy stuff. I didn’t realize that being a blogger put you in the same camp as a DJ. Am I supposed to take requests? I imagine it gets quite tricky posting personal details, especially if they happen in virtual real time and include other people, whom from this point forward I will refer to as draftees due to their involuntary inclusion. Let’s see, you and I went on a date last night, and now I’m sharing all my reactions to it here in public. Odds of a second date are…?

If I were to honor the request and accept this challenge, I undoubtedly would start with my most recent personal experience: A man with whom I’ve had a confusing, spicy entanglement – and who ultimately relegated me to the much cherished ‘friends with benefits’ category – calls and asks if he can fix me up with one of his new friends. I still can’t figure out if this is a compliment or an insult. Kind of teeters between the two.

But I say ‘yes’ because Fixer Upper makes a good pitch, and I am coming off a dry spell. Besides, this may provide the positive spin I need to digest all the craziness that’s transpired with him. Despite the curiosity surging through my brain, pride prevents me from asking Fixer Upper how he offered me up to his friend. I can only imagine.

I meet Draftee #1 at a dinner party I host when Fixer Upper brings him along. The entire evening is a joy, and I’m quite impressed with Fixer Upper’s instincts. Draftee #1 offers grand appeal, and we seem to have some nice overlap. Following a spontaneous jam session – the result of five musicians gathered in a home cluttered with musical instruments – most of the guests depart citing fatigue and the next day’s work demands. Draftee #1 lingers behind as I clean up, sip my wine, and pick at the remaining dessert. We have a moment to investigate each other away from the watchful eye of Fixer Upper who kept coaching me all night to “go talk to him.” Surreal? Yes. Comfortable? Not so much. But in the one-on-one scenario, Draftee #1 and I do pretty well. A follow-up date is fixed.

Upon awaking the next morning, I feel hung over, and it’s not from the wine. A part of me is so burnt out from investigating new people that I would rather do anything than actually try again. When the phone rings a few hours later, and I hear the voice of an old flame inviting me to join him at a party that evening, I eagerly agree, largely because the offer to tread in familiarity is so damn appealing. I’ve always said that I love change, but sometimes newness gets very old.

The evening arrives, and I wander into the party. Rather than the promised wild time, I encounter a room of lawyers delivering self-congratulatory speeches on some big case settlement to a silent crowd. I scan the room for my former romantic partner, Draftee #2, but he’s nowhere to be seen. With deft thumbs, I send a pleading text message, ‘Where are you??!!’ as I step outside seeking breathable air. Moments later, my phone rings, and we set a meeting point upstairs in a corner.

I love the delicious ease of flirting with Draftee #2. He and I expect nothing of each other. I don’t feel jealous when he checks out other women, nor am I offended when he tries to fix me up with someone else at the party. We’ve already played out our story, and we’re both comfortable with where we’ve arrived. We laugh together about the romantic desert we’re moving through forgetting that we were once huddled together at the oasis. (Yes, it was very alcohol filled and under a neon sign, an impressive first date that was never matched by our subsequent meetings.)

I guess I should say that things didn’t pan out with Draftee #1. Just one of those things you can’t explain. Meanwhile, Draftee #2 and I have been talking a lot, mostly coaching and teasing each other about the dating landscape like war buddies sharing tales that no one else will quite understand, as we honor the passage from optimism to disappointment to the conviction that next time will be better. He also offers to fill my loneliness in the interim, a purely selfless act no doubt. And while I haven’t accepted, hearing his voice on the other end of a phone line has made me feel light on several occasions.

Despite the nice talks with Draftee #2, I recognize that it is easier for me to reveal myself publicly than with close friends. I’ve always been great on those long European train rides locked in a compartment with strange faces where anonymity and picturesque scenery prompts intimate dialogue. Yet when the train pulls into the station and it’s time for one of us to disembark, I’m never prepared to say good-bye, wishing I could take this new friend home with me like a souvenir.

Draftee #2 was the one who requested I get personal here, undoubtedly not anticipating his own inclusion, but he doesn’t understand that getting personal for me goes far deeper than tales of sex and dating. A friend of mine living across the globe told me how she recently enjoyed a two week DVD marathon session of all the seasons of Sex and the City, and how the friendships the show depicts seem nearly unattainable.

“With my friends, we won’t even tell each another if they have bad breath,” she said, “but instead we go home and complain about it to our mates.”

For me the truly personal is the courage to admit to our friends the pain of a hurtful comment or the humiliating experience or to boast of a glorious feeling. But if you’re anything like me, you often keep those feelings to yourself. If you come clean, I congratulate you. I bet you even tell your best friend if her breath really stinks.

Maybe I can treat these disclosures as phase one as I work up to phase two. It's not exactly what Draftee #2 requested, but if he's really my friend, he'll understand.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

the bad breath example and the full disclosure reluctance v-a-v this hygeine element has me worried..... as i am your best friend... or one of them.... why did this example float to mind????
am going to buy a case of altoids immediately.