The night I came up with the idea for this article, a certain bartender at a certain bar I frequent (there are like three, so it shouldn't be difficult to figure out which one and SHUT-UP friend-of-mine-who-thinks-we-are-the-female-gas-n-sip-guys, we are NOT) quipped to me, "The one that got away? Yeah you'll know her when you see her, she's about 5' 7", she's got two black eyes and she'll be dragging a leash behind her." Cute.
Most of the messages I got from people had two predominate themes. They were mostly very short, did not really provide a lot of detail, but they all had certain things in common, which is VERY, VERY interesting. Ready?
1) I didn't know what I had and I pushed them away, or I cheated on them, or I ignored them. Whatever people did to make the other person leave isn't important, the point is that at least a third of the messages I received contained in them some form of I did not know what the person meant to me or what I had until it was gone. The writer usually followed the story up with something like, "I think about her almost every day." Sucks, doesn't it?
2) I never told them how I felt and now they are with someone else, or they moved, or they are gone in some other way from my life into the ether. The people let the person they wanted or cared about slip away, because they were too shy, or just couldn't make their move. This is also almost always followed up with, "I think about him all the time."- etc. These constituted another large percent of the messages.
I challenge everyone to examine where they are right now and what they are doing and learn something from these two groups. Evaluate the people in your life. Are you being reckless with someone you may later regret losing? Are you undervaluing someone who you really should place a higher worth on? Is there someone in your life you want to tell how you feel? Valentine's Day is approaching and although yes, that is a silly holiday maybe it is a chance to learn from the people who had someone "get away" from them for the reasons above and not allow it to happen to you. That is preventable stupidity. You can avoid the stupidity above. What does she mean to you? What does he mean to you? Tell her how you feel. Tell him how you feel. AVOID BEING FUCKING STUPID. Got it? Let's move on.
There were some stories which were different and which specifically stood out. One girl, who I haven't seen in a long time, but who is quite amazing, had her crush ruined by a love triangle involving a gay man. She was deeply in love with a guy and they hung out all the time with another guy who was gay, who apparently also had a crush on the other guy, who was straight. Out of jealousy, the gay guy told the straight guy about her feelings and apparently this guy did not reciprocate them for her. The next time she saw the straight guy she was in love with, it was awkward. Everything had changed and they could no longer even be friends. The friendship between all three of them was ruined and she never really saw them again.
Another girl I know from high school told me a story about being with a man who was poisonous for her, but who she loved. She said that when they were together, they were like a hurricane and either they destroyed each other, or everything around them. Ultimately, he ended up in jail, for charges she pressed against him and even though she wanted to be with him, she knows it's best he got away.
One of my very good friends who is hysterically funny, told me a story about liking this guy who I guess sort of had a bad drinking problem. He was with a man who was eighteen years his senior, but every time he would see my friend at the bar, they would drunkenly make out. My friend really liked him and thought he was handsome. Ultimately, I guess this other dude got sober and stayed with the old dude. My friend thinks he only did it for the money. Here is what he said about it, "Because otherwise can you imagine, sober AND dealing with old balls every day? No, I can't.
A certain person in my life who HATED (and maybe still hates) this blog, but who is an amazing writer and who is coming around slowly but surely, sent me a "50 word story" regarding "The One That Got Away" and here it is:
"Her face looked just the same in
the picture she sent as it had when he saw it over
the hood of his dead TR4, looking through the window
of the football captain’s new 442.
Her eyes sadly pitying, his near tears.
Eyes the same, but on different faces now."
The most powerful one I received by far, was from someone amazing and strong who I also know from school. I would love to see them again someday and I am so proud of him. I won't paraphrase it, because it is a perfectly written gem:
"Many years ago a close family friend (who was a generation older than me) tried to woo me and we ended up becoming a couple for some time. The gentleman was a VIP with a large Mid-western pharmaceutical company; someone with ample resources and connections (and a winning personality to boot). If arranged marriage existed for me, this would likely be the guy my family would choose. Well-liked/loved by all. I was very fond of the man; I had a special affinity for him. However, I wouldn't describe my feelings as intensely passionate as "love." In addition, this amazing guy also had an amazingly difficult condition/disease for which I felt ill-prepared. When things months later started to become more serious between us, I knew I had to let him (and myself)
off the hook. I made a selfish choice to end the relationship and I explained how difficult living daily life with a terminal condition might be for us. I failed him, and the worst part was, I used his own weaknesses as ammo for the split.
In March of 2012 I was standing aside the rails of Union Square (San Francisco) and an Indian man came up to me and asked for a cigarette, and a light, I obliged. The man wore a bright orange piece of fabric and little else. His features seemed weathered and he was well-creased, but, hardly pressed! He started speaking to me briefly about his life and its course; how he had come to share a smoke with me in San Fran. I nodded, and I don't know I paid close attention until he said something, something odd, that struck me. He mentioned failing to the same illness as my ex from many years ago, and by his casual demeanor, seemed unimpressed by his disclosure (to me). I finished my
cigarette hastily, and shook his hand. I retreated to the seclusion of the hotel, which felt in a delusional fashion at the time, more removed from the street-walking and company I had just left. I washed my hands several times over as if I'd lain with a leper. I never thought about either soul or man until a couple months ago when I also was diagnosed with the same illness and condition. Since, I realized my sin and shame for having pained a loved one in my past so deeply, by having rejected them based on their own weakness. Had I stayed in that scenario, I would now have significantly better resources available to me to combat my illness, and a greater knowledge base from which to work. At the time I thought I was saving myself, but I look back and regret that I was scarring myself also.
The other realization came to me much more quickly, because it required so much less
thought and emotion. I don't admit to being an entirely religious man, albeit spiritual, but certainly not overly religious. However, I have some sense of certainty that I saw the face of god last year, maybe one of the many millions of faces of god...in the Indian man. That was the other realization. The words of the Indian man have come to me many times since (despite my attention to that conversation at the time). I especially appreciated the nonchalant fashion in which the man described his illness and enjoyed his cigarette with me. I try to recall his presence a bit when panic sets in or I feel overwhelmed by my symptoms or condition. It does soothe me. His words still drive home for me my foolishness in judgment those many years ago. The man wanted me to
understand: Even the sick man, can be the one that got away. By some small fortune and fate, the ex ended up marrying, and starting a family...he leads a very happy and healthy life.
I quit smoking. Not quite as powerful, but a start.
Each day I become healthier, I try to spend a moment thinking about the "one that got away" or the Indian man. An active, conscious moment. I give them each that moment in the hopes that I can outwit my shame, and possibly join either of them in their pursuits of happiness that they more easily followed. I don't expect to walk beside them in the physical sense necessarily, as they both are leading their lives. And rightly so! I simply dream to now live as simply and serenely in my illness as they each do. With dignity. Such a funny thing to have shunned and scoffed these two men, who both, in turn, have become my heroes."
Now THAT is someone who learned something from "The One That Got Away". We should all be so introspective...
So, now that you've been so patient, here is a story about my messy nonsense. I could tell you some others, but for now they'll just have to keep...
When I was 21, I lived in Kalamazoo, in an apartment with two other girls. One of them had a Christmas themed name, but since we are protecting identities we'll call her "Noel". Noel was a very pretty, very insecure girl. She was a classic One-upper and she was very needlessly competitive with me. It turned out that Noel was also very severely bulimic and although I won't detail the specifics of her issues suffice it to say the problem took a turn for the macabrely bizarre. Sometimes Bulimics are so desperate to hide their problem, they won't throw up in the toilet anymore and find other ways to hide their obssession and that's all the detail I will provide. When my other roommate and I discovered this, we called her parents, who took her out of school. This enraged her and we had a falling out. She was pretty fucking crazy. Months later, she tried to reconcile with me and when I was home for the weekend, she asked me to come meet her and her new boyfriend at a club called "Space" in downtown Detroit. If you don't remember Space, it was this nutty nightclub with drag queens and a balloon drop and what-have-you. I agreed to meet her and I was looking forward to putting things behind us.
On the appointed night, I drove down to Space alone and met her and her boyfriend outside the club. I thought we would be dancing, so I didn't carry a purse. I was wearing a skirt without pockets, so I asked Noel if she would put my keys in her purse. I had a pack of cigarettes on me, so I shoved my license and some cash in the pack of smokes and figured I would just carry that around. I did not bring my cell phone with me at the time (It was like 2001) and since I was 21 and not 31, I didn't need the arsenal of beauty products I need now to not look like a creature from the swamp.
Once inside, I noticed she was acting sort of weird and so was her dude. There was this area in the club with all these beds set up and right away she wanted to go lay on one of the beds. I thought... "Okay, we just got here, but whatever." I got a drink for myself and neither she nor her boyfriend wanted one. We found a bed (seriously, a bed) and they snuggled right up on it. I asked her if they were okay and she replied, "Yeah, we're fine we're just rolling." Dude, I am no angel; I have done my share of recreational drugs and I actually do not have a problem with people taking Ecstasy, but we were meeting to have a good time dancing and have our big reconciliation moment. Why the hell did she think it was cool for her and her boyfriend to roll while I just kind of sat there alone? So weird. So not cool. I tried to hang and be okay with it, but they just got increasingly fucked up, so I told them I was going to go dance and walk around. Space was a big club and even though I felt kind of stupid walking around by myself, I was all dressed up, I didn't have any other plans that evening and I paid to get in. I was determined to have a good time. So here I am, kind of doing my thing for awhile and dancing and drinking and because me doing my thing is at its core really stupid, at some point I trip on some steps and break the heel off my shoe.
Now, I'm pissed. I am more determined than ever to make things right, so I get a salt shaker from a bartender and I go off into this little enclave where there was an empty table and I am standing there, trying to hammer the heel back on my shoe with a salt shaker. I had quite a bit to drink by then, but I was convinced this would work. I am trying to bend back the nails on the heel and then hammer the heel back on with a goddamn salt shaker. I look up and I notice that there is a guy, who is watching me do this, with a very amused look on his face. "What?" I demanded, snidely, "Do you think what I'm doing is funny somehow? Do you have a better idea?" He walked over.
"Yes, I do think what you're doing is extremely funny. To be honest, I'm not really sure what you're doing. Are you actually trying to hammer the heel back on your shoe with a salt shaker?"
"I am and as you can see, it's not fucking working."
"Where are your friends, are you here alone?"
"I may as well be. I came with my friend and her boyfriend, but they took E and they're fucking rolling their asses off, so I was trying to have a good time on my own but I tripped and the heel broke off my shoe and now I am over here at this table trying to pound it back on with a salt shaker."
Instead of looking at me like I had ten heads, he gave me sort of a crooked smile, as if I were a charmingly funny little thing. He told me his name was Anthony and I told him my name. For the next twenty minutes, he also tried to hammer the heel back on my shoe with the salt shaker. We were, of course, totally unsuccessful, but he made me laugh. He offered to help me find my friends and he made a big production of helping me hobble around the bar. When we got back to the bed area, of course, Noel and her creepy boyfriend were nowhere to be found. He assured me that they would probably be back and we went over to the closest bar. We spent the rest of the time talking. He was a stand-up comedian, just a few years older than me. It was one of the best conversations I have ever had in my entire life and I am always searching for that type of connection. Just before 2:00 a.m., we did the dumbest thing I have ever done. Neither of us had a phone on us and neither of us had a pen and he suggested that we tell each other our phone numbers and if we were really meant to see each other again, we would remember the numbers. He assured me there was no way he would forget mine. He called me "Cinderella". Because at heart, I am a stupid romantic, I was so enchanted, I thought maybe this was fate and I agreed. After we told each other our phone numbers and repeated them several times, he kissed me softly and then he left. Sometimes, when I think about that moment, I actually wish I could go back in time and shake myself. Why? Why would I not just get a pen from the bartender? I could get a salt shaker but not a PEN? What course might my life have taken if I had just made the rational decision instead of the impulsive romantic sounding one? Still, I was only 21 and I thought I had all the time and opportunity in the world and quite frankly, I thought I was pretty damn special.
It was then I looked up to see if Noel and the douche had returned. Shit. They had not. I completely forgot about them. Normally, I wouldn't care, but remember... she had my car keys. Frantic, I hobbled around the club desperately searching for them. They were gone, it was clear they had left the club, all drugged up, with my car keys. I went up to the bouncer to explain the situation and I begged him to please let me look around outside for them and asked him to please let me back in. I explained to him that I didn't have my cell phone with me and I asked him if I could please come back in to call a cab if I couldn't find them; he agreed. I didn't know where they parked, but at this point the whole thing felt futile anyway. Just as I was about to go back inside the club and call a cab... back to West Bloomfield mind you, the boyfriend shouted my name from across the street. Livid, I hobbled across the street to meet him. "Noel just wanted to go and she forgot we had your keys." Yeah. I guess so. He handed me my keys and I said goodbye. I wanted to tell him to tell Noel to forget my number, but it felt pretty pointless at that moment. She'd probably already forgotten it anyway.
I stumbled down the street, with my broken shoe toward my car. By this time, the bars were all getting out and the street was full of people. This random dude (who was African American, not that it matters, but it does for this story) starts following me down the street, cat-calling at me. I was not in the mood, so I am responding with things like, "Whatever" and "Okay, thanks dude." He was pretty persistent and he followed me all the way to my car. Once I got in he actually knocked on the window and said something like, "Baby, all I want is your digits, why you being so cold?"
So, I rolled down the window and said, "Listen, I told you to leave me alone once. My fucking friend showed up at the bar on drugs, I had to spend the whole night alone, I broke my fucking shoe and then almost got ditched and had to call a cab home, now don't make me tell you again to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM MY CAR!"
And he looks at me and says, "Damn. You one evil white bitch." Yes. Yes, I was.
By morning, I'd forgotten Anthony's phone number and I'm sure he'd forgotten mine because he never called. At least I hope he forgot, because the alternative is he decided not to call and I can't tolerate that alternative. Now, I like to pretend that he was Anthony Jeselnik, although Anthony Jeselnik is from Pittsburgh and it's definitely probably not Anthony Jeselnik.
I did once almost have sex with Daniel Tosh. Sort of. When I was in college, he wasn't famous yet and he did an act in the Student Center at Oakland University. I saw him do his act there with my brother one night and my brother had to leave. I thought he was so funny, I sat there by myself watching. I had to leave to meet friends for drinks, but I didn't want to go. At a certain point, I really had to go, so I went to stand up and get my shit. He called me out, "Hey! You think just because you're a pretty girl you can be all rude and shit and just leave in the middle of my act?"
"I wasn't leaving. Well, I mean, I was. I mean, I'm late. I just... well, I'll just stay."
"What do you? Like, what's your job?"
"I wait tables."
"Okay, perfect, I have a restaurant joke just for you, pretty girl. I'll do my best restaurant joke for you. Some day, I'm going to open a restaurant called 'Thank You For Calling, How May I Help You' just so when people answer the phones they have to say, 'Thank you for calling how may I help you, Thank You For Calling, How May I Help You, how may I help you?' And that will make the people who work there feel stupid, but that's okay, because in return I'll let them hit all the customers on the backs of their heads and maybe you're wondering why anyone would come there if the servers get to hit the customers on the backs of their heads? Why? Because the food is delicious."
I had never had a comedian do a joke just for me before and obviously, I kind of have a thing for comedians, so I stayed until the end of his set. Brazen as I was in those days and having recently come off my "Space" encounter with Anthony Jeselnik, I approached Daniel Tosh after his set and asked him out for a drink. He told me he was having dinner with some of the people he was traveling with, but he would be at his hotel bar later and he told me what hotel he was staying at. I told him maybe I would stop by. I then left to meet my friends. A few hours later, I stopped by the hotel bar, fairly buzzed up and Daniel Tosh was not there and I did not get to bang him. Instead, I used the bathroom and went home. So, Daniel Tosh is also "one that got away" for me. That is still closer than any of you have ever gotten to sleeping with Daniel Tosh or Anthony Jeselnik, so put that in your pipe and smoke it.
AND THAT dear readers, is your Friday post. Here is my advice this weekend. Don't let anyone get away from you. You get that bunny and you fucking sit on it. Okay, that isn't exactly what I mean. I just mean if you know you want something, go out there any get it. Don't let it get away, not if there is a healthy and reasonable way to be with someone you like or love. Lightening doesn't usually strike twice.