“You make me dance like fool,
Forget how to breathe
Shine like gold,
Buzz like a bee;
Just the thought of you can drive me wild…
Oh, you make me smile” – “Smile,” Uncle Kracker
It was approximately 10:00am when my work phone rang. It was a local number, but I didn’t recognize it. “Where I Work, this is Me…”
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOOOOOOOOOOOOOU…” I immediately recognized Dave’s sleepy, craggly, deep voice and I started laughing. “You dork!”
“How is your 34th birthday going?” he asked.
“Better now! That was unexpected!”
“I thought I’d just call and surprise you and wish you a happy birthday.”
“Well thank you, that’s sweet. We still good for tonight, then?”
“Yeah, I was going to suggest cooking at your place, since I’m working north of you. It would just be easier for me to drive there after, instead of coming home and then coming back up to your place.”
“That’s fine with me. You know what time you’re planning on getting there?”
“No idea. Hopefully 6 or so. My dad’s going to watch the dogs tonight, so I don’t have to worry about letting them out or anything.”
“Okay, sounds good. Looking forward to it.”
“Me too. I gotta run, though.”
“Okay. Thanks for the call. Made my day.”
“Ha ha, you’re welcome. See you tonight.”
Dave had promised me whatever I wanted for my birthday dinner, he was going to cook it all. I had chosen crab legs, and left the side dishes up to him. I’d never had someone actually steam crab legs for me, and I love the taste of them, so why not?
I was giddy to the point of bouncing in my seat. Things were going pretty well with us. He’d been a bit quieter than normal the prior weeks, but he explained it was the stress of dealing with his divorce and with business slowing down due to the economy. I completely understood. We actually decided to scale back some of our Thursday night dinners because of it. And honestly, I was really excited to see what he got me for a gift. He told me a week prior that he had the perfect gift for me. He saw it and just knew that I would love it. I was dying to see what he came up with. So far, 34 was starting off a LOT better than some previous years.
“One minute I held the key
Next the walls were closed on me
And I discovered that my castles stand
Upon pillars of salt and pillars of sand.” – “Viva La Vida,” Coldplay
I got a text from Dave at 12:36. “I have something that I need to tell you and you’re not going to like it, but I hope you’ll understand.”
I sat and stared at it. I just knew that meant something had come up and he wasn’t going to be able to make it tonight to make dinner. I took a deep breath. I texted back: “You’re not canceling on me, are you?”
I immediately go t a text back: “No, something else.”
I picked up the phone and called him. It was 12:38. I remember the time, clear as day, because I had a meeting scheduled at 1:00.
He answers. “Hello?”
I try to keep my voice light. “All right, what’s going on?”
There was a long silence on his end. With each second, the knot in my stomach grew larger and larger, and grabbed me tighter and tighter.
“Awwww man… I’m such a pussy.” He sighed. “I didn’t want to do this over text, but I was kinda hoping I could. Then you had to go and call…”
“What, Dave? Please tell me what’s going on?”
He sighed again. “Well, um, about 3 ½ weeks ago, I was down at ‘A Bar,’ having a drink and I ran into someone from my high school. We started talking and…” he trailed off. I was breathless. He finished the sentence in almost a whisper. “…and I think I just kinda want to just see her.”
I took a deep breath and tears came to my eyes. I almost threw up at my desk. My stomach was clenched so tight, I could barely breathe.
“I…” I couldn’t finish. I didn’t know what to say.
“I still want to come over and see you tonight. I want to make you dinner, and I want to give you your present.”
“You can keep your present.” I said. “Don’t worry about it. You don’t have to give it to me.”
“No, no. I got it especially for you. I want you to have it. And I promised I would make you dinner, and I still want to.”
“You’re not obligated to any more.”
“I don’t feel obligated. I still want to come over if you’ll let me.”
I paused and sat there, still stunned. Was I having this conversation right now? Tears were actually streaming down my face. Yes, I was having this conversation. “On my birthday, really?”
He sighed. “The timing is terrible, I know. But I couldn’t wait another day.”
“But my birthday?” I whispered.
He didn’t say anything.
I sighed. Deep down, in my heart and my gut, I knew that if he came over, it would be the last time I ever saw him. I was wrestling with myself as to whether or not it would do more harm than good to see him. As much as it would hurt to see him go, I couldn’t let him get out of this by doing it over the phone. I needed him to see me, to see my face, to watch me cry, to see how he was hurting me.
“Okay, fine. You can come over.”
He said okay and I told him I had to hang up to go to a meeting. A 2 hour long meeting. Where I got to sit in a room with 12 other people and try to get myself composed. I failed. I was sniffling and wiping my eyes every 5 minutes. A couple people noticed but didn’t say anything. It honestly was the longest 2 hours of my life. I kept replaying everything that had gone on the past couple of weeks in my head. There was one glaringly obvious sign that I chose to ignore because up until that point, he’d given me no reason to doubt him or to be suspicious that anything else was going on. And no, I’m not going to go into detail as to what that glaringly obvious sign was. Its irrelevant.
The meeting got over and I walked up to my boss and asked him if I could leave an hour early. I told him it was a family crisis, and there was no way I’d be able to get anything done the last hour. He looked at me and said that was fine. I grabbed my purse, my jacket and left, heading home.
“I think she’s leaving
Ooh man she’s leaving
I don’t know what else to do.” – “Over and Over,” Nelly featuring Tim McGraw
I called my sister.
I sniffled. “Dave just dumped me.”
She paused. “What? You’re lying.”
“No, I’m dead serious.”
“What?! I can’t believe that! On your BIRTHDAY?!?”
My sister and brother in law had met up with Dave & I about a month prior. The 4 of us (and a friend of theirs) went out for dinner & drinks. We had an amazingly great time. My sister said he was really cool, he seemed really into me, was funny. Dave said that he loved hanging out with them. Found them funny and we had actually made plans to go visit them for a weekend in May.
She growled. “I think I still have his cellphone number in my phone. I should call him up and bitch his ass out.”
“No.. I’m going to do that tonight. He still wants to come over and cook me dinner for my birthday.”
“And you’re going to let him?!? WHY?!?!”
“Because I can’t let him break up with me over the phone.”
“Who cares? He’s an asshole! You should just ignore him and never talk to him again.”
“I can’t do that though.. I need to see him.”
“I… I don’t know. I can’t explain it. Probably because I know I’ll never see him again. I can’t just throw away 5 months in one night.”
“Why not? He did.”
“I am being serious. What a jerk.”
I sighed. I’m not sure if I ever loved my sister more than I did at that moment. She was so pissed off, so outraged that someone that I cared for that much had hurt me so badly. I was tempted to let her call him, but I knew it would make it worse. “Its fine. I’ll call you later about it.”
“Okay. Let me know if you need anything.”
I called Michelle, my best friend, and we talked for awhile. I was sitting on my couch, still talking to her, when Dave pulled up around 6:30. I heard him rumbling around outside, heard him come in the door. He was lugging a box up my stairs. My birthday present. “I have to go,” I told Michelle. “He’s here.”
“I gave her my heart, and she gave me a pen.” –Lloyd Dobbler, “Say Anything.”
I couldn’t look at him. I physically could not look him in the eyes. He put the box at the top of the stairs and I stared down at it. It was a cooler. Yes, THAT kind of cooler. That you keep beer in. “What is this?” I asked.
“Your gift,” he said. “I know how much you like to tailgate, so I thought you could take this along.”
“You can keep it, its fine. You don’t have to give it to me.”
The trust was, I didn’t WANT it. A fucking COOLER. THAT was my perfect gift? Its like he didn’t even know me at ALL. It meant nothing to me. Of all of the things he could have gotten, Christ. A COOLER.
“No, I want you to have it. I picked it out for you.”
It was just getting worse.
I sighed and said, “Okay,” and left the cooler where it was at the top of the stairs (and where it would remain for the next month and a half. I made sure to kick it everytime I came home. There’s a nice dent in the side of the box). I turned and walked into the kitchen so I could grab a recipe on the counter that I was planning on making that night. He wasn’t saying anything and neither was I.
I then walked to the end table to pick up my keys. We still hadn’t made eye contact. I couldn’t look at him. “Um.. okay.. we uh need to go to the store and get a couple things quick…” I stopped and took a deep breath, trying not to cry.
He came up behind me and said softly, “Hey, hey, hey…” and put his arms around me and hugged me from behind.
I shrugged him off and said, “Please don’t touch me right now. If you do that I’m going to start crying and I don’t want go into the grocery store looking like that.”
Even though I couldn’t see his face, I knew that hurt him when I heard the “Okay” that he mumbled.
We went to the store and all we did was walk around. He tried to converse, but I just whispered one or two word answers. I had no desire to be there right now. But I couldn’t tell him to fuck off and get out of my life, either. Not yet.
We drove back to my place. I unpacked the bags on the counter and he sat down at the kitchen table and just looked at me. Finally I got the courage to look up at him. And the tears finally came.
“It’s no surprise I won’t be here tomorrow
I can’t believe that I stayed till today
Yeah you and I will be a tough act to follow
But I know in time we’ll find this was no surprise.” – “No Surprise,” Daughtry
As great as I am at remembering conversations, this one, I’ll be honest, I only remember snippits of. I apologize if this comes across as disjointed, but for obvious reasons, my recollection of the whole thing is cloudy.
“I’m really sorry.”
“But my birthday, Dave? Seriously? My fucking birthday?!?”
“Its bad timing, I know. My sister even told me not to do it on your birthday.”
“Your SISTER? You talked to your sister about this???”
“Yes. I needed some advice on what to do.”
“So you decided to completely ignore her advice then? My BIRTHDAY?!? Why couldn’t you have waited until tomorrow? Or next week or something?!”
“Because I didn’t want you to look back on your birthday and think that this was all a lie.”
“Oh, like this is so much better.”
“Well what do you want me to do?”
“I DON’T KNOW!”
“This isn’t easy for me either, knowing that I’ve hurt you as much as I have with this.”
“Really? Because it seems pretty easy on your end from where I’m standing.”
“Seriously, if I didn’t care about you, I wouldn’t be here right now. I would have totally broken it off in that text message and deleted your number and not looked back. But I care a lot about you, and that’s why I wanted to come here tonight. To not run away from this.”
I wanted to ask him WHY.. WHY WHYWHYWHYWHYWHYWHY!!!!!!!! What every girl wants to know: Why HER AND NOT ME. WHAT IS SO WRONG WITH ME AND SO RIGHT WITH HER?!?!?!?!? But the thought of him telling me how wonderful she is made me sick to my stomach and so I didn’t WANT to know. I wanted him to tell me that there was nothing wrong with me, that if he could be with me he would be, but he had to donate her a kidney or something and so he was obligated to be with her. Even if it wasn’t the truth, that’s what I wanted to hear.
“I can’t explain what happened. We just started talking at the bar one night, exchanged numbers and have been talking and texting non-stop and.. I want to see where this goes.”
I wanted to put my hands over my ears and scream ENOUGHENOUGHENOUGHENOUGH SHUT THE FUCK UP AND STOP TALKING ABOUT HER. I DON’T WANT TO HEAR ALL THIS!!!! I also wanted to tell him, “Funny, that’s EXACTLY how you and I started out. That’s how the first 3 months of OUR relationship was, too.”
But I didn’t.
Then I get…
“I KNEW you were getting too attached to me. I warned you not to get attached.”
“Well you got attached to me, too! You even said so yourself!”
Hello, ASS… you JUST got done telling me how much you care about me and THAT’S why you came over instead of breaking up with me over the phone. I wanted to yell HOW DARE YOU USE MY FEELINGS FOR YOU AGAINST ME.. AS AN EASY WAY OUT OF THIS RELATIONSHIP.
I said, “How was I getting too attached?”
“Things you said, things you did.. it made me realize that you had deeper feelings for me than you were telling me.”
“Give me an example.”
ARGH! “Well then I don’t see how you can say that about me.”
“I see you 2-3 times a week. That’s more than I see my family or any of my other friends. I spend a lot of time with you.”
“So what? Its not like you couldn’t say ‘No, I don’t want to hang out tonight.’ We’ve had plans fall through before. Did I get upset or anything?”
“Well then? I don’t get how that matters? If you didn’t want to hang out with me, you should have SAID so.”
“But I DID want to hang out with you.. its just that I’m not used to seeing someone that much.”
“So WHAT IS THE ISSUE THEN?”
“You are just way more into me than you are letting on. You’re not being honest with me about your feelings.”
“What are you talking about? Anytime you’ve asked me how I feel about you, I’ve always answered you honestly.”
“You told me that in 6 months, if this doesn’t work out, then you’re fine with that.”
“Yeah, I meant if the 2 of us dating doesn’t work out, then hey, we gave it a shot. I didn’t mean because you’d be seeing someone else on the side. Besides, its not even that.. Okay, fine, so you’re not as interested in me as you were. I get that, that happens. That’s not the whole reason I am upset.”
“You’re upset because we can’t do this anymore. Because we can’t do our dinners anymore.”
“YES. Because we’ve had such a great time together. THIS is what I look forward to every week.”
“Me too! We can still do this.. I just wouldn’t feel comfortable without having her there, though.”
I just stared at him. I wanted to punch him in the face right then.
“We can still be friends after this. That’s what I want. Its why I’m here.”
I laughed out loud. “No we can’t.”
“Why not? Yes we can, unless you don’t want to.”
“Oh I would want to, I can’t imagine you NOT being in my life, but your new girlfriend won’t allow it.”
“Why wouldn’t she?”
“Because I’ve been through all this before with my roommate. She will not let you be friends with, or hang out with someone you’ve dated, who is now single. There is no way.”
“Do you really think I am the kind of person who would date someone who dictated to me who I could and couldn’t hang out with? No. I will not allow her to dictate who my friends are.”
“It doesn’t matter. She will. And you’ll allow it.”
“We can still hang out, like meet up with friends at a bar or something.”
“When do we EVER do that now?”
“I don’t know.”
“Whatever, Dave. I don’t think you realize how much this is hurting me. Do you understand that in one fell swoop, I lost a relationship and a friendship that meant so much to me, when I didn’t even know it was in trouble? Do you have any idea what that’s like?”
Sometime in the midst of all of this, we ate dinner. Well, he did. I just picked at it.
Then we ended up on the couch, talking. I finally allowed him to hug me while I was crying. It wasn’t comforting at all. Again, I knew it was the last time I would see him.
“How can you just walk away from me,
When all I can do is watch you leave…
Take a look at me now,
”Cause there’s just an empty space.
There’s nothing left here to remind me,
Just the memory of your face.” – “Against All Odds,” Phil Collins
He left around 11. As I walked him down the stairs, he said, “Promise me you’ll text me tomorrow morning?”
“I’m going to be really upset if you don’t talk to me tomorrow.” Again, trying to keep up the friend façade.
I said, “Sure.” I sat down on the stairs and watched him put on his shoes. He then looked at me, really looked at me, and winced. He had emotion behind those eyes.
He leaned over and gave me a huge hug. And then he whispered something in my ear that stabbed me in the gut more than anything else he said that night.
“Please have faith in me.”
And I knew right then, I didn’t.
I have to stop writing this now, because I’m really getting worked up over this, even 7 months later. There’s a bit more to the story (kind of), and I didn’t exactly get all my thoughts about it out. That’ll come in a later post. I can’t do it right now.
And one last thing, please no “What a fucking asshole” comments, please. Its not what I’m trying to get out of this post. Yes, he did a shitty thing, but I don’t necessarily believe he was a shitty guy. So keep that in mind with what you say.