Monthly Archives: February 2010

When He Starts Drawing Diagrams on a Napkin, It’s A Good Time to Leave

Part I
About 15 years ago I made my maiden voyage to Martha’s Vineyard. I was meeting some friends who lived in LA and knew the Vineyard really well (WASPS opening their world to a Jew who wasn’t used to crossing water for the weekend.)

I ended up on a small, rough-hewn ferry, not like the ones I’ve been on since with their wireless and wine. There weren’t many people on the boat, just a handful of us, so the handsome, pock-marked man with a calm look caught my attention. I don’t remember how we ended up talking (my ex-husband would say that I probably pushed my breasts out and tossed my hair, something he always says I do when I flirt)but I found out that he was the roadie/manager for a band that was playing at a bar in Oak Bluffs very close to where the ferry docks. Somehow I wormed my way into his lunch with the band members at the bar. I probably drank my signature drink from back in those days–a white wine spritzer– which probably got me tipsy after only one (I’m still very much a light-weight–I now stop after two glasses of non-spritzy wine.)

I can’t remember if (let’s call him….”Clive”) Clive was paying any attention to me but I was comfortable enough to hold my own. After lunch, I walked to my small hotel, very “London bedsit,” and probably the only place under $150 a night on the Vineyard. The guys from the band asked me to come see them play that night and I didn’t think that there would be any way in hell that my two gay, West Coast friends would come with me to continue my flirtation with a roadie for some hippie-ish bar band. But, well, they did and it actually became their MISSION to get me laid by a roadie for some hippie-ish bar band.

My friends and I had a great time at the bar and the band was surprisingly excellent. When they had played their last set and Clive started breaking down, my friends URGED me to suggest that he come back to my hotel room. Even NOW, in my recently-discovered sexual confidence I couldn’t see myself being quite that bold, and back then? Unheard of. The bar lights were flashing last call, and my friend was insisting that I slip him my room number. Somehow, it ended up on a napkin along with my lipsticked mouth imprint and my friend ran to the stage to give it to him. I was mortified. I was thrilled.

Like a ship captain’s wife holding vigil, but without the widow’s walk and flowy white nightgown I always picture the pacing widows in, I stared out my window almost all night, waiting for Clive to walk up the path to the hotel and come rap at my door. I TRULY believed that it would happen and it would be the beginning of a whole new kind of me. The bed was right under the window and I remember just finally sinking, rather sadly, into sleep. When I left the next morning to go meet my friends, I noticed that they had left a little note taped to a post that said “Gayle’s Room” with an arrow pointing in my direction.

(A detail that I can’t remember now, but is so typically me): The internet was in its infancy stages but somehow, I found out Clive’s home address. He must have told me where he lived (New Jersey? Connecticut?)I found a postcard with a Vineyard sunset and said something about how I was disappointed that he never made it and mailed it off. After that, I ended up at my first nude beach where I had it in me to go topless, and probably like every human being who has ever been there, saw Alan Dershowitz, naked except for a straw hat, strolling along the sand.

Part II

Back in Boston, resumption of real life. The Vineyard always seems so NOT real. Again, details fuzzy, e-mail primitive, but somehow I found yet another way to contact Clive and I received an e-mail back, with some semi-apology about not coming back to the hotel, how he had taken a late-night walk and watched the sunrise. At the end of the e-mail, though, he said that there was something he really wanted to talk to me about in person and wondered if I would meet him in Providence when the band was playing, sometime during that next week. Something he needed to talk to me about in PERSON? Was he going to profess his love for me and needed me in front of him to kiss passionately and carry me away into the Providence sunset? In my mind, that was the only option and I told him that, yes of course, I’d be there.

On the night in question, I had a work barbeque at a board members fancy house. I remember that it was HOT and I was having serious hair worries (this was well before flatirons were available to the masses, when now, every day can be a good hair day.) A few people there knew that I was going straight from there to a “date” and were all very excited for me. I drove the hour-plus thinking of nothing else but how exciting a first kiss would be.

I walked into the rather large place and saw Clive, in shorts, Timberlands and a tee-shirt. We hugged each other and sat down at a high-top table, ordered drinks, some pub-ish food and made quick small talk. Within maybe 8 minutes, Clive pulled a napkin out of the dispenser and took out a pen.

“This is what I wanted to talk to you about.” He started drawing boxes and arrows and began to describe something that I couldn’t even follow. Why was this man DRAWING DIAGRAMS ON A NAPKIN WHEN HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE KISSING ME????? It didn’t take long before the boxes became a pyramid and I realized what was happening. I became an arrow on the bottom of a pyramid. He thought that I would bring him money and a bump up to the next level. To this day, I’m still confused how “boxes” could make someone rich.

I let him finish his spiel and he went back to setting-up for the band. I was stunned. I was temporarily immobilized. I had an hour and a half drive home and it was already way past my bedtime. All I could think about was how it wouldn’t matter anymore if I smoked a million cigarettes because my breath wasn’t an issue. I’m pretty certain that I had it in me to laugh, shake my head and not blame it on myself for being deficient in any way.

There have been some other doozies of dates and situations since then, but, I’m sure that this will stand out as one for the “Dates From Hell” record books.

Cupid, Pull Back Your Bow

“You got the tits of a 25-yr old.”

“You’re dangerous.”

“I don’t feel like myself when I’m with you.”

“I’m really into you.”

“I want you.”

“I need you.”

“You’re so beautiful.”

“I can’t stop thinking about you.”

A sample. A SMALL sample of the things I’ve heard from men in the past 6 months. Maybe even only 5 months.

Some of you might think this is bragging, a dream come true. Don’t get me wrong-a lot of it has certainly made me reel and blush and consider that maybe I am as desirable as these men make me out to be. Sadly though, on a Valentine’s Day when I’m sharing the couch with a needy, shedding cat, it’s making me take stock of what “love” looks like and what it might say when it REALLY gets here.

After a bad and generally futile habit of being the pursuer, I made a declaration to several friends, most of us single, that this year should be The Year of Being Pursued. Fair, enough, yes? Let the men put the effort in, let them be the dazzlers for a change. I think I’ve lost my dazzle and used up all the tricks up all my sleeves.

When I think back, I’m not sure that I’ve ever really been pursued for anything other than sex (OH and one time for a pyramid scheme.) I have been a single woman awaiting a grand gesture for 3 years now. I’m smart enough to know that maybe for me, there will never be a fairy-tale, movie-moment ending, but at least, I could hope for a grand gesture. I have fantasized about men sitting and waiting for me on my stoop (well, when I lived in the city and had a stoop.) I have waited for flowers, romantic text messages, the crawling back on hands and knees, the phone call that says “How could I have been so stupid? It was you all along.” I have really believed that these could and would happen. So, when a man recently told me that he drove an hour and a half to surprise me at a public place where he knew I would be, I thought that that was the grand gesture that I had been waiting for.

This was just one of many tricks this guy used to practically put me in a trance-like state. I’m not an idiot, but, he was very convincing in his apparent sincerity and had me so confused as to why he had chosen me to be the target of his interest and affection that I just went with it. There were alarm bells and red flags all over the place, and I take full responsiblity for relinquishing. I broke all my newly-made rules and resolutions. At 45-years old, I had become one of the quintessential cliches of what usually happens to much younger people–I was hunted, captured and released.

I have spent WAY too much time trying to analyze this behavior mostly repeating the play-by-play to strong, wonderful female friends who are rendered as confused as I. We always come to the same conclusion–there is no point in EVER trying to understand why men do this sort of thing. We end up angry or teary or empowered. But we don’t fucking get it.

I consulted a sampling of male friends–one gay, one a former lover and one, an old, platonic friend. Former lover was confused, said that it sounded like sociopathic behavior and was eager to hear what happened as the story unfolded. My gay friend put it really simply when he explained that sometimes men just “change their mind.”

And then my friend Ruben came up with an entire nomenclature and said “aahh…you’ve met your first Lothario, all easy-on-the-eyes & honey smiles…trust your gut no matter how fine he is or grand his gestures…there’s no way you could’ve seen such an old hunter coming unless you were acquainted with the type.”

Then Ruben had me do a very interesting exercise and told me to go over my “list” of men in my past and see if in fact, this hadn’t happened before. Well, I pulled out my secret list (come on, we all have one don’t we?”) and put an “L” for “Lothario” next to five total names. 5 out of, well, a bunch. The first one appeared when I was 22 and then came BACK about 10 years later. He too had me all confused and spun around, and my gut said that something was REALLY off, but I went with it anyway. Another one, a much younger guy, cocky and stunning, used me to make a point and was so mean-spirited afterwards that it made me desparate for an answer as to why he had been so fierce in his determination to “get” me. Of course, I never got my answer.

And then, this. I want to say to this guy, listen, if all you wanted was sex you just should’ve asked instead of going through all the machinations and an expensive dinner to convince me. I would’ve done it and it wouldn’t have been so fucking mortifying. I want to conduct an interview with him and find out how many times he’s done this before, what his batting average is, and why he does it.

I guess this is what makes women (and men too, I’m sure) so suspicious and guarded and jaded about love. I don’t want to be one of those people but I don’t want to make the same mistakes over and over again. My best friend, Craig says that he’s always admired the way I’ve been knocked down and get right up again. I don’t know if I have it in me to be bitter and jaded and NOT get up again. However, I think I need to preserve and protect my heart just a little bit more and hope that the next one, or the one after that, walks the walk in a much straighter line.