The Sickness

My special lady bailed on our choir rehearsal again last Monday. She seemed fine on Saturday, although she’d been sick the week before. She texted me a few minutes before the rehearsal to let me know her cold had transformed into a sinus infection. I have a history of dating comically dishonest women, so forgive me if my first thought was, “Bullshit.”

I mean, I wanted to believe her, but after our awkward Florida conversation and wheel-spinning date on Saturday, it would not have surprised me in the least if she bailed on another choir rehearsal because, in addition to our mutual agreement that the experience was not as enjoyable as either of us had thought it would be, she wanted to avoid me.

“Nah,” I told myself, “we barely see each other during choir rehearsals, anyway, so I can’t imagine she’d stay home just to avoid me.”

But maybe she would. She wouldn’t let me come over on Saturday, which seemed like a bad sign, but as always, she had a pretty reasonable explanation — one of her job leads had sent her a particularly lengthy application, which she wanted to get done so she could e-mail it to them before Monday. She had a busy Sunday, so she had to work on it on Saturday night. But when she told me she didn’t get around to finishing the application until Monday, Saturday’s reasonable explanation started to reek of bullshit. And if Saturday’s excuse was bullshit, couldn’t Monday’s be the same?

As the week dragged on, signs got weirder. I tried not to read too much into it, but I had a hard time not noticing that whenever I texted her about Doctor Who or other such meaningless bullshit, I’d receive enthusiastic responses; whenever I asked her anything more substantial, such as, “How are you feeling today?” or “Any word on the jobs?” the response, by and large, was (in my view) icy silence.

On Thursday, I don’t know if she forgot who she was texting, but she boldly announced she was on her way home from visiting a friend who lives in Oak Park. When I suggested she must be feeling better — which would have obviously led to an attempt at plan-making for the weekend — she was quick to add that a few hours saps the energy she usually has for a full day. Again, a reasonable explanation with a faint whiff of bullshit.

Successfully blocked, I waited until Friday to make the kindest offer of all time: I’d sit through Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 1, which I knew she wanted to see. Truth be told, I saw the first Twilight movie and didn’t hate it, even though literally nothing happens for two hours. But parts, I actually liked; actually, I liked pretty much everything but the central love triangle. If it had been called Twilight’s Friends, it might have been the greatest movie of all time. Nevertheless, I was willing to sit through it because she wanted to see it, and I didn’t find it so offensive as to avoid outright.

About half an hour later, she texted back that she and her sister had just gotten out of a showing. Hrmf. Undaunted, I attempted to make alternate weekend plans. She parried with the proclamation that she already had weekend obligations that would obliterate what little energy she had, meaning no plans. She already had Thanksgiving plans that didn’t include me, which meant another week of not seeing her at all. (I assume she won’t show up to choir rehearsal again, but even if she does, our time together is brief and pretty insubstantial.)

Look, I’m not an idiot. I see the writing on the wall, but I’m stubborn and have inherited the gift of the guilt trip from my parents. I sent her an e-mail over the weekend, careful to note how little time we’ve spent together over the past two weeks and how little we stand to spend together this week, and suggested maybe I should join her over the long weekend. After the family Thanksgiving festivities — which I made no effort to become a part of, as that would be a truly terrible suggestion — she planned to go to Milwaukee to visit a friend for the remainder of the weekend. I even added an extra-dickish layer of guilt by offering to drive, since she’s clearly still so ill.

Why did I make this ill-conceived, moderately reckless, and entirely assholeish move, knowing full well there was no possible way she’d say “yes”? Frankly, here it is: I know she’s backing off. I don’t know if it’s because she’s losing interest, because I blew it by daring to mention Florida, or merely because Florida’s happening whether we talk about it or not, and maybe we both realize we haven’t been together long enough to try to keep things going. I didn’t really do it out of desperation, or idiocy, or anything else. Maybe part of me did hope that she’d say “yes,” and I felt confident in being so brazen and obnoxious because, at this point, I have nothing to lose. Deep down, though, I’m just your average attention whore. Since she’d been mostly blowing me off, I wanted to elicit a response.

Not surprisingly, I got one. She explained, with appropriate exasperation, why joining her would be the worst idea of all time and defeat the purpose of visiting to spend time with her friend. That satisfied me — at least I knew her iPhone hadn’t broken.

Attention whore or not, I haven’t played stupid games like this since high school, when I brazenly flirted with attractive women in front of my girlfriend in the hopes that she’d break up with me so I wouldn’t have to break up with her. (Note: She didn’t, so I did, and it was super-awkward because she tried to argue with me so I’d change my mind, and in retrospect, I feel kind of bad for not changing my mind, because I was mainly breaking up with her because all my friends hated her, but I liked her just fine. Now, she’s happily married. How dare she!) So it was weird when, after divulging the sordid details of everything that was happening, Sara announced that my special lady sounded a tad immature.

That struck me as bizarre, especially after the obnoxious Milwaukee ploy. How could I possibly be the mature one in any relationship? That did not compute. But, once I laid out all the information, she concluded that — with the glaring exception of Milwaukee — I hadn’t said or done anything unreasonable. Yes, I’d thought unreasonable things — such as “Yeah, maybe I can move to Florida” — but I’d been spared the indignity of acting on them, and a cooler head ultimately prevailed. Maybe that is a sign of maturity. I’ve only done one childish, comically stupid thing in eleven weeks. That’s a miracle.

So, as of yesterday, I’m following Sara’s advice, which matched my own instincts: back off and see what happens.

Posted by D. B. Bates on November 21, 2011 1:11 PM