About, oh, 9 or 10 years ago, I was seeing a guy that I met at karaoke, just before the drugging of the drink.
He wasn’t the one who drugged me, mind you – he was just a regular, we got along okay, and we dated for a while.
We didn’t break up under the best circumstances…I don’t even remember how we broke up, but I do remember that it was mostly due to his drinking SO DAMNED MUCH. I thought it was because he was upset over a breakup, but nope – he drank 23 cans of beer one night, as well as 1/2 bottle of Jack Daniels, and then asked me if I’d had any of either (no, because I don’t drink beer, and didn’t like JD at the time…still don’t, really, but it’ll do in a pinch). He admitted maybe he’d had too much to drink on that occasion, and that was the time when I figured it was probably time to bow out.
He’s 12 or 13 years older than I am, and while he’s hysterical when you’ve been drinking, his sense of humor is really juvenile…it always has been, and there’s nothing really wrong with that, it’s just an observation. He’s fun to mess with for this reason, though, so there’s that.
He does get bitter and make “jokes” that are just him being…well, bitter. I dunno, he makes comments and talks crap, but it’s mostly him repeating something that he thinks is apropos, in differing tones until you break his little cycle, and he gets started on something else. He’s done this as long as I’ve known him, I guess.
Why am I using present-tense on someone I dated a decade ago?
Because I ran into him tonight at one of the smallest parties I’ve ever been to. It was a bit of a shock, and I admit that I didn’t even know what to do with myself, at first.
I gave Forrest a panicked look, and when the guy left the room, filled him in on who it was. It didn’t really sink in until a bit later for Forrest, but I got the point across that it was awkward as hell.
Memphis is one of those large cities that’s actually just a small town. It’s such a “small town” that even if you hope to never see someone again, you will, eventually, even if you avoid everything about a person that reminds you of them even in the slightest. I say this because I’ve done just that for so many people, and have just happened upon them because my social circle is just looping over on itself, now.
Allow me to illustrate:
Forrest went to college with “Steve,” who is married to “Marni.” (I’m not using real names for them because while I know and like them, I don’t know them THAT well). Marni worked with this ex…uh…”Daniel,” we’ll call him, back in 1997, through about 6 or 7 years ago, at two different companies. Marni and Daniel are drinking buddies, and basically BFFs.
The last time Forrest and I were at Steve and Marni’s house, they’d mentioned a guy named Daniel, but I didn’t make the connection, because my life had just moved so far past that point that I didn’t associate the name with anyone on my radar.
Daniel began the night full-out avoiding me. I was in the kitchen? He was on the patio. I went on the patio? He went into the living room. I went into the living room? Oh, he’s suddenly got to be on the patio, again. It was ridiculous to the point where others noticed it, and when I said we’d dated, there were, “Ooooooh…” glances. Because everyone at the party knew each other really well, the groups would often congregate in the same area as Daniel (and the hosts are his good friends, so they went around him a lot), leaving me with like, 2 or 3 people to talk to.
I got really tired of it, and decided that I’d had enough.
Now, when I get tired of someone acting like that, I don’t act out and start trash-talking them. Yes, I did that back around, oh, 10 years ago (I have stories, some of them are really cringe-worthy), but now? I’m a fucking adult, and so is Daniel.
What broke it was someone spilled a few drops of beer in the kitchen, and said they’d committed the first “party foul” – I said, “No, Daniel did that in the living room a little while ago – it’s all good!”
Daniel said, “What? I heard something about me in the living room and ‘party foul’?” So I repeated it for him, aware that he probably didn’t know it was me that said it, at first. Yep, sure enough, he got ATTITUDE about it, and started repeating, in nastier tones of voice, “Blame it all on Daniel.” I mean, he was almost chanting it. I broke that cycle by saying, “Well, just don’t dwell on it. That’s the important thing,” sarcastically. He shut up and then started playing a video game (he was testing it for Steve, who’d gotten it as a birthday present, as it was his party), but people gathered in there and Daniel quickly regained what I guess was composure and started chatting, again.
Now, the whole time, he was drinking beers like they were water. I lost count of how many he’d had, and just thought, “Well, good to know it wasn’t my imagination…” He also drove home after all this, which was the main thing that concerned me way back when. I’m pretty sure that’s what he got pissy about, was me doubting his ability to function like an adult or whatever, but it’s a valid concern.
Anyway, people gathered outside, and I was like, “Enough. I’m not going to sit here and let him think some big thing’s going to break out if he talks to me, and vice-versa – if he’s avoiding me, it’s because he doesn’t want a confrontation, so I’m not going to confront him – I’m going to TALK to him, like a human being.”
So I did. I started slow, making comments on what he was saying, and we worked up to actually talking about stuff from back when we were hanging out, before. We rehashed a few things, but politely and jovially. I’d call that a win, wouldn’t you?
The moment I figured I’d “won” what was basically a grudge-match was when he was saying goodbye, and he didn’t hug me, but he kissed my hand after very briefly shaking it. To Daniel, that’s a sign of respect (when he really likes you, he hugs you and kisses you on the cheek – that’s not a goal of mine, I just wanted to stop being so derptastically immature about stuff). So bam, bitches.
I’m not going to seek him out, but if I see him, again, it will be fine. And he’s getting me a video game, because yeah, I asked him in jest, and he just agreed.
And that is how you do it, folks.