For a long time, I’ve admired men. Not the part where they try so hard to not cry on TV that they look constipated.
I admire that they have other interests.
I mean, I know there are women out there with other interests, as well, but not nearly as many of them. Most women I’ve known when I was anywhere from age 14 to the present are mostly consumed with, you know, meeting a man. That’s their hobby. They’ll say it’s ceramics, but it isn’t.
When I was a kid, I used to write shows and reenact them into a tape recorder, a hobby that drove everyone around me absolutely berserk, mostly because I was often sticking my microphone into the adults’ faces at family get-togethers to ask things like, “Are you happily married?”
But somewhere around 7th grade, the grade where all things fall to shit, I lost interest in doing anything but “getting a boyfriend.” That was my big goal in life, to “get a boyfriend.” It was always “get,” like a trophy or mumps.
The coolest girls, like Tammy Chelenko, had boyfriends in 7th grade. In high school, she scored the richest and handsomest boyfriend available. She also had a fabulous wardrobe: Even though she wasn’t rich herself, she had a sister a year older and what I assume was a young, single mom, and they all shared excellent late ’70s/early ’80s clothes. There was a lot of Espirit and Candies shoes.
I was convinced that if I had cool clothes like Tammy Chelenko that I, too, could “get” a boyfriend. The fact that I looked like a man was irrelevant.
(Maybe that’s why I managed to score all the gay guys as friends, because I looked like a young boy. I’m just now having this epiphany.)
Anyway, it took till 9th grade until I “got” a boyfriend of my own, and I think that first one lasted six weeks. Then in 10th grade I fell in love with Giovanni Leftwich.
No one told me how great that was going to be. Being in love was better than the best dramatic play I ever wrote and performed into my tape recorder. Being in love was better than kittens. [Disclaimer: No, it isn’t.]
Sadly for me, Giovanni lost interest and I was shattered and right there describes the next 37 years of my life. I spent all my time chasing the feeling of “falling in love,” getting it, losing it, and seeking the next one, to the exclusion of really anything else.
And I knew it was fucked up. I hated it about myself. Why wasn’t anything else nearly as interesting? And that’s when I started to admire men. Because as much as they might be into me for six weeks to 14 years, depending on who we’re talking about, each man also had a burning outside interest: Art. Music. Cars. The Civil War. (The Civil War guy didn’t last long. Our relationship got dysentery.)
I realized I needed to be not obsessed with men, so I started trying to find things that I liked better than, you know, obsessing about men. And I failed. I really did. This whole time, that’s been my number-one goal.
And I’ve hated it about myself.
So, as you know, from your Big Book of June Events, for the last 7 years I’ve been on and off with a man named Ned. For the first three and a half years, we were very much on and I don’t think I’ve ever been quite as obsessed with anyone as I’ve been with Ned. Oh, he was elusive. You’d see him one night and he’d be charming and attentive and you COULD NOT WAIT for more, and then he’d be busy for the next 11 days.
There are rats in labs that they give treats to, and to get the treats, the rats have to pull a lever. The rats who ALWAYS got a treat when they pulled the lever weren’t nearly as obsessed with pulling the lever as the rats who only got treats intermittently. The intermittent rats cyber-stalked the treats and did a lot of Tracy Anderson to be alluring. At least it did in my book.
But for the last three and a half years, Ned and I have been mostly off. And I don’t know if it’s that I’ve had no choice but to fend for myself or because menopause gave me the brain back that I had pre-7th grade or WHAT, but here’s what’s happened.
I don’t think about men anymore. I mean, I do, but it’s not my goal to meet someone. To “get a boyfriend.” I think about my cats and my credit score and refreshing my curls between washes and the royal family and I’m not saying I’m profound, over here. I’m just saying that something in my brain has shifted these past three years.
I really thought when I moved out of Ned’s place in 2015 that I’d meet someone else fairly fast, but I never did … and I never got very sad about it. There was a time (1979 to 2015) I’d have dated anyone just to not be alone. Now I like being alone so much that I wonder if I’ve turned into the Hermit card from my tarot deck.
This past weekend, Ned and I had drinks to celebrate the anniversary of our first date seven years ago. I’d spent all day deep-conditioning and air-drying my hair, a thing he didn’t notice, nor did he notice the skirt I’d picked out special because he likes me in skirts. I mean, we are so not dating.
I decided, at the end of that get-together, that we should give each other some space. “You should meet someone you’re more compatible with,” I suggested. I don’t know if I’ll ever want to meet anyone at this point, but I know he does, and us being best friends is muddying the waters.
That was Saturday, and I haven’t talked to Ned since. I’ve watched the eclipse and I’ve bought that Marie Condor or whomever book on being tidy. I grocery shopped for all Mediterranean-diet food and on my way back from the store got a Big Mac.
I bought a plunger at the really great hardware store in my neighborhood with the 86 deer heads on the wall. I did Tracy Anderson and bought a new bra.
I’ve done all those things, but I haven’t talked to Ned. I think it’s the best thing for us right now.
Last night I was getting ready for bed when I walked into my dark kitchen and noticed this:
The full moon was streaming through my kitchen window. I really wanted to take a picture of it, but the only way it’d show up was if I turned the brightness up on my phone. I was messing with the settings when, at 10:25 p.m., my phone rang.
It was Ned.
And while I knew he was calling because he was sad, or maybe angry, I didn’t answer. I didn’t answer because we’d just go back to how we were before and get in the way of the rest of each other’s life, and I also didn’t answer because I was in the middle of taking a freaking picture of the moon on my floor and I really wanted to get it.
It wasn’t till I climbed into bed that I realized I’d finally done it. After all those years of wishing I’d be someone who thought of anything else except winning over the next man, I’ve become, you know, someone who thinks of things besides winning over a man.
And maybe you’re someone who ran track and loved insects and married the first person you ever dated and never had this problem, so it seems like no big deal.
But for me? It’s a very big deal.