Past Tense: A Retrospective of Relationships and Reputations
Given an absence from writing for nonpretentious, I’d like to thank all of you for your readership and share with all of you a story of recent and ongoing events. As per my absence, following a semi-serious bout of depression over an ongoing health problem, I have become somewhat of a hermit. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy quiet time for self-reflection and casual nights-in with the comforting glow of the television. But the time to myself was lacking perspective and productivity alike. I can’t write because I can’t think. I can’t think because I have no inspiration. No inspiration because there’s no interaction, no people-watching, no absorbing conversations with complete strangers, no leisurely strolls down memory lane. Nothing.
So when asked to attend a backyard bonfire with a friend a few weekends ago, I relished the opportunity to take in all the surroundings, to muse over the meaning of life and all it’s intricacies… and to get completely and utterly inebriated all in the name of research. Maybe it was too much time to myself without the reminder of social graces, but I just so craved to be the center of attention. I don’t know. For some strange reason, I’ve always wanted to make a scene, to disrupt a party to the screeching halt of a record.
Now, ladies… of course we insist to our closest girl friends that we’ve dropped the drama and are bigger and better people because of it. As for myself, I like to think that at 26 years old, I’ve left the drama in high school. But who among us, not for a split-second hasn’t wanted the “that’s her look” when making the grand entrance?
Well for the first time, I got mine. The knowing glance, the gossip guised by whisper, the carefully calculated glance from the peripheral. Too bad I was the last person to know.
I mingled. I roasted marshmallows. I chain smoked and drank my fill of my favorite Japanese beer. And for the first time in a long time, I was completely at ease. Sure the crowd at the party was mostly strangers, and the smoke of the booming bonfire was drying out my contact lenses; I didn’t bring a date and an ex-boyfriend of mine was sitting but a few feet away…
Okay. To the average person, this isn’t exactly a great scene. I get that. But to clarify, I’ve never had problems being social. Given an introduction, a few drinks and a friendly disposition, I’m fine with unfamiliar territory. And the fire was rather nice…wood crackling, the glow of burning embers, the sweet smell of wood succumbing to the blaze. So I suppose I could persevere with the smoke in my eyes.
As to the ex-boyfriend… After several minutes of prolonged awkward stares from a distance, a tumultuous verbal confrontation with abounding accusations of infidelity, I slapped him right in the face. With gowns flowing, I made a glorious slow motion exit, vanishing within plumes of smoke to the stares of shocked acquaintances.
That was a complete lie.
This isn’t Days of Our Lives. Actually our meeting was rather cavalier given the universal dread of running into ex-boyfriends. There was a brief exchange of pleasantries before we both went about our business. No big deal.
In fact, I was told by mutual friends he would likely be there and thought nothing of it. After all, our relationship was really in namesake only. We were kids. It was eleven years ago and we’ve both moved on. And perhaps, as per the more socially pertinent of judgment factors, we’re friends on Facebook. Given the right time and circumstance, Facebook-friending an ex is perfectly acceptable. I guess one could say, friend requesting an ex is a metaphor for relationships in general. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I digress.
In those few passing hours at the party, I couldn’t help but notice a few glances in my general direction. I imagine him telling his on looking friends “She was my girlfriend in freshman year of high school.” And I can’t help but smile at the thought. At 15, there are no relationships. No real ones. When neither half of the couple is employed, has a car or the basic concept of adult coupling, there is no relationship. No hard feelings. And nothing personal. But I won’t tell you I love you when I’m 15. At 15, I love the mall and snow days, talking on the phone and other banal bullshit that passes teenage time. I don’t worry about making rent, student loans or this pubescent concept of love.
Maybe that’s cold. Or maybe it’s common fucking sense. But I harbor no bad feelings for this particular ex boyfriend, nonetheless. He is a nice guy. And I didn’t loathe running into him in the slightest, which is probably why I was shocked to all hell when I got in the car and found that I had, in fact, been mentioned in passing conversation.
Now I should note that this ex who shall remain nameless was not involved, so kudos to you sir, for being classy. But I am still very much confused as to the series of events surrounding the conversation in question.
Apparently, not two minutes after I first arrived, just following the greeting with my ex boyfriend, one of the five girls in attendance turns to another and was overheard saying, “They used to go out and she was a real bitch.”
Firstly, I never met the girl in my life.
Secondly, my ex was not in the room and in no way benefited the girl’s presumably reassuring words.
So, dear readers, the only logical deduction is that I in fact was, am and will always be a bitch. Though I cannot confirm why this particular, decade-old former relationship branded me the bitch of the party. I don’t recall my ending the relationship being terribly traumatic or monumental. Probably because I don’t recall any “relationship” at 15-years-old ever being traumatic or monumental. Seriously. In the history of relationships, would you ever list your lost love at the tender age of 15 at the top-five list of all-time breakups? And no, any romantic involvements with the tragically hip protagonist of High Fidelity doesn’t count.
In retrospect, I don’t shudder at being called a bitch. I am merely annoyed by being called a bitch by someone that knows nothing about me. If you know me, my insecurities blanketed by dark humor, my tendency to commandeer entire conversations and my astounding ability over-analyze every scenario, go ahead. Call me a bitch. That’s mine. I earned that title, damn it.
But this.This is just a cheat. It’s a backhanded compliment. It’s the white elephant in the room masquerading as a mouse.
I don’t know. Though terribly uninspired, maybe the word ‘bitch’ would just hold more credence coming directly from an ex-boyfriend¾ someone who knows of my neuroses from first-hand experience. Then again, a man who knows me that well would certainly know I’d wear the word bitch like a merit badge.