“You feeling okay?”
“Are you sure?”
“Jesus! Yes, I’m fine. Why?”
“I just, I mean, did I just watch you have a conversation with the receptionist? Like, a personal conversation?”
“Um, how do I say this…?”
“With your fucking mouth, Sean.”
“It’s just, you don’t usually like people. At. All. Like, people are kind of afraid of you.”
“Yeah, a lot actually.”
“No way! Really?!”
“No shit! I’m actually trying to be a better person. Plus, I’m going to need people to take care of me when I’m old, so…”
I am not perfect. I am not even in the same zip code as perfect, but a few years ago, I decided to try and be kinder. I decided to show empathy. I decided being cool and aloof wasn’t as important as being real. I had allowed a shitty childhood and a string of shitty people to give me permission to be a shitty human. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve never punched a puppy or set shit on fire, but I was cold and indifferent and needed an attitude adjustment.
I watched TED Talks. I read books. I practiced yoga. I memorized David Foster Wallace’s 2005 Kenyon commencement speech and reblogged This Is Water no less than ten times that first year. I learned to approach people differently. I became more aware of my presence. I’m pretty fucking scary if you don’t know me, so I smiled more. I learned soft isn’t always weak and that just one random act of kindness can change everything.
That Christmas, I told myself it didn’t matter if they thanked me. Sean was probably just embarrassed to have a colleague buy gifts for his children. Maybe he didn’t even know about his wife’s post about wrapping empty boxes full of ‘faith’ and ‘gratitude’ or the phone call two days later requesting receipts due to the mechanical failure of the most expensive items. He couldn’t possibly be that ungrateful and even if that were the case, I didn’t do it for the praise, it was simply the right thing.
Shortly thereafter, my newfound extroversion had afforded me the attention of an incredibly charming, ruggedly handsome, very married man. He was smart. He was funny. He knew the difference between lay and lie. She was cold and indifferent and misspelled her Facebook posts. She hadn’t blown him in years and he was sad.
Somehow, that was enough. In the time it took to decide on a super secret meeting spot, I had shit all over TED and the only RAK I was giving was a giant tip to the bartender for allowing us to stay past closing. I didn’t feel guilty. I wasn’t internally conflicted. I wanted what I wanted, and I wanted him.
Before I continue, I would like to clarify, I know I’m a piece of shit. I know and I think about it every day. There’s nothing anyone can say to make me feel any worse than I already do, but if you must try, please do it in a way that doesn’t make me want to slit my wrists. It’s been a tough week.
It ended as unceremoniously as it began and I, once again, decided to act right. I forgave myself and him and tried not to lose the lesson. I promised myself I would never again allow my ego to dictate my character. Then, I met Sleeves.
He recently decided to come clean after having been tattled on by an angry RDOF. Turns out, his cock is still very much Community Property and has never been interested in more than a temporary home inside my vagina. It only took seven months and thirty-seven gallons of Jameson to extract the truth. When he said he was an open book, I didn’t realize he was talking about the Bible. His stories were about as legitimate as Mary’s pregnancy announcement, yet I found it comforting to finally know what my intuition had told me all along, Sleeves is a liar.
This is a game. His massive insecurities and self doubt are only quieted by his ability to manipulate behavior and dominate those around him. If you’re strong, if you’re opinionated, and if you challenge him, you’re benched.
We decided to remain friends. Strictly platonic. As referenced by the lead photo, I am simply not his type. Three weeks later, as we fell asleep in his bed, I knew I was in trouble.