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You remember the guy. He ran hot and hell freezing over cold. Called you in the middle of the night, wanting to stop by after a night out
at the titty bars with his equally douchey buddies. Hinted around that his commitment “issues” were the result of emotional abuse at the hands of a heartless hag, who couldn’t hold a candle to you because “if I could be with anyone seriously, Baby, it would be you.”
He was cute in the way of the decade. Hair and dress just so. Gainfully employed with prospects. Everyone but your best friend liked him.
Yeah, I dated that guy. On and more off for about four years. Wasted time I can never get back as hindsight helpfully reminds me from my vantage point in advancing middle age. I thought that if I just loved him enough, he would change. And by “change”, I mean stop treating me like rest stop between his relationships with women he treated better (I am assuming here) than he did me.
I won’t bore you with the sad details, but the “relationship” ended when the clue bolt struck me one evening – hours after he had promised to show up for a date. I called him and let him have it. The conversation ended with him asking if we could be friends.
“We were never friends, ” I told him. And interestingly, that out of the blue self-revelation had never occurred to me before that moment.
He was never my friend. He was dull to the point where I had to spoon feed conversation topics to him. He didn’t read. He didn’t write. He didn’t think.
“I never want to hear from you again.”
And that was the end.
Well, not quite. I moved to another apartment in the same building shortly after and one evening, I heard him stumbling about in the hallway, looking for me. It was summer and the windows were open, so I clearly overheard the conversation he had with whatever friend he’d dragged along with him.
“She’s not here, man,” the friend said.
“She was just here a couple of months ago,” he replied.
“Her car’s not here even,” was the reply (I’d traded it in for a Chevy not long before). “Face it. She’s moved.”
Car doors slammed and I could hear them drive away. I never saw him again though I wondered from time to time what became of him.
Fast forward past a marriage, baby and another marriage and I find myself shopping at the SuperTarget near the neighborhood where Dee and I lived in West Des Moines. We were on our way from the KOA in Adel, where we’d camped the night before with BFF and her family, to Sis’s farm just past the east side of Des Moines. Rob originally planned no shopping time into the Des Moines leg of our recent holiday down south, but he knows how much I love Target and we were finding things to be so stunningly cheap in the States that even he couldn’t resist a quick pit-stop.
Douche was a teacher when I knew him. He lost his job for reasons I can only speculate about but which I think were mostly related to the fact that he really couldn’t read or write well because he was severely dsylexic.* You just can’t be dumber than the kids you are teaching even if they are special ed.
He went on to hold numerous jobs and the last I heard, he was in sales.
At one point during the SuperTarget experience, I went to check out with Dee and Rob wandered off, telling us he would catch up. She and I waited by the check out lanes. And waited. And finally I spotted him a long way across the store in electronics.
“Go see what is keeping your Dad,” I told Dee and she ran off to query him … didn’t return either as they had both been sucked into the dvd vortex.
Boredom eventually sent me in pursuit and as I approached the dvd aisles, I spotted a kid in a red Target shirt and a much older security guard in animated conversation. The kid was barely out of his teens and the guard sported one of those obvious dye jobs which painfully accented the monkish bald spot and contrasted sharply with the wrinkled jowls. I mentally noted that retail security and service work seemed to be the new future for the too young to retire but too old to be working entry-level jobs set in America, when it struck me that I knew this guy.
A discreet double-take confirmed my suspicion and I conducted a quick memory scan to determine where he fit in my past.
Of course, it was Douche.
You always think about it, right? Running into the biggest asshole you ever dated and being more awesome than he could possibly have imagined you could ever be and then rubbing his nose in it like a puppy who’s diddled on the living room carpet. But I just smiled and continued to look for Rob.
Douche is a security guard at Target. He’s in his early fifties with a tummy that folds over his belt and wobbles when he walks. Later, I spied him gathering shopping carts in the parking lot, wearing one of those flourescent vests to keep the customers from running him over because who pays attention to the guy who gathers up the carts?
Sure, it would have been poetically just to catch his attention and have that awkward for him conversation while Rob and Dee looked on. I didn’t bother to check his ring finger, but something tells me that it was as naked as his current reality is obvious.
But what would have been the point? I knew everything I needed to know about him 28 years ago when I realized that we weren’t even friends. I could have easily predicted this outcome for both of us had I been just a bit more self-aware and honest with myself.
Women, more than men, incline themselves toward excusing the obvious. We buy into ridiculous Cosmo notions that our behavior is what drives relationships. That we can fix people by being more perfect and accommodating when the reality is that people who treat us badly should be kicked to the curb in favor of those who can recognize our value without our “help”.
Still, I would be less than honest if I said that a part of me wasn’t pleased to see he’d found his level and that sometimes karma is more instant than oatmeal.
*There were some conduct issues to. Off the job. But stuff that can get you terminated in a hurry. I didn’t know about them until long after I knew him. Had I known. He would have never been on my radar.