The Nondating Life

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

History 101

[Okay, boys and girls. I’m back. I’ll be posting to Nondating Life at least once a week. There’ll be something here every Tuesday. I swear. I promise. Really. Please take me back.]

It’s funny, almost, how quickly and haphazardly your past can catch up to you. You tend to forget it’s right behind you, like a tailgater just waiting for you to even think about touching the brakes.

A couple week backs, while sorting out party invites, I sent a couple of Evites to GF. One was sent by a couple she’d met, the other by a group of three girls.

“How do you know them?” she asked.

“Oh, I know X.,” I replied.

“Oh, how do you know her?” she asked.

“She’s a publicist and works for Y,” I replied.

“So you slept with her,” GF said, more or less, and without skipping a beat.

“Well, uh,” I started. “Actually we kind of dated.”

Let me be clear. This wasn’t a trap of any sort and I wasn’t overly worried about being lured into some nightmarish maze of questions planted in GF’s head by the nefarious editors at women’s magazines.

Still, I didn’t want to get into it.

“What do you mean, you kind of dated?”

“You know, we kind of dated.”

And I quickly gave a summary of a brief relationship that started as friends, veered over into a kinda-sorta dating relationship—one of those unmarked territories in the wild lands nestled along the borders of the Friend Zone and Friends With Benefits and Real Relationship Land. It’s a happy, carefree place with little drama and no pressure on either side. And since there was no pressure on either side, no great demand for either to step up to the plate, neither did and we drifted back into Friend Zone.

No harm, no foul. I know for others, these things typically end in disaster, but for me, this isn’t an uncommon occurrence. And GF is aware of my Friends With Benefits past.

What piqued her curiosity here was that I actually affixed the label of dating to this particular girl. You have to be careful fellas. If you craft an image of being half a step shy of a cad, some guy who slips in and out of girls’ lives and beds, calling them friends the whole time and generating little ill will—if you put a label other than friend on one of them, people will notice.

So GF wanted details.

“I just want to knowwwwww,” she said.

But I gave her little more than the summary and I was done. No more details—not that it was all that interesting—would be forthcoming.

And it wasn’t because I was hearing six or seven issues of advice from boys’ magazines like Men’s Health, Maxim and Esquire. Well, not only. Besides, you all know how I feel about the advice of people in general when it comes to relationship. I hold the advice found in these magazines—especially from the token women some these titles bring in—to be about as worthy as the advice printed in that Gardens of Old Jerusalem tour guide that Judas slipped to Jesus at the Last Supper.

Nope. Rather it had to do with the fact that I didn’t want to know. And I don’t want to know. And I never want to know.

In the first month or so of our relationship, while doing the Meet the Friends tour, it became apparent that GF had dated a lot of people. I’d slept with a lot of people. She’d dated a lot of people. People she was still friends with. And, to be honest, I think the difference between us is our many relationships was mostly semantic.

As my friend Jason pointed out to me, in some way, I’d “met my match.”

Maybe. But where she was curious and seemed to roll with the punches of meeting some of my former bed-compatriots, I, upon meeting hers, would secretly size them up, measure their shortcomings, their longcomings, everything about them. Some might be too attractive, making me feel unworthy. Others might be homely, making me feel as if I was just another in a long line of ugly schmucks.

Okay, I’m lying. I did this secretly only as long as I was sober. After a few drinks, and after leaving whatever party, it was “What the hell were you thinking? HIM?”

As you can see, this isn’t exactly a gender thing. It’s a personality thing. In stereotype world, it’s always the woman who gets catty and jealous about such things. And the guy doesn’t care as long as he’s getting his and he gets to lord it over the other guys.

But we all know better than that, right? I’m not just some girlie-man, right? Of course not. You’ve all seen Clerks. You all remember the infamous blowjob discussion, in which Dante flipped out when he discovered how many guys his old lady had been with.

I can say this much for myself. I’m not like that. I’m not that bad. Hell, it takes some pressure off of me having someone who’s got a similar track record. It’s good not to be considered a male slut or, worse, a playboy who needs training and reforming.

And I can’t tell you how excellent it is to have a girl who’s rational about these things.

But there’s a limit. She’s almost too rational and I have to watch that I don’t wander into traps of my own making. Obviously, an idiot who keeps not one, but two blogs likes to talk about himself. And it’s hard sometimes to remember that telling all my stories to a woman I’m interested in isn’t necessarily the smartest thing in the world. Over the years, I’ve gotten better. In the past few years, I got to the point where I could have almost four whole drinks before I started in with the “Oh, I’ve slept with all my friends” line. Of course, it should be pointed out that at any social outing I typically have eight or nine drinks, so the point is kind of moot. But I do hear second and third-hand reports that I’m HIGHLY entertaining at industry parties—which might explain why I’m reluctant to pull out all the big guns in my print-world so-called gossip column.

In my current case, GF doesn’t mind hearing these stories. She has an almost academic-slash-romantic interest in them. She wants to see what makes me tick, see where I come from, how I got here. And again, it’s not that she’s sitting there with the chick notebook, writing everything down to use against me at a future date.

Shit. Maybe she is. Maybe she’s THAT good at playing me. This is all going into the great big book of “Well, what about the time you did hrumhrumrum with soandso(andso)!?” Excuse me while I go hyperventilate into a paper bag.

Go figure. All we have in the house is plastic.

At any rate, the limit I’m looking to place here is solely for my protection. While she might be able to handle details about my past… and while I might delight in giving them, I can’t handle details about hers and I want nothing to do with them. As it is, all I need is a name and all the little green-eyed gremlins in my head get to work filling in all the details. (Ladies, this is what leads the man you’ve just broken up with or just toyed with or whatever to fly into a rage and start punching walls until he breaks his knuckles. Guys, you may have run into the girl version of this: she’s slashed your tires or poured sugar into your gas tank.)

Look, if you’re looking for a word of advice in all this, I don’t know what to tell you. In the short term, I stick by all previous claims that if your partner likes you (really, really likes you), you can do no wrong. But I’d venture that in the long term, if you want a clean and simple life, just keep your mouth shut as much as possible. That rule about lowballing the number of people you’ve slept with (god, that sounds dirty) is there for a reason.

Ultimately, what I’m doing is protecting myself AND being fair. I don’t need to fly into a rage and since I don’t want to hear her stories, I’m not going to subject her to certain details of mine.

Not while I’m sober at any rate.

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2 Comments:

  • I'm comfortable with two people agreeing to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy when it comes to the numerical details of one's exes. How many people of either gender wouldn't be jealous? A man who wanted those details AND remained calm would totally unnerve me...

    By Anonymous Annie, at 12:12 AM  

  • Great to see you blogging on this site again, Ken, and speaking up for all us guys on this relationship business. Good stuff! Keep it up....I know, that's what "she" said!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:01 AM  

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