“Love is a battlefield” – Pat Benatar
No matter what anyone says, love is a mystery that will never be solved. You could throw a billion dollars and thousands of researchers at the problem of male/female relationships and you’d be no closer to solving the mystery than you would be to putting a Starbucks on the planet Mercury.
While I’ve known this for almost my entire adult life, it wasn’t until Dana began putting her clothes into a suitcase that I understood it.
Sure we’ve had our share of horrible rows, possibly more than our fair share. The one that prompted Dana to pack started out as many of them did, which is to say that she was asking questions and I wasn’t doing a very good job answering them. Women are like lawyers in so much as they never ask a question that they don’t already know the answer to. This concept may be outside of your understanding, but believe me, it doesn’t make it any less true.
Men are simple creatures. After we exit the womb we spend the rest of our lives eating, shitting, fucking, fighting, drinking, and sleeping. At any given time you can bet that we are engaged in one or more of these activities. You can rest easy with the idea that just about every man you know is doing one of these things right now. Some men might be doing more than one at the same time because, well let’s face it, we invented multitasking.
Women on the other hand are not simple. Contrary to what you might be thinking upon reading that statement, that isn’t to say that women are complex. In fact, I would like put it into the public record to suggest that they’re rather less complex than men. The difference is that women go out of their way to project an image of complexity to hide the fact that they’re after the same, banal things men are after. I’m really not sure whether they do this for their benefit or ours but they do it and we men pretend not to notice. Women are suckers for illusions and men are great at creating them. Which explains what Claudia Schiffer saw in David Copperfield, but I digress.
Women try to make things difficult in just about every facet of their lives. For instance, women will sometimes speak in a register that men can’t hear. I don’t know if this ability is natural or passed on from mother to daughter. How else can you explain the standard female complaint that goes something like, “He just doesn’t listen to me!”
Making a long story short, Dana asked me a very complex question in the guise of a simple one.
“We’ve been dating for exactly 12 months. Where is this?” she stopped.
For the first time since I had met her at a volleyball tournament she was at a loss for words.
“Whatever this is,” she waved her hands in the air, vaguely pointing at my apartment, then herself and finally me. This wasn’t looking good and like a fly caught in a web, I knew death was close at hand.
“I want to know!” she finished.
I could hear her speaking but I was damned if I could figure out what she was saying. She was doing that thing where her lips moved but nothing was coming out. For a moment, just a moment, I considered doing what my male instincts told me I should do in this situation, which was to ignore her. After staring at her blankly for a few moments, I made what could be considered the second biggest mistake any man could make.
“Know what?” I asked.
Dana’s face darkened not so much like a cloud passing before the sun but like a black hole opening up and swallowing the sun and spitting out watermelon seeds.
“I want to know where you see this relationship going.”
She stood before me, looking more like a defensive back on fourth down and forty than the sweet innocent girl who asked me to be gentle before we made love for the first time.
At this point I could have easily gone one of two ways. I could have answered her question with another question. For instance, I could have asked, “Well, where do you think it’s going?”
Of course doing that would just postpone the inevitable. According to some of the relationship quizzes in the magazines she constantly left in my bathroom, this would be wrong.
The other course of action would be to answer her truthfully. Which, as you can probably already guess, is the biggest mistake any man could make in this situation.
“I think it’s perfect the way it is.”
I have to admit that she took that information better than a great many women before her. She gave me a comforting nod and began packing. Immediately.
Wiser men than I have discovered that women don’t always know what they want until they get it. The speed with which she was packing told me that this was not only what she expected, but also what she really wanted.
For my part, I’m not sure how I felt. Like wounds acquired in battle, it takes time for the damage to register. The feeling would be similar to the emotions elicited when you stay in a hotel and you ask for a wake up call, only it doesn?t happen and you?re late to your own wedding. It sucks to be you yet again.
She was leaving and all I could do was watch, unsure whether or not helping her would make the situation better or worse. I’m the kind of guy that likes being helpful, but something told me that helping her pack her things at this point would just verify her suspicions about my loyalty to the relationship.
I think that the slam of the door was what finally got me moving. Unfortunately, by the time my feet delivered me to the front door, I was only able to catch her climb into the back of a cab. The last thing I saw of her was her smile. It was one of those sad but knowing smiles that songwriters are always writing about in their songs. Of course, those are country songs and I listen to a mix of alternative and punk. The poignancy of the moment, like the celebrity of Paris Hilton, was lost on me.
To Be Continued…
2 thoughts on “This is Not A Love Song: A Novel”
Good post, well written. How old was she at the time, and how old were you?
What is it with you and all the wisdom these days? Sheesh!
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