15 Oct

I have a story for you.

So I started dating this guy… um… Stan… in college. And when I say dating, I mean “having casual sex with while pining for.” Stan was one of those guys who just won’t commit. In his case, it was mad loads of baggage. “I don’t want to put a label on this because every time I say it’s exclusive with a girl, she starts acting differently.” Well, um, yeah… she starts expecting you to treat her like a girlfriend instead of some random you picked up at a bar that night, but I digress.

Basically, everything that ever happened with this guy was motivated by his jealousy. After a year of “hanging out,” he saw some other dude hitting on me at a party and declared that okay, we can tell people we’re exclusive… but I’m not using the word girlfriend! And poor, desperate girl that I was… it seemed good enough to me! So then a year of that happened, and some dude kissed me at a New Year’s Eve party, and honest girl that I am, I told him about it… and then, and only then, it became okay I do want you to be my girlfriend.

Incidentally, the reason I wasn’t with Stan on New Year’s Eve is because he didn’t actually invite me to his New Year’s party. So I didn’t feel too bad, all things considered, when the other guy made his move at midnight. Did I mention The Other Guy was a friend of Stan’s? Ouch.

Anyway… our sordid dating history doesn’t much matter. Our sordid breakup history, on the other hand… well, that’s where it gets tricky.

See, after four years of “hanging out” with Stan, and being his girlfriend and all, I started to get a little sick of him always going out with his friends and never so much as inviting me. So, after the flobbedyjillionth argument we had about it, I just decided that two could play that game, and let’s see how he felt about it when I started going out with my friends and not telling him about it or asking him to take part. Take that!

Okay so he didn’t exactly notice that I was playing that game. Because he was too busy smoking pot with his friends and not calling me.

So, y’know, too bad for him, I guess, when on one of my outings with a friend… I met Steve. After we met, Steve and I struck up a friendship mostly over msn… he lived far away so we couldn’t exactly hang out in person a lot. And before you knew it, we were up all hours of the night, getting to know each other. One of the first things I said to him was “wanna be best friends?” because he was just that awesome. He proposed hanging out in person sometime soon, to which I said sure.

Soooo, we got together one day and were hanging out at the marina when my phone rang and I knew it was going to be trouble. Jealous, remember? So I tried to keep things short and sweet. I don’t like talking on the phone when I’m out with other people anyway, I think it’s a decidedly un-classy move. But of course, by being brief, Stan thought I was “hiding something,” so he proceeded to call me something like eleven times over the course of the day and evening. I found out later that he even went so far as to try to track us down, but when I had told him where we were, he misheard and headed somewhere else instead.

Stan and I continued to date for the next year or so. I was very torn between him and my new friend Steve. My loyalty, and that stupid girl-voice that tells you “no relationship is perfect, we should try to work through this!” kept me tangled up in that awful relationship for far longer than I should have been. It was an awful year. I was expressly forbidden to speak to Steve, which I had a huge problem with, but what can I say… I wanted to do what was “right.” Part of me couldn’t let go, though… so I filled my MySpace blog with hidden messages to Steve. I wasn’t technically talking to him, I was just blogging, right? What can I say, I love a good loophole!

At the end of that year, I tried over and over to break up with Stan. First in person, then over the phone even though I think it’s cruel to do that, because he just wouldn’t let go. If we were speaking on the phone, he wouldn’t let me hang up. He would always say “let’s just go for a drive and talk about this” and then wouldn’t let me out until I agreed to give him just one more chance. I remember one time I even texted a friend to say this is where I’m going and this is who I’m with, on the offchance that something happened. I’m sure he’d deny it up and down that anything creepy and stalkery ever went down, but it was definitely… wrong. Anyway, it got to the point that I was going on squeaky clean dates with Stan, but then going home and talking to Steve on the phone all night. I felt like I had two boyfriends. My mom even started referring to Steve as my boyfriend.

Eventually, Stan picked me up to drive and “talk” and I really didn’t want to go… but I did. He drove me around and we talked about mundane things, and I actually caught myself thinking “wow… maybe we actually can be friends after all this!” when he piped up “You know, I just don’t think I can do this anymore.” And I laughed as I asked “Do what?” and of course it led to an explosive fight where he told me I’m too demanding and I told him he was never good enough for me and everybody knew it. The conversation ended with the words f%*@ you from both parties, and me on the phone to Steve to say “it’s finally over” before both feet were even out of Stan’s car.

During one of the endless breakup arguments, Stan told me “You can date anyone you want… just not Steve.” And then I ended up marrying Steve.

So guess who Steve and I bumped into today!

I wish I was kidding. We were walking in the freezing cold down to Starbucks because I needed some fresh air and Steve is a really nice guy. So we’re walking along, and I see this tallish fellow walking toward us, and… ohmigod! I can’t even describe the emotion that washed over me. It was like a mix of fear and surprise and for some reason guilt, and a tiny, tiny bit of giddiness, victoriousness almost. I just grabbed for Steve’s hand, which unfortunately was ensconced deep in his sleeve because it was mothereffing cold out there today. So I clung to his sleeve and stared hard at the ground as we booted it right on by. Stan sort of ducked into a  bus shelter for a moment as we passed, and then seemed to think the better of it and came speeding back out, continuing to walk in the direction opposite to us.

There’s part of me that feels like, “Was that really him?” But of course it was. You spend four years of your life with someone, you know them when you pass them in the street. Still, he seemed taller. His hair looked thinner. It was surreal.

The worst part is that there’s really nothing in my neighbourhood that would draw a person to it if they didn’t already live there. It’s basically purely residential, with a couple of schools, a bookstore, and an Ikea nearby. And Stan was never really an Ikea kind of guy, nor was he carrying anything as he headed away from the shops. He has every right to live wherever he wants to live, but it definitely got my defensive guard up a little bit. I’m a little worried that he lives in our building. Not that I think it would be a problem in any way; just that he’s the absolute last person I care to run into even once in awhile, never mind on a semi-regular basis. What if I got stuck in an elevator with him?? Purest vision of hell.

So, anyway, that’s your little personal-journally update for the day. Seriously, what do you do when you run into an ex with whom you did not part on good terms? Are you supposed to say something? Acknowledge them at all? Or just grab your husband’s hand, look down, and run like the wind?


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