Tuesday, April 1, 2008

1521.97 Miles, Part Two

Even though I've got that buffer of 1521.97 miles between myself and the Wily Republican, he feels close, like he's right over my shoulder, breathing down my neck, haunting me. That text message he sent--his angry little au revoir--has been echoing in my brain ever since I got it.

It took an awful lot of restraint on my part not to pick up the phone and call him back and say, "What are you trying to do to me? Make me scream? Make me yell? Make me crazy?"

But instead of starting off a conversation that way, I picked up the phone and called someone else. I called Katy. "Hi," I said. "I need you to talk me into or out of calling the Wily Republican back and giving him a piece of my mind."

Katy was the only person I could call in this moment because she is what I'll loosely describe as not a fan of the Wily Republican. And, unlike all my New York friends, she has actually met the boy. She has floated in the middle of a pond beside me, beside the Wily Republican, and listened to him spout his thoughts on everything from fraternities to the government. And while I was busy tuning out his snarky talk about everything I disagreed with and thinking instead about the meatloaf I was going to make him later that night, Katy was busy being horrified that her friend was in love with a boy like the Wily Republican. Later she would ask me just what the hell I thought I was doing with a boy like that. She had just seen him wet and in a bathing suit, so I thought that answer was fairly self-explanatory. When I told her this, she made a face and pretended to gag.

Katy still feels that gag reflex when it comes to the WR, although she will concede that she does not think he's evil, even if there was a time during grad school where she really believed he might be. But she is still wary enough that, when I told her she needed to talk me into or out of calling him back and setting this whole matter straight, she shouted, "NO!!" in a tone she usually reserved for her husband when he did or said something incredibly stupid or insensitive.

She told me to be honest with myself. Really honest. "It's not so much that you want to set him straight, is it?" she asked. "It's more that you just hate it when people don't love you."

And she's right. It drives me crazy. It's an irritating and not-so-flattering trait of mine, and I spend way too much time thinking about how to win people over, how to get them to like me. I also spend too much time wondering why people don't like me. I take it way too personally.

Katy isn't the only one who knows this, of course. The Wily Republican is also well-versed in the ways of my ugly traits. I'm pretty sure if it were up to him, he would've taken me to a tattoo shop and gotten FUCK THEM burned into my skin so that the next time I was sitting on his couch whining about this person or that person who didn't think I was nice or fun or charming he would just gesture to my tattoo and tell me to read it out loud. It would've saved him an awful lot of breath from having to say, "So what? Fuck them!" about 1,000 times.

I'm sure he remembers this. I'm sure his tactics--the calling, the angry messages, that final text that came like a steel stake to my jugular--were chosen because he knows--oh, he knows--just how much that would screw me up in the head. He knows I will sit around and analyze that and battle the urge to call him back and make it all better, make it so that he wasn't angry with me anymore, make it so he wasn't thinking I was just some crazy bitch who took things too seriously, who got "all emotional" when I didn't need to.

But you know what? I made it through that night, and I made it through others since. I have resisted the clawing urge to call him back when it scrapes its way up my esophagus and into my mouth, into my brain. I want an I'm sorry. I want some sort of evidence that he is human, that he cares, that he's sorry for making me more scared, more confused, and more sad than I was before I picked up that phone and called him just because he was my friend and I needed him.

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