When I was twenty three, I dated a commitment phobe. If you haven't had the pleasure, let me elaborate. A commitment phobe is a fabulous man who seems to be the perfect catch in every way,but he doesn't really want to be caught.He will act like a boyfriend most of the time and suddenly,out of the blue, start acting single by not calling you back on Saturday to make plans or by spending way too much time with his friends. He acts like a boyfriend about eighty percent of the time,but when you try and get an idea of where things stand,he gives you the emotional equivalent of a friendly sock in the arm. Mind you, this wasn't simply another case of "he's just not that into you". He asked me to move to New York with him after two weeks of dating. I said no, naturally, because I am not insane, and then spent the next eighteen months trying to figure out how to date a Pushmi-pullyu.
When someone gives you emotional scraps, you are always hungry.You are always waiting for them to drop something under the table where you wait patiently for them to realize how amazing you are and invite you to join them for dinner. He wasn't doing it on purpose, but he really didn't want anything serious. I didn't know how to have a relationship that wasn't serious, so I probably tortured him as much as I tortured myself.
One Saturday, we had made separate plans yet again. I had gone out with friends and had planned on surprising him with a frisky evening back at his house afterward. At the time I had been reading too much Cosmopolitan Magazine and not enough Camille Paglia. I had asked him to be home by midnight for the big reveal. He agreed. I arrived at his house a few minutes before twelve and waited. I fixed my Viva Glam red lips, repostitioned my cleavage(thanks entirely to my Miracle Bra)and popped breath mint. Twelve ten rolled around, and he wasn't home. I waited for five more minutes and drove to the nearest payphone. It was was several blocks away in a deserted mini mall off Ventura Boulevard. It was a double sided phone with two phones back to back. I put in the coins, as my newly acquired garter belt cut into my thigh, and dialed his car phone. This was well before everyone on earth had cell phones, so if he wasn't in his car, he wasn't picking up his phone. I didn't leave a message. I tried the home phone next, hoping he'd been waiting for me to call. It rang and went to the answering machine. I heard his friendly voice telling me he "wasn't here right now" and hung up the phone. I waited in my car for a few minutes. It was now almost twelve thirty, and I was beginning to feel foolish and pissed. My feet hurt from the ridiculous heels I was wearing, and it had suddenly gotten really cold. As I approached the phone once again and began to dial, a guy pulled up in an orange Datsun Z and got out,presumably to use the other phone. He looked like a short, scrawny Russell Brand, with stringy rocker hair and unecessarily tight skinny jeans. I was pissed enough now that I wasn't afraid of him. I figured I could always stab him with my really uncomfortable stiletto if he tried anything. I dialed both numbers again.No answer. He approached the phone on the other side and picked it up. He made a call, pushing the buttons really fast and, as he was waiting for an answer, swung slowly around to my side with the phone pressed against his ear.
"What are you doing out here by yourself?" he asked giving me a once over. He sounded like a nasal Bruce Dern. I could see his breath hanging in the air as he spoke.
"I am calling my boyfriend" I replied curtly, emphasizing the word boyfriend.
" Boyfriend?!" he snorted,"What sort of boyfriend leaves you out here at one in the morning on a Saturday night?". He was shaking his head a little and laughing.
"He didn't leave me out here. We are meeting up", I replied flatly,"we had separate plans tonight". Why I felt the need to explain anything to this weirdo,I will never know.
"Separate plans?!" he said,as if I'd told him that my boyfriend was sacrificing virgins under the full moon instead of taking me out to dinner. "That doesn't make sense, separate plans on a Saturday night? What kind of boyfriend doesn't want to be with you on Saturday night?"
It was becoming evident that he hadn't stopped to make a phone call. He stopped because he saw what he thought was a young desperate female, alone at a payphone, in the middle of the night,trying to call her boyfriend. He was one of those types that prey on a woman's insecurities by deriding what she says until she becomes convinced that what she has is a sham and that he is somehow the answer to all of her problems.
"I dunno, if I had a girlfriend like you,I would never leave here out here on a freezing cold Saturday night alone,I can tell you that much". At this point he had hung up and was leaning on the side of the phone, watching me dial,and shaking his head at me as if I were trying to patch my tire with nail polish. He gave me a few more once overs as he spoke.
Resisting the urge to say "well, you obviously don't have a girlfriend, so who are you to say?", I said nothing.
He laughed a little and repeated himself. I cut him off.
"He didn't leave me out here,I came to meet him and he wasn't home yet", I said without looking at him.
"Well, where is he?" he asked with mock incredulity,as if I told him my boyfriend had been adbucted by leprechauns.
"Probably on his way home", I said pointedly. This guy was starting to annoy the shit out of me. I didn't want to leave and drive to another pay phone, but I didn't want to be sitting in front of the house either,in case he really wasn't coming home until four in the morning. I also didn't want to let this guy think he got to me. The problem was that he wasn't wrong,exactly,but he was still a creep.
Our conversation went around in circles for about ten more minutes-he insisted that my boyfriend wasn't that great and I insisted that he didn't know what he was talking about. I called several more times and, finally, he picked up. He was tipsy and had just gotten home.It was twelve fifty, but it felt like six a.m. Once I heard his voice, I gave the guy a triumphant glare and told my boyfriend that I would be there in a few minutes. I hung up.
"Finally home,huh? Well where was he?" he asked snidely. He shivered a little.
"I am about to find out," I said,and turned toward my car.He watched me walk away.
"Yeah, well, that's a nice zit you got on your chin..."
I froze for a split second at the sting of the remark, then got in the car and locked the door. He turned and walked to his car and screeched off into the night.
I sat there ruminating on what had just occurred. He had definitely made me feel lousy, but mostly because a lot of what he said was probably true. The part about the zit certainly was. I peered in the mirror to see if the concealer I had painstakingly applied earlier had come off. It had.
I reapplied it and started the car. I drove slowly to the house,feeling like an idiot in my supposedly sexy get up, which I removed before I went into the house. I put on the clothes I had brought for the next day-jeans and t-shirt-and wiped off the red lipstick. I was mad and sad and not in the mood to be frisky anymore. He was dozing on the couch when I knocked. He took my hand, and we went into the bedroom and crawled into bed. I was still wearing my clothes because I was freezing and, huddled there in the dark, he mumbled something about being sorry he was late and fell asleep. I was sorry,too, because the damage was done.