If you ask any of the boys I'm currently dating, they will tell you I'm the kindest, sweetest, gentlest, most loving person they've ever met. If you ask of the boys whose hearts I have broken in the last 15 years, they'll likely tell you I'm an evil bitch. Occupational hazard?
I know this because I ran into an ex on the street today. I don't mean that I rammed him with my car (much as I've envisioned that fantasy a few times, it never involved this particular person.) I mean that I was walking through a quaint little Long Island town on my way to the cafe for lunch with a friend and there he was... talking to a girl. Not just any girl, mind you. A very PRETTY girl.
Bear in mind that this boy and I had a mild summer romance ten years ago. I was 20 and he was 28 which at the time seemed like a HUGE age difference. I was halfway through college and he was an "adult" already. (I'm using the term loosely here. We all know that men and women don't mature at the same rate, so we were probably equals on the grown up front!) We re-connected through facebook a few years ago and got to talking, emailing etc. I saw him a few times in person before he expressed wanting to rekindle our decade old romance. I had a boyfriend then but that did not stop his affection for me. He was thoughtful and considerate and our friendship felt completely natural. When he repeatedly expressed wanting more than I could give him, he thought that I was being cold and callous which was never my intention. I didn't want to see him get hurt and had to cut off all communication with him because he started getting spiteful and mean. Drama avoidance lesson #1: Defriending someone for your own good!
Anywho, I was wandering the aisles of my local grocery store yesterday sans make up, messy bun in hair, sweatshirt over no bra (which I NEVER do anymore but it was just one of those days) and I thought to myself: What if someone saw me? Worse yet - what if someone I used to DATE saw me? That thought scared me enough to grab only the basic necessities, hit the express self checkout line and run for the safety of my car. You'd have thought I learned my lesson yesterday? You'd be wrong.
Here I am again today, not really feeling too bothered to dress up. I promise that I was properly attired with undergarments this time but it was kind of a t shirt, sneakers and jeans day. I showered and dried my hair this morning but then tied it back in a messy braid so I'm not really sure why I wasted the energy. I'm walking down the street thinking it's just lunch with an old friend when I see HIM standing outside of the restaurant. I don't know how I recognized him with his back to me but it was one of those "Oh, crap..." moments that happens in slow motion. I had to go right past him and the pretty, well-dressed, beautifully accessorized woman he was chatting with. Insert over abundance of feigned confidence here!
I waved for a second til he noticed me then I plastered a big smile on my face. He looked really taken back and hesitantly let out a "Hey, Kim..." which might as well have been "Hey, Adolf...what are you and Saddam doing here?" He looked equally as comfortable when Adolf (aka, me) hugged him and flashed those pearly whites. (Crest WhiteStrips, as recommended by my dentist.) Then I turned the charm onto the bejeweled brunette by his side as though noticing her for the first time. Extending my hand and offering up my biggest beauty queen smile, I introduced myself to his companion. She looked from me to him then back again before taking my hand. She had to shift the keys, cell phone and doggie bag she was carrying just to greet me so small victory there. (Yes, I'm THAT shallow.) Then I pulled the ultimate evil girl maneuver. "Pretty necklace!"
Every woman knows that when confronting the enemy, there is only one possible option. You can't suddenly make yourself better dressed than her or instantly appear to be having a better hair day. You must, therefore, come across as a nice person. Brace yourselves girls, for if you have not yet run into an ex who is now with someone else, this will happen to you eventually. And you too, will fire off a compliment at a woman you have never met and hope never to run into again for the sake of appearing to be casual, cool, calm, and collected. Like it doesn't phase you in the least to introduce yourself by name to this stranger instead of "Hi, I'm the girl he was sleeping with before you."
*Note to the readers: I have, in fact, introduced myself to other women as "the girl he was sleeping with before you." I do NOT recommend this tactic in the least. It is remotely self-satisfying for approximately thirty seconds and the arrogance quickly deflates out of you when you see the sparkling ring on her left hand or some such thing. Your better bet by far is to play off the "Oh, isn't this a funny coincidence bumping into you here and by the way, my life is fabulous!" Pay a quick compliment, blow an air kiss and GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE AS QUICKLY AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. You will embarrass yourself otherwise!*
I walk as fast as my Shape-Ups will take me into the little cafe and slink down into my chair while the attentive waitress cautiously offers me a menu. I probably look like I just committed a murder and needed a hideaway while the cops talk to eyewitnesses. I am heaving a big sigh of relief when he walks in! Just like that, saunters in off the sidewalk and back into the cafe where he'd only finished lunch with his date five minutes before. Oh. My. God. Why is he trying to torture me???
I pretend to be engrossed in my menu and not noticing him order a hamburger at the counter. (Yeah, right. Good cover.) He turns and plays the same fake "Oh, I didn't see you there" move that I JUST played on his new girlfriend. I plaster the Crest smile back on my lips and he takes this as a cue to sit down next to me. Great. This isn't weird at all.
He says he'll only stay a minute. He just ordered a hamburger for a homeless man outside who was begging for money to get something to eat. Instead of giving the guy cash, he offered to buy him some lunch. Yeah, right. I mean, I've done that before (corner of 21st and 6th...same guy is there every Thursday) but I've never seen anyone else do it. Is it possible he's that good of a guy? Or is he skeevy enough to use a homeless man as an excuse to talk to me?
Just then the very clearly "residentially challenged person" walks into the restaurant and the guy tells him his burger will be up in a few minutes. He'll bring it out when it's ready.
Alright... NOW I feel like an asshole.
We start catching up on each other's lives. He remembers so much stuff I'd forgotten we'd ever talked about. He's sweet and funny and bows his head down a little when bringing up the way things ended between us. He tells me he was hurt and upset when I cut him off and took it really hard. Then he looks right at me and says "Wow, your eyes are really green today." Feeling more and more like an asshole every minute...
Then he smirks and says, "Speaking of green, what was that little move you just pulled out front?"
Me: (blushes and looks back at menu) "I don't know what you're talking about."
Him: "You. Outside. With the girl. 'Pretty necklace!' Big smile. Batting eyelashes. What the hell was that?"
Me: "Nope, sorry, wasn't me." (Big smile. Bats eyelashes.)
Him: "Yeah, right. Ok fine. But I don't think I've ever seen you so jealous before in my life."
Me: "Moi? Jealous? I don't think so. She was pretty. Seemed nice."
Him: "Nice? You did not take two seconds to get to know her. You were too busy auditioning for Miss Congeniality."
Me: "I'm happy you're dating her."
Him: "I'm not dating her. She's a friend."
Me: "Oh." (Asshole...)
Him: "Who are you meeting for lunch?"
Me: "A friend." (Which is true!)
Him: "Ok. Well call me when you're ready to be friends again. Really. Anytime."
With this, he walks outside, hands the homeless man his burger and heads off to work. And I am left feeling, for once, like the bitch my ex'es called me.