Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ickiness Returns.

For any new readers of my blog, (and I suspect I've lost a few and possibly gained a few, with my infrequent posting), let me bring you up to date on my current sitch in a sentence or three.  I started this blog when I was newly divorced and it was mostly about being divorced and how much it had changed me.  About a year a half later I worked things out with my Ex and we remarried. 

Yeah, that about sums up my current life.  Amazing, how much life you can fit in a para.

I was ready to start dating pretty much about ten minutes after I received my get.  I dried my numerous tears, saddled up and got right back on the horse. And it wasn't "rebound dating" or post-traumatic-shock dating.  It was productive, ready-to-move-the-hell-forward-dating.  My marriage had been over for a year before it was over.  I was ready.

BUT.   (Big but.)  I will tell you this.  Not once, not for one second during my actual marriage did I ever consider cheating.  I didn't want to.  I didn't think about other guys.  I wasn't attracted to other guys.  I didn't flirt with other guys and was quite grossed out when they flirted with me.  Once I stood under that chuppah, I considered myself completely devoted to my husband, no matter how miserable life with that person ever made me feel.  And I had some moments.  But while I certainly wanted to kill my current spouse, my heart still belonged to him.  Is that weird or normal?  Not important.  I'm simply wired that way.  Certainly now that we are remarried, happily so, I don't window shop, I don't rove, I don't "lust in my heart."  I'm not interested.  I'm his.

So when I went to an engagement party recently and saw Rich, someone that I dated while I was divorced, I steered myself in another direction. Immature, maybe, but it brought up feelings of ickiness.  I had gone out with this person a few times and he was just not for me.  I might have even blogged about it; I don't remember. He was nice looking enough, smart enough, funny enough, etc. but he had known me when I was married the first time, and certainly known my husband, and I found that very unsettling.  On our dates, he spent some time badmouthing The Ex, and told me he gave me a lot of credit for sticking out the marriage for as long as I could.  He told me he was always a little drawn to me when I was married, but of course, never did anything about it.  That was the clincher for me; the ickiness factor of someone who knew and was attracted to me when I was married just soared off the scale.  I dumped him nicely.  Rich did not go gently into the Good Single Night though; he followed up with some "why, please help me understand why" phone calls, and the person who set us up got involved as well.  All this did nothing but add more ickiness to the equation for me.

I remember when I went out with Rich, and I was so repelled by the fact that he admitted to being attracted to me when I was married, I discussed this with Nice Jewish Guy, who explained one of the many differences between men and women to me.  "Men," he said, "are always imagining, wondering, turning stuff around in their heads.  We can be totally in love with our spouses or girlfriends or whatever, and as soon as we meet a woman, we wonder what it's like to have sex with her. It has nothing to do with infidelity or anything.  We never act on it, we just wonder."

I, clearly, am not wired that way.  I accept that many (most?) men are, but if that is the case, I kinda don't want to know about it.

So there he was, Rich, at this engagement party, big smile on his face.  And there I was, stag, because my husband couldn't make it, and as soon as I saw Rich, I knew I had to get out of there.  Ok, breathe, breathe, maybe he'll have the class to say hi and bye and I can just not have any drama.

Oh no.  There was drama.

"WebGirl!  How are you?  I hear you actually married The Ex again!"

"Yes!  Hello!   Rich.  Hello.  How are you?"

"I couldn't believe it when I heard from Soandso that you remarried him, especially after everything we talked about when we went out."  (Mind you, friends of mine are all around, everywhere.)

"Yes, well, great to see you, Rich.  I had forgotten that you were friends with the Chassan.  Great to see you.  Bye."

Now, Rich doesn't live in my town.  I had forgotten that we had mutual friends in the person whose engagement party it was, and I suppose he had flown in.   I was hoping he would fly out just as quickly.  I fluttered around a bit more, wished all parties Mazel Tov blah blah blah, talked to some girlfriends about an upcoming fundraiser the shul was having, and plotted my escape.  I felt Rich's eyes on me.  I nearly made it to the door, when he sidled up to me again.


"Hello again Rich.  Well, I gotta get home.  Nice to see you."

"What do you mean by that?"

"Whuh huh?  What do I mean by what?"

"Well, before you said 'great to see you!'  Do you mean that?  I mean what am I supposed to take away from that?  Is everything ok with you and Husband?"

Oh, the ickiness.  I was swimming in ickiness.

"What I meant was that it was lovely seeing you and I wish you the best of luck.  Everything is GREAT with me and Husband.  Ok, ba-bye."

"Everything is great with Husband and it's great to see me.  You use the word 'great' a little indiscriminately, don'tcha think?  Do you want to talk or something?  Want to go to Starbucks?"

OMG.  No.  The ickiness factor was high into the red zone.  And on top of that, I started to feel the guilty-crawlies, because Husband and I had had a bad fight that morning and hadn't made up yet.  There were doors slammed. And here I was, standing here with my Rich, my Icky Former Date, who just asked me out for coffee, so that I could tell him how unhappy I was, admit that I loved Rich all along, and possibly swoon into his arms before I filed for divorce and ran off with him.

Ok, that was all my head drama, but what was real was that Rich was standing here in the community where I lived with my husband, inviting me to coffee.

"Look Rich, I'm very happily married.  There's nothing to read into this. Nothing, zero, nada.  I want to be very clear about this.  I wish you the best of luck.  Bye."

And with that, I pirouetted the hell outta there.  I went home, took a long shower, made up with my husband, and tried to shake the whole incident off.

I want to explain that Rich is not a psycho.  He's not a stalker type or anything like that. I think he's just a really nice single guy who's very lonely.  Most of the ickiness is probably in my head. I think.


Ok ladies, are you listening?  There's doing something special for the ones we love, and then there's coddling/spoiling.  Don't mix these up.

I'm not the most social person in the world, but I have one small social gift:  I can pick up personality types pretty quickly. There is a type of woman (men too, but I see it more in women) who loves to sacrifice, and sees that as part of giving and loving.  I have a friend, older woman in her fifties, who is married to a brilliant guy.  He's so brilliant that he hasn't worked in the thirty years they've been married.  Oh, he's held little jobs here and there.  He claims he has all sorts of medical ailments, and I'm sure some of them might even be real, but he has used these over and over again as excuses not to go out there like the rest of us and earn a living.  Rayna, on the other hand, works like a dog. Whether she's sick or well, she's out there every day, bringing home a paycheck.  Benjy, besides his ailments, is also a very large man.  He's about 6'3"  and weighs around 300 lbs. Many of his ailments are undoubtedly related to his weight.  But Rayna cooks for him all the time, makes his favorite meals, fattening as they might be.  She gently tries to introduce him to more veggies and salads, but Benjy is "not ready for them yet."  Coddle, coddle coddle.  They have a great marriage and have raised three delightful sons, who undoubtedly will expect their wives to coddle them as well. We'll see.

Then there's Olivia.  Olivia is in her sixties, and her husband is a Vietnam vet.  He has some major kidney problems but won't be eligible for a transplant until he drops thirty pounds. And yet Olivia continues to cook lots of special meals for the hubby, whatever he likes.  She doesn't like to pressure him, even though a little tough love might save his life.  Recently, I complained to her about how my husband was not a vegetable eater, and she admonished me for not serving him just the meats and starches that he loves.  I told her as gently as I could: I don't believe in raising a spoiled spouse.  She doesn't get it.  Her husband is also in charge of where they go, what they do, etc., and Olivia, not wanting to put any pressure on her fragile husband, goes along with whatever he wants.  

Then finally there is one of my sisters-in-law, Robin.  My nephew is 14 and chubby.  Perhaps that's because Robin only feeds her son what he likes, which is pasta, pasta, pasta.  I recently had their family over for a meal, and I had to cook an entire second meal for my nephew (at Robin's request) because he doesn't eat chicken unless it's done a certain way and only a certain part, and he won't eat vegetables or fruit, and he only likes bread toasted to a certain doneness, and of course he has to have pasta. etc. Then Robin complains about how the other kids tease him because of his "little extra tummy."  And she doesn't push him to do team sports because he's sensitive and she's not sure how well he would fare being in competition with kids who are more athletic than he. Academic competition is fine, because my nephew is very bright and can hold his own.

These women are raising perpetual babies.  They are making the world all shiny and bright and accommodating for their guys, but the problem is, the real world is not very accommodating at all.  One day, these women will not be around to protect them, and these men will be lost.   They are enabling unhealthy food habits and immature, controlling behavior, and each of them views what they are doing as love.

I get crazy when I see stuff like that.  Maybe because I was raised with so much tough love. Don't get me wrong, my parents did a lot of nice things for me, but my treats were special and rare, and I grew to appreciate them.  In our house, you ate what was served, or you didn't eat.  No one ever died from skipping  a meal, my Mom used to say.  My parents cracked the whip in both academics and sports, and I'm grateful to them for that, because I learned how to play with a team, and even though I struggle with my weight as an adult, I think I'm healthier for it. My husband and I will do occasional nice things for each other, but when we get lazy about stuff, neither of us can stand to suffer any fools. 

There is being nice and there is spoiling rotten.  Learn the difference.