My Encounter with the Beast.

Okay, maybe beast is a bit of an exaggeration, but I did manage to run into Cedro today. Maybe it was some sort of twisted karma for bashing him via the Internet yesterday. Maybe my life is actually a new soap opera version of the Truman Show and one day I’ll wake up to discover the camera crew. The more plausible explanation would be bad timing. For whatever reason, it was definitely unpleasant.

I was out running an errand for my internship when I realized I’d be passing by the restaurant I used to work in. It was a little after 3 pm and I knew the place would be a ghost town. I checked the schedule online to see if any of my friends were working and decided to pop in and say hello. Cedro wasn’t on the lunch schedule so I seemed to be in the clear. Somehow in the fifteen minute time span I was visiting, he managed to arrive early for his dinner shift. I guess I didn’t think twice about him showing up early considering when he would show up 15 minutes late for something I would applaud him for being on time. I also had no idea in the first place that he was even working the dinner shift. But nonetheless, in he walks, early for his shift.

Just prior to his appearance I had mentioned to the bartender, Todd, that I wanted to come in on my birthday this Saturday to get a drink. He was happy I’d be stopping by, but first had to mention, “Cedro is not invited”. I thought I heard him the first time, but I had to say “what” at least three times before I was sure of what he was saying. I guess I kind of chocked up at the sound of Cedro’s name coming from someone who is not fully aware of the situation. It was at that point that I realized, he didn’t approve of Cedro either. “No, of course not,” I replied. “Cedro isn’t invited to my life.”

Not three minutes later, in he walks. I was in the middle of asking Todd for advice on where I should go for my birthday after coming in to see him, when suddenly someone put their hand on my back. It all happened so fast that I can’t remember if I saw him out of the corner of my eye first or if my spidey senses just knew who was there.

I didn’t flinch. With my body leaned over the bar in mid conversation, I turned my head around keeping my body mostly facing forward.

“Hi, how are you?” he asks.

I could see it in his eyes – he was expecting a happy reaction from me, or at least, a reaction. His body language almost suggested hug, but I didn’t reciprocate.

“Hi,” I said with a forced smile, “I’m good.”

I turned back to Todd, “So where should I go?”

My tone with Cedro wasn’t cold. It wasn’t bitchy. It wasn’t happy or friendly either. I simply answered the question asked and resumed what I was doing.

This is definitely not how I would have expected our reunion to go a few months ago. But hey, it is what it is.

He went to the back, to the locker room I suppose and I continued my conversation with my ex-coworkers. As I was heading out, saying good-bye – see you on Saturday, I noticed Cedro walk back into the restaurant, linger for a moment, and then head outside. He knew I was leaving. I knew I was about to be cornered into a conversation. Absolutely not. This was not the time or the place. I was busy; I was supposed to be on an errand. I didn’t have the time for it – or the balls. My ex-coworker and close friend, Leanne, noticed as well. She grabbed me by the hand and said hey, come upstairs. The two of us skipped up the stairs to the main restaurant and I snuck out the back way, avoiding him at all costs. Usually I am much more confrontational, but not today. Today was not the day to put up with Cedro making small talk about nothing. But to be honest, it felt kind of okay to leave him hanging for once, to leave him questioning, to leave him looking for ways to talk to me. I felt in charge for once, and like deleting his text last week, it felt pretty damn good.

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The Most Recent Asshole.

I feel that if I am going to claim that I always choose the asshole, I should provide some proof. This is the story of the most recent asshole: Cedro.

I cannot deny that Cedro may have been one of the most interesting men I have ever dated, but he was also one of the worst. It started last July. We had met two months prior when I started working in the same restaurant as him. He was a back-waiter, I was a hostess. Boy meets girl. Boy likes girl. Girl literally can’t even remember boys name. It’s true. I was constantly confusing him with a different back-waiter (who happened to be Cedro’s best friend’s girlfriend’s little brother, just to confuse you a bit) and could not for the life of me remember which one he was. After about two months of work, it finally clicked one day when he struck up conversation with me at the end of his shift. I was immediately fascinated. He told me all about his studies at Hamilton College, a small yet competitive college in upstate New York. He told me that he majored in three subjects, Economics, French, and Chinese. He told me he speaks six languages. He told me that he once worked in marketing, but really hated it and was working at the restaurant as he was in between jobs. He told me that he was in ROTC and jumped out of helicopters from time to time. At this point in my mind he had gained a good amount of credibility because, to be honest, the shallow part of me would not have looked at him twice if he was just a restaurant back-waiter in his mid twenties with no other plan. And the helicopters and ROTC screamed alpha male. Perfect.

But this wasn’t enough. Not right away. I still only considered him a friend, but as time went on I began to realize how excited I would get whenever I would see him and then I knew – I had a crush.

Cedro was good at sweet talk and no matter how cheesy the things he would say were – I loved it. It began with a Facebook message “you have this certain je ne sais quoi that makes me smile when I think of you” followed with his number and a note saying, “text me sometime if you’re bored at work.” Of course I texted him right away, and flirting ensued. I couldn’t have been more giddy those first couple months, he seemed so perfect.

At this point in time I was excited, I thought I had finally found someone different. Cedro was not my type by any means. The guys of my past were typically goofy skinny college aged white boys, Cedro was everything but. Cedro was Colombian with a hint of an accent. Cedro was nearly five years older than me and had already graduated from college. Cedro was jacked with a tattoo, pierced ears, and a nipple piercing. I never imagined dating a guy like him – yet I was.

I was impressed with his planning on our first date. He picked me up from work and had options for things we could do. He had even gone as far as looking up movie times. This was a big deal for me and I thought – this guy’s different.

Now maybe I should have known right away when I smelled weed on his clothes that he wasn’t all that great. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against smoking, but a nice guy probably wouldn’t get high before a first date – would he? Nonetheless this fling went on for a good 6 months up until he left to go home to Colombia for the Christmas holidays and I left for my semester abroad in Barcelona.

Throughout the six months while we were dating there were about one hundred red flags that I chose to ignore.

Cedro was a liar. He would call out of work, lying saying he was sick. He would turn off his phone, lying saying it had died. His number one thing was always to say “I’ve been puking all night” except I knew it wasn’t true because one day he actually did puke and was left shocked telling me “I haven’t thrown up in years.”

Cedro always flaked on plans. He would tell me he was going to come over when he got out of work, but would go for drinks with his buddies instead. He would tell me he was going to call me later, and never would. He would tell me he was going to “take me on a nice date”. We never went on a nice date. Not once.

Cedro was a commitment phobe. He would tell me that he was committed to me, but refused to call me his girlfriend. He would tell me he had a “hard life” causing him to be closed off, but continually used that as an excuse when he would be a flake. He would hang out with his ex-fiance, but only let me find out when she tagged him in a Facebook post. Or when they Facebook chatted while he was laying in my bed.

Cedro was a man-whore. Like actually a man-whore. When he told me how many girls he had been with (let’s just say its many more than there are states in the United States of America) I should have run then and there. But I didn’t. I never ran. I always stayed. I always made excuses. I thought I was different.

My friends did not like him. They would only admit to liking him when he would hang out with them and make them laugh. He was funny. But that’s really not enough.

Cedro made me cry at least ever other week. Cedro was a constant let down. But I was obsessed with him and the last thing I wanted was to leave him and be heart broken. So for three months, I did just that. But finally it got to me. We broke up for a week after he had finally pissed me off enough by flaking on plans yet again without a single apology and a million excuses. And if you asked him about the break up he’d tell you it was his idea. He’d also tell you it wasn’t a break up, because technically we were never together. He told me that too. I still got back with him.

In that week I had a horrible time adjusting and the first day I could hardly manage to sit in my cubicle for 20 minutes without bursting into tears. I hated everything and I hated not being with him. But at the same time, I knew it was right. I knew he treated me like shit. And everyone was glad it was over. Ladies, listen to your friends. They know better.

At the end of that week I went to a party where I saw my neighbor from my dorm the previous year. Remember when I said Baseball-Cap-Canadian reminded me of my more-attractive friend? This guy was the more-attractive friend. We struck up conversation right away and were really hitting it off. After a little while he asked me to be his pong parter and a little after that we were making out on the couch. At first he asked if I’d like to go back to his place. I said no and he was fine with it. He suggested we go outside so as to not be making out in public. I was okay with that and so was he. To be honest I had a lot of fun that night. I couldn’t get over the fact that I was kissing someone who wasn’t Cedro, but that aside he was a really nice guy. It started to rain but it was a warm night at the end of September so we stayed outside and kissed in the rain. I mentioned wanting to dance in the rain. He took it literally and started to slow dance with me in the rain to no music. I know it’s cheesy, but it was utterly adorable.

He walked me home and asked for my number. He wanted to hang out again. I gave it to him, but nonetheless, I was still hung up on Cedro.

The following night one of the bartenders at the restaurant threw a house warming party. Now when the staff of that place gets together for a night of drinking, shitshows always ensue. Everyone was wasted and Cedro was coming onto me. At the end of the night, we inevitably went home together. The next morning I knew it was a mistake, but we agreed to keep seeing each other anyways. I chose the asshole.

Towards the end of my semester I knew I should not have been with him. We were fighting every time we saw each other. I admitted to myself and a friend that if we weren’t already forcibly leaving one another when we left the country that I probably would have already ended the relationship. But I wanted all the happy moments I could get, even when they were coming few and far between.

The final weeks were good, we were getting along. No, he never took me on that date he said he was going to take me on before he left for Colombia, but we got along. I was so upset to say goodbye and he promised we’d keep in touch. That was that. A few weeks later I heard from him and he was throwing out the “babygirls” and the “muahs” left and right. It made me happy, made me believe that maybe when I did come back to Boston in April there was a future for us. Let’s just cut to the chase – there wasn’t.

After talking for four months via Facebook, but Cedro never once following through on a Skype call, I came home to receive a phone call from him asking to meet up for drinks later in the week. We agreed on the upcoming Tuesday but, of course, he never called. He was “sick” and was asleep for the past two days and couldn’t manage to let me know. At this point I had pretty much given up and the following day secured that notion. Not only did I learn that had he been seeing someone new all the while that we were talking, but also that she was a hostess at the restaurant. She was a girl I trained right before I left. Basically, she was literally and figuratively my replacement. Yet all the while he was talking to me, telling me he missed me, calling me babygirl.

The icing on the cake: He was talking about me at the restaurant telling people I was messaging him wanting to get back together. I had had enough.

But no worries, I wasn’t through with him yet. Just five days ago he went ahead and texted, “Hey, how are you?”

I was so so tempted to respond with something bitchy and passive aggressive, but I knew that if I was going to break my addiction, if I was going to make any progress in this vow that I swore to myself, I had to just delete it. I let it sit in my inbox for hours and finally I swiped my thumb to the right, clicked that little red delete button, and was done with it. It felt so good.

The Epiphany.

Every woman thinks she knows what she wants in a guy – he’s smart, nice and funny. He’s sexy, daring, and unique. He loves dogs, children, and his family. Whatever it may be, we create this list of criteria in our heads that makes up the “perfect” man. I’m young and I’ll admit, I have no idea what I am doing, but I can tell you I scored a 2000 on my SATs and I attend a top ranked University. I am an intelligent individual. I can also tell you, I am an idiot.

It all occurred to me on Tuesday, May 8th while I was visiting Edinburgh, Scotland with a friend. My friend had left for the day for a visit to Saint Andrew’s University. I was left free to frolic the city on my own. I took the opportunity to go on a three hour walking tour through the city to learn a bit more about the sites and the city’s history. As I stood in the big group of people gathered for the tour I noticed two men about my age. One was dressed in a nice peacoat and polo shirt while the other sported a sweatshirt, running sneakers, and a baseball cap. Based on baseball-cap-boy’s appearance I began to wonder if they were American like myself. No more than ten minutes passed before peacoat-boy struck up conversation: “Traveling alone?” I soon learned that they were Canadian, not American. Both were very friendly and very welcoming. Here we go. These were going to be my friends for the day. Let’s roll.

When the tour ended the guide took us to a pub for some drinks and a traditional Scottish lunch. Peacoat-Canadian bought me a beer. Baseball-Cap-Canadian made fun of me for knowing very little about Canada. (Sorry, Canada.) The three of us ended up being the last in the bar and we ultimately left in the midst of a debate between myself and Baseball-Cap-Canadian on the death of the media industry. Meanwhile Peacoat-Canadian was trying to mitigate the debate and create a friendly conversation. All-in-all it was hilarious.

Upon leaving the bar we decided to go on a photo-scavenger-hunt, a.k.a. running around the city with beers in our hands taking ridiculous photos. The more beer we drank the sassier I became and the more argumentative Baseball-Cap-Canadian became. Maybe it was his American appearance, maybe it was his desire to challenge me, maybe it was just because he reminded me of my more-attractive guy friend back home, but whatever it was I found myself much more drawn to Baseball-Cap-Canadian than I did Peacoat-Canadian. So this scavenger hunt lead to the two of us climbing a tree, where for the first time I was kissed by a Canadian. Sure, I thought, why the hell not?

Later that evening, full of excitement from my adventurous day, I rehashed the details to my friend, Monica, telling her all about these two crazy Canadian men I had met on the tour. While telling the story it occurred to me that one of these men was the nice guy, and one of these men was the asshole. Now Baseball-Cap-Canadian was perfectly fine, until later on in the evening when he started with “Don’t worry, I am a gentleman I just acted like a jerk to get what I want” and “Let’s go make out in a red phone booth” which turns into “I wonder what else we could do in a phone booth.” No thank you, Canada. And please, don’t flatter yourself; cocky doesn’t look too good on you. I was slightly disappointed in his pompous attitude and upon explaining this I realized how nice Peacoat-Canadian actually was. He was interested in my studies, interested in my life. He bought me a beer and laughed at my jokes. Not to mention he was traveling because he was completing graduate studies in Uganda while Baseball-Cap-Canadian was going to “do something with energy” somewhere in Africa. But I – being the idiot that I am – was blind to all of these screaming factors and I, well, I chose the asshole.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is something I have always been aware of. I am attracted to jerks. I won’t lie and tell you that I am over my bad boy phase, because I most certainly am not. And just about every guy I’ve dated since high school has either been a sarcastic asshole or an emotional wreck. I always think I’m about to date someone different, but then somehow they always turn out to be the same in various ways. I see the red flags, but when you’re looking at a red flag through rose-colored-glasses it doesn’t seem so obvious anymore. Now please don’t interpret my words as a whining angst-filled rant. It is nothing like that. I’m not blaming men for my failure in relationships or berating the entire male race. I like my jerky men, and it is my fault for continually repeating these same mistakes, but this one experience opened my eyes wider than ever before. Even when given the black and white choice – I will always, without fail, choose the asshole.

So here’s my plan:

I have just returned home from four months abroad studying in Barcelona and traveling throughout Europe only to have my heart ripped out by the most recent asshole who I shared an on again off again relationship with before I had left. My life has changed and the home life I left behind has gone through a drastic transformation. I vowed to myself on May 8th, the day of The Epiphany, that I would start saying yes to the nice guy and no to the asshole. I have four months of summer to reconstruct my life in America and I am choosing to use these four months to test new waters, to actually say yes to nice guys when they ask me out rather than finding an excuse or a reason to say no. I vow to eliminate the toxic relationships in my life and replace them with healthy ones. Here are the rules:

Rule #1 –  Give nice guys a chance. Quite frankly, I am never interested in anyone who is interested in me. I find it boring. But after five years of being in the dating game this has never worked in my favor. Time for a change.

Rule #2 – Go on a date. I have literally never just said yes to a date. The only dates I have ever been on have been with guys that I already knew were a sure thing i.e. boyfriends, the guy of the month, and the on again off agains.

Rule #3 – Break my addiction. I must break my addiction to toxic men. This is the most important rule of all.

I always choose the asshole. I give myself four months to change this, no matter how painful. Someone please slap me if I don’t.