For the last two years I have been preoccupied with one lover or another, constantly trying to attach myself to that so-highly-prized ‘other half’. I cried myself to sleep often. I was hung up on. I dealt with women answering my boyfriends’ phones. I said “this is good-bye” often but always returned. I apologized for feeling hurt or offended, de-legitimizing my emotions. I cleaned up piss and vomit. I ditched friends to take care of these much older men whom I loved. I hated myself. I got fucked a lot. And I got fucked over more.
I finally managed to extricate myself from imprisonment, from my self-imposed patriarchy, and what did I do after that fateful “break-up” morning? I ran to the dating pool, seeking out some other form of completion. I hadn’t loved myself for two years running, but somehow I thought I was going to find what I couldn’t give myself in a complete stranger.
I’ve been on ten dates within the last two months, and this is what I learned: *
Dima called me on the phone. He sounded far more foreign than I had expected. I think I wanted to meet up with Dima because I felt nostalgic for my first lover, a Dutch law student. I told Dima, “I’ll just meet you at the restaurant” but he refused to let me drive myself anywhere. “I’ll drive you; this is the Russian way. In Russia, the men drive.”
Lesson One: Decrepit American me must have forgotten that having a vagina means I can’t navigate through traffic.
But, I was willing to sacrifice my pride to meet anyone new. He brought me flowers and a box of Driscolls strawberries. A bit much, but sweet. We had sushi and watched “Burn After Reading” after which he confessed he only laughed because other people were laughing; he had no idea what was going on in the movie. Good times. After the first date, Dima must have assumed he had some possessive power over me because I couldn’t go 24 hours without seeing him in my “Missed Calls”, nonetheless hearing his accented pleas, “Allo, Samanta, where are you? Who are you with? Why you no call me?”
Lesson Two: If a man buys you Driscolls, beware the tracking device subtext.
A month passes, and I’m so beaten down by his calls that I finally give in to having a date number two. (He’s driving, of course.) He brings a strawberry-laden cake and another big, beautiful bouquet of flowers. We have Chinese. Over shrimp and broccoli, he admits that he’s married, has two daughters, and a litter of kittens at home. But, hey, he still hates his wife, so it’s OK for him and me to be intimate.
Lesson Three: If you buy a woman enough shit, she won’t even notice your wedding ring.
My second experience was with Matt, who was a working lawyer. We had great conversation, gorged on sushi, and went back to his place to continue the conversation. We smoked a bowl on his couch, talked about art, had a glass of wine, and wham, he’s kissing me. We make out a little and then I stop him, and tell him I don’t want to go farther since we’ve just met. He says, “Ok” and then shoves his tongue down my throat again. I stop him again, and repeat my wishes. He puts his hand on my crotch and tries kissing me again. I stop him for a third time, and by this point I’m frustrated. I tell him I should probably get back home, and he gives me a good guilt trip, “I drove you all the way heeeeree…”
Lesson Four: If a man drives you all the way to his abode, he expects to get laid. A woman’s integrity = a gallon of gas. Simple economics.
Lastly, I want to mention Ryan, who ten months ago, let me sob my guts out on his bed because he had slept with me for a month under the pretext of a “connection”, a “relationship” and when I brought commitment up, he told me he had just wanted to sleep with me. When I started to cry, he told me he didn’t feel comfortable with me sleeping with him that night, and wanted me to leave. It was 2AM. I refused, popped a couple of pills, and passed out. Worst of all: I had brought a book of my favorite writings to share with him that night.
Well a couple of days ago he e-mailed me saying how much he regrets it all. I challenged him, telling him I wanted to hear it face-to-face, and that I deserve it. He said he can’t see me face-to-face because he feels too vulnerable. He’s 27. I’m 19. He fucked me for a month, and then told me he wanted nothing to do with me and to go home as I sat there crying. What does he know about vulnerability?
Lesson Five: Men, you can fuck ‘em over young, if you make up for it later with a half-assed, typo-ridden e-mail. Women go crazy for that sort of thing.
And that’s not the least of it, unfortunately. I used to think “objectification” was a bogus, out-dated theme of fogey feminists from the 60s, but at this point, I’m feeling it through-and-through and I’m fed up.
I’d rather be single than be disrespected. So until a man’s reading my poetry before he’s reaching between my legs, I’m going solo.
And I’m damned happy about it.
(*Names were changed for privacy.)