Monday, April 15, 2013

Do the Right Thing?

We’d reached that portion of brunch talk where we were past the formalities and right in the middle of real talk. You know, somewhere between your 3rd and 4th pitcher of mimosas where you’ve stopped saying the things that you should say and finally start saying the things you’ve been dying to say to someone who wouldn’t judge you.
We had done the impossible; somehow we’d managed to wrangle impossible schedules spanning multiple cities and encompassing careers and husbands and travel plans and kids and family emergencies and every big and small thing in between that could possibly go wrong and carve out a few hours to get drunk over French toast. So, we could at least be honest with each other.
After waxing philosophical on the idea of one of our friends having an open marriage (landing solidly on it can’t work for everybody but it would work for them) Bambi, a friend who’d been uncharacteristally quiet, cleared her throat tentatively.
 
“I need some advice about something,” she says, casting her eyes uneasily around the table. I take the brief lull in conversation as an opportunity to fill up my glass because this seems like it’s going to be good.
“It’s about Policeman Paul.”
We all know the deal with her and Policeman Paul; they’re friends who had been friends for awhile, until one day they both started wondering if they could be more than friends but had never quite been able to get to the “more than” part. It seemed like the timing was never quite right; he was single when she wasn’t or vice versa; one of them was heartbroken after being left at the altar (him); they had lost touch while were living in different cities. It wasn’t really a mess in the way that managing unrequited feelings for someone can be because there was no bad blood between them, but she found it frustrating to say the least. Last we heard of him, she had sorta thrown her hands up over the whole situation, frustrated with the nowhere it had gone despite them finally living in the same city, and sure that the universe was trying to tell them that it just wasn’t meant to be.
But, as it tends to, shit had gotten real.
“Isn’t he with that girl with the short hair?” Our friend Lolo (who is happily married in that fairy tale way and wants the same thing for everybody else no matter how often we assure her she and her husband are unicorns) asks with a mouth full of cheese eggs.
“Well, yes.”
“Then there isn’t really anything to give advice on is there?” I ask amongst eye rolls from the table as I am the sole party here who does not subscribe to If You’re not Married, You’re Single Magazine.
“Here’s the thing,” Bambi says, toying with the remnants of her pancakes and here’s the thing you should know about when anybody prefaces anything with “here’s the thing”; whatever follows it is likely not a good idea.
“I think it’s getting serious between them.”
“How long have they been together?” asks our other friend Eve, the prettiest and most ruthless of the bunch.
“Like, 6 months.”
“That’s not super serious,” I offer, hoping to make her feel better but not entirely sure that is true.
“True,” Eve says, “she probably hasn’t even stopped faking orgasms yet.”
“Don’t even worry about it. She will be gone soon like the rest of them always are and maybe you two can finally get this thing together,” Lolo says.
“Um, I think we are missing the obvious here,” interjects Chris, the smartest and most married of all of us. “6 months is serious when you’re 30.”
None of us has any argument for that. Because, well, it’s true. All while we discussing what was happening in our lives, in our careers, with our husbands and boo thangs and babies, it all seemed to center around the one thing you cannot ignore when you reach our age; time is (hopefully) long but it’s no longer infinite. You don’t have the luxury of languishing in things that are going nowhere if you have plans to get somewhere. There’s a lot of shit you no longer have time to wait around for.
“Ok. So, it’s serious. Probably. Maybe. Shit, have you asked?”
“No. Well, not directly. We talk about her. I mean, she’s in his life.”
“Well, maybe you had the right idea all along. Maybe it wasn’t meant to be. That is why you moved on last year, right? I mean, maybe this will run its course and you guys will be able to make a go of it. And maybe it won’t. But if it doesn’t, doesn’t that just confirm that you were right to give it up in the first place?” That is me, forever diplomatic and even tempered.
“I am just tired of the maybe hanging over my head, you know?” she says, sadder than I expect her to be about it. “I compare everyone to him. And I want something like what we have but with someone I can actually manage to, like, have.”
“You should just go after him,” Eve offersso matter-of-factly you woulda thought she said the sky is blue or we are drunk or some other indisputable fact.
“I dunno…” I reply uneasily, looking to Chris to fill the space she usually occupies as my level-headed backup. She considers the question thoughtfully as she sips from her flute.
“I dunno,” she concedes finally, “maybe you should.”
“Oh, shit,” Lolo says, almost spitting out her food, which about sums up the mood at the table.
For awhile we are a flurry of questions and answers and what ifs? and girl byes and why are you such a whore?-s. We can’t even begin to reach a consensus.
“He is in a relationship. I mean, if you essentially go after him while he is committed to someone else and he goes for it, wouldn’t you always wonder if he would do the same to you? “How you got him is how you lose him” and yadda yadda.”
Lolo jumps in before anyone can answer, “Yeah, but this is kinda different isn’t it? I mean there is a history there.”
“It’s always different when it’s you, except it’s never really different at all.”
“If you don’t at least try, you will regret it.”
“She might regret it if she tries. And, honey, I love you, but it’s kinda a shitty thing to do,” I tell her as gently as I can manage.
“Well, we know why you would say that,” Eve says, jabbing at a tender place I should hit her in the face with a plate for. “But I ain’t sayin’ manipulate him or get in between them. Just lay your cards on the table.”
“Isn’t that just manipulation?” I ask. “Or at the very least it’s setting herself up to get in between them. I say just wait it out. What’s so special about this girl that will make her any different than all the other girls that haven’t made it past a year?”
“I think,” Chris says, cutting into the rapid fire convo she hadn’t really contributed to, “you’re missing a really big aspect of this. What if she really doesn’t have the time to wait on this to go nowhere?”
And I suppose that is the question that we have been ignoring. We could see it reflected in our dating lives. As Sex and the City as it sounds, we weren’t (for the most part) dating wildly inappropriate people anymore at our ages. What if he wasn’t either and she didn’t have the luxury of resting on the idea of “doing the right thing” and waiting for this relationship to run its course like the others because what if it didn’t? Should she just wait around and hope that this guy that she loves, that she trusts, that loves her, that she is convinced is the person she is supposed to be with is, maybe, possibly is one day available?
We sit with that in silence for a while, each of us mulling over the question in our heads because, let’s face it, none of us has made it to almost 30, 30 and over 30 as we all are without having been in this situation with some friend that could be more if the universe would just stop Punk-ing you. I am the first one to break the stalemate.
“Listen. I am of the mindset that if a man wants you, he wants you. He will come for you. He will make it happen. If he doesn’t? Then he don’t want you. That sounded meaner than I intended. But that’s real talk.”
“But should she just not say anything?” Lolo asks
“Not if she wants to finally see if this dog has legs,” Eve answers.
“I’m just saying if it were me, and you were telling my man you had feelings for him and asking if yall could give it a go, I would show up on your doorstep with my earrings off.”
“That’s cuz you ain’t got good sense, La.”
“Well, that much is clear.”
“The fact of the matter is, just like we aren’t dating pointlessly anymore, neither are men. And especially not him. He wants to be married. He wants kids. And he’s 32 years old. It would be a mistake to assume he hasn’t found that potential in the women he chooses to spend time with. Especially 6 months of time. I am not saying that you doggedly pursue him, but maybe you should say something. There is a reason why these feelings haven’t gone away. Maybe he returns them. Maybe he doesn’t. But finally at least you will know. But please hear me when I say no matter what the adage, time is not on your side here.”
Chris punctuates her sentence with a last smack of her breakfast, and raises her mimosa.
“I am the oldest. And the smartest. And 5th prettiest out of all of us, which means I have to be that much wiser to compensate for coming in last in looks. And I am telling you this because I know it to be true; life is happening. You can wait for it or you can go after it but it’s barreling past you. If there is something in this life you wanna hold on to, that you wanna keep for yourself before life  moves it beyond you, you better go for it. Because you don’t have nearly as much time as you think you do.”
We clink our glasses and steer the conversation to easier ground. We order another pitcher because they are good and because they are cheap and because deep down we are all thinking the same thing…
What if she’s right?

3 comments:

AllisonPlease said...

Sigh..... that was the deepest slightly inebriated sh** I've ever heard!! I hate her for saying because forget a "what if" ... that statement was absolutely true!

Darrk Gable said...

I wonder what married folks would say to her point. Especially if they feel like that about a person who isn't their spouse.

Anonymous said...

She is 100% right. You have to do what is going to make you happy even if it doesn't work out. Speaking as a married person, sometimes you do marry the wrong person and you find someone else. You have to go for it. Life is to short to be miserable under any circumstances.