Valentine’s Day Redux

Here’s what I had to say about Valentine’s Day last year: http://talktostrangersblog.com/?p=651. This year Michelle and I are going out to Rustic Canyon for dinner and I actually paid attention to all those flower commercials so I could buy the best ones. So, yeah, a year makes a difference.

I know what it’s like to have a shitty Valentine’s Day because not only do you not have someone in your life but there are no prospects for the future. It’s the hopelessness that really hurts. If I honestly thought, “Bad luck, Valentine’s Day fell this year between past and future girlfriends,” it wouldn’t be that big a deal. I’d just hang out with friends or go to a strip club or something. But wondering how could a potential girlfriend even exist–where would she even come from?–that’s the stuff of real depression.

Well, here’s my pep talk. First of all, just because you can’t see happiness around the bend doesn’t mean it’s not there. And second, you can take control of your life. You can get out there and meet people. I did it. I get a lot of emails from people who say they want to meet people but they’re just too shy. Well, unless you have a note from your doctor saying you have a social anxiety disorder, then I call bullshit. Being scared is no excuse. Overcoming fears is one of the things we do as grown-ups.

Buy a book on how to mingle. Read the news of the weird right before you go out so you have a few things to talk about. Or just listen and react to what people are saying. But to quote the Pennsylvania State Lottery Commission, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”

Elevator Girl

It was like a movie. I was leaving for the night, the elevator doors opened, and there she was. It was so perfect that even Michelle had to laugh. I got in.

I was about to say something. I was about to launch into another big speech. But she stopped me with a look. A look that said, “It’s okay.”

Then she kissed me.

The doors opened on another floor and someone else got in, interrupting the kiss. But Michelle grabbed my hand and held it tight the whole rest of the way down to the lobby. She was squeezing it so hard, I looked over at her, and she looked scared.

We got the the lobby and the other guy got out.

I turned to Michelle and said, “I love you.”

Michelle said, “I love you, too.”

P.S. Michelle said I could post this.

Michelle Speaks (to Me)

Michelle called last night. We talked for an hour. Still haven’t seen her in person since Thanksgiving, but I’ll take what I can get.

Here’s the crux of the problem. This relationship is not a trivial matter and we both know it. I made it clear from the very beginning that my feelings are very deep for Michelle. Turns out, she feels the same way. But since this is so “high stakes,” Michelle says she just needs to be sure. She says she couldn’t handle something this big not working out. The thing with Thanksgiving wasn’t so much about being mad or embarrassed. It was about trust and if she’s going to go out on a limb with me emotionally, she has to know I’m not going to hurt her.

I told her I would never hurt her. “But that’s exactly what someone would say if they were about to hurt me,” Michelle replied.

I laughed. Got me there.

So I said the only thing I could think of. I said, “There’s no guarantees. Sometimes you just have to take a risk. And I think the rewards of this working out are so big that the risk is justified.”

She thought about it. I said, “When can I see you?” She said she still needed to sort things out. To give her some time. I said okay.

Gunther’s Girlfriend

Gunther invited me and Michelle over last night to meet his new girlfriend.

We were more than a little surprised to find out that Marta was nineteen. Gunther is probably in his early forties and God knows how he gets these women, but we found the whole thing to be pretty strange.

Marta is a freshman at Loyola. She is studying communications but she said she would really love to be “a TV personality.” Who says that? I mean, she didn’t say “actress,” she said “TV personality.” It reminded me of that stripper that the Michael Jackson doctor is dating who said her body is her “instrument.”

It’s weird how as a heterosexual male, I could find such a hot girl so annoying. Every time she said something stupid–like how she loves “being a good role model for teens”–I looked over at Gunther. He was definitely not blinded by his deep love for Marta. He knew she was an idiot. He had this smile on his face like a dirty old man, like “What can I do?”

Michelle wound up talking to Marta alone for a while while I went to the store with Gunther to pick up more beer. Gunther basically admitted that he couldn’t help himself and that he finds her “naive world-view refreshing.”

Later that night, Michelle told me that Marta told her she “always dates older guys” because they’re “better in bed.” Michelle said, “Yeah, just don’t get carried away, it’s kind of a bell curve.”

And Marta said, “A what curve?”

Chloe, Meet Michelle

Michelle and I were hanging out at the Farmers’ Market in Brentwood when I saw the pet adoption sign.

Normally, Chloe works in Santa Monica on the weekends, but for some reason, she was in Brentwood this time. I thought about avoiding her, but why should I? She dumped me after all. And it’s not like I needed to prove anything to Chloe but still I couldn’t help feel excited at showing off Michelle to her.

So we went up to the adoption area and I said, “Hey, Chloe.”

She turned and saw me. I said, “This is Michelle. Michelle, this is Chloe.” Now Michelle already knew who Chloe was so it was no big deal but Chloe had no idea who Michelle was.

Chloe said, “Hey, nice to meet you.” She turned to me and asked, “How is Tad?”

I told her he was doing well. You could tell she missed him and suddenly I felt kind of bad. I mean, Chloe never really did anything wrong to me. So I said I would bring him around some time.

Michelle said she was going to look at some strawberries. That’s one thing I love about Michelle. She’s very secure in our relationship and had no problem excusing herself so Chloe and I could catch up.

After some small talk, Chloe said she thought Michelle seemed perfect for me. I wasn’t sure what she meant by that but she seemed genuinely happy for me. It hadn’t been that long since we were together but I had already forgotten how nice Chloe is. So I said to her, “You know, Chloe, I’m sorry things didn’t work out between us, but I just want to say, you are one of the nicest, most sincere and generous people I’ve ever met.”

Chloe smiled and said, “Wow, if you would have said stuff like that, we’d probably still be together.”

She laughed and I went to find Michelle.

Tile Guy

Michelle is redoing the bathroom in her condo, so I went with her to look at tile at the flooring store.

This is something you do when you are a good boyfriend, which I am. The reason I know this is because Michelle said, “You’re a good boyfriend” after we left the store. And yes, she did use the term “boyfriend” so I am feeling pretty secure about our relationship so far.

At the tile store, they have samples hanging on the walls, leaning on display stands, and basically wherever there’s any spare space. Michelle went off to look at sample with one saleslady and I wandered around for a bit. Something occurred to me and I turned to the sales guy who was just straightening a display and said, “You guys have earthquake insurance?”

He was like, “Huh?” so I explained, “You know, because if a big one hits, pretty much everything in the store is going to break.” After all, it was like a proverbial china shop. Shit was going to fly off the walls and smash everywhere even if there was a little tremor.

He said he didn’t know about the insurance but he worked at the store in the Valley during the Northridge earthquake and he said they just tore down the store after that one. “You couldn’t walk into the place. There were shards of tile covering everything. The floors, the computers… they said there were slivers of tile in the Post-Its.”

I said, “Good thing you weren’t in the store at the time. It would have been like Mortal Kombat with that guy who shoots ice daggers.”

He laughed and said he loved Mortal Kombat. We talked for a while until Michelle pulled me away to give my opinion on her top choices.

 

Elevator Girl

I slept with Michelle.

After a week of ignoring my calls, she emailed me on Friday saying she couldn’t face me after what happened.

I told her we needed to talk about it. She reluctantly agreed but said she couldn’t meet me that night because she’s going out with Dan. She said she’d come by Saturday night instead. “Just to talk,” I reminded her.

She was supposed to come over my apartment at 8:00. She didn’t show and I was starting to get worried. I mean, who knows with her? Maybe Sports Agent Dan found out where she was going and took an axe to her. I texted her and she finally responded at like 9:30 with just “b there soon.”

She showed up at 11:15. She wasn’t drunk, so I was relieved about that. But the first thing she said to me was, “Do you have any wine?” It was clear it was to soothe nerves from earlier in the evening, not to prepare for later that night, so I gave her some wine.

She took a big drink and said, “I called off the engagement.”

Hearing those words suddenly flipped a switch in my head. My moral constraints had been keeping her advances at bay because she was with him. But as soon as she said those words, it was like when that bad guy got fired from OCP and Robocop was then free to kill him. Okay, maybe that wasn’t the best analogy given the circumstances but that’s what popped into my head.

We talked for a while about what Dan did wrong. How they fought all the time. How she broke it off on Friday night but then he tried to change her mind earlier in the evening Saturday. (That’s why she was late.)

Then we talked for a while about The Talk to Strangers Project. I basically explained the whole thing to her. How that, a year ago, I was lonely and isolated. I told her how I’ve met all these incredible people and gotten confidence to take control of my life.

She said it sounded like an amazing idea.

Then I looked at her and said, “I did it all to meet you.”

We kissed. Then… well, you know.

We spent the whole day together yesterday. We didn’t really talk about what it all means or where it’s going. I think neither of us wanted to define it or analyze things. I know I for one was afraid it might just go away. So we kind of avoided the subject.

I dropped her off and we kissed again.

I think this is the beginning of something huge, but I’m too afraid to think that thought, because I might jinx it.

The Help

Friday night was really… interesting. First of all, Michelle picked “The Help” to go see. They should have handed out Ziploc bags to the six men in the theater to store their balls.

There is no way any guy in the world would ever see that movie without the promise or hope of sex from their female companion. I was the exception, as I expected nothing from Michelle except maybe a little pre-wedding jitters and boring girl-talk about her fiance.

That’s not what happened. We saw the movie. It wasn’t that bad. I asked, “So should I drop you off?” She said, “Let’s get a drink.” I thought, “Oh, no, here it comes.”

We went to The Tavern in Brentwood for $15 drinks and Michelle finally explained why she wanted to see me.

“Dan and I are having troubles.”

I stopped her right there. I’d been preparing for this conversation all that day and so I knew what I was going to say. “Look, I’m not your girlfriend. I think it’s really shitty for you to dump this crap on me. I like you and I want to be your friend, but I’m not going to help you patch things up with some other guy.”

She seemed kind of shocked. She took a drink. Then she said, “You’re right. I’m sorry.”

After that, things got a lot better. We agreed not to talk about relationships and we just talked. About normal stuff. About the movie. It was almost like it was back when I first met her. When she’s not acting all weird or drunk, Michelle is really great. She has a great sense of humor and she’s smart, too.

I took her back to her apartment complex and pulled over to the curb waiting for her to get out. I said, “Good night. This was fun.”

Then she kissed me.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know this isn’t the first time she’s done that. But I was still surprised. I didn’t fight it (duh) but after a good thirty seconds, I said, “Michelle, what are you doing?”

She said, “I don’t know.” She started crying. She said, “Things are really messed up right now.”

I said, “Go home. Go to sleep. Let’s talk about it tomorrow.” And she left.

I called her on Saturday and on Sunday but she didn’t return my calls.

How do I get into these situations?

Going Out with Elevator Girl?

Michelle just sent me an email inviting me to a movie. This is totally weird. I asked her if I should bring a date. Was Dan going to be there? She said, no, just the two of us.

Well, I’m fine with seeing a movie

but I can tell you right now, there’s one thing I’m not going to do, is listen to her cry on my shoulder about her fiance. I mean, I have no idea if she actually is having problems with him or not. But why else does she want to see me without him? I’m willing to be friends with her, but I’m not going to be some poor sap who listens to a girl he likes complain about some other guy she’s sleeping with.

Dog Park

Sorry I haven’t posted anything all week.

I thought I was fine with Chloe breaking up with me, but it turns out I was actually pretty upset about it. I’ve been working long hours, too, and haven’t been in the mood to talk to much of anyone. Then, yesterday I ran into Polly with her dog Fellini. Fellini and Tad have hit it off since they met and Polly invited us to join them at the dog park.

The funny thing about the dog park is how everyone refers to themselves as so-and-so’s owner, not by their real name. But the dog park is a friendly place where strangers just naturally talk to each other and there’s always something to talk about: your dog. So I met some of Polly’s friends, a big bald guy with a lot of tattoos (Hunter’s owner); a bookish woman in her sixties (Mimi’s owner); an Asian guy who does something in the music business (Chulu’s owner); and a few others.

I really liked the dog park and Tad did, too. Polly and I walked back to our apartment complex and I thanked her. Then she said that she thought I seemed down and I decided to tell her about Chloe. She was sympathetic. She didn’t reach any conclusions or offer any advice. She just said, “Well, I hope the dog park cheered you up a little.” And it did.